Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lake effect (Sunday brunch: Nov. 23, 2014)

With SPIRO GYRA turning up in one of the puzzles a coupla weeks ago, I had planned to make this post about the band with the similar name and about how several other performers of “smooth jazz” (cue Chuck Mangione) got started in upstate New York.  But the region made bigger news this week with the gigantic snowstorm that close to paralyzed Buffalo.

Normally, upstaters take snow in stride.  I’m a Syracuse native: the city gets 10 to 11 feet of snow per year on average, the snowiest major city in America.  Buffalo actually gets less snow (8 feet or so) but it gets more publicity.  Part of the reason may be that Buffalo can get more of it all at once.  This was definitely one of those instances. Like Sandy’s storm surge coming on top of an particularly high tide: there were a combination of circumstances that made for a huge snowfall.

To understand them, let me first explain the Lake Effect.  Lake snow happens when prevailing winds blow across the Great Lakes, picking up moisture from the lake and dropping it as frozen precipitation when it comes across dry land.   This week, two factors combined to amplify the snowfall.  First, we had an unusual cold snap for mid-November.  The air and the ground were unusually cold compared to the surface of the lakes, which were warmer because lake temperatures change more slowly.  Second, the winds blew very steadily and from the east-southeast instead of the east-northeast.  They blew right up the long axis of Lake Erie, giving them ample opportunity to store up moisture, which funneled right into Buffalo and Niagara Falls at the end of the lake.  By contrast, Syracuse only got a few inches of snow, because the winds off the lake were all off to the north this time.  

Snowed in?  Here are some puzzles to keep you occupied.

The Wall Street Journal variety puzzle is a tough one: a Belt Line by Patrick Berry.  Bring an eraser: you’ll probably need to make some guesses.   The New York Times has one of Willz’s non-crosswords: a letterbank puzzle with a twist: you must double one of the letters in each of the words you come up with.

I hadn’t noticed these before, but Todd McClary has constructed a cryptic and a variety crossword called Hopscotch as well as a bunch of straight crosswords.  Give them a try.

Falcon found himself disturbing a Medusa while solving Hex’s weekly cryptic.  Sounds dangerous. No snakes found in the Globe and Mail cryptic, but it was pretty challenging.  This week’s Stickler was a nice smooth solve.  

In (mostly) straight crossword news, Patrick Blindauer has announced his latest Puzzlefest, scheduled to go live next month.  And Cross Nerd (Peter Broda) and his team are inviting a guest constructor to provide a puzzle for the Indie 500 crossword tournament.

Chuck Mangione: Land of Make Believe (Esther Satterfield, v.)

Spyro Gyra: Morning Dance

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