By Bill Lawyer
I spend a lot of time thinking about the weather, mostly because I have a dog, and I need to determine what the weather conditions will be when Max has to be walked.
Of course, there is some flexibility in the dog-walking schedule, and I have a variety of paths that I can follow — long, short, sheltered by trees, puddle-free, etc. But at some points during the day and night it can’t be put off.
My concerns about the weather are also triggered by health and safety, and we’re always trying to figure out how to deal proactively with threats being forecast.
Now in terms of dog walking over the years, the primary weather features that have always interested me are temperature and precipitation. And those are ones that are easiest to find out about.
The weather services have created detailed historical records of what the average temperature and average precipitation have been from day to day. This is done thanks to the ability to collate the changing conditions from hour to hour in particular locations and then averaging them. Therefore, I can look at the New York monthly weather chart for the previous month and see what the temperature and precipitation actual averages are, and how they compare to previous years (i.e. “normal”).
Last month, for example, the actual average temperature was 41.6 degrees, which was 5.3 degrees higher than the normal average. And the precipitation was .6 below normal.
All this is leading up to get to the most important weather concern I’ve had in recent years: how windy it is in Rye! While not as much statistical analysis has been done about wind, we all know how many things are impacted by dangerous wind conditions.
Not that wind is all bad — it can be pleasurable on a hot day, and it makes beautiful sounds blowing through forest of pines — as well as beautiful music with wind chimes.
Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it’s my impression that we get lots of windy weather on normal days, not just when there’s a tropical storm or Nor’easter taking aim at us, sitting right by the Atlantic coast with nothing between us and the gusting ocean winds except Long Island.
One thing that is different about wind measurements is that at any given time there are two variables — general wind speed and direction, and gust speeds. And sometimes there is a large difference between the two.
Enter WeatherSpark, a relatively new website that was developed to enable weather information organizations to create historical as well as projected weather information.
As of yet they have not provided specific, day-to-day wind data, but they have worked out some monthly details in given locations. The nearest one is Flushing, Queens. At that location, the average wind speed for February is 13 miles per hour. The minimum is 5, the maximum 20.
Nineteen percent of the time in February the wind comes from the south. Next are west and northwest, at 15 percent.
The Weather Underground website shows daily gust speeds. On February 10, the maximum was 26 mph, but we don’t know how long these gusts occurred.
In the past month we’ve had a number of windstorms where trees were toppled, power was lost, and things were dangerously blown around on the streets, sidewalks, and buildings under construction.
My goal is to find out more about measuring wind conditions, and determining if indeed my sense that wind conditions are getting worse is accurate.
And everyone should be checking out how battened down their hatches are right in their own backyards.