Monday Bulletin: Rainiest Hour Ever; Richer Is Cooler; ‘Karen’ Reconsidered

Photo by Karen Keating.

August 23, 2021 Weather: Rainy, with a high of 80 degrees.

Our calendar has lots of local events!

NYC might have been spared the worst of Hurricane Henri, but a record rainfall soaked Central Park over the weekend. “The National Weather Service said Central Park experienced 1.94 inches of rainfall between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday — the most ever recorded in the city in a single hour since the service began tracking more than 150 years ago,” the NY Post reported.

Summer heat is inequitably distributed in NYC, according to The New York Times. “Its distribution follows other patterns of inequality, including race, income, air quality and access to air-conditioning. On a midday in early August, that disparity became glaring when The Times used an infrared thermometer to record surface temperatures on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, as well as in East Harlem and the South Bronx. On the tree-canopied block of West 94th Street near Central Park in Manhattan, the sidewalk temperature was 84. Just across town, at a treeless lot for sanitation trucks on First Avenue in East Harlem, the blacktop registered at 115 degrees, a full 31 degrees hotter….

Multiple people got sick, and one person was sent to the hospital after fumes flooded the Planetarium Post Office, said the FDNY. Around 1:03 p.m. on Thursday, 40 firefighters responded to reports of fumes coming from the Post Office at 127 West 83rd Street. The branch was quickly evacuated, and one woman was carried out on a stretcher, an eyewitness told Patch.” The fumes appear to have been caused by a gas leak in the building, a USPS worker said.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the NYC eviction moratorium leaves some renters in a precarious spot. The Times explains the other options.

Karen was one of the most popular names for newborn girls in 1941. T magazine explores its origins and how it became “an epithet for a type of interfering, hectoring white woman, the self-appointed hall monitor unloosed on the world, so assured of her status in society that she doesn’t hesitate to summon the authorities — demanding to speak to the manager or calling the police — for the most trivial and often wholly imaginary transgressions.”  One example given is “the (UWS) woman in New York City’s Central Park who, angry that a Black birder had asked her to leash her dog, raised the pitch of her voice to falsely inform a 911 operator that ‘there is a man, African American … and he is … threatening me.’”

NEWS | 17 comments | permalink
    1. Juan says:

      That temperature article in the NY Times is awful reporting. Of course a tree-lined street will have a lower temperature than an unshaded lot. How about comparing apples to apples – a treeless lot on the UWS vs. a similar one in East Harlem?

      I am a Democrat and a lifelong, loyal NYT reader but their constant focus on identity politics lately has been horrible. Yes, there are a lot of minority groups that have a lot of problems. But they are often assuming problems where they don’t exist.

      • Robert Goodman says:

        In the Bronx neighborhoods where I grew up, (think World’s Fair, Book of Daniel, or Billy Bathgate) I have been struck, when I visit, that, unlike the UWS, my home since 1959, the streets have very few trees and the pounding heat of summer is oppressive.

        Much of the UWS is blessed with tree lined streets.

        • Ll says:

          I THINK the NYT is trying to show that rich white people live in tree lined streets abd have access to AC, whole poor Black people or Hispanic/Latino/a people do not. I think though that a lot of the Bronx has veen poor for a long time, back when it was primarily whoye. Same with east Harlem.

          But also. Washington Heights has a lot of trees west of Broadway not so much on the east. Eaat of Broadway is a lot poorer than west but the population is not so different ethnically or racially.

        • Josh P. says:

          The UWS also has taller buildings, which generate shade and keep the neighborhood cooler.

      • Kim says:

        The test was flawed. Of course asphalt is going to be hotter than the sidewalk. It’s black (which retains heat) versus the white/beige color of the sidewalk which does not. You need to compare apples to apples which in this case is either the street asphalt to street asphalt or sidewalk to sidewalk.

