Yesterday was a classic summer day. It was hot, humid, and almost intolerable if you were in direct sunlight. But around six o’clock last night, a thunderstorm brought us some relief. Around eight o’clock, the sun began to set behind the western horizon, and it made for absolutely stunning sunset from Long Island City.
I was all set to lecture this morning on the telegraph for my Introduction to New Media class, a topic that Communication and Media Studies students study a lot, but then we got another storm today. If I’m counting correctly, that makes this the fourth winter storm this year.
By the way, if you ever noticed that New York City has almost no overhead utility lines, it’s because they caused havoc during the Blizzard of 1888.
This storm is a different than the previous two as it brings with it wintry mix. As lovely as it sounds, wintry mix should be renamed winty misery. You’re going to get wet, the streets are essentially covered in slush, and as soon as the slush hits the ground, it freezes to create ice. And ice makes travel a dangerous enterprise.
Another winter storm is upon us, and my schools of employment are again responding to the weather.
Fordham announced this morning that they were closing all campuses on Monday. Too bad I don’t have a class there until Wednesday.
Around 2:00 PM, Pratt announced that they were closing at 3:00 PM. Too bad I don’t teach there this semester.
NYU insisted they were going to remain open today. Although I had a library shift there today, it didn’t bother me having to go: it’s a pretty easy trek since my entire trip is underground via subway.
Unfortunately, Queens College, where I teach an evening class on Mondays this semester, did not close for a few snowflakes, as their emergency webpage emphatically reminded us:
Queens College will be open on Monday, February 3. Please be careful when traveling to and from the college and when walking on campus as the pathways may be slippery.
It usually takes me an hour and a half to travel the eleven miles from NYU to Queens College. The subway portion of the trip is a slog in itself, as the E train starts relatively empty at West Fourth Street but picks up the rush-hour crowd along the way to Queens. And after arriving at Forest Hills, there’s a short but very slow bus ride: it takes about 15 minutes to travel two miles. And after that, there’s a five minute walk from the bus stop to campus.
After all my belly aching, it actually took less time than usual. An hour and ten minutes after leaving NYU, I arrived in the winter wonderland that was Queens College.
Women and children in Central Park, undated photograph. Geographic File. New-York Historical Society # 67175
A seasonable, three-day weekend, where I could have gone for an overdue bike ride, has given way to an old fashioned winter storm. We’re supposed to get as much as a foot, although it could be significantly less, between now and daybreak tomorrow. The threat of all this snow has pushed some of my schools to begin closing for the day. And some are contemplating closing tomorrow, too.
Although I am not teaching there this semester, I still get emergency alerts from Pratt. They will be closing today at 2:00 PM.
CUNY has decided to stay open. Thankfully, that won’t affect me. My first class doesn’t begin there until next Monday. Otherwise, I’d be facing a hellish commute.
That leaves venerable NYU, where I am currently occupying the basement in Bobst Library. For most of the day, NYU was hanging tough and determined to stay open. However, just before 3:30 PM, they announced that they were closing at 4:00 PM today. Although spring classes don’t start here until next week, they’re in the midst of J-Term. They were probably reluctant to cancel classes because it would be hard to make them up. They are, in fact, letting individual instructors make that determination.
Even if the storm isn’t that bad, it’s still hard to concentrate on anything other than the impending doom this storm is evidently causing.
The first significant snowfall since late October brought a relatively minor amount of accumulation, but here in the city, the snow went through an accelerated pace through its usual steps. First it snowed, leaving a thin blanket of powder, which was quickly turned to slush. Now, it looks like it snowed three days ago and the grey sidewalk slush is going to make crossing streets an adventure.
Winter is here. Groundhog Day is about two weeks away. But for now, we got slush.
This is the earliest I have seen had snowfall in New York City, and possibly only the fourth time since the Civil War when it has snowed before Halloween. That’s pretty significant because only two years ago, it was Halloween, on a Saturday, and it was warm.