LOCAL VIEW –Singing In The Pain–

One neat thing about the internet is the ability I gain to hear what people in other places are grousing about. For example, some are complaining their winter hasn’t had snowstorms and there will not be a White Christmas in their locale. This strikes me as ludicrous, for two reasons. First, winter will not even start for another two days. Second, here we are reeling from winter’s blows and many around here are already fed up with winter, before it has officially started.

The cold air masses that plunge down from Canada apparently “lift out” and are pulled back north before affecting many to our south, but we seem to always get clipped. Where to our south they get all rain we get some snow mixed in.

One storm I posted about two weeks ago gave us three feet of snow, though areas not far to our north and south got less than six inches. If it wasn’t trouble enough dealing with such depths of white, the following two storms passed to our west and gave us flooding rains, made all the worse by the fact culverts were clogged with snowbanks. A wash-out littered the end of my driveway with cobbles the size of my fist.

After dealing with deep drifts I had to make sure roofs didn’t collapse under sodden snow, and dealt with a flooded cellar. Then it seemed that the departing rain-storms always pulled down just enough cold air to create just enough backlash snow to force me to deal with clearing it; (at times three inches can be as annoying as three feet).

At the risk of sounding like Rodney Dangerfield, I was starting to feel I’d never get a break. Forget about finding time for Christmas shopping. I was finding it hard to find time to even keep the home-fires burning, or to start the campfires out in the pasture at our Childcare that makes sledding in the cold far more enjoyable for the children. It is hard to even start a fire when the firewood is under three feet of snow. Then children don’t want to sled when it is pouring rain. Then the arctic blasts that followed the rain turned the slopes into sheer ice, and supersonic sledding is downright dangerous when it involves three-year-old and four-year-old kids. (Not that the kids aren’t willing.)

To be honest, I’m getting a bit old to be involving myself in such nonsense. I should be staying home and complaining about the aches and pains brought on by low barometric pressure, not be out in the storms making aspirin salesmen happy by attempting to shovel and split wood like a young man, and to go sledding down bumpy slopes like a child. When the kids demand an igloo I moan. Then, when the igloo is half-built, and the rain ruins it, I start sounding like Rodney Dangerfield.

Despite all the pain, I can find myself singing. I can’t claim credit for lifting spirits, for I do some things by rote, in a purely mechanical fashion, about as cheerful as a robot. I depend on children aged three and four to display the spiritual wherewithal. They are the ones who muster the cheer. They never fail me.

For example, when we ran out of campfire wood I lugged my chainsaw out to the pasture. I know most childcare-professionals turn green at the very idea of small children being within a mile of a chainsaw, but I happen to know, from experience, that children delight in being invited along to the felling of a dead cherry tree or pine.

I take all sorts of precautions, keeping children out of harm’s way even should the tree falls the exact opposite direction I aim it to fall, and the children seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I don’t even need to gently rebuke the especially young and naive, because a five-year-old does it for me, like a small sergeant.

A hush descends when I shut off the saw and state the tree is about to fall. Then, when I lean against the trunk, and with a rending crack the tree starts to topple, and I shout, “Timber!”, the children jump up and down more than they do for fireworks, and when the trunk thuds to earth you’d think I’d just invented sliced bread. I keep my eyes on them as much as the log as I cut up the trunk, for they tend to edge closer, eager to load the logs on sleds. Then I likely violate child-labor-laws as badly as Tom Sawyer did when getting his Aunt Polly’s fence whitewashed, for children seem to fail to recognize moving hundreds of pounds of wood to a campfire on sleds is work. For them it seems a romp. But I do nothing to make the work be fun. The children do that work as well.

Another thing I do by rote is to show children what the Christmas carol that begins, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is talking about. Some modern children have no idea what a chestnut, (or even an open fire) is. So I telephone grocery stores until I locate chestnuts, go get several pounds, build a fire and breed a bed of coals, and finally roast some chestnuts. Originally I used a flat rock or bricks, but we’ve gravitated to using the end of a broken shovel.

I never have to lift a finger to make the kids be interested. If anything I use reverse psychology, saying things like “This is grown-up food and you probably won’t like it” and “Chestnuts are too hot for little kids to peel the shells off of”. Even the most doubtful and suspicious will be busily shelling hot nuts, crouching like a squirrel (sans the tail) within an hour. The children supply the eagerness and excitement, as I plod about doing it all by rote.

However even the most idyllic setting can be wrecked by bad weather. Yesterday evening I had a splendid fire going out in the pasture, but noted that the sunset, usually ten minutes after four this far north, abruptly darkened. The wind swirled, and sparks flew from the fire, and then we were hit by an arctic snow squall. Such squalls immediately plaster small faces with wet flakes, and in a gusty wind even the warmest snowsuit can’t counter a freezing face.

I didn’t even wait for the wailing to begin. We immediately abandoned the fire and headed through the swirling, heavy snow for the “warming room” back at the stables, which was a bit like herding cats. The wailing was in full chorus by the time we arrived. Temperatures were crashing as yet again we got “clipped” by the coldest air so far this season, and again temperatures dove towards zero ( -17 Celsius.) By the stable’s infrared lamps the wailing soon ceased.

This morning’s bright sunshine did little to warm things, as the north wind roared in the pines.

Today I thought I might get my Christmas shopping started, but a member of my staff suffered a misfortune and I had to cover for them. Rather than being spiritual and feeling pity for them, I was Rodney Dangerfield and felt sorry for myself. (It is hard dealing with a bunch of small children bouncing off the walls when you can’t do the logical thing, which is to throw them outside.) (I’d rather “delegate”, and watch my staff deal with such chaos.)

