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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 02/18/2009

Which Rain Gear Did You Choose to Use?

By Ann Posegate

Wx and the City

* Mix to Rain Then Wind: Full Forecast | Snow Drought Getting Worse *

Never in my life have I seen so many umbrellas as walking downtown during a recent rainstorm. Umbrellas? 49. Rain jackets? 2. In anticipation of today's conglomerate of precipitation, I was left wondering whether the onslaught of umbrellas would return?

In response to Jason Sameow's recent post, Capital Weather Gang readers had something to say about whether the umbrella remains the favored choice of protection when precipitation turns wintry.

Keep reading for a sampling of what CWG readers had to say, and my own humble opinion...

random-adam: Umbrellas are remarkably selfish behavior on crowded city streets. Wear a fedora and a trenchcoat, or stay inside.

avoiceinRockville: Some of us don't like being pelted by ice pellets. And it's understandable why the myopic among us might prefer to keep their glasses flake-free. There's a certain kind of snow around here that tends to be big, wet flakes...That tends to merit an umbrella in my book, if only so that I don't get soaked.Normal snow, on the other hand? I'll bundle up and take my chances.

Bombo47jea: NEVER an umbrella in the snow...but always whenever we get that cruddy "wintry mix"!!!

As someone who wears glasses, I understand the second comment completely. But what ever happened to the good ol' functional weatherproof jacket? Why so many umbrellas?

There seems to be a "survival of the fittest" complex associated with their use, leading some umbrella users to dominate sidewalk space. Do umbrellas indicate a higher professional status, or are they just a practical tool in rain and wintry mixes? Are people sporting rain jackets seen as tougher? Are those pedestrians using both an umbrella and weatherproof jacket at the same time overdoing it or just prepared?

If you are using an umbrella today, I hope you brought the brightest one you own. I think the mood of the city on a day like today -- one that literally washes away our hopes for accumulating snow -- would be brighter if we saw more color amidst the sea of chic black umbrellas crossing soaked streets.

Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Bert & Ernie, all those bright umbrellas you've been embarrassed to be seen with...use them today! And while you're at it, throw on that orange rain jacket that's been sitting in your closet. I'm putting out a call for more color and variety in D.C. weather gear. Who's with me?

By Ann Posegate  | February 18, 2009; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Posegate, Wx and the City  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Brief Shot of Snow or Mix, Then Rain
Next: PM Update: A Few Showers, Then More Wind


"what ever happened to the good ol' functional weatherproof jacket?" It's several times the cost of an umbrella is what happened. A true rain jacket that keeps the legs dry, as well as the rest of me, is fairly pricey.

A decent umbrella is $20.

Posted by: wiredog | February 18, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Even $20 is too much for me to spend on an umbrella, considering how easily and often I lose them.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | February 18, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Last price I saw on umbrellas was $7.99. [Giant]. These are the small compact ones. Occasionally I run across free, but still functional discarded umbrellas after a rain storm.

The issues I have with umbrellas involve [a] having to carry something extra around whenever rain is mentioned in the forecast. [b] limited usefulness in wind-driven rainstorms. [c] danger whenever lightning is present, since umbrellas generally have a metal spine, they make you the tallest object in a thunderstorm, and the metal ones [the majority of today's umbrellas] make for excellent lightning rods. Incidentally the proper position to take if caught outside in a thunderstorm is to assume a low crouching position with as few points as possible [generally your two feet] touching the ground. The majority of lightning fatalities and injuries result from "side strikes", not from the main flash, and some of these side strikes may enter a person from the ground near where a main strike has "grounded". You don't always have to be under a tree to suffer a lightning strike. One lightning fatality in this area in recent years occurred when lightning hit someone at a Metrobus stop in D.C.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 18, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Umbrellas are like pens. No need to buy one because you can usually find one that someone else lost.

I go the rain jacket route simply because its too difficult to bike with an umbrella! I have some nice rain pants for the really strong storms but if I'm out more than my commute to work they're kind of moot. When I was couriering, investing in a really nice rain suit was the key to persevering. The longer one stayed out in the rain, the more money one would rake in. That $300+ rain suit would be paid off in no time.

Posted by: mbegin | February 18, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The Japanese are known as honest people and part of the culture is to turn in everything that they find to their neighborhood police officer.

How many umbrellas were turned into the police in Tokyo during the year 2002?

Answer = 2.5 million.

Posted by: MKadyman | February 18, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

When I'm dressed up for work or an event I'll use an umbrella in the rain. I have two complete sets of fantastically effective foulies (summer & winter) for use on the boat, and I'll use the jackets from those to run around on land when it's raining or snowing on weekends. And wiredog's right about the cost - each set of foulies was several hundred dollars. I'd never have bought them if it wasn't for the boat.

Posted by: --sg | February 18, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

My only umbrella issue is when people carry around golf umbrellas downtown. I am a golfer, so I have nothing against the golf umbrella, but it is just a little too big for street use. As someone on here once said, those things are like the Hummer of rain gear. Perhaps now that we are all becoming more eco- and conservation conscious, we can do away with those on the street.

Posted by: SouthsideFFX | February 18, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey, why settle for less than an ordinary umbrella. Today you can get one equipped with:

a light saber to clear the sidewalk ahead of you

lights that go on when it's hit by rain (brighter the heavier the rain)

Youtube watching capability

play your ipod ipod viewing

zipcode applicable forecasts for whether you'll need the umbrella today

I'm waiting for one that turns rain into snow!

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | February 18, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Today I wore my Nine West dark pink rainboots and a water resistant parka. The boots are one of the best things I ever bought - no more soggy pants hems.

Posted by: dixiechick1 | February 18, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Steve, the same goes for rain jackets and weatherproof many choices and features, each one better than the next, that I end up leaving the store without a jacket and settling for a $10 umbrella instead! Although, I've bought so many cheap umbrellas and either misplaced them or had them broken by strong wind gusts, that by now I could have afforded the really good jacket.

Another issue is having weatherproof jackets on hand for every season...finding one that is appropriate for winter and another appropriate for summer. Seems like a slightly expensive yet sturdy, slender and attractive umbrella, coupled with a medium-weight, affordable rain jacket might be a good compromise.

Ah, the details of living in the mid-Atlantic climate...

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | February 18, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

By the way, these are great comments. I've always wondered about people's thoughts on this issue. Keep 'em coming!

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | February 18, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I have an ECWCS cold weather gear system. Never been warmer.

Warm and waterproof.

Posted by: Havoc737 | February 18, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

For me it's an umbrella. I have (unfortunately) way to much stuff that I have to lug home from the office and then back the next day. I would love to go with a simple, effective rain coat (and I do have one), but I need to protect my brief case and shoulder bag.

Although, I guess I could tie 'em up in a garbage bag and carry them over my shoulder, Santa Claus Style...

I do agree that the golf umbrellas are a bit much.

Posted by: tnewton726 | February 18, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

In case anyone was wondering, I was not kiddin.

youtube umbrella

weather umbrella

lightsaber umbrella

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | February 18, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I'll use an umbrella if the forecast is for heavy precip or I anticipate having to walk through a squall line. Otherwise I'll go with a water proof jacket with hood... that was my protection today. In the snow it's just a jacket -- hat/hood/scarf optional, depending on intensity.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | February 18, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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