Monday, December 10, 2001

What I saw last Friday evening:

It's December. It's Boston. It's after 8:00 PM; the sun has been down for nearly four hours. It's well over 60 degrees fahrenheit. People are walking around in short sleeves. They are comfortable. The trees like it so much that they're sprouting new leaves barely a month after shedding the old ones.

Last winter, here, people were complaining bitterly about the weather, or more precisely, the lack of it. The teevee weathermen hyped each storm that blew in as an impending crisis, predicting a six inch snowfall that would tie the city up in knots. (Some of us remember when six inch snowfalls in Boston were the usual thing, and we sneered at places like Washington DC and Atlanta for letting the occasional real snowfall tie them up in knots). And then would come... the disappointment. Some of these "storms" were officially measured at four to six inches of snow. Rumor has it that these measurements are performed by roaming the wasteland between the runways at Logan airport looking for the deepest visible windblown drift. I never saw more than two or three inches on the ground outside my apartment, invariably melted away to nothing a week later.

Saturday evening, we had our first snowfall here --- a few inches at most, and none at all on the roads, where it melted as it hit (though snowplows were driving past throughout the night, as if rearranging the ghosts of snowdrifts past). The guys on the radio were talking about eight inches of snow on the ground in Cambridge. By 3:30 in the afternoon, when I got to Harvard Square, the sidewalks were entirely clear.

When I was growing up, it was a rare thing to see bare ground that hand't been shoveled in February. That was New Jersey.

The evidence on global warming is not yet clear.


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