Actually, children want to go out despite the cold, especially when the low, December sun is white in a vivid blue sky, and looks inviting through a window. Rather than quarreling I tend to dress them up in their snow suits and allow them out to learn for themselves that their fingers and toes are swiftly bitten by an invisible creature. I keep an eye on their cheeks, watching for the healthy pinkness to tinge to purple, which is a sign the white patches of frostbite may soon follow. I also teach lessons that northern people should know, such as staying out of the wind, or staying close to the sunny side of a barn, which happens to be right by the warming room at the stables. I want to be by that room for I know that, despite all the clamoring to go outside, and all the work of putting on snowsuits and boots and hats and mittens, in as few as five minutes the exact same children will be clamoring to go back in. I prefer that they go into a room where I don’t have to take their snowsuits off. Some settle in the warming room and play with toys or color with cold crayons, but other go in and out, in and out, all morning long. By lunch I’m exhausted, and glad to hand the children off to an arriving member of the staff who will usher them indoors to lunch and settle them for “quiet time”.

But what about poor old Rodney Dangerfield? What about me? Who will usher me or settle me? No one, because I’m a grown man. I’m macho. But machismo didn’t make me all that happy today. I felt the pain but didn’t feel like singing.

It was too late for shopping, (as I also had an afternoon shift), but I had other tasks to catch up on. The woodpile on the porch was getting low, and I needed to cut some short logs from the long lengths of wood up on the back hill behind the house. It shouldn’t be so hard, now that recent rains had reduced the three feet of snow to six inches. I hoisted my chainsaw and headed off stoutly in that direction, and heard the pines roar, and then was hit by a blast of wind that made me wince and cringe away. Instantaneously I decided the saw was too dull. Rather than cut wood I should sharpen the saw. When I touched the blade the fabric of my gloves froze to the steel. I decided I should do the sharpening inside by the hot wood stove.

I think it was at this point my mood changed. Perhaps I don’t always need three-year-olds and four-year-olds to supply the spiritual wherewithal. Perhaps I can rouse something called “a sense of humor”, and muster enough poetry for a sonnet about sharpening a saw.

I know my wife don’t like machines within
Her tidy, warm house, but Wife wasn’t home.
The cold would freeze chainsaw’s steel to skin
And so I brought the chainsaw in, but own
Brains bright enough not to place Saw on polish
Of Wife’s Table. Instead I bent Old Back
And creaked down to the floor, a smallish
Rat-tailed-file in hand, and by Stove began Attack
On Dullness, tooth by tooth. Hearing grinding
My old dog came over to see what bone
I gnawed, down on her level. Then, finding
None, she licked my face. So, now I own
That simplicity’s not all that boring,
Stuck inside with arctic winds roaring.

LOCAL VIEW –Mining Wood–

In case you young folk want to know where firewood comes from, it comes from “wood mines”.

Wood Mine 1 IMG_0108

My rat-hunting dog begs to differ. She claims they are called “woof mines”.

Wood Mine 2 IMG_0111

The deep snows make everyday deeds, like getting an armload of wood, difficult. The deep snow-cover also seems to confuse the computer-model used to figure out our forecasts.  Temperatures are significantly lower than forecast. The low last night was forecast to be 10F (-12 Celsius) but instead it is getting down towards zero in the dark before dawn. But check out the forecast. Nearly fifty degrees warmer and raining by tomorrow!?

Wood Mine 3 IMG_0113

What a mess it could be! Everything will turn to slush and then freeze solid. Great start to winter. But if the snowbanks by the roads freeze solid it will be more difficult to skid off the roads. They become like bobsled runs.


LOCAL VIEW –For Missus and For Sythia–


Photo Credit:  http://www.instesre.org/TemperateClimate/TemperateClimate.htm

This past week has seen a reversion to wintry weather, with frost on the windshields and ice in the puddles. The budding trees have hit the brakes, and the ponds have gone nearly silent.

Back when the weather was more kindly, on April 16, I heard the first frogs, which are not the spring peepers but another small frog I’ve heard called “banjo frogs” (perhaps because they make a “Twank” sound,  a bit like a breaking banjo string). (The Australian frog with the same name actually sounds more like a banjo.) I call them “spring quackers” because they also sound a bit like ducks. They are lower and quieter than peepers, and always seem to beat the peepers by a day or two, when it comes to announcing the ponds are coming back to life. They are far less obvious than the peepers are. Where the peepers peep is piercing and shrill, the quackers are more of a low muttering, almost subliminal.

At our childcare I asked a small girl, around age three, if she could hear them, and at first she shook her head. Then her eyes changed, and she tilted her head, and looked off curiously through the trees. I asked her if she’d like to sneak closer, and she nodded. (Most kids like to sneak.) Then we crept through the pines, and it was wonderful to watch the child’s face fill with wonder as we drew closer and the plaintive “twanking” became more obvious. However then my idiot dog came lunging through the underbrush, plunging along the side of the pond to see what we were up to, and the frogs immediately became silent and the water ahead was dimpled with rings of ripples. I told the girl my dog wasn’t very good at sneaking, and she nodded.

