Travel Weather in May

MAY is supposed to have better weather. Less winter-like weather, except this wasn’t true for 2019.

The last time I went on a trip (with bad weather), I rode on a bus across the country in the middle of April from California to Iowa. Iowa had major flooding.

For a Californian, who has never been to Iowa before, the news made it sound like all of Iowa was flooded, and everyone was evacuated out of the state. The “bomb cyclone” hit Iowa and Nebraska. My plan was to go past Omaha, Nebraska to Davenport, Iowa, and make my way to Omaha. Frightening? Yes.

Of all places, I went to where it was flooding. Great.

It was only a week before my trip and I had just heard of the news. I had just bought my nonrefundable Greyhound tickets too. That week, I spent it looking through maps of Iowa and Nebraska and tried to figure out which county was flooded.

I am going to be so familiar with Iowa and Nebraska after this trip, I said to myself. 

The bus went through Utah and Colorado which had tons of snow. The middle-aged man who sat next to me turned to speak to me. He was from the middle of Colorado and had a daughter close to my age. Even though she’s thirty-ish, he rode with her back to her place after her visit because some of the mountain roads can get really dangerous. If a blizzard hits, it would be days before there could be any help. Freezing to death was a real possibility.

The weather this year has absolutely been crazy. It’s already late May and yet thunderstorms are scheduled for my next trip. I must have been pretty lucky on my last May trip to the Midwest. I only experienced a few showers and a little bit of a thunderstorm at night in Ann Arbor, MI.

This might be nothing compared to getting off the plane to 15 F weather in DC though. Since I’m a California girl, I thought that mid-March would be warm enough on the East Coast. Nope.

I wore a chunky snow coat, a black coat made for California winter, another jacket, and all the clothes I had, and I was freezing. It didn’t help that I also fell right outside of the Union Station because I slipped on ice. For two or three hours, I spent it in the National Postal Museum to stay out of the cold. How did I survive after falling on my back at the beginning of the 10-day trip? Well, I guess it was because I’m young. It hurt for at least a week though.

May is starting to terrify me. It’s been two years since I made my first trip to DC, but two years is a lot of time. I’m starting to wonder if there’s ever a good month to travel. As I’ve learned from my Iowa/Nebraska travel, there comes a time when it is risky to cancel a trip and risky if you don’t. I let the bus took me to my destinations and after a week of weather anxiety, it turned out that Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska was not completely underwater.

May, I suppose is one of those months when it’s not really summer and winter may linger. As I write, California winds are blowing fiercely outside my window since last week, and we’re expecting rain soon. Who knows when the weather will be great for traveling again?

After the Trip Lessons

I got back fine, but the weather in the Mid-Atlantic and upper South another version of extreme weather.

In Virginia, I woke up to a hot, humid, suffocating 86F morning. It was 8 AM and the heat had woken me up, and I was choking. My mouth was dry.

I soon realized that I had no decent clothing to wear. I disliked wearing plain t-shirts and shirts that showed my shoulders to the sun. I only brought one dress. None of my clothing could cover me from eight hours + of being in the sun.

At one point, I gave up and carried an umbrella in Jamestown around 4pm. I knew I looked different, but I didn’t care. Why no Americans have figured out carrying umbrellas (or parasols) in this extreme heat, I don’t know. All I know is that I can literally feel the heat on my shoulders and legs despite wearing my hiking hat. (No one calls it a hiking hat, but it looked like the beige hat you’d wear in a safari.)

For the next few days, it was hot, sticky weather and was like being in a sauna. My skin got so tanned that I can barely recognize myself. I tried to pack my schedule, but I got lazier… I took my sweet time exploring.

Buzz. Buzz. It was the call of an Amber Alert. Must be a car chase, I thought. Buzz. Buzz. Everyone’s phone is buzzing so I pulled it out. It said:

Emergency Alert.

Tornado Warning in this area til 3:00 PM EDT. Take shelter now. Check local media. -NWS

What?! I was in a store in the middle of Maryland. I expected a thunderstorm, not a tornado!

I had to wait a while before driving. It rained here and there but not constantly. By the time I reached Delaware, the weather was better. At one point, it was nice. Then I went to New Jersey, and it was humid again. Back in Delaware, I got my mosquito bites and they swell up so much, and the weather was humid again.

On the afternoon of my departure, my plane was delayed for two hours. It was raining again and they said that they can’t move because of the thunderstorm. Eventually, I got back to Los Angeles after a very long five-hour flight where I tossed and turned in my sleep. LA was a freezing 66F. I couldn’t believe it. LA was colder than the East Coast! We were still in winter.

That trip’s storm beat out Iowa and Nebraska’s storm. That tornado was the most extreme weather I’ve faced on my trips as of May 2019.