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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

For many years, the wife and I have lived in Seattle and sweated it out during the summer. You may think “Are Seattle summers hot enough to need air conditioning?”

For many years, the answer was no. Seattle does get hot summers (30 degrees Celsius) for 1, 2, or even 3 weeks at a time. But for years that wasn’t that common. Most people in Seattle just lived with the discomfort because summers didn’t get that hot and it didn’t last all that long. Furthermore, for ourselves, we lived in the ground floor of a condo and that stays a lot cooler anyway.

Well, a couple of years ago we moved into the house we’re living in now. That was in September and I noticed that it was warm. The next year, 2014, was too hot. Our bedroom is upstairs and we had to sleep with a fan on all night because it was too hot there. Then, in 2015, it was just as bad and the entire summer I threatened to get an air conditioner but we never did. I figured we could tough it out, and we did. But it sucked.

Well, this year, this past May, we got a portable air conditioner from Costco. It’s a big and heavy thing, and you have to vent it out the window. But, we took it upstairs and while it’s a bit loud, it works great.

Seattle didn’t really have warm weather this year for long stretches until the third week in July. We were thinking to ourselves “Yeah, we got this $450 air conditioner and it’s not even hot.”

Well, it’s hot now. And we do use it, and it’s fantastic. I say to wife “Why didn’t we do this earlier? I don’t want to have to sweat so much!”

Because we bought it two months ago, we were prepared for the hot summer weather when it came. We planned ahead on that one.

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The wife and I are currently traveling in Germany. Before we left, I checked the weather. Since this is currently the end of April (late spring), I figured the weather may be cool.

In Seattle, it was warm the day we left, going up to 24⁰ C. By contrast, the city in Germany we were going to – Cologne – was only going to be around 12-14⁰ C. Less warm, but not so bad. The forecast was less accurate as time passed, but it seemed to be dropping.

Well, we got to Cologne and it was colder. It warmed up during the week but towards the end it started cooling down.

We left Cologne and headed to the Rhine Valley and Mosel Valley in southwest Germany where it got even colder. Below’s a picture of me overlooking one of the castle. I’m wearing all of my warm clothes but I’m still a little uncomfortable.

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Today, we headed to Frankfurt and while walking around town, it was really cold, windy, and rainy. I threw in the towel and bought another toque. The one in the picture is too thin (I lost my thicker one shortly before we left and didn’t have time to replace it).

I was prepared for cold weather. I brought a rain jacket, a heavier(ish) jacket, gloves, and a hat for my head. I also dress up in layers (I’m wearing four on my upper body in the picture). But the fact that didn’t have a warmer hat came back to haunt me. I figured that since it was later into spring I may be able to get away with it, but I was wrong.

I tested out my warmer hat today. It worked. But I hope that today is not the last day I need it.

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Summer in Seattle is usually pretty nice. Since July 1, I think we have had only two rainy days – August 2 (the day of our division picnic) and yesterday (August 29).

Yesterday was very humid, a major shift in the weather. Not only was it muggy, it was raining. As I was walking around, I could feel it in my hip – the one I haven’t had surgery on yet. I was walking normally and it ached every time I took a step; I said to myself “What is going on?”

I did go to the gym on Tuesday but I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. The only thing that changed was the weather – from hot and dry to warm and humid.

I’ve done some research, and other researchers argue that people who complain about weather changes by feeling it in their bodies is a myth. It isn’t true. Well, it is true because I’ve felt it multiple times. When the weather undergoes a dramatic shift and I haven’t acclimatized, my hip(s) will complain.

I wish they’d shut up.

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Snow!

People in Seattle, or rather, Americans who are not used to snow, get very excited when it snows in Seattle.  I presume that they think that there will be mountains of white, fluffy powder and they can re-enact all the Christmas scenes that appear in the movies.

The problem is that while it did snow in Seattle this past weekend, it didn’t snow that much – not enough to get good sledding or skiing (for that you need to go into the mountains but then it doesn’t matter if it snows in Seattle because in the mountains it snows all winter).  It stays around the freezing point, perhaps a couple of degrees below it, and that transforms the snow into ice which makes it difficult to drive on.  This is worse in Seattle than Winnipeg because we have tons of hills.  Sure, Winnipeg drivers deal with snow 9 months a year, but at least the roads are mostly flat.

I was driving home yesterday and it was snowing.  On the drive, I had to make a left turn.  The turn was down at the bottom of a hill and I figured it might be slippery.  I signaled to get into that lane but as I did, I began to skid.  “Uh-oh,” I thought.  I wasn’t going very fast, maybe 28 miles per hour (the limit is 35 mph).  But as I shifted lanes, the car started to skid and drifted across and across.  I couldn’t regain control of the vehicle.  I was going to drift into the opposing lane of traffic.

But luckily, there was a concrete median in the middle of the road.  I hoped that I would regain control before I got there, but no such luck.  I bounced off the median with a thud, regained control of the vehicle and made my way home.

I got home and inspected the damage.  There was no visible damage but there was audible damage.  I heard a hissing sound and knew that the tire was going flat from a leak.