By the next day the peepers had started their shrieking, and all the subtlety was lost.  They demand attention, which doesn’t seem a very good survival strategy, until you sneak up on them and understand they confuse predators by being both numerous and deafening. It is hard to locate a single frog by its peep, with so many other peeps coming at you from all angles. And they also become immediately silent, if you move too fast. I find them amazingly difficult to locate. They are also amazingly loud, once you see how small they are.


(Photo credit: Mike Marchand.)

They also can stand being frozen solid, due to some sort of antifreeze in their blood. This was a good thing, as the promise of spring seemingly became a lie.

Just as the first frogs are tiny, so are the first blooms on the swamp maples, which are the first tree to bud out. The lowlands go from being silvery thickets to being touched by a raspberry mist I have yet to see captured by a photograph, but you have to poke your nose close to see how lovely the individual flowers are.


(Photo credit: https://piedmontgardener.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/maple-flowers-and-buds.jpg )

Ours are a bit more purple than the the flowers pictured above, and they look a lot worse after they’ve been blasted by frost. I’m going to watch, to see if they make many seeds this year.  We got into a northwest flow on Tuesday that wouldn’t quit, and were still in it on Friday.

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A few flakes were in the roaring wind on Wednesday, and Thursday’s purple clouds kept pelting us with white, Dr. Seuss pompoms of  fluffy hail called “graupel”, and Friday morning began with a whirling flurry that briefly made the view look like January, though it never stuck to the ground. It was not weather conducive to ambition, in the garden, which turned out to be a good thing, for my  wife had other ambitions.

I wound up repairing the fence in front of the house, as the winter’s plows trashed what little was left of the old one. I fear I spend so much time over at the farm that I neglect my home, and the lack of care shows, and annoys my wife. The Memorial Day parade comes down Main Street and passes right in front of our house, and my wife doesn’t believe me when I say all eyes are on the parade and not our house. Consequently I spend time every spring at home, sprucing the place up, right when I feel I should be gardening.

There actually was a parade this morning, but as usual I always forget it, and get a shock. At the start of the baseball season the children are marched from the fire station to the ball field with blaring fire engines and police cars, and every year I think it is a terrorist attack.

After watching my grandson in his first game my ambition was to nap, but my middle son has the ambition to grow pear trees and see if he can start a microbrewery making a sort of pear cider called “perry”.  This is a long-term project, but in the short term involves planting four trees at the childcare, and also involves controlling my goats, so they don’t eat his saplings. This in turn involved repairing the electric fence, so that is what I wound up doing rather than snoozing.  Rather than rested I wound up feeling as you’d expect, after fighting with cold wire in a cold wind.

My ambition is now to simply survive until noon Monday. Sunday will not be a day of rest for me, as I am giving the sermon at our church. We have dwindled to a size so small that, fort the first time in 265 years, we can’t afford a pastor or interim pastor, and instead have “guest speakers” which includes our selves, (as we are cheapest) (IE free). We don’t call our sermons sermons, but rather call them “messages”, but mine will be a sermon all right.

My “message” is liable to be grouchy, as I have to fast on clear fluids, and then later in the day flush out my system and spend a lot of my time on the toilet, as my doctor wants to have a look inside my colon first thing Monday morning. It is hard to be happy about this prospect. A man of my advanced years expects to be treated with more dignity than that, especially right after giving a sermon at church.

It is also hard to see much prospect of Spring busting out.  We need south winds, as we are surrounded by cold in other directions. The Great Lakes still have ice, and there is still an amazing four feet of snow not all that far to our north. (The purple areas in the Dr Ryan Maue map below, from Joseph D’Aleo’s site at Weatherbell.)

Snowdepth to north April 22 ecmwf_snowdepth_conus2_1(1)

It is hard to see much hope in the current map, with the warm rains suppressed so far to the south.

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 However with the sun as high as it is in mid-August, spring is only seemingly denied. This morning, even with a skim of ice on puddles, when a beam of sun pooled in the east-facing shallows of the pond, a single peeper let out a solitary yelp. And I remind myself the ice was still thick enough to walk upon, on April first. Things have melted; spring isn’t denied.

The buds only seem on hold. Trees are very smart, for a being without brains, and they know when to bust out all over. The forsythia is yellower every day, even without blooming, and, even as I stood sulking by my garden yesterday, a bluebird landed on a fence-post nearby. It’s hard to argue with that.


The “spring quackers” are officially called “wood frogs”, and sound like this:


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It has always fascinated me how much warmer it is on the autumnal side of the Winter Solstice, and how much colder it is after the Solstice. I tend to look at the sun and say, “The sun is as low now as it is in X.”  I do this especially in the spring, when it seems the snow will never melt, but the sun is getting higher and more powerful.

After a quarter century of putting up with this sort of muttering, my wife now rolls her eyes, and occasionally asks me why I can’t enjoy the present without comparing it to something else.

However I can’t seem to help myself. Today I’ll look out across the nut-colored landscape of Oak Autumn, check my almanac, and say something like, “Today is ten and a half hours long, the same as it is on February 13, when the world would be white and all the ponds frozen.”  My wife might then ask me if I have so much free time I can check almanacs, and I will hurry off, because if I leak out that I have free time she might ask for help with some task. Even after a quarter century I haven’t taught that woman how to loaf, though I’m still working on it.

