Why My Daughter & I “Storm Chase”

Alright, so we don’t pack up “Dorothy: D.O.T.” and drive our brand new Dodge truck into the middle of water spouts (Twister? Anyone?), but we do have our own fun family traditions when it comes to weather.
We’re currently living in San Diego. If you live here, or have ever watched the weather channel while on vacation here, you know we have four meteorological zones within about a 50 mile line: Coastal, Inland, Mountain, and Desert.


We live right at the base of the mountains. It can be pouring down rain here, but clear at the beach. It can be chilly & foggy on the coast, but dry & 90 degrees here.
Usually later in the year, we receive flash-flood warnings for the valleys beside us when the summer storms set strong in the hills. This is when we wait.
We wait for that little symbol to pop up on the screen… lightning.
Like snow (another thing we chase, probably more passionately than lightning), the storms build mostly in the mountains, near Mt. Laguna or Palomar.
We toss blankets and pillows in the back of the SUV, a picnic lunch, maybe a game or something to draw with, and head carefully up the hills.
Did I mention my daughter is three?109.JPG
She gets so excited at the idea of a storm, the flashes of light, the rain, sometimes hail, beating against the car. But mostly she just loves the adventure.
We always pick safe locations, and I have a lot of experience driving in dicey weather. We pick our battles. But for a three-year-old, the thrill of the chase is enough.
If the storm dulls out, or clears up, we snuggle in the back of the car and have our picnic. Either way, it’s an adventure that we share. She’s learning to love nature, and respect it. I get undistracted alone time with my kid. Win-Win.

Teaching our kids to love nature, not to fear thunder, embrace the rain, to respect the humongous world around them, it’s amazing. Even if you don’t live in an area where the summer storms are quick and powerful, drive out to your local river, into the woods, even out into the desert & plains. Somewhere quiet but powerful.

As a kid we took a lot of summer trips out to Michigan, and as an adult I chose to live out there for a couple years as well. I miss the summer storms the most, the quick intensity, followed by the glowing calm. Being woken up at three a.m. to shaking windows, only to watch a fireworks show dancing across the sky in the distance.


As Phillip Seymour Hoffman said, “It’s the power of nature, baby!” And my baby and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

p.s. if you live in a place with tornadoes, disregard this post and please go hide in your basement.

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