Category Archives: Weather

Cable Guy

Spectrum News keeps running a radio commercial for their weather that goes something like this:

“Weather in the Capital Region changes every minute — that’s why you’re lucky Spectrum news has weather every ten minutes.”

Hold up, there — I’m not Mr. Math, but aren’t you saying that the weather may change ten times before we hear about it on Spectrum News?

That’s some terrible copy.

These days, most of the weather you need is available every second, on the smart phone in your pocket. But TV weather remains popular, to the point that news stories almost seem like an afterthought. “An alien spacecraft blew up The Egg today — but first, we’re in for another hot one. Here’s Bob with the forecast…”

Weather is just one example of how all these digital platforms, streaming, and cord cutting can’t completely change stubborn viewer behaviors. If you don’t believe it, take a stroll thorough the cable world tonight. People will still sit and watch Fast & Furious 6 even when if it’s chock full of commercials — 50 minutes of commercials, to be exact. Shawshank Redemption, anyone?

Old-style, remote-in-hand TV viewing is far from dead, and that’s a good thing. What sort of world would this be if you didn’t have to wait through a commercial break to see who’s been Chopped?

Taking the Plunge

Something came over me last Friday and I texted my friend Tom.

He’s been starting off the year with the Lake George Polar Plunge for more than a decade and he’s been after me to join him for a while. I’d never quite managed to pull it together, but this year would be different.

So — why start during a cold snap that’s made the past few weeks downright miserable? Some things can’t be explained, and this is one of them.

It was quite a sight as people started gathering on the beach: they were a mix of young and old, men and women all dressed more for an ice fishing shanty than a day at the beach. There a lot of energy in the air , very much like what you feel before a road race. But this was no 5K. As we stood on the shore watching the volunteers slide big sheets of ice away from the waterfront, some of the plungers started to wonder if they’s started 2018 by making a very bad decision.

Too late.

I didn’t expect a walk in the park; a quick glance at my Google search history will reveal various combinations of the terms “cold,” “freezing water,” “shock,” “hypothermia” and “heart attacks.”

As the mintues ticked down, the clothes started coming off. Soon I was standing in my bathing suit, water shoes, gloves and a knit cap. There were jokes that my body hair would keep me warm. If only.

When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. When my time came I stormed into the water and went out as far as the safety crew in their cold water suits . It wasn’t terribly deep, so I crouched a bit to bring the water up to my chin. At first it wasn’t so bad — hell, the water was 30 degrees warmer than the air — but it didn’t take long for a weird combination of numbness and burning to begin taking hold of my legs. Time to get out.

Once in dry clothes I felt pretty great, deeply refreshed and oddly renewed.
I thought my friend Tom was pulling my leg when he went on about cleansing away the old year and prparing for the one to come, but he wasn’t kidding. And my penis didn’t break off, so that’s also a big plus.

A Wintery Treat

So, the dogs have been coming in with snow on their snouts from rooting around in the yard.

It seems they’ve been spending a lot of time under the bird feeder, and at first I thought they were munching on spilled sunflower seeds. That would be damn odd, dogs eating sunflower seeds. But after watching a while, I think what they’re doing is much more doglike: scarfing down snow that’s sprinkled with bird droppings.

Yes, that sounds revolting but we’re talking about dogs here and to a dog, that must be like a delicious snow cone.

I suppose there’s only one thing to say when they come trotting into the house after their snacking: “Go give mommy a kiss!”

Pointless

Damn, I knew it felt warmer than 6 degrees outside, and now I know why:

Capture

Thanks, Times Union!

Sure, we’re all obsessed with how cold it is outside — but does showing the temperature like that really add anything to the conversation? It’s probably OK for the newspaper to round that down to 6 degrees. That’s the way the National Weather Service does it.

What I like about weather is that it’s one of the few things we all have in common. It’s something that total strangers can bond over, discuss, commiserate about — it crosses all social and physical boundaries. It’s the glue that binds us.

So, what I’d like to know is this: what do they talk about in San Diego?

Snowed

The TV meteorologists I used to work with were not always comfortable with the ads we would run.

There was always a bit of squirming when they’d look at the scripts which promised them to have the most accurate and reliable forecast. No, technically we didn’t promise infallibility, but it was strongly suggested that they would be right.