The dwindling sunshine hits home around Halloween. I think it spooks northern people and makes them a little crazy, which is why we have the strange holiday “Halloween” now. (The opposite craziness, in the Spring, is “April Fools Day”.)  In pagan times, in Ireland, people thought the spirits of the dead began to walk abroad in the early evenings, and hid indoors with an offering placed outside their front doors to placate the dead. If they did have to go out into the dusk they would disguise their identity by wearing a mask. St. Patrick apparently felt this was nonsense, and to show that Christians were not afraid he sent little children out in the dark to eat the offerings at other people’s porches. (I’m not exactly sure how the little children came to wear masks.)

Though New England gets much colder than Ireland, we are further south and our days don’t get as short, but it still is distressing how swiftly the sun gets wan and weak in October. The days are nearly an hour and a half shorter at the end of the month than they were at the start. The fiery brilliance of the sugar maple’s flaming foliage has given way to the muted browns of the oaks,  and the green cornstalks have turned brown and rustle crisply in the windy fields. The summer birds have all gone and the dawns are more silent, and alien birds from the north are passing through.

The drenching nor’easter we got at the end of last week is remembered, as the fallen leaves are still wet below the surface of their drifts and piles, despite dry northwest winds as the storm slowly moved off. The low, limping sun simply has lost its power to dry things.  I remember, from back in the days when I made a bundle of money by raking up other people’s leaves, that a fall rain made the job far heavier and harder. Leaves took a long time to dry, before the first snow, whereas they dried swiftly after the last snow melted, because the sun is so much higher, and the days are three hours longer, in April.

Even as a strong young man this might have given me a reason to loaf, but with five kids I needed the money, and therefore raked leaves in the fall. Now I do have a reason to loaf, for I don’t get paid a cent for raking my own leaves, however my wife seems to think leaves look bad. I think they look lovely, and in any case, they’ll soon be hidden by snow.  (I don’t much care about the grass being killed beneath the leaves, for my dog has done a pretty good job of killing it already.)  However females seem to judge the character of a man by the color of his lawn, so I’ll likely get started raking the lawn, any day now….unless we get an early snow. There is always hope.

The problem with an early snow involves our pigs. I don’t have winter quarters for them, and snow and cold means that a lot that goes into feeding them goes into keeping their body heat hot. After all, they are pink things running about stark naked. Therefore I’d best get them to market. I’d do it, but I have to rake leaves. However I have trouble raking leaves when I’m so worried about those poor pigs. (“There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…”)

The above map shows the last storm leaving, but a new storm coming. We were suppose to get a nice, mild spell, according to the forecasts based on computer models, but once again Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo said otherwise on their blogs at Weatherbell, and once again they have beat the world’s biggest computers with mere brains. Brains may not be able to beat computers at chess, but brains do much better than computers playing the game of chaos, which is what weather and humanity amount to.

The computers now show the low crossing the Great Lakes will dig in and deepen, as it arrives at the Atlantic. What is left of Hurricane Ana, a mere impulse barely able to dent the isobars as it penetrates high pressure crossing the Rockies, will dive southeast and add energy to the east coast trough, and another nor’easter will form this Saturday. It may suck enough cold air down behind it to create some snow.

Sigh. I was planning to avoid telling my wife about this forecast, but the blasted, tweeting, newfangled Facebook alerted her. Now I’ll have to both rake leaves and get pigs to the market. It’s either that, or go out and purchase a good Halloween mask.

Bears have it better. They hibernate.



LOCAL VIEW —Foxes and falling behind—

This is the continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/local-view-planting-corn/

Earlier these “local view” posts were part of my “Arctic Sea Ice” posts, because the arctic does come south and seize New England in the winter, however now it is June, lush and green, and our foxes are not arctic.

My wife took the above photo, and I included it last year in a somewhat long-winded and peculiar post about my long association with foxes.   https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/baby-foxes/

In the above picture you should notice no green lushness. It isn’t June, and the mother fox already has three mouths to feed. This year, at the same time, there was still snow, and the cold was cruel, and as a consequence some of the little mouths to feed didn’t get fed, and the mother fox only has one mouth left to feed, this June.

At our childcare children learn about nature.  They are not incarcerated in a steel-fenced-in yard, more befitting a criminal penitentiary, called a “playground.”  They run free, within much wider bounds, and though carefully supervised they are not “organized,” and when they play their play is not “organized sports,”  and when they learn about nature she is not an “organized nature.”

Other kids learn about nature indoors, and when they see foxes it is on video, and they have a most peculiar idea about nature. They feel nature is a fragile thing, and humans break it.  Rather than loving the fields and streams, and wanting to hike the forests and hills, they want to stay indoors, because they feel they can do it no good by approaching nature.

By the time little children leave my childcare for kindergarten at age five they are smarter than that, and smarter than a lot of full grown environmentalists. Rather than fearing nature they love nature.

To be blunt, I think a lot of full grown environmentalists have never done what my kids do. They have never watched a mother fox by her den with her pups.  They have never raised chickens. They have never known how infuriating it is to have a best hen nabbed by a mother fox in broad daylight.

It goes on and on from there. Lots of environmentalists have never hoed corn under a hot sun. Nor have they picked that corn, roasted it over hot coals, and munched it on a summer afternoon. Not that I make my kids do this, (or trust them with a campfire,) but they tend to tag along as I do this stuff, and learn through a sort of osmosis. I get the distinct impression many environmentalists never learned in this manner, and instead only watched videos at a penitentiary childcare.

My kids know Nature is no fragile thing. I don’t teach them this. She does. If you leave your videos and get out in the weather, you learn what a mother fox knows: Mother Nature can kick your ass,  and leave you feeling darn lucky you have even one of your children alive.

