The British are supposed to be obsessed by the weather. Quite likely this is true. But given that Britain has one of the most benign climates on the planet, this obsession seems curious if endearing.
Not so here in the US, where wild weather, and high numbers of weather-related deaths, seem to be almost daily occurrences. Hardly any corner of this vast land seems immune to some pretty intense meteorological activity. Winters often see temperatures approaching -40C, and summers can get above +55C. And there are tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms, hail the size of grapefruit. And that's just in Kansas.
As I write, the Gulf Coast is being pounded with one of the worst storms the States has ever seen. It is as yet unclear what will be left of New Orleans once hurricane Katrina is all over. Casualties may well be high (although one dreads to think what they would be like in a poorer country).
The US television news media, which can sometimes seem breathlessly manic to European tastes, comes into its own at times like this. The breadth of their coverage is astonishing.
New York for the time being is still in the run-of-the-mill sticky swamp of summer. Katrina is heading our way, but I doubt I'll be getting out my canoe to negotiate my way to Lexington Avenue. Not quite yet, anyway.