Thursday, January 10, 2013

Istanbul Weather: More snow and an earthquake

So, we had another massive snowstorm this week. The snow fell all day Monday and Tuesday, at some points blowing around like crazy. (I suppose that was what's known as a blizzard.) I'm fascinated by the snow, especially when I don't have to go out in it -- I feel like a little kid, so excited by it, and I guess that's because I grew up in Texas, where snow was pretty rare.

It actually got me thinking the other day about weather generally, and how "weird weather" is a matter of perception and depends upon what you're used to. I've mentioned before that you don't see much of a sunset in Istanbul; thunderstorms with lightning are also quite rare. Which is the exact opposite of Dallas, and I suppose a Turk would find the weather there weird, too. (Yeah, I've got a lot of time on my hands to think about this kind of stuff.)

Anyway, I say all this because on Tuesday morning, I was thinking about the weather differences between Dallas and Istanbul, and how grateful I am that North Texas doesn't experience earthquakes. Scary-ass tornados, yes, but no earthquakes. (Or, at least, we didn't have earthquakes when I was a kid -- did you know that the number of earthquakes in North Texas has dramatically increased in the last four years, due to natural gas drilling?) Istanbul, on the other hand, lies near a major fault line, and everyone expects a major quake to hit at some point and just destroy the city, since so much of the building construction is shoddy. Fun, right? (As a side note, the word for earthquake in Turkish is "deprem," which sounds an awful lot like "depressing.")

So I was thinking about this Tuesday morning, and then, voila, there was an earthquake Tuesday afternoon. It registered at a magnitude of 6.2, but it happened deep in the Aegean Sea, to the west of here, so I didn't notice anything, and I don't think anyone in Istanbul did. But still, an earthquake! I'm really hoping we will have moved far away from here when the big one hits -- if what I've said isn't convincing enough, read this scary article on for how very unprepared the government is for such a disaster.

But back to the snow, it seemed like everyone enjoyed this latest snowfall. A lot of the schools were closed, so there were kids outside all day, sledding down the hill outside of our apartment. On Tuesday night, Cagatay and I decided to take a romantic walk out in our winter wonderaland, and there were a surprising number of people out doing the same thing, even though the snow was still blowing all around. I even made my first snowman. I remember I tried once when I was a kid, but there was only the thinnest layer of snow that day, one that was melting fast, and I suspect I was just too cool to give it a try when I spent four snowy years in Massachusetts at college. :)

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