The people in Washington DC are unaware of this reality, called “Nature”. They live in an illusion wherein, if you don’t grow corn, you can eat corn, by printing it out on a printing press. They are bankrupt, but feel they have power because they can print out lots of hundred dollar bills. In this delusion they ignore the worst winter we’ve had since the 1970’s, and insanely yammer about Global Warming. After a winter where the poor could barely afford to stay warm, they think it wise to increase the cost of heating with Carbon taxes.

Hello? Hello? Anyone at home in those skulls?

I am not able to print money when I need it, and cannot feed the kids at my childcare corn unless I plant it. At age sixty-one, I’m finding it harder to do all the digging. To be honest, I’m falling behind. For crying out loud!  It is June, and I’m just getting the beans and squash planted!

Oh, I suppose I could play the blame-game. We did get our last frost on May 29, which is very late. I’ve had other responsibilities to attend to, as well. However, when dealing with Mother Nature, the blame-game doesn’t work. She is one tough cookie, and isn’t about to listen if I whimper, “But I’m sixty-one.”  Or, well, maybe she’ll listen, but her mercy may be to put me out of my misery.  I prefer to shut up and work.

In any case I was down on my knees, working manure and wood ashes into the soil, this evening, and then covering the stirred soil with a layer of mellow topsoil, and planting hills of winter squash. (When squash has a basement of such richness you can get some spectacular yields), (if the vine borers don’t attack).  As I worked I became aware the crows were cawing like crazy in the trees past the edge of the pasture, and the cawing was coming closer. I froze, and remained very still in my crouch, and saw a fox come trotting out into the pasture.  To my delight it was followed by bounding baby, (I’m never sure whether you call them “pups” or “kits”).

I was surprised they didn’t head for my chickens, but rather in the general direction of my goats, who were all attentively cocking radar ears towards the foxes.  The mother would trot ahead to some hole a vole or mouse made, sniff at it, and the pup-kit, which had lagged behind, would come dashing up to sniff as well, and then be left behind sniffing, as the mother trotted ahead to the next lesson. However she abruptly froze in her tracks.  She hadn’t noticed me, but rather my bored dog, sitting by my truck waiting for me to be done with the nonsense of squash.

Without much fuss the mother fox headed the other way, still pausing at interesting tussocks of grass and divots in the pasture, and waiting for her kit-cub to boundingly catch up. I was hoping my dumb dog wouldn’t notice, but abruptly she sat up, and then took off like a rocket for the mother fox and her pup-kit.

I commanded my dog to stop, and as usual it didn’t. Some people think my dog is named, “El Seeno,” and is Hispanic, but actually her name is “Elsie”, but I am always yelling “Elsie! No!” at the top of my lungs.

Elsie is an utterly illogical dog. She cowers from butterflies yet attacks bees, despite being repetitively stung. She savagely barks at jets passing miles overhead, yet will yawn at a great blue heron landing by the farm pond. She’s scared of cats, but now was heading at roughly thirty miles an hour towards a mother fox protecting a lone surviving child. I sat back to see what would happen.

The little fox made a beeline for the edge of the trees, but the mother fox didn’t bolt, and instead trotted smiling towards the charging dog. Then she did an astounding thing. She sat down on her haunches and simply waited, in a most nonchalant way. Elsie never slowed, and in fact increased her speed. Then the mother fox barked a high and scratchy yowl-yap, and ran off in a zig-zag, first one way and then another, but never the way her baby went.  Elsie hardly swerved at all, and was close behind the fox as they vanished into the trees by the south side of the pasture.  I heard a yowl-yap from that direction, and then from the west edge of the pasture, and then, more distantly, from the west-northwest, which likely indicated a reunion with her pup-kit, as that was direction the child had fled. I knew it had nothing to do with Elsie, for Elsie reappeared way back at the south edge of the pasture.

I thought she looked a bit humbled. It reminded me of a time she chased an otter into some shubbery, with her tail high and wagging, and only got half way into the shubbery before her tail went down, and she came carefully backing out. Perhaps that dog is not quite as dumb as she looks. However I did praise her as she came back panting, despite the fact she disobeyed, because my chickens are safe a little longer.

And the moral of this story is this: Mother Nature isn’t fragile. I might be fragile, and my dog might be fragile, but she isn’t.

The only sad thing is this event happened on the weekend, and the kids at my childcare didn’t get to witness it.

A nice ending to the hottest day so far, this spring.

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This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was,  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-the-peak-at-the-depth/

This series of posts has wandered a long ways from its original intent, which was to discuss the view from the North Pole Camera.  That camera has been gone since September, and we still have roughly 45 30!!! days before the new one is set up in April.

The wait through winter darkness has been long, but already the horizon at the Pole is brightening with twilight, and at 12:57 PM on March 20 the sun will blindingly streak light across the frozen waste, and we can go back to using our eyes (at least from the satellite viewing from miles above.)

I prefer using my eyes, as some of the reporting done about the ice at the Pole has been less than observant. Also there is a sense of wonder to be had from simply witnessing what goes on up there.

I try to post twice a day, with the updates added to the bottom of the post. When the post gets long and unwieldy I add a new post. I post the DMI polar maps of pressure and temperature, and maps of other areas of interest, attempting to avoid wandering too far afield and to keep polar sea-ice the main topic (and often failing.) Lastly, I have been describing how the arctic has been influencing my business in southern New Hampshire, in a segment called “Local View.”  (People of good breeding may wish to skip over these sections because, as a frustrated poet, I use them as an outlet for my propensity towards purple prose, including going so far as to hide sonnets in the prose.)