        • Josh P. says:

          Later in the article they discuss that factor – “On this cloudy day, the playground was only 90 degrees. But the adjacent light-colored concrete surface where school administrators parked was nine degrees cooler.”
          So it looks like the blacktop vs sidewalk can explain about 9 degrees of the 31 degree difference. The rest of the substantial difference in temperature is likely caused by the issues the Times chose to highlight – wealthier neighborhoods like the Upper West Side have fewer vacant lots contributing to the urban heat island effect and get more investment from the city in the form of trees which provide shade and transpiration.

          • Josh says:

            The 9 degree difference on a cloudy day is not the same as what you would see on a sunny day. Direct sunlight has a lot more energy, creating the discrepancy. Also, the friction from vehicles traveling on the road adds heat to the asphalt – think when the tire tracks on the road dry before the center or the road after a rain. You just cannot compare surface temperatures of asphalt and concrete to get a useful comparison.

        • Josh says:

          Ambient air temperature is better still.

    2. Josh says:

      It is true that neighborhoods within the city have disparities in temperature, and I am looking forward to seeing the results of the temperature sampling (which is happening citywide). However the NYT comparison was flawed – they compared the sidewalk temperature on 94th to the asphalt temperature in Harlem. This was great for showing a dramatic difference, but is the scientific version of comparing apples to oranges. The temperature comparison should have been on like materials, at the very least. The light colored concrete reflects much more energy (heat) back into the atmosphere than the black color of asphalt. Remember in grade school when you learned that a white t-shirt in the summer was more comfortable than a black shirt, because the black absorbed more heat? While the air temperature data will undoubtably show a difference by neighborhood, it will not be a 30something degree difference. I bet you I could find a 30 degree difference just on 94th street on a sunny day.

      • nemo paradise says:

        The Times is now unfamiliar with the apples/oranges fallacy, and accordingly, publishes clickbait like this “heat is racist” gibberish. Then other publications compound the confusion, either out of ignorance or bias, by republishing the same nonsense.

    3. BronxBoy says:

      I agree the NYT test was flawed, but I think one of the best things about living on the UWS is the increased number of trees.

      It wasn’t this way in the 70s and 80s, when there were a few sporadic trees here and there. The city, and, I think, landlords, have been paying more attention to trees, keeping them healthy and replacing them when they die.

      Shade, carbon sequestration and wildlife (that eats more objectionable wildlife) are among the benefits.

    4. Frank Grimes says:

      Ive been saying this for years, the Sun is racist! We need look no further than countries in Africa & the Carribean, where the sun has clearly taken advantage of POC for thousands of years. Its about time the NYT focused some resources to such a fine piece of journalism. For your next article, I hope they expose the horrible anti semitism of the Ocean…the Dead Sea is greatly inferior to the beaches of the French Riviera.

      • C. Kerr Uvtruth says:

        Great Post!
        It’s been said that the best way to counter a bully is to make him/her/it LAUGHABLE!
        It’s the answer that the great Mel Brooks gave when asked about his Nazi/Hitler schticks in “The “Producers”
        As some may have noted, in its own not-so-sly way, the NYT has become a cultural bully, esp. in its story topics and photo choices.

      • Janis says:

        Frank Grimes deserves a WSR tee shirt. This is one of the best posts…ever!

    5. Harry says:

      “The weather is racist”. – NY Times

    6. I went to elementary school with a girl named Karen and wow…. this impudent, entitled & judgmental little minx left me with a truly oppressive memory from the fourth grade that rankles & oppresses even today, so when I heard the name Karen had become the epithet Karen, I thought YES!
      Yes Yes PERFECT!

      However… I could imagine a nice Karen (not really), so I could THEORETICALLY imagine a nice person tagged with that name & it might not be fair to her (this is me being big about things).

      I met a Berenice once (online) who HATED her name; I wrote her all about Berenice Abbott (drew a blank) just trying to buck up her spirits but no; she still wouldn’t go out with me… so, there’s that too.

    7. Karen Sutton says:

      My name is Karen and I am offended i was born in 63