Yesterday was a typical November day in Montpelier, Vermont. Slate-grey overcast skies offered the backdrop for dark brown hardwood twigs totally devoid of leaves (except the beech trees. They retain their dry, tan leaves all winter and the leaves rattle and seem to shiver in midwinter winds). The needles of the pines looked black against the sky, and a north wind whistled through them.
The scene calls to mind one of my favorite quotes... from the book Watership Down, referring to a group of rabbits that were resigned to a horrible looming fate, and chose to stand at its whim rather than avoiding or fighting it. The trees have no choice but to wait for the coming of winter's ice and snow.
In this case the trees didn't have to wait very long for a taste of winter. This morning we woke up to light snow. It picked up a bit in intensity, enough to overpower the warm ground long enough to accumulate a bit on the grass.
Snow fell on the political signs...
and on the new Cornerstone Pub and Kitchen in newly renovated downtown Barre. It was far too early to go in for a beer.
Just a dusting accumulated in the Barre area.
The snow in Barre and Montpelier melted quite fast under the weakening November sun and above the earth still warm from Hurricane Sandy's warm conditions last week. In the higher parts of Berlin some of the snow survived until nightfall. With temperatures forecast to drop to the low 20s tonight I'll probably see the dusting of snow still there tomorrow morning.
I love the way these early snows tell stories about the subtle differences in temperature and precipitation across Vermont. Snow stuck around a bit higher on the hills, just a few hundred feet above the valleys. There were a few patches left in Montpelier but none in Barre. Montpelier is slightly lower in elevation, but perhaps it picked up a bit more snow. I noticed this last year as well. It looks like last year's first snow was a bit earlier and more substantial. Despite the earlier snow, last year turned out to be a very warm and snowless year. I think this year will be stormier, though it's hard to say what the temperatures will do. Montpelier tends to pick up and retain more snow than East Middlebury so I should be seeing more snow regardless.
A more substantial storm is headed our way on Thursday. It may dump several inches of snow on us, but it will probably rain right afterwards, ruining the snow before anyone gets to enjoy it. Sleet is also a possibility. This sloppy mess, typical of November storms in Vermont, may offer inconvenience, but the storm is a more serious problem in areas impacted by Sandy. This nor'easter won't be nearly as severe, but since many areas are still devastated by Sandy's effects, even a moderate nor'easter may cause additional power outages and flooding. Hopefully the storm ends up moving a bit further east than forecast. That could spare the midatlantic the worst of the storm, and might also give Vermont less rain on top of their second snow of the year.