I am calling this post “March Madness” for two reasons.  First, the clash between increasing warmth in the south and residual winter in the north creates some of the greatest storms at this time, and second, people (including myself) go a bit nuts after a long winter. (Hopefully I will do so with charm and some degree of tact.)


DMI Mar 6B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 6B temp_latest.big (1) (click to enlarge.)

The low I dubbed “Morphy” has pretty much engulfed Greenland, if you follow the 990 mb isobar right around the island. However the devil is in the details. Even this map, (which I like for its simplicity), shows the secondary I dubbed “Morpheven” has been swiveled around north of Iceland and now is deeper than Morphy. However if you really want to understand the complexity you should use your own eyes and scan the satellite view of the situation at http://www.arctic.io/explorer/ . (I’m still trying to figure out how to clip and paste these satellite shots; especially close ups.  No luck so far.)

It swiftly becomes apparent the reality is far more complex than the isobars would lead one to believe. There are whirls within the whirls, and so on. Also the winds don’t always follow the isobars. For example, though isobars suggest milder Atlantic air should cruise right across the top of the globe, it runs into a wall north of Greenland. Likely there is some sort of front there.

Now, should you want to dig deeper you can poke through the thousands of maps Dr. Ryan Maue offers at the WeatherBELL site, and perhaps, like me, wind up squinting at the Canadian “JEM” model’s initial run of “Precipitable Water.”  Then you can see the line of grey north of Greenland.

DMI Mar 6B cmc_pwat_mslp_arctic_1 (Double click to fully enlarge.)

If you would like that line in vivid red, you look at the GFS initial run of the anomalies of precipitable water. (Unfortunately GFS insists on being contrary, and prints its maps upside down, with Greenland at the top.)

DMI Mar 6B gfs_pwat_sig_arctic_1 (Double click to enlarge fully.)

You can see how the devil is in the details, and also how I could blow an entire day just delving into what exactly is occurring. I do exactly that on rare occasions, but usually I have too many other responsibilities, and prefer to skim.  That is why I like the simplicity of the DMI maps. However I urge others to dig deeper if they have the time and inclination, because as you come to comprehend the complexity you develop your sense of wonder, (and also can spot “news releases” that are basic balderdash.)

It is interesting to note that, despite being enveloped by low pressure, the icecap of Greenland persists in creating cold high pressure, which is like the center of a flower with the low like petals rotating around it. Away from that polar dance a clear cross-polar-flow is developing towards Bering Strait, and is likely to shove ice into the Beaufort Gyre.

So at this point I like to check the Navy map that shows which direction the ice is moving, and how fast :

DMI Mar 6B arcticicespddrfnowcast

This map shows that once again, rather than flushing sea-ice out of the Arctic Ocean via Fram Strait, the ice is being compressed into the Beaufort Gyre. This has happened so often over the past two years that there has been a considerable increase in thicker ice towards the arctic coasts of Canada and Alaska.  This shows as a dramatic (IE red) area of “multi-year-ice”, in another Navy map that portrays thickness:

DMI Mar 6B arcticictnowcast (click to enlarge)

It is really cool to animate this map, and watch the ice shift and pulsate with the weather patterns: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticict_nowcast_anim30d.gif

The best collection of such maps and graphs (that I know of) is at Anthony Watt’s “Sea Ice Page”:   http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/

In any case, we are entering March madness with a heck of a storm north of Iceland, which is unusual as storms have been passing well south of Iceland.  In fact their winter, (as opposed to Ireland’s and England’s,) has been remarkably sunny and windless, though I imagine Morphy has brought things back to normal.


UK Met Mar 6B 12825081 (click to enlarge)

With Morphy and Morpheven heading north so far west of Ireland, the best the Atlantic can hit them with is weakening fronts. However they will be utterly baffled if models are correct and a large high pressure area moves up over the British Isles at the start of next week. I wish I was there to see the looks on winter-dazed faces. After so much rain, a truly sunny spell will have smiles stretching the cheeks of even cantankerous grouches, on a Monday, of all things.

I’m not sure how long the pattern will last, but it will be interesting to watch it develop.


A battle 147 satsfc (3)A battle 147 rad_nat_640x480

That is an impressive storm clouting North Carolina and Virginia, especially for March, and the moisture is surging north.  I’d be worried, but too weary to bother with that. It looks like the arctic high over us is going to deflect that storm south, though it might clip Cape Cod.

It was a gorgeous day, as long as you stayed in the sunshine. As soon as you stepped into the shade you could feel the cold creeping. We might even get down to zero again tonight, for as soon as the sun slips behind the hills you can tell the dry air over us had arctic origins.

Tomorrow it will slide east, and we’ll start to get southerly winds from the high pressure’s warmer side.  Hopefully the warmth won’t breed too many clouds.


DMI Mar 7  pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 7 temp_latest.big (1)

“Morphy” has definitely changed the flow. Quite the Atlantic surge invading Barents Sea.

One thing you can see from this pattern is how a more traditionally placed Icelandic low assists the Gulf Stream, helping it flow up north of Norway.  For most of this winter the assistance was lacking, as the isobars suggested winds were more from the north, behind the low I called the “Britannic Low,” and blew across the Gulf Stream, perhaps deflecting surface waters more to the south.

