Default Weather

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Rain in Düsseldorf / photo: myheimat.de

Before I moved to Düsseldorf, I decided to spurn public transportation and bike everywhere (“The town is small enough anyway”). Much to my own fascination, I’ve kept my promise and have not learned the tram and bus connections or accepted the ridiculous price level of the RheinBahn. If I had known the rain statistics before, I think I would not have made that decision.

The default weather in Düsseldorf is grey and rainy, at least between October and June. When it rains in winter, it doesn’t simply rain, it’s freezing rain slashing against the brave cyclist’s cold face. It doesn’t rain all day, of course, but you can be 90 % sure it rains between 8 and 10 when people go to work and 16 and 20 when people go home. While I early on began doubting the reasons of the earliest Dizzel settlers to build a town just here, my co-workers who’ve had a softer spot for the capital of North-Rhine-Westphalia only recently got fed up with the endless wetness from the sky. They even invented a new term, “regengestresst” (rain stressed), describing the stress you feel when you have to run through the rain to minimize exposure, to remember umbrellas or to get really warm under your rain coat.

As it proved it’s not just me, we decided this week to do a quick research.

Don’t you love it when actual statistics confirm an inkling you had? Like when I thought it rains so much more in Hamburg than it does in Stockholm, and when I contradicted the local here who claimed that “But if you’re from Hamburg, you should be used to much more rain!” Let me tell you this: in one year, Düsseldorf has 186 days with rain. That’s more days with rain than without in a year. Hamburg has 133, so almost two months less rainy days. Stockholm, then, has 100 days of total annual precipitation. And yes, that includes snow.

I bought rain pants recently. Here in Düsseldorf, I feel they have a high ROI.

In the storm

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It had been a hot, humid day, further compromising my somewhat unsteady health. I was leaving the doctor’s office and had just been on the street for thirty seconds when the storm came.

I can’t remember the last time I witnessed such an intensive cloudburst. Within half a minute, I had to accept that abandoning my bike on the spot and seeking shelter under the closest roof was the only option to avoid pneumonia. I stepped into a shop that I would otherwise never have entered, a knitting store. Already soaked to the bone, I asked if I was allowed to wait out the thunderstorm. “Sure”, the lady who owned the shop, said. “There’s a bench over there”. She started talking photos of the impressive rain shower.

I sat down between lots of knitting yarn. Blue, red, turquoise, soft as baby skin and also rougher ones. The bench was cushioned, and a green knitted pillow added to the atmosphere of grandparentsque coziness. Two light green children’s chairs kept the bench company.

Toddler knitware and mannequins with pink scarves surrounded me as I listened to the angry thunder. A multicolor knitted pennant banner graced the window through which I, together with a crocheted goose, watched my bike outside. It was lying on the pavement like a fallen horse. 

The shop owner chatted on the phone. “He acts like their crown prince”, she gossiped. When she asked questions, I was never sure if she meant me. (“How do you like it there?”) The lightening struck. I got out my ZEIT paper and started reading. Outside, the street was flooding more and more. 

It felt like fall.