Outside New York, weather isn’t a big deal. If it’s sunny, great. If it rains, you stay indoors or use an umbrella for the 30 seconds it takes to get to a car. If it’s cold, you turn on the heat in your home or car; if it’s hot, you turn on the air conditioner in your home or car. Snow can cause a bit of a problem at times, but it either melts in a couple of days or is plowed away within hours. Other than major events – outdoor sports, weddings and/or receptions, reunions, etc – inclement weather isn’t a problem for most of you.
But bad weather is a major problem for us New Yorkers. While plenty of people drive cars in the city or have private car service, the vast majority of people in New York walk or take public transportation as their primary means of travel. In most places people can simply run a few yards to their car (or go downstairs to the garage), but for most of us in Manhattan inclement weather is a major hassle for our travel. You see, when it rains in New York we have two options: stay in all day and keep dry, or brave the elements and get wet. What about umbrellas? They work, but not particularly well when it’s really pouring out, and the bottom of your legs still get wet – and there’s nothing more annoying than cold, wet feet.
What about taking a bus, subway or taxi – those are all covered, are they not? They are, but getting to them still means facing the weather. Even if a bus stop is right across the street, you may have to stand outside for 20 minutes waiting for the next bus to arrive. Subway stations are typically several blocks away (at least), assuming the closest station will take you where you want to go. And taxi cabs? On a rainy day? Good luck! Even if you do hail an unoccupied cab, it could take quite a while to find one. Plus, riding in a subway or bus on a rainy day is miserable on several levels. For starters, it’s crowded because everyone rides them instead of walking in the elements. In addition to being crowded, the floors are wet, dirty, and slippery from all the dripping shoes and umbrellas.
Rain is the worst inclement weather condition, but extreme hot and cold aren’t much better. On hot days New Yorkers spend a fortune on air conditioning – if in fact they have air conditioning. We are lucky enough to have our air conditioning/power bill included in our rent, but it’s pretty weak and is usually ineffective on the hottest days. Subway trains and buses are air conditioned, but the subway stations are not: nothing is more disgustingly hot and humid than a crowded subway station in the middle of a hot July day. Extremely cold days aren’t much better. While all buildings must have basic levels of heat provided in winter (per city law), some days in New York are painfully cold and windy. Last year the temperature didn’t reach 30F for over a week – with the heat in every room on full blast and bundled in blankets I was still cold. And walking in cold wind as it blasts through the canyons of buildings can be a truly painful experience.
And cold, coupled with snow and ice, can be difficult to manage. Having said that, I love snow and definitely prefer snow to rain. Snow usually doesn’t drench me when I walk in it, though it can cause the same unpleasant riding experiences on buses and the subway. The worst thing about snow and ice is when it piles at intersections and cross-walks. Store owners and apartment buildings are required to keep the sidewalk clean in front of their building, but the snow has to get shoveled somewhere, and that somewhere is usually street corners, where it is slowly amassed into a mountain that practically requires mountain climbing gear to traverse. Even worse are the small piles that seem like solid footing, but only give way to a puddle of ice water underneath, thoroughly soaking shoes and socks in dirty, freezing slush.
So what kind of days do I like in New York? Like most places, New York as the best weather in the Fall and Spring. I love temperatures in the 40-55F range, perhaps with a cool gust of wind now and then. I like wearing sweat shirts or even coats – I’d much rather be a little chilly than a little hot. I don’t mind overcast days, even with a little mist, but full-fledged rain is annoying. And I love snow – I have no problem walking in the snow, even if it means taking extra care to avoid those hidden puddles on street corners. But whatever if the weather, if I’m plan on getting out and about it will definitely impact my plans. That’s something people living outside the City don’t have to consider…