From: Near Portland, OR
Major mountain ranges tend to be parallel to plate boundaries and the Alps are upthrust mountains created by Africa moving north into Europe. The plate boundaries around North America are mostly north-south. There are some minor mountain ranges that are east-west in NA, the Uinta Mountains that run from NE Utah into Colorado are the biggest.
The San Gabriel Mountains are mostly north-south, but they are crescent shaped and fringe both the east and northern part of the Los Angeles basin.
Yeah, I'm a bit behind. Looks like the east got cold again, though it's a little colder than normal here, it isn't unusually cold for early March. Usually when we have this kind of weather this time of year, it marks the beginning of tornado season in the prairies (cold air coming off the Pacific, crossing the Rockies and mixing with warm Gulf air is what fuels the really strong tornadoes).
In Iowa, tornado season was always later in the year. It's warmer in Texas right now, though, obviously... (where Twister was set IIRC) but "Tornado Alley" should be a bit more similar to what I grew up with. While a tornado can really occur at any time, the prime season in Iowa was when you started to see the first big open prairie thunderstorms (the ones that pop up out of nowhere and develop the iconic bow shock pattern) - May through July being the peak. Maybe starting in April if it was particularly warm that year, and running through August or early September. As a kid, it dovetailed so nicely into the start of "hurricane season" that I used to think there were just storm seasons to go along with the calendar seasons.
The Western US has a Mediterranean climate, ie there is a clear wet season and dry season (I thought this was normal until I learned how the weather was in the eastern 2/3 of North America. The wet season is longer the further north you go. Seattle gets about 3 months of dry, Portland about 5, and California about 7 or 8. Wet weather almost always coincides with a drop in temperature. Most storms in the North Pacific are born in the Aleutians. We get the atmospheric river phenomenon a few times every winter when tropical weather comes in, but that's a rarity.
Here in Portland the rains usually stop and the weather starts getting warm around early to mid-June, but the joke in Seattle is summer starts July 5. There is some truth to that, I did see rain on the 4th of July when I lived there. The rain doesn't make it over the Rockies, but the jet stream can push the cold front that was associated with a storm over the Continental Divide.
Seattle has a rep for being very rainy, but quite a few eastern US cities get more rain. Seattle gets about 30-35 inches of rain a year and summers are warm (80sF usually with at least one heat wave into the high 90s) and dry. Portland is drier and warmer in the summer. Seattle is very gloomy in the winter though. I believe Seattle has the fewest sunlight hours in the lower 48 and almost all of them are between July and September.
Portland is a little better, we do see the sun some in the winter, but we get pounded with the sun in the summer. My office is upstairs on the SW side of the house. I had to install an air conditioner in the office to supplement the house A/C because with the air conditioner running so much the non-sunny parts of the house were freezing, the office would be 85F. I have thought about putting in solar on that side of the house, we have a long stretch of roof pointing SW.
WitP AE - Test team lead, programmer