So, you ask, why don’t meteorologists just tell us that the forecast is subject to a degree of unpredictability? Well, they do a little — but their bosses discourage that sort of talk from those standing in front of the green wall — and far more people see the weather promos that promise accuracy than ever actually see the weather.

Maybe more honest marketing is the answer?

Curious about what the weather might be? Turn to Joe meteorologist!

He’s been bringing you the weather longer than anyone, so he knows how many different things can go wrong with the forecast.

Count on Joe to tell you if it might snow… when it could possibly start.. and how much you may get — unless a butterfly flaps its wings in Bermuda, and then we’ll be pummeled. Or have a dusting. Nobody knows!

Hmmm. Maybe not.

Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service, spoke about the forecast for this week’s winter storm, and said, “We recognize the need to work harder and smarter to produce better forecasts and to better communicate forecast uncertainty and manage expectations.”

I’m not sure how to get better forecasts, but the second part? That’s something they can start on right away.

Breaking the Ice

It’s interesting to think about what happened in the old days when the Hudson River iced over.

The river was once a major thoroughfare to Albany — indeed, the Thruway of its day — and even after trains became a thing, the river was still important for moving people and freight. But when the river was clogged with ice?

Before steam power, clearing ice must have been impossible — and even then, until the advent of massively powerful diesel engines, it couldn’t have been easy.

Fast forward to 2015.

Much is made of the crude oil shipments that come by rail to the Port of Albany, but few stories mention the final leg of the oil’s trek to refineries that begins with a barge ride down the Hudson. And it doesn’t stop for winter. In recent weeks, I’ve seen the Coast Guard icebreaker making its way up and down the river, clearing the way for commerce.

One thing about these ships plowing down the river: they’re loud. There’s no sound quite like their hulls cutting and crashing though the ice field, making their way by sheer force against nature’s best.  When it’s fire against ice, fire wins.

How Cold Is It?

It’s so cold that the milk froze before I could get home and bring it into the house.

milk

No Snow this Winter

Good news, everyone: it will not snow this winter!

I can guarantee it. This has nothing to do with long-range forecasts, the Farmer’s Almanac or climate change. I can guarantee it will not snow because I just bought a snow blower.

After years of struggling against winter — and the town plow — I decided it was time to turn to technology. There were two big reasons for taking the plunge. First, my sons no longer live at home, so the source of free labor I long relied on has dried up. The second reason? Chalk it up to this universal principle that governs much human behavior: I’m getting too old for this sh*t.

There was a time when I relished the vigorous workout of shovelling and took great pride in my ability to conquer the elements. Even though my driveway routinely gets two or three times the snow in front of it than my neighbors, I’d simply laugh in their general direction.  “Ha, look at you people and your snow blowers! Suckers!”

Well, I’m starting to think that maybe I was the sucker.

So, later in the week I’ll pick up my gently used 8HP two-stage snow blower. It’s a bit more machine than I need, but this is one of those areas where you shouldn’t skimp. Are you going to go out and buy the cheapest parachute?

One note: the no snow guarantee doesn’t start until the machine is in my garage. Until then, all bets are off.

Chilling Out

winter2

Dork

Some people think it’s nutty to run in this cold weather we’ve been having — but the truth is, if you dress for it, the frigid temperatures aren’t so so bad.

As I’ve said before, I’m not much of a runner. These days I’ll only do three to four miles, but getting out there helps keep me sane. And early in the morning before the sun is up, when most people are still sleeping, is a wonderful time of day. One recent sub-zero morning, here’s what I wore:

-Thorlo socks
-Under Armour boxer briefs
-Two pairs of tights
-Long sleeve EMS tech-wick shirt (bottom layer)
-Heavier EMS pullover (middle layer)
-Nylon running jacket (top layer)
-Hood
-Running Hat
-Reflective vest
-Armband radio
-Headlamp
-Mittens

All the clothing is some combination of nylon, polyester, or lycra  — never any cotton. The headlamp, a Coast HL5 is not like the fancy ones you see — all it does is turn on or off — but it’s very bright. I only turn it on when there’s a car coming.

The radio is important, but I never listen to music when I run, instead tuning in to WAMC to get my first daily dose of news.

All told, I’m pretty comfortable. The cold is tolerable if it’s not too windy. The worst running weather? When there’s blowing snow because it hurts your eyes.

And don’t talk to me about treadmills. I don’t do treadmills; that’s too much like the rest of my day.