Posts Tagged ‘storm’

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I’m running out of things to say about snowstorms. Today was the third day in one week that we were told to work at home.

Asakiyume was doing a project for us and went to her Post Office on foot to mail it back, walking in the street because the sidewalks weren’t clear. She said it was good, though, as she got to see two igloos and some kids playing in the snow.

I walked as far as my own Post Office for the exercise — a little too much exercise as I tried to stay out of the way of snowplows. A few folks out on cross-country skis probably shouldn’t have been, although I confess that my husband and I did that in a past snowstorm.

I kept thinking about the blizzard when I was in nursery school and it was my mother’s turn to do the carpool. Her car broke down, and there she was with a bunch of 4-year-olds on the side of the road wondering what to do. She flagged down the dry-cleaner delivery man and talked him into letting us ride in back among the coats and suits and hangers while he did his rounds. No doubt it was against all sorts of company insurance regulations and child-safety laws, but somehow we all made it.

In my town center today only the bookshop and a cafe were open. On Thoreau Street, the gas station, Cumberland Farms, a liquor store, and Dunkin Donuts were functioning reliably as ever.

I was winded from climbing over snow banks when I got home. I decided to make hot cider. Later in the afternoon, I decided to make hot cocoa.

Then I went out and lit the ice lantern.

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Now, here’s an idea. You’ve heard of Uber-type services that you contact when you need a ride and that charge on the basis of demand?

Well, according to Patrick Clark at Bloomberg, the time may have arrived for calling a snowplow just when you need a snowplow.

“With a blizzard gathering over the ocean,” he reports, “J and R Lawn and Landscape decided to send part of its snowplow fleet on a 300-mile drive. The landscaping company operates 20 snowplows in and around Cicero, N.Y. A tech startup called Plows and Mowz—sort of an Uber for snowplows—had promised there would be lucrative work in Boston. ‘It only snows where it snows,’ says Ted Hoffman, who handles sales and marketing for J and R. His small company was willing to bet four plows, eight workers, and money for gas and hotel rooms on a faraway post-blizzard boom. …

“Plowz and Mowz caters to homeowners who don’t pay for a regular service but want occasional help clearing a driveway. To meet customer demand, the startup uses software to assign new jobs to drivers who are already planning to be in the area. …

“Plowz isn’t the only entrepreneur with a vision for the future of snow removal. ‘On-demand is cute, but it’s not snowplowing,’ says Yeh Diab, co-founder of Boston-based PlowMe, a second startup trying to using technology to improve an age-old business. The snowplow, as he sees it, is less like a taxi (seeking customers, wherever they might be) and more like a bus (serving customers along a set path). …

“Plow drivers needed to improve their efficiency with regular customers along set routes, he determined, while an on-demand system offered a succession of one-time customers. PlowMe is designed to be a route-management tool and a marketplace in which drivers can trade or sell parts of their routes to others.”

My grandchildren know that in Geopolis, a really big snow calls for bringing out the supremely competent, cool, and collected truck called Katy (see Virginia Lee Burton’s classic Katy and the Big Snow), but if you don’t live in Geopolis, other options do exist.

Lots more snowplowing angles here.


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I got an unusual number of hits from readers this morning. I never know why. Is it because we are having a big snow in New England?

Let me give you a couple preliminary snow pics just in case. I hope to do a regular post this evening.



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I’ve put off writing about sprites because I’m not sure I can explain what they are  — powerful upward lightning flashes that send electricity around the earth and were originally going to be photographed by an astronaut on the ill-fated Columbia.

A team of scientists and a few daredevil pilots flew repeatedly into storms to prove the visions were real. The television show Nova covered the quest.

“NARRATOR: On a stormy night, in Denver, a team of scientists takes to the air to investigate a mystery.

“RONALD WILLIAMS (United States Air Force): I reported it, and nobody believed me.

“NARRATOR: They’re trying to catch a burst of energy so fleeting and hard to see that scientists call it by the ethereal name of ‘sprite.’

“EARLE WILLIAMS (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): The bolts that cause sprites are superbolts, the kind of lightning that’ll blow your T.V. sky high. …

“KERRI CAHOY (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): You can see airglow that’s more diffuse and just in layers than the curtain-like aurora.

“NARRATOR: NOVA takes to the air, on a quest to record these elusive events.

“GEOFF MCHARG (United States Air Force Academy): Sprite!

“NARRATOR: And the effort also continues above, from the vantage point of space, where the work had it’s beginning during the ill-fated Columbia mission, with Israeli astronaut Ilon Ramon.

“YOAV YAIR (The Open University of Israel): I asked him, ‘Please bring me one sprite image.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get you a couple.’

“NARRATOR: Ramon’s colleagues now continue where he left off.

“SATOSHI FURUKAWA (Japanese Astronaut): We must take over their work. I thought that was the survivors’ duty.

“NARRATOR: Their dramatic discoveries are revealing that we live on an electrified planet, surrounded by a global circuit that rings the earth. And like a planetary heartbeat, we can now detect it.”

More here.

 Image: Nova

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I remember my mother’s story about driving home to Boston with a friend and trying to cross the Connecticut River on September 21, 1938. I wish I remembered the details: where they were coming from, who was driving, whether they got across or the bridge was closed, where they spent the night.

But I will never forget the awe with which people of a previous generation spoke about the Hurricane of ’38, its unexpectedness, its devastation — and little Edrie Dodge crawling on hands and knee across her yard as the winds destroyed the farming and fishing industries of her island.

That hurricane has always held a kind of fascination for me. I was riveted reading A Wind to Shake the World, an excellent book describing places I knew and emphasizing that lack of good communication in 1938. While people in Long Island were fighting the storm, people in Rhode Island had no idea they were next.

Nevertheless, good things came of tragedy, lessons were learned. Forecasting and communication improved exponentially.

The Globe had a retrospective on the 75th anniversary.

Jeremy C. Fox wrote, “On that September afternoon 75 years ago today, the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 tore into New York’s Long Island and then Milford, Conn., and raged through Massachusetts and Vermont, leaving a path of flooded towns, flattened homes, and fires caused by downed power lines. …

“Coming before televisions, computers, or weather satellites, the storm’s speed and fury took both meteorologists and residents by surprise, according to forecasters.

“Meteorology professor Lourdes B. Avilés said the storm remains “the one to which all other New England hurricanes are sooner or later compared.”

More here.

Photo: The Boston Globe
”This enormous tree in our backyard came completely uprooted and came crashing down,” said Irene Goodwin Kane, who was 14 when the storm hit. “That was when I realized that this was really bad.”

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