Saturday, 19 December 2009

Absolutely normal winter

Only the media and other sensation-hunters try to make a mountain out of a small hill. The temperature of minus fourteen degrees in December is more or less as normal as plus thirty in June. How have I calculated it? It’s simple. Mean December temperature in Warsaw is around -0,5C, mean June temperature is something like, +16,5C. Moreover the day-to-night ratio is roughly 2 in June and roughly 0,5 in December. This is important because it shows the time when the earth absorbs and gives off heat. That is why I compare the night-time lows in December and daytime highs in June. Add and or subtract 13,5 degrees and you’ll get respectively thirty or minus fourteen. My reasoning and calculations are a bit approximate as monthly amplitudes of extreme temperatures are bigger in the winter, but daily ones in the summer.

Nevertheless, media spread panic, when nothing unusual has happened and the audience have followed up with the winter madness. Yesterday in Warsaw I passed a group of teenage girls who claimed they didn’t remember such frosty winter. For those who have a short memory I prepared a quick reminder. The last days haven’t been the coldest this year, the temperature in Warsaw dropped to minus twenty two degrees on 6 January 2009 (seven Celsius degrees colder than these days), those girls should also remember 23 January 2006, when the temperature in the capital of Poland went down to minus thirty degrees. The different story is that the few past December accustomed us to the mild weather. The last cold December was in 2002 and the weather was very similar to the current one. The grumblers should blame themselves. There’s no other solution for freezing cold than to wrap up. Most of those elegant shoes or fashionable thin overcoats are not suitable for temperature of minus fifteen and heavy snow.

The media coverage snowed us with the reports of heavy winter attack. In simple words winter did polish off Warsaw on Thursday. I left home at 6:25 in the morning to get to school before 8:00 and I managed. Ul. Puławska was covered with typical slush (thanks for Micheal Dembinski for giving an idea on how to translate Polish word breja, it seems to be quite suitable, as the snow poured with salt or grit begins to melt), but cars were moving forward smoothly and so the bus did. It would have been amazing if the heating hadn’t broken down so students were freezing in the lecture rooms, but in general it was a good day because I won lots of gadgets in E&Y contest. I left school at 15:00 and a quarter later I stood in the middle of the crowd on Wilanowska bus terminus. As it turned out later, buses didn’t come, because had got stuck on the jammed Puławska. The first old Ikarus arrived from Woronicza depot. The ride home took only thirty five minutes (surprisingly short). From what I’ve seen or heard traffic in Warsaw was snarled up everywhere from dawn to the late evening.

On Friday the situation got better after the snow had ceased to fall. In the morning Puławska in Piaseczno was still covered with after-snow mud, but Warsaw managed to clear its street during the night. Warsaw managed clear its roads and the border of the capital, normally invisible was clearly marked by the dirty roads. Below Al. Niepodległości next to the post office where I popped in to send the next item from my allegro sale.

And a pavement along the street, still under the snow and slippery is an exception. All arteries and byways in Warsaw were black.

Nowa Iwiczna seems to prove to be an uncivilised suburb compared to Warsaw. Below my street around midday and then at dusk. Mixture of grit and snow lingers.

I took a few other snaps, however the camera was a bit reluctant to work in the cold and dark and in spite of my attempt to take sharp photos, it didn’t work out. Finally it told me about the shutter error and switched off. After removing memory card and batteries and overnight “drying” it ran fine today.

I decided to make extensive use of the Saturday afternoon and stroll through Nowa Iwiczna and Stara Iwiczna and carry out a road clearance inspection.

Below: the main street of Nowa Iwiczna (ul. Krasickiego), covered with a driven mud

The main street of Stara Iwiczna (ul. Słoneczna) doesn’t look much better

The layer of slush on my street remains intact.

And the coal train siding. Looks in use, but unfortunately I didn’t spot any train, even though the odds were higher (the lower the temperature is, the more trains have to carry coal to the power plant)

Despite the cold, media hogwash and commuting horror I try to look at the bright side of winter. Yesterday, after skies cleared up in the morning, the snow-capped landscape lit by the sun looked wonderfully.

Below: a view towards Puławska,

Pine trees swathed in the snow, as seen from the ground floor bathroom window,

A view from my room – back of the garden and neighbours’ plots

And a frozen pond in Mysiadło (don’t worry if you can’t see any pond…)

I’m identifying another problem – we haven’t had white Christmas in Warsaw since 2002 and your hopes for it may be dashed. We’re going to have a typical “Christmas thaw” this year, so I decided to secure white Christmas in advance and hoarded some snow in the garden (below).

The bigger snowdrift is rather unlikely to melt quickly.

Meanwhile the global leaders who gathered in Copenhagen had to endure the cold spell. The climate summit is perceived to be a failure, but I’m one of those who are pleased with such an outcome. The global warming is a fact. Whenever a frost wave, like the current one comes, I can read posts on weather forums like “and now try to tell me there’s a global warming”. Temperatures are rising in general, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have extremely cold temperatures. But the link between mankind’s activity and warming is not confirmed. I believe it is more a natural phenomenon and our contribution to it is tiny. It used to be warmer on Earth. Why is Greenland called Greenland? Maybe because when it was discovered it was green, only later, when the climate cooled, it got iced. We should cut down on the carbon dioxide emission, but to reduce air pollution, to save forests which produce oxygen, to waste less and produce less waste. Global warming is a political issue, which involves colossal sums of money – and because big money is at stake, there will be no honest discussion on it.

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