LOCAL VIEW —Starry dawn—

A battle 148 satsfc (3)A battle 148 rad_nat_640x480

One more sub-zero morning, though the cold air is very shallow. It is -7 in the valley here but +7 atop a hill about three miles away.

Of you get up before the sun it is worth checking out the sky to the south. Venus is brilliant and silver to the southeast, as Mars is brilliant and red to the southwest.  (Mars only gets bright every 2 years or so, as our orbit catches up to it and we pass it.)


DMI Mar 7B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 7B temp_latest.big (1)

As “Morpheven” gets stronger and “Morphy” weakens it will be interesting to see if Morpheven moves up towards the Pole, or over towards the coast of Siberia. Currently the mild air (-15 Celsius) has made it to the Pole. Siberia to Alaska cross-polar flow continuing.


UK Met Mat 7 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 7B 12850445 (CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE)


A battle 149 satsfc (3)A battle 149 rad_nat_640x480

Hope to comment later, but it is my Grandson’s birthday. First things first, y’know.


DMI Mar 8 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 8 temp_latest.big (1)

“Morphy” has weakened down at the bottom of Greenland as “Morpheven” occludes up by Svalbard, and kicks a secondary, “Morphevenson,” into the Norwegian northwest coast, with a final pulse of milder air in its warm sector, but colder air being drawn inland over Scandinavia south of it.  I think this will end the current invasion of the Arctic by Atlantic air, as a new storm is brewing off this map, south of Iceland. (It is “Thretate,” which is short for what was Threat #8 on this side of the Atlantic.) The high pressure at the very bottom of this map will deflect that storm straight north to Iceland along the new storm track, replacing the west winds over Iceland with east winds, and interupting the surge from the south.

On the other side of the arctic the Siberia-to-Alaska cross-polar-flow continues, which does not bode well for North America.

UK MET MAP  —Western Europe to catch a break?—

UK Met Mar 8 12867015

What tends to catch your eye on the above map is the gale center “Thretate,” to the west of Ireland. If this was the old pattern that would head straight to the British Isles and stall there for the duration of the weekend, becoming what I called the “Britannic Low.” However a new pattern has appeared and the gale will be more well behaved, heading up to become an Icelandic Low as seen in textbooks, only kicking its cold front to the Brittish Isles.

The features that don’t catch your eye, but that should be watched, is the string of high pressures extending from western Siberia all the way down to the Azores.  Rather than being bumped to the east by changing Atlantic Gales they will stand their ground and even be pumped up, forming a wall against Atlantic attacks.

I likely should stay down to earth, and avoid talking about stuff that is over my head, but I do get curious about what is happening aloft that is causing the high pressure over Europe to stand its ground. So I check out D. Ryan Maue’s maps at WeatherBELL, to see what is happening up at the 500 mb level of  the atmosphere. (Red on these maps indicates pressures higher than normal.)

UK Met Mar 8 gfs_z500_sig_eur_1  (Double click to fully enlarge)

Hmm. It does look like a bit of a ridge is poking up over Spain and France. But what about that trough to the west? Will that ripple east and park over Dublin and London?  Let me see what Maue’s maps say the GFS says the situation looks like five days from now:

UK Met Mar 8 gfs_z500_sig_eur_21

Yowza!  That sure looks like the storm track is deflected far to the north, and Western Europe enjoys some fine weather.

Now, you may ask, does this make me happy?  No. I am green with envy, and wear the expression of a man eating garlic.

LOCAL VIEW  —Threat #10—

A battle 150 satsfc (3)A battle 150 rad_nat_640x480

It looks like we should be in a nice and mild southwest flow, judging from the above map, however the low out to sea, (Threat #9), pushed back just enough of a back-side north-flow to delay the southwest winds and keep things calm. We may be thirty degrees warmer this morning, but that is still below freezing.

I’ve got things to grouch about, however I’m going to try to see the sunny side. When I walk outside I see the drive is sheer ice, though it looks sandy. All the sand I spread was covered by around a half inch of melt-water that refroze. If this was December I’d hustle out to spread more sand. But it is March, and with the sun as high as it is at noon on December by mid-morning, I can just be lazy, and let the sun melt the ice.  In fact you notice everyone getting increasingly sloppy, when it comes to snow removal, at this time of year. In December walkways are cleanly shoveled with the edges ruler straight. Now there is more slush, and slumping sides, and less fussing, for all are winter-weary and have slumped into an attitude of, “It’ll melt.”

Threat #10 looked impressive on the long range maps, three days ago, but now it looks like the cold front will  slide by with nothing but snow showers. Of course, with the sun so much more powerful any one of those showers can boom up in the sky and dump a surprise six inches, but I’d be pessimistic if I thought that way. Instead I’m just going to make sure to keep my  snow shovel standing up where I can get at it (as opposed to laying flat on the ground where it gets buried and you scratch your head wondering where it is, under the surprise six inches.)

Now the talk is about Threat #11, arriving next Wednesday. So I should stock up the front porch with more firewood, and take care of a few other chores that are better done on a sunny day than midst heavy snow. Not that I’m pessimistic. Instead I’m working on my tan.


DMI Mar 8B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 8B temp_latest.big (1)

“Thretate” has appeared at the bottom of the map, heading along the new pattern of south-to-north, and ignoring the old pattern of west-to-east. A high-pressure ridge has built between this new gale and the Morphy family, and likely is cutting the flow of Atlantic air up into the Arctic Sea.  Watch how quickly the mild air that is already up there cools down, remembering the sun will not rise at the Pole for another 12 days.

