Recently, "winter" started in Los Angeles. What this means is that for about four days, I had to break out my winter coat (read: hooded sweatshirt) and think about maybe carrying an umbrella around with me. I had to weather-proof my apartment, mostly by taking the fan out of the window and verifying that the heater I had never used actually works. My sunglasses were rendered nearly useless as I only needed them about 40% of the time I was outdoors. Despite all of that, me and my fellow Angelinos managed to make it through. I heard on the local news that this weather was responsible for countless traffic problems. Being from Colorado, where I had to drive my 1988 Honda Civic while dealing with weather phenomena such as hail storms, tornado warnings, blizzards that dump a foot or more of snow, sub zero temperatures and black ice on a fairly regular basis, I found it hard to relate, initially. I assumed the problem was psychological. Upon further study (and my gradual SoCal acclimatization), however, I have come to the conclusion that the weather- and probably science- is clearly to blame. Here are some of my findings:
1. Turn signals no longer work. How else can we account for the complete lack of them? I hypothesize that either the precipitation seeps into most vehicles' electrical systems and attacks only the turn signal functionality, or that the rain droplets somehow refract the light from turn signals so that they go unseen by the drivers behind or around them. Both of these explanations satisfactorily explain why visual signals are rendered useless, but horn-honking functionality remains unaffected.
2. Braking can only be applied forcefully and suddenly. Gradual braking is not an option, possibly due to the coefficient of friction approaching zero when there is moisture on the road. Sudden and forceful braking must be applied to overcome this. Another possibility is that the rain droplets refract light around objects and intersections, making them essentially invisible to drivers until they are literally right there and have to turn or stop.
2. Drivers can no longer see lines on the road, read road signs, or see traffic signals. I believe this is due to the refraction of light through the rain droplets.
3. The laws at intersections no longer apply. This isn't as much of a scientific problem as it is a legal one. I still haven't learned what the alt-weather laws are at four way stops, so this is probably just my fault. That or refracted light through rain droplets either cloaks vehicles completely, or alters our sense of time and space, making us unable to determine who arrived first and has the right-of-way.
4. Perspective changes and varies dramatically from person to person. An acquaintance claimed that he couldn't see ten feet in front of his vehicle while going seventy miles an hour down the highway on his way in to work. This cannot possibly be the case, as visibility was not limited and it is impossible for any vehicle to move at seventy miles an hour on an L.A. freeway during rush hour. Yet he believed it so fervently and dramatically, that altered perspective (possibly due to refraction of light waves by rain droplets) is the only explanation.
5. Wifi and cell phone signals no longer work. Okay, this one isn't related to traffic, but a guy in a hotel was explaining to me that this was the reason the internet service that I was paying $9/day to use wasn't working and he couldn't refund me. And also my calls like NEVER go through and sometimes my tweets get held up for ages. What the hell, science? The only thing I can think of is that the signals used in such devices are some how "refracted" through the rain droplets and re-routed to people who don't have AT&T or Time Warner Cable.
6. The world essentially ends. Seriously. I didn't feel like going to the beach, people had to cancel their flying trapeze and paddleboard classes and I totally didn't feel like eating at Pinkberry. This is most probably due to the refraction of joy out of life by rain droplets.
You might detect some sarcasm in this post (and a lot of refraction). It's not that I don't appreciate that relatively speaking, a couple of days of rain is a monsoon and forty degrees is freezing, it's just that, well come on, SoCal. You are where the weather forecaster stands when talking about weather happening in the rest of the country.