Weather. Where would we be without it? That’s what I say when people complain. Think about it: no weather at all. We’d be on the moon.
Weather that makes noise, or piles up, rain, hail, snow, sleet, fog, mist, any and all of these in any combination are my passion. When a friend of mine who lives in another part of the country heard there was a snowstorm in New York that included thunder and lightning she left a voicemail, “You must be in seventh heaven.” And she was right.
Apart from being out in it, my favorite place to find out about the weather is Intellicast, which has interactive maps which to the weather fanatic is like a shot of whiskey to an alcoholic: one is too many and a hundred are not enough. I’m not exactly sure what “interactive” means in this case because you can’t actually do anything on the site to modify the weather. But you can get very detailed information about it, where it’s coming from, how quickly it’s coming, and what kind it is.
Today’s forecast from Intellicast
NASA satellite image of nemo
Nor’easters are among winter’s most ferocious storms. These strong areas of low pressure often form either in the Gulf of Mexico or off the East Coast in the Atlantic Ocean….
In places like New York City and Boston, for instance, if the wintertime low tracks up to the west of these cities, wintry precipitation will often change to rain.
However, if the low moves slightly off the coast to the east of these cities, assuming there is enough moisture and cold air accompanying the storm, Boston and New York will typically get snow or a mixture of precipitation types.
A nor’easter gets its name from its continuously strong northeasterly winds blowing in from the ocean ahead of the storm and over the coastal areas.
The forecast said snow today, and a few tiny flakes were already swirling past the window as I ate my breakfast. When I got on my bike I was wearing my Snow Outfit: a shearling coat over a merino wool sweater, a wool watch cap and two scarves, a silk one beneath a woolen muffler, and of course, The Gloves. By the time I got to the Manhattan side of the bridge I was sweating like a pig.
Straight ahead of me riding up the Bowery was a man dressed for the weather much more appropriately than I in a dapper lightweight gray herringbone tweed jacket. He was riding a bike with upright handlebars and super-skinny tires. At the next light I found myself stopped beside him, well positioned to get a glimpse of the front view, which, just as dapper as the rear, revealed a pleasant, lightly bearded face and stylish rectangular eyeglasses.
“Doesn’t it seem like it might snow later,” I asked.
“It’s supposed to,” he agreed amiably.
“Is that very attractive jacket going to be warm enough?” I asked.
“I have another coat,” he said.
“Where is it?”
“Right here,” he said, patting a knapsack in the basket over his front wheel.
“How about those skinny tires in the snow? What’s that like?”
“I have another bike,” he said, smiling, “that has little metal spikes in the tires.”
“Aha.” I was very impressed by this information. Spiked tires! That’s preparedness for you. “Where is that?”
“In Brooklyn,” he said.
By this time the light had changed, and we were riding down Third Avenue side by side.
Hoping to convey warm interest that would encourage him to say more I said, “Aha.”
We pedaled along for a few minutes in silence as I tried to think what good this bicycle in Brooklyn could possibly do him in the present situation, but I couldn’t figure it out.
“That might not be so convenient later today,” I ventured.
He laughed, and agreed.
” Do you ever take the subway with your bike?” I asked, still trying to figure out what the plan might be. Surely the exceptional foresight that accounts for two bicycles–one with spiked tires no less–would also factor in a plan?
“Yes, but only in extreme emergencies.” His eyebrows come down toward his glasses making his pleasant face look, if not exactly annoyed, very serious. This does its handsome pleasantness no harm whatsoever.
“It’s such a hassle. By the time you lug your bike down into the station and wait for the train, you’d be halfway home already.”
He laughed lightly, as if to say such a problem could not possibly ever concern him, personally. I wonder what he would consider an ‘extreme emergency.’ But we’d approached the corner where I turn off Third Avenue and the light was green, so there was no time to ask.
I laughed, too, hoping to convey sympathetic agreement, and I said, “I turn here. Nice talking to you.”
“Nice talking to you, as well,” he replied, and we glided off in our separate directions.
I wondered what he was going to do if it did snow more later, with those spiky tires on his other bike at home in Brooklyn. I wondered if that could that be considered an extreme emergency.
As the day went on the wind shifted and the temperature fell. The wet snow of the morning froze beneath the new snow which the wheels of quiet slow cars pushed up into creamy ridges made all the more beautiful by the knowledge that their existence would be so fleeting, ending in a long, slow decline of gurgling black slush.
By the time night fell the snow was howling frantically past my window like big gusts of confetti and the only cyclists still out there were delivery guys on mountain bikes grinding through the drifts with bags of Chinese takeout hanging from their handlebars.