Category Archives: Weather

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.

It’s Been Comin’ for Some Time

Water, Water Everywhere

MiaEverybody’s concerned about Hurricane Sandy and you can’t go five seconds without being reminded on how to prepare — but one thing in particular has stuck in my craw: stocking up on water.

It’s true that having water on hand is a good idea, but it largely depends on where your water comes from. If you rely on a well that uses electricity then you could have a problem if the juice goes out. But many people with a municipal water supply — like in the town where I live — are unlikely to have any trouble.

Without getting into the nitty gritty, my water does not move around by electricity, but by the pressure created by a water tower. As long as they keep the tower filled we’ll have water pressure. They don’t need to pump it all over, just up the tower — and there are generators in case of power failure.

Unless we have a gravity failure, we’ll probably have water.

Are there things that can go wrong? Of course — but losing water is very unlikely. Just try explaining this at home. My wife kept asking over the weekend if we should buy water and I kept saying no — until I finally gave in and went to Price Chopper at 5:30 this morning.

In the parking lot I met a man with a cart full of water. Did you leave a few bottles for me?

“Yeah, there’s a little left. You know, I’m only here because my wife is driving me nuts about having bottled water in the house. She doesn’t understand where our water comes from!”

I relieved him of his shopping cart — most of the carts in the corral were tied up so they wouldn’t scoot off in the wind — and hit the water aisle.

I went up to the night cashier, a Russian man who’s always the cashier when I go in there at odd hours. He looked into my cart.  “You have a lot of water.” He pronounced it “vawter.”

“Yes. My wife. We won’t need it, but this will make her happy. And I won’t have to listen to her go on about the water.”

He thought about that for a second. “Then that is a small price you are paying.”

Agreed.