Tag Archive: Snow


Alaskan yardThe sun will rise this morning at 9:38, and set just less than 6 hours later, at 3:33 this afternoon. If the sky should clear today (which I don’t expect) the sun might shine briefly through the trees to the south, but it certainly won’t rise above them – it’s now less than 6° above the horizon at its highest. Given next week’s forecast, the sun probably won’t touch my windows again until well into January.

Winter may be a month away officially, but that didn’t save us from two winter storms last week, with a mixture of rain and snow making the roads so slick that school was canceled. (It takes quite a bit to cancel schools in Alaska.) I considered Snowy branchmyself lucky that the power was out here for only a few hours; the wind (unusual here in winter) took down a number of trees. Small branches sticking out of the snow were all I noticed in the yard. I don’t expect more wind (though given the direction of the jet stream it wouldn’t surprise me) but the forecast for the next week is cloudy with snow showers. And some people still don’t have power.

Me 11-17-13I didn’t dare try driving until Saturday, and kept well below the speed limits then. There’s a coating of ice on the roads that will last until it wears off – not a good start for the winter. Outdoor latches are frozen, too – I had to break some open. At least the neighbor who is kind enough to plow my driveway managed to get the storm door to close!

My hair is actually getting long enough to feel rough against the way it wants to grow. No sign it might come in curly, though.

Year 6 Day 193

Kilimanjero, MorguefileSnow! At the Equator! How have I missed this?

Of course it’s high—very high. I can’t stay this high long without altitude sickness. But it’s the first snow I’ve seen in years.

I decided to map more of the landmarks in the interior of the continent. I find flying is easier the more I do it, so I started by teleporting to the equatorial east coast and flying west, pausing to use the stars to get coordinates whenever I saw a place I thought I might want to visit again.  It took remarkably little time to spot a snow-covered mountain.

I was night flying, to avoid the heat, but I won’t need to worry about that on this mountain!

I think I will go back in daylight and see if this snow, like the rare snowfalls we had when I was a child, will pack into snowballs.

Parking lotIt’s not been the coldest spring on record, but it’s about the coldest I remember. Yes, there is a little grass showing, where there are trees, shrubs or buildings to absorb the sunlight and radiate the heat back to the snow. Yes, the snow stake in the back yard says the snow pack is finally going down by several inches a day. It may even be bare by afternoon. (Vain hope. As of 11 pm it’s down to 3″ and the temperature’s 26°F.) The fact remains that in most years I would be raking leaves out of the perennial beds and hardening the mints by now, maybe even leaving them out at night. This year there’s still so much snow I only got to the tables I use for hardening yesterday!

It is still getting lighter. The days are increasing by 7 minutes a day, and by the middle of the week we will no longer have civil twilight – the sun will never go more than 6 ° below the horizon. Legally, we could drive all night without turning on our headlights. Not that night is very long. The sun rose this morning at 4:33, and it will set 18 hours and 30 minutes later at 11:04. By the end of the month it will be setting after midnight. (It already is, in Nome, thanks to the rather screwy definition of Alaska Standard Time.) But at least it’s warming up, though we had some snow flurries last night.

The Farmers’ Market isn’t actually open yet, but the vendors had a cleanup last Saturday. The picture is of the vendors’ parking lot. They are trying to pump out the water, but I suspect it will still be pretty wet when the market opens.

And if I needed any more doubts about my sanity, after just finishing the A to Z challenge I’ve signed up for the 2013 Blogathon. Expect some short bits about my experience with self publishing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Taken yesterday afternoon in my back yard.

Taken yesterday afternoon in my back yard.

This is getting somewhat ridiculous. The sun rose this morning at 4:58 am, it won’t set until 10:39 tonight, the day is 17 hours 41 minutes long and gaining 7 minutes a day, and we still have a foot and a half of snow on the ground! It’s warming up a little in the daytime, but only to the high 30’s or low 40’s, and we’re still getting snow flurries and hard frosts at night. The white ice on my subdivision road has collapsed (which means frozen in ruts) to my driveway, but it’s still there.

