Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Anatomy of a snow storm

Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. 11:00 AM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016. A cold, sunny winter’s day, yesterday in New York.

On Friday last I went over to Zabar's to pick up the necessities for eating at home during the forecasted blizzard Jonas (it hadn’t yet been named in our neck of the woods). On yesterday’s Diary we showed you The Day After through the lens of JH. Today we’re running my obsessive compulsive photo record of the oncoming “historical” (I’m talking media-talk) winter’s storm. The whole atmosphere had a massively nostalgic feel to it. It was like being a kid again, just waiting in wonder and wild anticipation. Storm or no storm. Well, the kid wasn’t disappointed.
This was on the sidewalk in front of Zabar's. The artist whose name is Honschar has created a number of these “quotes” in front of business establishments on the block. They’re very good for drawing curious attention to the business in front of which he’s left his mark.

It was too long to get an overview, so this was the best I could do. It says: “a John Steinbeck quote: Once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”
By this time I was in the mindset of an oncoming “blizzard,” the next thought was to “track” from before to after.  When I got home from Zabar's I took this shot of 83rd Street and East End Avenue about 4:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Grey skies yes, but not really a sign of snowstorm or even a rain.
9:45 p.m. when I got home from dinner, I took a shot of the same corner. Very light dusting. 10:30 p.m. You can see a slight sign of snow falling and sticking. That’s an important sign to the kid.
1:30 a.m. Ahh, but now we’re talking. 2 a.m. Looking north up the avenue toward Gracie Mansion. Keep note of the lone car parked next to the tree.
9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Now we’re in business. I hadn’t gone out on  the terrace yet (wasn’t dressed for it). This was taken through the living room window with bits of icy snow tuck to the outside of the pane.
Noon time, Saturday. It’s begun to pile up. The plows have started to come through regularly, every half-hour or forty-five minutes. I was thinking those cars are going to be there for a few days if the temperature stays below freezing.
2 p.m. Looking north up the avenue. It looks like a blizzard – that’s snow, not mist or fog. There are a few people out. Adventuring in the storm. There’s constant shoveling begun in front of my building and making a path across 83rd Street.
A close up of the accumulation. A woman in snow boots navigates a growing snowbank created by ...
Sanitation trucks, five in a row each pushing the road snow closer to the curbs.
A young woman walking her dog, nevertheless must check out her cell phone, through rain or shine, snow or sleet.
4:30 p.m. It’s coming down harder and the plows aren’t making any difference, as you can see.
4:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The heavy snow adds a gossamer-like grandeur to the buildings, reminding me of  some of the great Ashcan School of the late 19th, early 20th century in New York. Dreamy and romantic (especially in a warm spot from which to view it). There are a lot of people out taking in the beauty and the freedom of the open streets without vehicles which had been banned from use after 2:30 p.m. (At risk of arrest).
6:30 p.m. Charlie Scheips, who happens to be in Los Angeles on an assignment at this moment, asked me to send him a picture of his and Tom Graf’s terrace which is down the hall from me with an eastern view overlooking the East River and Roosevelt Island. I zoomed in on the street lamp to get a sense of the falling snow and the temperature.
About 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night, the snow began to subside. This shot is of the cars parked in front of my building.
The plows have come through again and again and the roadway grew narrower accommodating the mounds.
Sunday morning 10:30. Snowblowers and doormen with shovels created this open space for the residents of the building across the avenue.
2:30 p.m. Sunday. Sidewalks are mainly cleared and the plowing and the traffic  (and the temperature in the mid-30s) had melted a lot of the snow on the road. This guy came along out of nowhere, a veritable plower-jockey (at one point I could see he was also talking on his cell while operating his machine).
He’d move in to the snow banks, scooping them up with his plough, then backing up, and dumping it into the road and then flattening it out by dragging the plow backwards across it.
Then he’d put into reverse and in a wide zig-zag with his plow dragging, he’d distribute the snow more broadly, and then run  the plow forward in the same zigzagging path. All of his movements were quick, as if he had places to go and just had to get this stuff outta the way. He drove the plow with an ease and speed that he looked like an old hand at the wheel.
There is a van located on the left hand side of the building’s canopy. You can only see some of its dark blue top. The plower-jockey was redistributing the snowbanks all around him. (The car’s owner had been trying to shovel himself out).
With a few quick moves, he not only moved the snow banks into the middle of the road, but then flattened it all out.
This was when I could see he was on his phone. My guess he was talking to his next client, and then when finished, he was off up the avenue and on to the next snow bank removal. That car I made note of earlier, parked in front of the street, was the one at the farthest right in this picture, still buried as I write this on Monday night.

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