Weather Reviews
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New York City, July 30, 2014

★★★★★ Traffic sounds and cool air carried through the still-open windows. The sky was cloudless at first, with a thin white tinge to the blue, the sun benevolent and warm. Bicycles were everywhere, going the wrong way in the bike lanes. A group of men walked together wearing different-colored but otherwise similar trim shorts. Drumming rose from Verdi Square. A few midday clouds puffed up in the west. Nearly every seat on the plaza was taken for lunch; a row of day campers in blue t-shirts perched on the low wall just by the fountain. By afternoon, the bricks were strewn with water-balloon scraps and the whole space rattled with [...]

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New York City, July 27, 2014

★★★ The day arrived so gray that being rained on seemed inevitable. No sooner had that resignation set in, though, than the sun came, for just long enough to be encouraging. Stepping out into humidity was like walking into a wall, but when the breeze came, it was cool. From the Midtown luxury terrace outside the birthday party, the sky had settled into a noncommittal and featureless gray. The two-year-old never even tried to venture outdoors into it. By the afternoon, sun returned, and the clouds took on individual shapes, though a brothy haze lingered for a while in the spaces between them. It was hot on the avenue in [...]

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New York City, July 22, 2014

★★★★ It was still cool in the morning, though with an undercurrent of dread at where the humidity might be taking things. At the far end of the West Fourth basketball court, a lone figure shot free throws. The oncoming sun, clearing the buildings, found haze on the air and greenish dust on the parked cars. A pale scrap of a butterfly, with black-tipped wings, bobbed out over the sidewalk and into a fenced-off bed of weeds. Cornering out of the shade of Broadway into Houston was like stepping into a sluggish river and beginning to wade upstream. But the struggle passed. Midday approached and the sky showed brown around the [...]

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New York City, July 17, 2014

★★★★★ Unbelievable breezes flowed though the clear, sparkling morning and in the open windows. The breeze blew down Lafayette in cool cloud shade, blew across Prince in the returning sunlight. Mothers wore jean shorts; men rolled trousers to show socks or ankles. Some gray gathered over Lower Manhattan, then–were there wet spots on the fire escape? If there were, they were gone soon enough, the whole interlude merely a reminder not to take this for granted. It would take more than that to ruin the day. It would take knives falling from the heavens. Now there was nothing in the sky but firm, well-spaced cumulus clouds. The downtown skyline shone. Uptown, [...]

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New York City, July 14, 2014

★★ An indecisive follow-up to the sweeping storms of the night before. Morning was humid gray. A couple crowded into the niche between the turnstile fence and the MetroCard machines to kiss. The air was close and still. Paulownia leaves sprouting from a traffic-calming planting bed found enough breeze to wiggle on, and then a puff of wind delivered a raindrop just below the corner of the mouth. That was all the rain, for a while. The gray became glaring, up on the roof. White edging showed, and a little blue, until it was too bright to read in. Then it darkened and dimmed again. A shower passed, carrying a harbor smell [...]

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New York City, July 9, 2014

★★★ Morning was sweaty without being hot. Across what had earlier been blue sky, a solid strip of gray had formed, seeming to match the width and position of Manhattan. It stayed there for quite a while. By afternoon, it was gone, and the air was less damp and more pleasant–too pleasant, in fact, to help bake off the effects of the air conditioning when one fled to the fire escape. The gentle breezes were the answer to some unrelated problem. The clouds came back, to gather into dramatic late-day compositions of slate and ivory and rose. One ray of light broke through to light up one street corner, in golden isolation.

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New York City, July 6, 2014

★★★★ Out in the open, the clarity was a bit punishing. Noise seemed muffled, the colors bleached out. The side street was tranquilizingly dark and breezy; the avenues piercingly hot. Just inside the Park, liquid birdsong flowed. A sparrow ate a Cheerio in the shade of a parked stroller, crunching it with sharp, predatory strokes of its beak. Indoors, a small and active fly had ridden the fresh air currents through the window, and the relative dimness made it all but impossible to pick out and track. The once-empty blue sky acquired a few ribbons and dotted clusters of white. A hot eddy lifted and spun some sidewalk garbage. Heavy-duty squirt guns took [...]

