Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts

02 April 2018

The Day After

'Tis the day after Easter.  I stepped outside and what, to my wondering eyes did I see?

Well, it's also the day after April Fool's Day.  Perhaps Nature, that old prankster, is reminding us of that.

According to weather forecasts, the snow will be gone tomorrow. But then we'll have rain.  

25 January 2016

Going Dutch In The Snow

Yesterday, for the first time in years, I didn't anyone riding on the streets.  Today there were a few people pedaling; I think they were all making deliveries.  

The cold, snow and wind were enough to keep most people off their bikes.  However, I think that fear was also another factor in keeping cyclists off the road.  

Even under optimal conditions, cyclists (at least here in the US) are seen as "crazy".  Of course, someone who imputes insanity to others is portraying him- or her-self as sane or right and, by implication, entitled.  Thus many motorists see themselves as the rightful owners, if you will, of the streets and roads.  They expect cyclists to defer to them or simply to get off the road altogether, ostensibly for their own safety but actually to, as a British neighbor of mine says, to "keep up that All American idea that everything should facilitate the movement of automobiles".

Now, I know that there isn't much of a comparison between my hometown of New York and a city like Utrecht in the Netherlands.  Still, I think the following video of cyclists commuting in the snow in the ancient Dutch capital can offer some lessons to American urban planners:

01 March 2015


According to the National Weather Service, we’ve just had the coldest February since 1934.  I haven’t spent much time on my bike during the month; in fact, only once did I take a ride that wasn’t a commute or an errand.

Mounds of varying combinations of snow, slush and ice, all tinged with soot, line curbs and rim building entrances.   Some cars and bikes still haven’t been dug out.  Everything and everyone, it seems, has been frozen into place, like this plant in front of an apartment building on the corner of my block:

03 January 2015

Is Snow The Only Thing Falling?

I woke up to snow fluttering down my window.  The flakes weren't turning into mounds, or even a scrim of powder on the streets, so I thought I'd go for a ride--and, maybe, catch some snowflakes on my tongue. (It's one of my guilty pleasures!)  But, as soon as I got out the door, the snow turned to sleet and the streets and sidewalks were being glazed with slush that, in spots, would slick with ice.  Even on my bikes with fenders, I wasn't going to ride in that.  

In my youth, I might've.  Actually, I more than likely would have.  Riding in conditions nobody else would was a point of pride, almost of definace.  I think now of the time in Vermont when the temperature dropped from 50 to 15F (10 to -10C) and a partly cloudy day turned to rain, sleet, then snow, the latter of which fell as I was descending a mountain.  I also remember the time I rode down a virage in the French Alps, near Arly-sur-Praz, on a fully loaded bike as rain fell and a loaded lumber truck rumbled--and, was that a skid I heard?--around one of those hairpin turns.  And, when I was a bike messenger, I had to ride in conditions worse than what I saw today.  

Am I getting lazy, soft, or just old?  I don't think the day was a waste:  I read, wrote and had lots of cuddle time with Max and Marley.  Still, I have to wonder about what's becoming of me.  Perhaps I no longer cast a shadow.  Then again, nobody does on a day like this.

Photo by Roland Tanglao

07 May 2014

Hard Rain In Harlem

Over the past few years, there seem to have been fewer rainy or snowy days than in previous years.  However, it seems that whenever we get precipitation, it falls longer and harder--which means, of course, that we get more of it.

At least, that is how I have perceived local weather patterns.   I've talked to a few people--both better- and less- informed than I am--who say they've observed something similar.

Today I came across some maps and charts that confirm my observations.  Turns out, the weather pattern I've described is most pronounced in the part of the US in which I live, but prevails everywhere else in the US with one exception:  Hawaii.

Now, that might sound good for cyclists:  If you have one deluge and weeks of dry weather, you can wait out that rainy day--unless, of course, you don't mind the rain.  I don't, as long as it's not cold and I can see where I'm going.

But, as the study that produced the data I've included indicates, such a weather pattern is bad for cyclists--and everyone else.  All right, cycling isn't mentioned, but I can tell you one problem this weather pattern presents for us:  more flooding.  You see, when precipitation is less frequent, the ground dries up and is less able to absorb whatever rain or snow comes along. That is why the deserts of southwestern US experience "gully washers":  When it rains, it pours, and when it pours, the water simply runs off into the nearest ditch, canyon or any other low-lying piece of real estate.  

I don't care how much coverage your fenders provide or how sealed your bearings are:  You probably don't want to, and shouldn't, ride in such conditions.  Not even if you're riding fat knobby tires. 

The phenomena I've described also explain why, at the same time, much of the US has been experiencing record-breaking droughts.  In fact, nearly all of the US from the Rockies westward is in a declared state of drought:  In fact, even some policy-makers are saying that parts of Texas, Colorado, Nevada and California may be in a permanent--or, at least a mega---drought.

And that, dear readers, can pose bigger problems than how we will fill our water bottles, hydra-packs or whatever hydration systems we use.

The reason why heavy precipitation and storms are coincidental with drought is that most places are not only getting warmer; they are experiencing record one-day temperatures and heat waves.  Here in New York, we have had at least one day in which the temperature exceeded 102F (39C) in each of the past three summers; before 2010, we had gone more than three decades without experiencing such heat.  

03 February 2014

Forgetful Snow

Snow is falling.  At least, that's what the official weather reports say.

It's really more like white slush.  But, I'll admit it looks pretty until it hits the ground.  

Interestingly, it looks more snow-like when it clings to tree branches.

In The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot wrote, "Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow."  It's not hard to see what he meant:  For a moment, I can actually forget that leaves have died and fallen from that tree.

I also can forget, for a moment, that one day this tree, and the one in the first photo, will be green again.  Or, at any rate, I have--however temporarily--no need to remember that. 

09 December 2013

The Original Powder Coat

Some love snow. Others hate it.  Me, I like a good snow coating every now and again.  Of course, I liked the white stuff even better when I was a regular off-road rider and owned a mountain bike.

But I like the snow best of all when it's a light dusting. Of course, it doesn't make for the best of riding conditions, especially on city streets:  It and rain or light drizzle make for more slippery streets than any other kind of weather.  Still, I think much in this city--and in nature--is at its prettiest when they're dusted with light snowflakes.  They almost seem like confections.

Perhaps it's not quite as visible in these photos as it was to me when I rode past Isham Park, at the very northern end of Manhattan.  I had only my cell phone to capture those images.  Oh, well.

And, like any other kind of confection, that light dusting of snow didn't last long.