In “Moby Dick”, the lookout shouted “Thar she blows!” to signal a whale had surfaced. That lookout could easily have been forecasting our weather as of late.
November is a month of extreme weather in the Midwest. This year is no different. Three days of high winds have sent what was left of our fall colors nearly to the North Pole. Not many birds have braved the wind. During a brief interval when the wind speed dropped to a gentle breeze, two bald eagles were soaring with a group of over a hundred terns. There were also nearly a dozen hawks I could not identify gliding the updrafts and downdrafts in a looping figure “8”.
Change is definitely in the air. Most of the songbirds have molted their brilliant summer plumage and are in their duller winter feathers. Goldfinches are hanging on to the coneflower seed heads for dear life while showing off messy table manners. Peregrine falcons and kestrels are making more frequent low altitude flights looking for a quick snack, at least when they can maneuver. Squirrels and raccoons have been gorging themselves to help get through the winter. This means quite a few of them are too heavy to get out of the street quickly enough, which delights the crows to no end as they line up at their version of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Not much is blooming at this point. Several hard frosts took care of most of the flowers. The blanket flowers around the mailbox are still trying to bloom, and their puffy seed heads are blowing around. I’m sure the front lawn will have dozens of new blanket flowers germinating next spring. Otherwise, most the greenery has turned to a muddy brown or into desiccated brown stalks. This summer arrived late which meant the fall colors were not as spectacular as in past years. My burning bush never got the chance to turn red before the leaves went flying away and the Autumn Blaze maple leaves turned a dull burgundy rather than a bright red. My neighbor’s sugar maple turned yellow instead of the usual orange-red. Maybe this year’s fall fashion colors were earth tones and dull yellows.
The dried plants are also causing increased dust in the air. Upper respiratory illnesses and allergies increased, too. Sharp changes in the weather seem to increase the likelihood of illness and discomfort. Lucy suffered from nasal allergies and sinus problems. I have a close friend who is suffering mightily from blocked sinuses, and another friend battling what seems to be the flu. My nasal allergies and sinus problems are in high gear with little hope of near-term abatement.
Adding insult to injury is the Winter Weather Advisory (recently downgraded from a Winter Storm Watch) for the Twin Cities effective Tuesday night into Wednesday afternoon. While we have already had a couple of days of light flurries before a several day stretch of summer-like weather, we are possibly skipping the light snow and might get an entire month’s worth in a twelve-hour period. The storm track and intensity are still in question, so the forecast amounts are ranging from 2″ – 7″; our average November monthly snow total is 9.3″ according to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group. Today has seen rain so far. Perhaps the rain will lower the amount of snow we can expect from the storm? One can always hope. I have jumper cables and a shovel in the car just in case and the snow thrower is ready for service.
The forecast for the next ten days is for high temperatures in the low 40’s, which is about normal. I know someone who will spend several days in a warmer area later this week. Unfortunately, I am too heavy to be considered checked baggage, but I will happily be the taxi driver to see the smiles. The ground will be wet enough to enjoy a bonfire, some hot chocolate, and many laughs with friends once the streets clear. One has to make the best of whatever weather comes along.
If snow affects you over the next few days, take it easy when shoveling or using a snow thrower, be careful on the roads, and stay warm. As always, for those of you lucky enough to have a special someone close by, make sure you give an extra hug just because you can. It will brighten your day, too.