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New York City, July 29, 2014

★★★★★ Even in stillness, there was a distinct chill on the morning air. The high land in the far northwestern distance in New Jersey was plain and clear on the horizon. The sun raised bright white highlights on the cheeks and scalps of people walking beside the vast reflecting surfaces of the Time Warner building. Downtown, in dappled tree shade, it raised blinding spots from the top of SUV. Conditions kept subtly shifting: light and shade, warmth and coolness, gray and white. The edges of the clouds were now indistinct, now distinct. One could walk in it for blocks, looping out of the everyday pattern. Down Lafayette lower than usual, the open back door [...]

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New York City, July 24, 2014

★★★★★ The rain had washed away the haze, though if it had done anything even briefly about the garbage, the smell had already regenerated. Sex parts drifted down from the honeylocust trees. The clouds overhead were a smooth filter on the sun; off in the east, they stood out darker and individual. The temperature was uncannily mild and relaxing, a waking dream state. Outside a bodega, a sturdy man tried a pogo stick, not at all competently, the spring groaning. The late day brightened up in all directions. An gorgeously ordinary tree flared green against an opulently ordinary brick wall. Uptown, pigeons divided a chicken tender among themselves on the Broadway [...]

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New York City, July 21, 2014

★★★★ There was a little light in the sky when the artificial voice built into the portable speaker began announcing, loudly and repeatedly, that its battery was dying. There was full daylight when the alarm went off. Despite the promises on the front page of the newspaper, the air was damp, as if it had rolled in with the morning tide and up the island. Children were out wearing camp t-shirts or packing tennis rackets or dressed in dance clothes. Two sparrows had a dogfight in the air over the mouth of the West Fourth Street station steps, sending a feather pinwheeling down and away from them to the sidewalk. In [...]

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New York City, July 16, 2014

★★★★★ It was cool, utterly cool, under the gray morning. Was it getting brighter? Someone's mirrored shades, approaching up the street, looked suddenly agleam. Downtown, a fresh wind was blowing down the subway steps. The puddle around the blocked drain on the landing, days old now, had dwindled by maybe half. There were white shoe prints in the black silt layer at the bottom. A cyclist pulled out into the bike lane on Lafayette without looking, forcing an oncoming rider on a Citi Bike to swerve and exclaim. The air felt nice on bare arms, in short sleeves. One's own skin was skin, after all, with live nerves in it, something more than a thermoregulating membrane [...]

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New York City, July 13, 2014

★★★ Sun emerged, or part-emerged, and dried out the dampened gray morning. The shade was bearable, but the open areas were distressing. It was hard to guess who among the pedestrians had been out exercising and who was just walking around in exercise wear, glazed with sweat. Scrawny ears of corn were packed in ice outside the supermarket. The sun slipped all the way around the thin remaining clouds and struck full in the face like an insult. The clouds recovered; the sky darkened. Then it brightened again, and as it brightened the rain started falling, fine and dense, with pale floating bits in it like snowflakes. Shadows sharpened and reflective surfaces gleamed, [...]

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New York City, July 8, 2014

★★ Armpits. Men had given up or allowed themselves to give up and were walking around wearing tank tops. Early clouds, separated by fissures of blue, had drawn briefly together and then dispersed, leaving the sun impeded. Leaves tossed in a not at all cooling wind. A truck forced its way through a crosswalk, sending its rear wheels up over the curb for extra emphasis. A man with a butterfly of sweat darkening the back of his pale orange shirt body-checked his way off the B train, desperate to reach the A across the platform. Up on the street, a woman fanned herself with a folding fan in mid-stride, then [...]

