Woo-eee! What a day of weather. New York summer storms can often be intense and sudden, but yesterday was by far the most impressive I’ve ever experienced.
The first one hit about 3.30pm, while I was out shopping in town. One minute it was a little bit overcast, the next a sheer wall of water came out of the sky. Since I was already stupidly hot and sweaty after cycling across the ‘burg bridge in 34 degrees of 90% humidity I decided to go outside and enjoy some real rain. Large drops impacted on me as I stepped outside bringing a smile to my face, and within a few minutes I was drenched.
At first the rain was pretty warm, and you could still feel the heat from the sidewalk rising up. After about ten minutes the rain changed into cold large drops which felt wonderful after all the heat. Usually at this point storms tend to stop, but this one just kept on going for about 40 minutes. Totally drenched I couldn’t actually go inside for shelter anywhere due to the excessively high air conditioning that was going on – within seconds inside I’d have probably caught hypothermia.
Then the lightning strikes began. Wow. You could hear them coming closer and closer across midtown down towards the East Village where I was. By this time I’d picked my bike back up and was walking towards the Billyburg bridge ready to head home and get dry. After a bolt of lightning hit within a few blocks of where I was, I decided that maybe going across a large metal bridge wasn’t such a bright idea.
By this point the streets were pretty much empty, with everyone huddling under whatever shelter they could find. Huge lakes of water gathered on every street corner trying to get down the over-loaded drains. Then, suddenly, it stopped. People poked their heads out from under the shelter and looked up nervously before stepping outside – some running just to make sure they made some distance before it started again. As for me, well I headed on over to the bridge on my bike which for some reason had stopped it’s usual creaking when I pedalled. No lightning strikes on the bridge thankfully, although i could see it hitting in Brooklyn about three miles away so I made sure I got over the bridge quickly.
Once home I hung everything up to dry, thanked my bag for managing to stay vaguely waterproof and settled down to recover and enjoy the much cooler weather.
Then at 7pm it started all over again – this time with the addition of gale force winds. At first I could see lightning strikes gather over Manhattan – rapid flashes hitting repeatedly around 50th street. Then the lightning crossed over the whole sky to the north and the strikes got progressively nearer. Once the rains started, pushed by a strong southerly wind, I couldn’t see much out of the window – in fact I had to make sure all my windows were crossed to stop the rain driving in.
This storm raged around my building for a couple of hours – combined with very flooded streets below, a strike of lightning again within a few blocks (probably one of the chimneys in the industrial estate) and some very strange wind effects. At one point I looked out of the window and it looked like a cloud was flying down the street at high speed; the wind was driving the moisture off the ground so hard, even while it was still raining torrentially, that a large volume of mist was being thrown up. Very eerie but cool.
Then, once again, it all stopped, but unfortunately this time the hot weather returned – I guess the storms marked a transition into and then out of a band of cooler weather. Ah well. The good news was that all of this didn’t happen on Saturday, when it would have totally ruined Marcin and Crystal’s wedding in New Jersey! Congratulations to the Bichalskis on their happy day.