Monday, February 27, 2012

Glimpses of Cold and Ice in a Warm Dry Winter

Vermont has continued to see warm, dry conditions this winter, but over the last few weeks, we've had moments of cold and ice.  The stark beauty of winter has not buried Vermont the way it did last year, but you wouldn't have known it if you were in the Green Mountains last Saturday in a blinding blizzard.  In the lowlands, things haven't been as snowy, but winter is still not hard to find.


On an explore in Pittsford, we found imprints of leaves where they melted into ice.  A bit of dye revealed the near-perfect leaf impressions on the surface.



We spent a relatively chilly night with friends around the warmth of a burning pile of buckthorn stems (the larger stems that were usable in wood stoves were used to heat local homes).


The 'snow monster' met his end just two days before a snowfall.  His successor has already been piled up but may not last long, either.


One afternoon brought enormous snowflakes the size of quarters.


The Middlebury River is as low as I've seen it, and some of the side channels have nearly dried up.  Undoubtedly it gets even lower during the coldest years, but without a coating of ice it is easier to see.




In honor of recent presidential birthdays, I created this patriotic colored icicle:




Much of Vermont has been dry this winter-  Burlington is a bit below average on precipitation and a bit less than 50% of average on snowfall.  Last year's snowfall was almost at double the average at this point in the year.  We may pick up some snow this week, but are likely to see that followed up by rain soon after.  This is good news for the maple syrup industry as dry soils can be detrimental to syrup production.  However, it means that any snow we pick up will be ruined soon afterwards, if the forecast is correct.

California, across the continent, is still very dry, and water shortages are likely this summer if we don't pick up more mountain snow soon.  The above map does not seem to take into account future conditions as come mid April, California's precipitation has mostly ended until the following October at the soonest.    Note that Texas and Georgia are also in severe drought, and Vermont is 'abnormally dry'.  A small storm is moving into southern California right now, but while it will have low snow levels it is moisture starved, so it probably won't help much with the snow pack.

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