Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Few Cold Days in a Warm November on the Middlebury River

This November has been a warmer than average one so far in Vermont.  The temperature has been above 50 on quite a few days, and many overnight lows have been above freezing.  The warm weather wasn't consistent throughout the month, though.  Earlier this week we had a cold snap - with temperatures in the mid teens - followed by several inches of wet snow.


The cold weather caused a bit of ice to form on the Middlebury River, but not as much as I'd expected.  Despite how cold the river seems to be in the summer, it still holds a lot of heat this time of year, relative to the air temperature.  Ice only formed in slow spots and backwaters, and on a few branches sticking into the water.


The little stream flowing through the incipient oxbow cut is slow-moving enough that icicles formed near the little cascade in the channel.  The pool downstream did ice over.



(I kicked a few leaves onto the ice because I found the contrast between the leaves beneath and above the ice interesting).

The next day, a snowstorm moved into the state.  Most areas of Vermont got 6 to 10 inches of snow, but in this case the mountains that usually increase precipitation in our area actually sheltered us from some of the storm, and the air warmed and dried as it approached the area from the east.  This meant lighter precipitation and a mix of rain at times.  The snow was quite slushy, but still very beautiful.


I followed these tracks for a while.


I think they are fox tracks - this summer there was a family of foxes in the area; I haven't seen them in a few months but apparently at least one of them is still around.




They definitely aren't dog tracks, and they looked a bit big for house cat tracks (also I've never seen cats in this area).  But, I do need to brush up on my winter tracking.  This fox, or whatever it was, was heading downstream, but sat in the snow for a bit, near the river, and later stopped to sniff around near some squirrel tracks.

Later we drove through the Ludlow, Vermont area and I was surprised at how much more snow was in the mountains!



The warm weather returned over the weekend, and now all the snow along this part of the river is gone.  The snow must still be melting in the mountains, because the river is running higher today.


In the longer term, it looks like we'll get a few more warm days, a rainstorm, and then around the start of December our streak of warm weather will be over, and we may actually get something Vermont hasn't seen in a long time - colder than average, dry wintry weather.  We'll see!  If Burlington gets at least 2 more inches of precipitation (rain or melted snow equivalent), it will end up being their wettest year on record.  I think the record will be broken, even if we get a streak of dry days in December.

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