For those of us who may have forgotten what winter is like, the Times has a fascinating feature on past snow storms and their effects on the city. There was a time, when street cars were drawn by horses, communication and power lines were above ground, and buildings were heated by coal, that the city would be brought to a dangerous standstill by a blizzard.

The mother of all storms was the Blizzard of 1888, with its 21 inches of snow, single-digit temperatures and wind gusts of up to 85 miles an hour. Wind, snow and ice snapped the electric, telegraph, telephone and fire alarm wires. The elevated trains stopped running, horses pulling streetcars got stuck in the snow and froze to death. With no communications or weather forecasts and no labor protections people headed out to work anyway (here's a contemporary account of how the show must go on). Virtual New York, a project of the CUNY Graduate Center, has a great Blizzard of 1888 website putting the storm into context and suggests that many of the hardships people faced in that storm put the city on a path to become more resilient to natural hazards.

The article also highlights some of the beautiful photographs of Brooklyn taken by Clinton Irving Jones in the aftermath of a January 1909 ice storm. Jones' pictures are currently on exhibit at Underbridge Pictures in Dumbo through January 28th.

For today, well, let's just say they don't make winters like they used to. Today will be mostly sunny and mild, high near 47. Temperatures will remain in the 40s all night. Rain arrives tonight well after midnight --you can leave your umbrella at home if you're going out. Tomorrow will be rainy and warm, with a high temperature in the upper-50s. Although it will cool a bit on Tuesday the mild weather is expected to stick around through next week at least.

Blizzard of 1888 photo of the Hotel Martin and an abandoned horse-drawn streetcar at University Place and 9th Street from the NOAA Photo Library.