While humanity has come a long way in understanding and even being able to predict meteorological events, weather remains a powerful force in everyday existence. The difference between a sunny day and a rainy one can be significant in many different ways. Changes in the weather can trigger changes in mood, add time to your commute or in rare cases even threaten your life.
One of the most obvious ways that weather can affect you is during the height of summer or the depths of winter. Extreme heat can be deadly to those poorly equipped to keep themselves cool, leading many cities to institute programs to provide cool water and access to air conditioning to those without. Extreme cold can be just as harmful, especially among the elderly, who can be more susceptible to the cold. Even among those in the prime of health, an extremely hot or extremely cold day can lead to illness or injury under the wrong circumstances.
When the weather turns severe, it can have significant effects on your life. Tornadoes and hurricanes are the most devastating examples of severe weather, capable of causing loss of life and major damage. In 2012, the National Climatic Data Center reported that 11 major weather disasters cost the country more than $110 billion. Snowstorms can paralyze entire regions, trapping people in their homes or businesses and forcing them to wait out the weather. Even a severe thunderstorm can cause dangerous flooding or fatal lightning strikes to those unlucky or unwise enough to venture out at the wrong time.
Even mildly inclement weather can have a major effect on society through transportation delays. A light drizzle can turn your commute home from work into a lengthy slog, especially if the moisture on the road causes an inattentive driver to hit another car. The Department of Transportation reports that 24 percent of all auto accidents are at least in part due to the weather. Storms can delay or even cancel flights at airports, leaving travelers stranded and disrupting shipping. Because so much of American society depends on transportation networks, even a small weather delay can snowball until it becomes a major problem.
Effects on the Body
The weather can also have a direct effect on the body. A lack of sunlight, due to seasonal changes or extended periods of inclement weather, can reduce vitamin D levels in the body. This can cause fatigue as well as alter serotonin levels in the brain, which can trigger depressive episodes in certain susceptible people. Those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder are most vulnerable to these changes and may reduce the effect by spending time using lamps that simulate natural sunlight.