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New York City, July 2, 2014

★★★★ Haze stained the horizon. A man in a sportshirt sat on a bench with a newspaper in his lap, chin on his chest, apparently dozing. The garbage smell of Prince Street was stronger than ever. Storms were closing in, but as thunder rumbled in the late-afternoon, the menace still seemed theoretical. The west was gray, the east blue, the sky in between unsettled. By Columbus Circle, the light coming down the station stairs was dusk-blue, two and a half hours early. At 72nd Street, it was dark and raining hard, but not too hard to walk through without an umbrella. A pedestrian went sprinting across oncoming traffic, unnecessarily unwilling to wait [...]

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New York City, July 28, 2014

★★★★ Morning brightened and darkened again. The boys dozed in their bunks in the dimness. North and south above the river were gray, rippling clouds, but overhead the ripples had become blue rifts, and the sun momentarily shone. The gray was darkening again when the seven-year-old got up and out. There was a chilly gust, then warm thick stillness. Down by Columbus Circle, the sun found another opening, raising a mirror-brightness from the windows on Central Park South. The train platforms were hot and noxious; a rush of sweltering air overpowered the air conditioning when the B train car opened its doors at Herald Square. Downtown, the sun was all the [...]

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New York City, July 23, 2014

★★★ Garbage was invisibly in bloom on 3rd Street; a sanitation truck weaved from curb to curb, through the rot-laden air. The small patches of sun were already challenging. But the clouds were surprisingly good-looking, small and loose cumulus on clean blue, and they were even more surprisingly effective against the early sun. A man sat in the little fenced yard off Prince Street and watched the passing foot traffic, the sunbeam behind his amber sunglass lenses calling more attention to his gaze than if his eyes had been uncovered. Up on the roof, out of the air conditioning, the heat was therapeutic, the brightness overwhelming in a soothing way. The [...]

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New York City, July 20, 2014

★★★★ Bubbles drifted west on 68th Street in the sunshine. Wheeled conveyances were everywhere: scooters, bicycles, strollers, a wheeled walker. The two-year-old weaved upstream on his scooter through an oncoming line of them. He rolled expectantly up to the fence of the playground, missing the gate, looking over his shoulder at a pony-sized Parks Department garbage truck. Two games of frisbee were going on in the open schoolyard, and a boy in an Eli Manning jersey was place-kicking a football off a tee into the fence. There was humidity on the air, but still it was cool. After the playground and a long, sunny uphill, hot vapor was rising through the [...]

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New York City, July 15, 2014

★★★★ Sweltering humidity at its purest, unboosted by any overt solar heat. For once, and briefly, it was worth stepping into the office air conditioning, after the airless stairwell. Then the monstrous chill regained its monstrousness. The outside darkened. Mobile phones whined en masse, if not in perfect synchrony, with arriving flash-flood warnings. Suddenly and quietly a solid downpour was falling–and then came a loud growl of thunder, then a sharp clap of it, then a long sustained boom. Another boom followed, sounding very specifically overhead. The street-side windows were white with rain. A roll and a crash; a roll that turned into a crash. Ten minutes went by, fifteen. The [...]

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New York City, July 10, 2014

★★★★ An unexpected sampling of ways not to be unpleasant. The orbital muscles got ready to tighten and then relaxed, in the gentle light of a damp-aired morning. Mellow gray overtook the sky for a long spell, keeping the streets cool. Then abruptly there was almost-full warm sun. The light was clear; the sidewalks were full. Toward sundown, uptown, the neutral gray had come back again. Was air conditioning dripping, or was rain starting to fall? By the end of a trip through the grocery, in and then out on a wide-open express lane, the gray appeared to be resolving back to blue, in the ambiguous tones of dusk. Either way, the [...]

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New York City, July 7, 2014

★★★★ A pigeon puffed up and hunkered down in the top level of the fountain. The heat was baking, but still not crushing or unbearable; it raised a sweat but not a soaking one. A seed puff floated along at a companionable pedestrian rate till it reached the windward edge of a dumpster and sank. Cold streams of air conditioning crossed the sidewalk. On the subway, a bright-eyed young woman told a young man on other side of the doorway that she was heading to the beach, that she was going to see a movie there, that her birthday had just passed. They smiled back and forth and chatted for a [...]