I’m going to be editing the next couple of months, plus selling my books at the Farmers’ Market, attending my 50th college reunion and visiting out of state, attending a Writers’ Conference, and trying to get my garden in (assuming the snow ever melts), so I’m going to reduce the regular blogging to four days a week: weather Monday, quotation context Wednesday, Jarn’s Journal Friday and Weekend Warriors snippets Sunday. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday will be open unless I have something special, like the book review for the Pride and Prejudice bicentennial tomorrow. I’m also hoping to experiment with getting Horse Power on CreateSpace so I’ll have it for the Market. I might have to expand it by adding a couple of the riding scenes from Homecoming and Tourist Trap.

At least it’s getting light. I went to a Judy Collins concert last night,at 7  pm, and drove home in sunlight at 10 pm. Civil twilight now starts after midnight.

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White ice breakupI remember a year when the first faint traces of tree-leaf green were visible by the beginning of May. Not this year! The snow stake still shows a foot and a half of last winter’s snow. We’ve had just enough thawing that the white ice on my road is getting rutted 6” deep on warm days, and then freezing solid at night. I tried to shovel a path to the plant trays Saturday, and the snow was like concrete. At least the paved roads are dry.

There are signs of spring. The birch tree visible out the north window of my office now has bare ground at its base, thanks to the dropped seeds and wild rose bushes absorbing the sunlight. The snow is dripping off the roof. I’m generally driving with shoes on, rather than boots (thought the boots are still in the car.) And the sun is definitely back

birch treeSunrise this morning was at 5:23 and the sun will set 16 hours and 52 minutes later at 10:15 this evening. It’s now almost 40° above the horizon at noon. But we no longer have nautical night (the sun never goes more that 12° below the horizon) and civil twilight lasts until half an hour before midnight. Star gazing? It barely gets dark enough for that.

I don’t know if we’ll set a record low temperature for the month (probably not, though I’ll be checking) but I can say that temperatures have not been at or above normal since the first three days of May. Where’s spring?

P.s. added 3:50 pm: Probably the third coldest April, we set a new record low of 2 below last night, and it was snowing shortly after noon today.

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West YardThe sun rose at 6:40 this morning, and it won’t set until 9:07 this afternoon. The season of light is certainly here, with 14 hours 27 minutes of daylight. In compensation, we have lost astronomical night: the sun never goes more than 18° below the horizon.

I can’t really say that spring weather is here; the forecast lows are still barely above 0° F and the forecast suggests no thawing, at least in the first part of the week. It was snowing yesterday, enough that I had to scrape the car windows, and to put a slick layer of new snow on the previously dry pavement. Still, I can hope. The weather report suggests a rather unstable (hard to forecast) situation, so it might be warmer – or colder – than the forecasts are saying. I hope it’s warmer; I’m tired of winter, pretty as it is. The snow is still more than 20” deep.

A little melting has started where the snow faces south, as you can see on the south (left) side of the snow covering the berm Friday.

Snow Stake

We don’t need this! As of 3 pm it’s raining. In North Pole, Alaska, in January. Pity the poor voles. And the snow “curtains” in the second photo have collapsed.

As of 8:37 the temperature is at the freezing point and we have intermittent freezing rain and snow. It is way too warm for this time of year!

The sun will “rise” at 10:30 this morning and “set” at 3:30 this afternoon for a whole 5 hours 5 minutes of alleged daylight. We’re gaining almost 6 minutes a day, now, and the sun is 8 times its diameter above the horizon at noon. I should be able to see the sun from the south windows, once the clouds clear up. Like maybe the end of the week?

We’ve finally had a little snow, though not enough to make up for the settling. It’s also turned warm – too warm for this time of year. No actual icicles yet, but my thermometer was up to 30°F yesterday, which is far too warm when the roads are covered with snow and the forecast calls for mixed rain and snow. I stayed home. Sadly, because yesterday was my critique group – but it’s half an hour away, and the driving conditions were too bad to risk.

Snow Curtain below hoopThe moderate warmth last week caused the thin piles of snow on the raised bed hoops to start clinging together and at the same time weakened it enough that it gradually began to sag over and hang from the underside of the hoops. It didn’t look quite as striking yesterday, as the new snow on the beds just about eliminated the space between the bottom of the hanging snow curtain and the top of the snow beneath it. It’s hard to see from the photo, but the snow here falls so vertically that those thin plastic tubing hoops leave grooves in the snow on the actual beds, as they keep the snow from reaching the bed beneath them. The snow on the two by fours atop the lattice has leaned over on both sides of the lattice this year, giving a scalloped look.

