You know how on The Weather Channel they always send reporters out to the front lines of an incoming tropical storm and have them film from some idiotic shorefront location of peril (a quavering boardwalk, a boarded-up Main Street) usually under some deafeningly flapping palm tree or aluminum street sign, and their crisp blue windbreaker snaps officially in the gusts, and behind them in the dim green stormlight you can see the hungry tongues of enormous waves lolling toward you, froth at their lips? Yeah, it turns out that a tropical storm is nothing like that. Now, a hurricane is all kinds of like that—and I don’t wish a hurricane on my worst enemy—but a slow-moving tropical storm is dank and grey and humid and low and horrible in a different, malarial kind of way.
Tropical Storm Beryl, bitch that she is, has settled her massive behind atop Charleston, South Carolina, like a wide-berthed tourist making herself comfortable on the plush seat of a local carriage tour, for the entirety of Memorial Day weekend. At first, on Friday, it was kind of neat to watch low grey striae of clouds hurry across the sky inland from the ocean, the opposite direction that clouds usually travel. And behind them, massive cotton candy pink and orange thunderheads, bruised with blue, curdling ever upwards.
In Charleston, it is normally almost always sunny. And when it rains, it rains in a tempestuous fit for an hour or two, and then, like the best kind of children, the sun begins smiling even while its tears are still drying on the smooth shiny cheeks of magnolia leaves. But now it is Tuesday, and the sky has decided to arrange itself into a seemingly permanent pale grey overcast, smooth and unchanging for hours, and the air is so unbelievably humid it almost makes you angry to go outside, and when you sleep, you dream of rain. An overcast Charleston is like a prom queen suddenly struck with a smear of cystic acne: in a charmed life, such things just don’t happen.
But, on the other hand, I’ll take clouds and humidity over battening down for a hurricane any day.
Liz lives and writes in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.