One Crazy Winter

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It’s been one crazy winter!  I don’t remember much snow in November or December, but so far in 2014 we’ve had over 50 inches of snow!  Most of that in a month and a half.  Now, I love snow.  Usually.  But I think I’m suffering from snow fatigue.  Is there such a word?  If not, then I just made it up.  And it should exist because I think most of the US is feeling it. 

I’ve only been living in the US for nine years.  I’m an Englsihman born and raised.  I moved to the US in February 2005. Staten Island, to be precise.  Ironically I landed at JFK airport right in the middle of a snowstorm, where we got anything from 8 inches to a foot!  Welcome to America!  Of course, I loved it.  We don’t see snow like that in England.  Oh it snows, but over there if you get four or five inches that’s a lot.  Maybe in northern England it snows more, but not in the south, which is where I’m from. Since that day I’ve seen 2 foot snowstorms.  A few years ago we had two 17 inch snowstorms sandwich a 3 inch storm all in the same month.  But somehow this year beats them all.  Maybe it’s partly the cold.  January in particular was a bitter month where our temp got down to single digits several times.  Now I’m going to be yelled at by people who’ve experienced frequent below zero temps.  Yes, I’m aware it can and does get colder in other parts of the US.  But five degrees is plenty cold enough for me thank you very much.

So, since I lived here, we’ve  been snowed in twice.  The first time was, I believe, in 2010.  The infamous boxing day blizzard.  Our storm door opens outwards and the snow was piled up so high against the door, I couldn’t push it open.  Luckily I was able to open the storm window and reach out to use the shovel to clear the snow away.  And this past week we’ve been housebound as the snow has piled up so much around our driveway we literally couldn’t get the car out.  I had to go out twice and hack away at ice as solid as granite before I could clear enough away that we could manouevre the car out.  The temp is currently 45 degrees and we’re meant to get up to 50.  Wey hey break out the shorts and t shirts!  It’s going to feel like summer!  We’re currently waiting for a front to bring thundery downpours. It’s knocking on our door as I type.

Sadly, the mild air is not going to last.  Dhe dreaded Polar Vortex, the phrase that became so infamous in January, is set to return for the start of next week, bringing with it at least two weeks of cold and multiple snow chances. 

Boo!

That snow fatigue is going to turn into snow exhaustion before Old Man Winter is done grumping at us.  I don’t know who’s upset him this year but whoever it is, could you please apologise already?  Spring cannot come soon enough.

On the brighter side, the cold and snow gives me an excellent excuse to sit and listen to more classical music.  Yes, I had to mention it again.  In fact I think it’s going to come up in almost all my blogs from now on.  What started as a simple curiousity has become a full blown obsession. I bought mt first classical music cd the other day. A best of Beethoven 3 cd box set. I’ve listened to it twice already. I might make it a third time later.

And as I type, there goes the first rumble of thunder.  See that?  With me you get not only a blog, but a weather report too!

Under The Weather

Boy it’s hot!! As I wrote this it  was a steamy 96 degrees in New York City.  The humidity made it feel like 105 according to the meteorologists.  It sure felt like it.  Yeah, yeah,  I know what you’re thinking to yourself; ‘It’s summer in the city, deal with it!”  But as a Brit who moved to NYC a few years ago and who is used to gentler cooler summers in England, the heat of summer in the US takes a lot of getting used to.  I’ve been here for eight years now and I still can’t get used to summers like this.  That’s not to say it can’t get hot in Merry Old England.  It can get over a hundred degrees over there, but such heat is rare and usually short term. 

Us Brits have a funny reputation for always complaining about the weather.  (But when it rains as much as it does over there, can you blame us?)  Weather is usually pretty dull in England.  It rains.  It shines.  It gets overcast.  Every now and then there’s a thunderstorm.  In the winter you might get one or two inches of snow. (Which is usually enough to bring traffic to a standstill.  God only knows what would happen if they ever got two feet of snow, which I’ve experienced in New York more than once.)  But that’s about it.

Here in the US, you have to contend with hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, blizzards, Nor’easters, heatwaves, arctic outbreaks, severe thunderstorms.  Every type of weather you can imagine.  Did I leave anything out? 

Just a year or two ago the Weatber Channel ran a show called It Could Happen Tomorrow about a hurricane running straight down New York Harbor.  Well, last year it DID happen.  Hurricane Sandy.  A storm I will never forget.  I live on Staten Island.  Just three blocks from the water.  I remember in the hours leading up to Sandy hitting land watching the water in the harbor get higher and higher.  The night of the storm, that water came over the top, flooding all way the way up to the block I live on.  I live in a road parallel to the water.  The road that led up to my block was flooded.  The water actually came up past my block.  The only thing that saved our little road was a steep bump on the corner of the block.  The water didn’t manage to crest that.  All the streets around us were flooded for weeks.  They also lost power for weeks.  We only lost our power for one week and had no water damage.  We were the lucky ones.

Throughout the storm I kept going out to check the water level.  I got a huge shock when I saw a small yacht floating up the road, coming to a rest on the corner of our block.  Not something I’ve ever seen before.

night yacht (2)

I got an even bigger shock when I went out the next morning for a walk around to see what the damage in the neighbourhood was.  As I walked down the road leading to Mansion Avenue, the road that runs parallel right by the harbor’s edge, two boats were neatly lined up in the garden of a house.  Initially I thought they were left there to protect them from the storm.  I later learned they had floated there during the storm surge and ended up parked neatly in the garden, miraculously without damaging the property.  Then I reached Mansion Avenue itself.  The road was littered with hundreds of yachts all piled up all over the place, like toys that had been tossed around by a child having a temper tantrum.  It’s impossible to excaggerate the scale of the destruction.  Boats in driveways of houses, pressing against the walls.  A store had a boat embedded in its window.  A yacht laid across the hood of a car,  Boats piled up on top of each other.  Just boats everywhere you looked.  A huge yacht was neatly pinned between a utility pole and the side of a popular restaurant.  The devastation was mindboggling.  It took months to straighten the mess out.  The biggest tragedy is these scenes of destruction were repeated all along the northeast coast.  Jersey Shore was hit hard.  Large parts of Atlantic City was underwater. Parts of Queens were devastated.  As were the coastal sections of Staten Island.  It was the storm of a (hopefully) lifetime. 

Sandy devastation (2)

Day after Sandy (2)

Right now we’re sweltering in a steambath of a heatwave.  But I’m all too conscious that we are heading into another hurricane season.  With Sandy last year and Irene the year before that, I’m hoping the east coast will be spared a direct hit this season.  I hope the whole of the United States stays safe.  Because you never know what’s waiting around the corner.

Oh Sandy (2)

Us Brits may have a reputation for moaning about the weather, but you Americans have far greater reason to complain.

Sandy aftermath (2)