Sunday, 18 July 2010

Turn off the heating, please

The weather’s been going over the top this year. To quote some figures: average temperature in January was roughly six degrees lower than long-term average, snow cover in Warsaw reached in mid-February 53 centimetres, in May Poland was flood-stricken, damages totalled up to more than 10 billion zlotys and now the hot spell. After weeks abounding in rainfalls the word ‘drought’ sounds a bit silly, but that’s what we actually have in Warsaw, where we haven’t had any rainfalls since 6 July. To boot, temperature has been hitting +30C or more for nine consecutive days. Heat waves are nothing unusual in Poland, July 2006 was one endless string of sunshine, boiling heat and lack of precipitation, this year the history may repeat itself.

After cool May and moderate June almost everybody (not me!) longed for warmth. As far as I noticed virtually everyone’s had enough of heat after one week of Saharan temperatures. I don’t know which day was the hottest. My car thermometer showed +36C on Thursday, but it was when the traffic was snarled up and my journey from Metro Wilanowska to home lasted one hour – I got stuck in a traffic jam after a motorbike-rider had an accident in Mysiadło and his vehicle, an ambulance and fire engine blocked two lanes. I felt really sorry for commuters who had to travel by sweatboxes that afternoon.

Really lucky are those who have a luxury of driving air-conditioned cars. Travelling is far more comfortable, but the number of tragic accidents on days when temperature hits 30s, sun shines and visibility is good is very high. Drivers tend to put their foots down, but weather is deceptive – just a lapse of concentration and the tragedy is a matter of split second. Right: the upshot of unfavourable mixture of my thoughtlessness, haste, tiredness, inexperience, inattention and taking for granted nothing wrong can happen just outside my own house. ‘Something bad can happen along on the road, but not here’ – I thought. I made a dent on a front bumper in a particularly imbecilic way – I tried to park swiftly in front of my gate, swung the car too quickly and smashed into the brick underpinning of my fence. My neighbours must have had a schadenfreude, thankfully nobody filmed it, as the film could be only sent out to makers of “World’s worst drivers” compilation. After all nothing serious happened, my father (after he cooled off) managed to bring the bumper to its proper shape and varnished it. In reality it doesn’t look as badly as lit by the flashlight in a dark garage, at first glance when you stand a few metres away from the car it’s not even visible. Repairing this (what would mean buying a new bumper hence it’s seriously scratched to the right after my father slid on icy slope and rubbed against the garage door) would cost too much, the car won’t be sold in a few years, quite probably it will never change hands so the mangled bumper will not bring down its resale value. Lesson learnt, now I have to carry on without making such stupid mistakes.

Saturday was undoubtedly the hottest day, temperature in the afternoon hit +35C. Today, on Sunday it’s cooler (currently +25C), but unbearably close. Temperature at home reached yesterday +32.5C, I even somehow got used to it. People find different ways of coping with heat. The common denominator is water. This year problems with water supply in NI are rare, but when the taps run dry it’s no laughing matter. During the current hot spell water pressure was slightly lower than usual but I had no problems taking a shower. Except Sunday, 11 July (when I could bath normally in the bathroom on ground floor) and Friday, 16 July, when there was absolutely no water at all and I ended up bathing in drops of cold water before midnight. Yesterday, despite +35C water was running normally, today forecasters are expecting storm which will bring the desired rainfalls and put the heat wave to the end. Meanwhile my neighbours bought a big foldable pool, poured six or more cubic metres of water into it sat there all (roughly five people at the same) from late morning till dusk for five days of more. The water (not changed) was yesterday as my neighbours claimed +36C hot and the pong was felt in my garden…

It’s been a hot week in politics as well. Jarosław Kaczynski has taken off his mask and returned to his old habits: dividing Poles, verbal blackmailing, passing moral judgements, throwing accusations. New lights are being shed on the Smolensk plane crash. Still I wonder how it’s going to end up. Plus I wonder why blogs run by Michael Dembinski and Toyah haven't been updated since Friday, when they were supposed to have a heated discussion over my last post. Both Toyah and Michael are even-tempered and mild-mannered so I’m sure they didn’t come to blows, but other readers and I would surely be elated to have their curiosity satisfied, if both bloggers gave their own accounts of their certainly fruitful debate.


Brad Zimmerman said...

Just a few quick comments.

First: air conditioning in Poland is highly underrated. According to most comments I hear, it's too cold and will instantly make you sick. Personally, I love it and when my wife and I bought a new car a few years ago we were delighted to find that a/c was standard across the range (Citroën C4).

Second: Nice weather station thing. What make and model is it? I would like to get something like that for myself one of these days.

Third and last: I have observed - on many, many occasions - Poles professing a deep and undying love for Summer. To hear most talk it is though they are Greek or Egyptian immigrants longing for their homelands. Oddly enough, after about the third day of 30+ temperatures everyone is grumpy and wants it to cool down. I've come to the conclusion that people want the sunshine but not the heat (seasonal affective disorder on a national level).

student SGH said...

Just a quick reply:

1. It's still not a standard thing at homes, but in office buildings is quite natural. At my office temperature is set at +24C, but on Friday I had shivers and goosepimples. And yes, I'd find it hard to drive without aircon but one can get used to evrything, for decades people were doing without it and survived.

2. Not a weather station. It's a devices that steers central heating system. In autumn, winter and spring it turns the heating on when temperatre drops to +19.5C and turn off when it reaches +20.5C (of course settings may be changed), it can be used for switching air-con system on and off but since we don't have it, from April to October it's useless and just shows current temperature.

3. I don't like the sunshine that much, I prefer when it rains. Irish or English climate with lots of precipitation, warm winters and no longer cool summers really takes my fancy though most people find it dejecting. I have a kind of SAD - I feel badly when days are so long because I can't sleep when it's not dark so no matter if I'm drowsy or not, I wake up around 4 a.m. Nightmare, I'm longing for shorter days and temperature of around +20C

PolishMeKnob said...
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PolishMeKnob said...

Indeed, it's a bit of a furnace in Warsaw, but there's usually a bit of a breeze. The streets are unusually deserted too (people try to stay out of the sunshine.)

Right now, I've got a nice, cool evening breeze blowing through the balcony door.