Shetland sheepdog in snowI received the second round of slide digitizations, and once again found out how poorly sorted my slides are. And how much some, but not others, have faded or developed blurriness. I tried to clean this one up with iPhoto, as it’s one of the few I have of Chanty (Deryni Enchantress.) She was only about 6 months old in this one.

OrchidThe sun will rise at 10:44 this morning and set at 3:12 this afternoon, for a day length of 4 hours almost 28 minutes. We’re now gaining 4 minutes 41 sec a day, but the gain is increasing every day and will be about 5 ½ minutes by the end of the week. Won’t be too long before I can quit watching the time so closely when I drive in for groceries. (I have to start home at least half an hour before sunset.)

Still no more snow, though it’s been warm lately – back and forth around zero, with some days warm enough that the roads are pretty slippery. What snow we have has settled to only about a foot on the ground, though there’s been no melting yet. Not that I’m expecting any, barring record high temperatures which I hope we don’t get. I hate dealing with the icy glaze a thaw now would put on everything. There’s some chance of snow in the forecast, but only a chance. I hope we get more soon, or pipes will start freezing.

Still a strong inversion, and air quality is still unhealthy.

Flowers are indoor only this time of year. The photo is actually one of the old slides I had digitized, and is at least 25 years old.

Merry Christmas and a Snow Carol

3 snowflake basblgrnMerry Christmas (or happy whatever solstice holiday you celebrate.)

In honor of the season I’m posting one of my Geophysical Christmas Carols, and to help the words go with the music, a recording of my singing it. I’m not much of a singer, but this might help you hear how it goes together. (I’m still trying to figure out how to do this sound thing, so you may have to go through several clicks.) Meanwhile, to see the words while listening to the song, open the blog in two windows, click the audio link in one and then switch back to the other. (And you’ll catch me making a couple of mistakes that way!)


In the air, vapor’s swirling,535basblyel
On the pond, folks are curling,
The vapor makes drops, the drops freeze and pop,
And six-sided snowflakes fall down.

On the lake, skates are gliding,
Overhead, clouds are hiding,
Ice in the sky is growing, oh, my,
And six-sided snowflakes fall down

snowflakeSnowflakes could be square or five pointed,
Or octagons, or spherical, you know,
But water with water is jointed
So that only six arms can grow.

On the slopes, skiers swish on,
Snowflakes hide stars to wish on,
They fall through the air, and catch in your hair,
The six-sided snowflakes fall down.baslev

(The snowflakes were Photoshopped from those included on the CD-ROM with Bentley’s book.)

The sun will rise at 10:59 this morning (as it has for the last several days) but it will set a little later, at 2:43. Christmas eve is almost a minute longer that December 23, though the sun at noon is only a tenth of a degree higher in the sky. Temperatures are a little bit warmer, though warmer is relative – it was fifty below toward the end of last week. My digital thermometer did get above LL yesterday evening, though it’s still well below zero. (Update 8 am — the temperature is up to 22 below.)

snowstake

Snowstake December 22. Notice the bump left as the snow settled.

Believe it or not we are still getting closer to the sun every day. The moon, on the other hand, is getting higher in the sky as it is approaching full, and is beginning to shine in my bedroom window. The Star Gazer episode last week (Moon of the Short Shadows) was on this opposition of sun and moon, though the graph they used was dead wrong as far as the positions of the rising and setting sun and moon were concerned. The sun this time of year rises in the SSE and sets in the SSW (at least here) and the full moon is already well north of east when it rises.

No new snow, and no snow forecast. What snow we have is settling and leaving a noticeable bump around the base of the snow stake that makes it difficult to read, though I’d guess it’s settled to about 1’ 3”.

We had some serious ice fog last week, and the air quality has been pretty bad. I don’t live in the center of North Pole, but the air quality there is “very unhealthy” and is forecast to remain that way. Why? Wood burning, leading to very high levels of PM-2.5 particulates: the kind that stick in your lungs. Incredibly, in the last Borough election the vote went against regulating wood stoves, which simply means the state and/or the EPA will step in and do it. I have a friend in North Pole who’s on oxygen, and it really does have health effects.

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