Sunday, January 27, 2013

Which Way the Weather

Rain Clouds Gathering

I think in the history of this blog I have written about weather on more than one occasion, but maybe not as frequently as I have winter. As Mark Twain said, ". . . man bites dog is news." And this has definitely been a news worthy period for weather even if the west has not made the headlines. All the weather we have sent east has, however. For the easterners it all seems to come as a huge surprise.

If you live in the rural mountain west, however, you are a weather watcher. Our lives and likelihoods depend upon the weather. And we do not stay bottled up in climate controlled sky scrapers. I had the winter emergency box ready go to the trunk of the car in October. We can get our first significant snow on or before Halloween. The first snow on the roads is always the most treacherous. But by the first week in December we still had not gotten that significant snow. And the ski areas could not even make snow consistently because the nights were too warm or the days so hot it melted it all off.

December can bring our coldest nights. There is normally a period of 10 to 14 nights in December that fall below the zero on the weather gauge. Not so this year. While there was snow on the ground to open the ski area - just barely - it was warm enough over Christmas to go four wheeling in the Val Vidal. But after Christmas the temperatures plunged. And not to just the negative teens per normal but -38 F with days on both sides not much higher. Days were in the plus teens but closer to the lower end of that. We broke some sort of record by having the greatest variance between day time and night time temps - 60 degrees difference between night and day.

And it was not just for 10 days. It seemed to go on forever. And in less than 20 days I went through a cord of firewood burning the wood stove day and night. It was so cold that even with the sun shining the passive solar studio yielded no radiant heat. Zeus, a local legend, said he had never seen it this cold for this long in the forty years he had lived here. Then one day it was over. We got above freezing during the day and then above freezing at night. The much delayed January thaw (a typical period of no snow and slightly warmer temps) had just made it into the tag end of January. We had sent the arctic freeze east to all those friends that keep gloating about their 70 degree weather.

And then we got rain. Coming back from Raton on Friday I thought the clouds looked more like rain clouds than snow clouds. Those in the lead picture were too far above the mountains and too dark to give us snow. And the bank sign said it was 54 degrees above freezing. All the weather services, which I check daily, were still pretending it was winter. The forecasts were for rain in the day turning to snow at night. But it didn't get that cold last night. As I type this before dawn it is 36 F. It even smells like spring.

Weather forecasters have been wrong all winter. Debates over which weather service is less often wrong wage at the post office or the parking lot of the market. The county snow plow operator is currently taking time off as the rain melts the huge whales of snow the winds and storms laid across the land. The hydraulic systems on both blows are broken dealing with frozen drifts, so it is probably good it isn't snowing.

Maybe I should get my garden seeds ordered. We could have a heat wave in March.

1 comment:

  1. Weather DOES matter in our daily lives. I'm not a winter gal so any sort of winter precipitation puts me on guard unless it occurs on the weekend when works schedule be damned.
    22 degree days last week....65 degree days predicted this week. I am going to sneak in some spring bulbs once the ground thaws out a bit.
    Stay safe and warm!


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