Sliding into winter

Mother Nature and the calendar are often at odds. The calendar says December 21 is the start of winter, but the landscape and temperatures point to winter starting on Monday. Not only was the temperature sliding into winter, but also were the commuters attempting to get to work. Sunday was the last day of above normal temperatures. Since Monday, the daily high temperature fell below the average low temperature. The long-range forecasts hint that managing a high of even freezing (0°C or 32°F) will not happen for another ten days. That would be the time when our normal daily high drops to freezing.

Monday’s snowstorm surprised many people. The weather forecasters predicted between 8″ – 16″ throughout the metro area, but unusually dry air, a more northerly storm track, and warmer than forecast temperatures conspired against them. There were areas in the northern exurbs getting over a foot of snow. Some of my friends with the option to telecommute did so to stay off the roads. My back yard picked up less than 2″ of snow along with 0.14″ of rain. I mowed the yard on Sunday to grind up the last of the fallen leaves. It was nearly one of the rare years where lawn mowers and snow throwers got workouts within a 24 hour period. My asphalt driveway retained enough heat to melt off the snow on its own.

There are some good things about the snowfall. The thin coating of snow on the ground is ideal for bonfires. Strong northwest winds make it difficult to keep a fire burning. Perhaps the wind will cooperate this weekend. Local ski hills are opening. The ground is not totally frozen so the snow that fell is slowly melting and soaking into the ground. That will help make up for a dry September and October.

Last winter came early, stayed late, and was quite obnoxious with nearly double the average snowfall and with snow piles not melting until July. This year, the snow held off until November rather than mid-October. Here’s hoping spring arrives in March rather than in June. Spending time with family and loved ones is precious. My hope is the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s travelers are not affected by inclement weather, and the only sliding into winter happens to children on sleds.

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