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Well, I guess that’s not too bad a problem.

I then proceeded to change the tire.  It was a lot of work to get it off because the lug nuts were on very tight.  Eventually I managed to get it off but I had to boost the car a bit higher with the jack because I could not get the spare tire on.  The car was still too low.

I adjusted the jack under the car and started moving it up, but after a few minutes I accidentally twisted the jack, it slipped out from under the and the front of my car came down with a thud.  In other words, I had no tire on the front of my car and the jack slipped, and the front of the car crashed down on the spot where the tire goes.

Great.

I got the jack out from under the car, twisted it down, and then reinserted it back under the car and raised it.  I was more careful this time and put the spare tire on and lowered the car.  It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but at least I changed the tire.

I took the car into the shop this morning and they fixed the tire (free of charge!) but I had to get a front-end alignment since I crashed into the side of the median.  $80 later, I’m road worthy. Unfortunately, my car now runs really loud.  I don’t know what the problem is, but something is definitely wrong.  I suspect it might be from the crashing-down-on-the-axle.  That’s going to cost some money.

That’s why I’m not a big fan of snow in Seattle.

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Torrential downpour

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I did our fifth outing, a canoe ride up the Mopan river. A guide takes you up the river – and does most of the paddling – and you end up at a little resort. You walk around a bit, have lunch, and the head back. While we were at the resort, it rained a bit.

We got back from the resort to the canoe and headed back. On the way back it started clouding over somewhat. We finally got back to shore and walked back to our hotel, maybe a three minute walk from the river. Literally two minutes after we arrived back, it started to rain again. I don’t mean one of those lame Seattle misty rains, I mean a tropical rainforest torrential downpour that you read about in books or see in movies. Man, did it come down.

And yet we missed it… by two minutes! Can you believe that timing? What a fortunate set of events to get back in time. After all, who can time a canoe ride to get back just before it pours cats and dogs, or in our case, iguanas and foxes? With two minutes to spare, no less.

Sometimes it just works out.

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Today in Seattle, it snowed.  It was also snowing yesterday.  It’s not a particularly heavy snow, but by no means is it light.

Snow in Seattle is an interesting thing.  It’s not so much that all drivers don’t know how to drive in snow (many of them do), but rather, the roads are hilly out here.  Slippery roads and hills make it difficult to navigate.  Even now as I write this, I can hear people trying to get up the hill where I live and they are spinning their tires hard.  The reason that they are spinning is because they mistakenly believe that they can go slowly up the hill and nothing will happen.  By contrast, when I got home, as I pulled on to the hill I ensured that I got a steady head of steam to carry me up the hill by momentum so that I wouldn’t fall back down.  I’ve fallen back down before, it sucks.  But physics is my friend; many other drivers… not so much.

Using that as the backdrop, when native Seattle-ites started celebrating the snow yesterday, I kind of rolled my eyes.  “Oooh, look at that!  It’s snow!  How wonderful! How magical!  Tra-la-la la-laaaah!  Let us all go out from our gum drop houses on lollipop lane and frolic down by the chocolate rivers in this beautiful goodness of snow!”

People have a very romanticized notion of snow.  The reality is that snow piles up on the roads and causes huge traffic back ups.  Many of my friends that were excited about the snow are now complaining/tweeting that their commute back home is taking over and hour and they are still only half way to their destination.  As long as the snow continues to fall, things will remain as is.  Seattle is not equipped to handle snowy weather.  We don’t have a lot of snow plows and the inclines on the roads makes navigation more difficult than in flat Winnipeg.  The reality is that unless you are equipped to deal with it, snow is a major inconvenience.  It costs cities a lot of money to manage each year.  And the locals aren’t really all that thrilled when it falls (except for the snowmobile enthusiasts and skiers).  Most are just happy when it melts in the spring.

Seriously, to the people who are thrilled about the snow, you can’t go sledding in it over here.  It doesn’t fall thick enough.  It’s also too wet.  And you need better hills.  It also kind of glops down, it’s not the light fluffy snow you see in Winnipeg, or on TV (that stuff is fake).  Luckily, most residents here don’t have to shovel it, and shoveling snow is actually tough on your back (I assume it’d be murder on my hip… but I’m not actually sure).  And as to your complaining about your commute – what exactly did you expect?  Snow is not romantic, it’s a weather condition that is celebrated on TV with music and lighting.  But in real life, that’s not the way it works.

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Lousy weather

The other day here in Seattle, they were forecasting a weather warning.  It was going to be high winds and possibly some rain.  Worse, this threatened to be a huge storm and that maybe people should work from home, go home early, batten down the hatches.

Needless to say, this warning was because of the huge windstorm that Seattle had last December that shut down the city.  Anyway, they were issuing a windstorm warning and indeed, during the day, my fellow co-workers looked out the window and said “Geez, that’s a strong wind.”

Later in the evening around quarter after six, I walked outside and felt the serious breeze.  I wasn’t at all impressed with the severity of the ‘storm’.  I said to myself “You know, we have these types of days back home in Manitoba.  We call them weekdays.”

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