The Siberia to Alaska cross-polar-flow looks weaker, but is persisting.

LOCAL VIEW —Front passes quietly—

A battle 151 satsfc (3)A battle 151 rad_nat_640x480

It was a lovely, mild day, with true thawing and temperatures nudging above 40, (+4 Celsius). I relaxed in the morning and loaded up the porch with firewood in the afternoon, and also got some excersize repairing the igloo over at the Childcare. It has been so cold this winter there has been little snow that was sticky enough to build with, and the igloo I managed to put together included some blocks of dry, packed snow I cut with flat-headed shovel. That dry snow just vanishes in the warmth, and the igloo looked a bit like swiss cheese, or like someone had used it for target practice with a bazooka.

I only meant to patch the holes, but got carried away and build a front entryway. I’ll be feeling the excersize  in the morning, I’ wager. I can’t seem to limit myself, when it comes to building forts for the kids.  However with the front passing all the sticky snow in the igloo will freeze like rock, and on Monday the kids will have a hideout.

There were hardly any clouds in the sky, but as the front came through there were some strong gusts of wind.  Now it is calm again, and I’m looking southwest along the front, watching rippled run along the front towards us. We won’t get off without a bit of snow tomorrow, I’ll bet.


DMI Mar 9 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 9 temp_latest.big (1)

Look at “Thretate.” Now, that’s an Icelandic low!  I don’t think we’ve seen a low right over Iceland like that since Autumn.  As high pressure builds to the south, it looks like it will follow “Morphevenson” over the top of Scandinavia, keeping most of Scandinavia in winds from the east. The question then becomes will they get any of the mildness from the southwest that the British Isles seems likely to enjoy, or will they be on the borders and get cooler air from the northwest.

Over the rest of the Pole the weak Siberia-to-Canada-and-Alaska cross-polar-flow persists.  A difference between the Pacific and Atlantic ice extents is apparent.


Here is an interesting extent map from Anthony Watts “Sea Ice Page” at:  http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/

While this map has a weakness, because it shows neither how thick nor how concentrated the ice is, it does have an orange line which shows you where the “average” edge of the ice is, at this date. This is very helpful in terms of seeing whether the growth and shrinkage of the ice is doing anything unusual. (The map may take a while to load, and double-clicking it gives a huge version, which you can then shrink by re-clicking it.)

Extent Mar 9 N_bm_extent

What is apparent this March is that the Atlantic side has less ice than normal, especially in the Barents Sea, while over in Bering Strait the Pacific side is normal. This seems indicative of the fact thast the PDO has shifted to its “cold phase” while the AMO remains in its “warm phase.”

Here is a map I lifted from Thomas E. Downs blog at WeatherBELL showing the warm and cold phases of the PDO.

PDO warm and cold phase pdo_phases (click to enlarge)

What you notice is that, while the ocean as a whole likely doesn’t average out much colder or warmer, the location of warmth and coldness changes.  It is fairly clear the water is colder in Bering Strait and along the arctic coasts of Canada and Alaska.  So it would only be natural for ice to increase and persist more, and perhaps even increase year-to-year, as the PDO shifts to “cold phase.”

The PDO goes through all sorts of wobbles, and even can briefly revert to a “warm phase” look during the “cold phase.”  The warm pool of water shifted closer to the coast of Alaska last summer which did create a few “warm phase” reactions, however also it fueled a ridge of high pressure which drove the cold down the center of North America all winter.

My sense is that, because the Pacific is so much larger than the Atlantic, it forces the Atlantic to respond, until eventually the AMO shifts into a “warm phase” which is more in balance with the Pacific.  However perhaps, when this balance is achieved, it is out of balance in another way, which tips the Pacific towards its “cold phase.”  (Rinse and repeat.)  The entire process takes roughly sixty years.

Currently we are at a point where the Atlantic is in the process of responding to the Pacific, and the interactions create a sort of sloshing in the atmosphere, with many more cross-polar surges than would occur if things were in balance. When things are in balance the flow could be more orderly and zonal.

The devil is in the details, but this is my sense of what we have been witnessing.

LOCAL VIEW  —Birdsong beginning—

The maps show that the ripples of low pressure along the front that passed yesterday are staying south of us, so far.  It is a clear, crisp and cold dawn, with temperatures in the low twenties, (-6 Celsius.)  Winds are from the northwest, and temperatures are dripping to the teens and even single digits across the border in Vermont, not all that far upwind.

A battle 152 satsfc (3)A battle 152 rad_nat_640x480

Yesterday felt like a heat wave, with temperatures up in the low forties, (+6 Celsius,) but in fact that is only an average high temperature for early March. The winter has been so cold that normal seems warm.

Besides me noticing the warmth, the winter birds noticed as well. Mostly they are small: Chickadees, titmice, juncos and goldfinches, with unspectacular peeping and trilling. They were silent during the sub-zero spell, but have decided its safe to come out now, and are filling the underbrush with their small music, so much more modest than the thrushes and warblers that will be arriving from the south. However there is nothing modest about the woodpeckers and sapsuckers, who have started drumming the trees.  (Once in a while one will decide the way to out-do a rival is to drum against a metallic surface such as a TV aerial, which can be downright annoying, but I heard none of that yesterday.)  There is something very stirring about the deep, hollow, thunder woodpeckers make, when you get several drumming against dead trees at intervals at various distances through the trees. It is definitely an announcement: “Things are going to be different around here.”

Woodpecker hairy_01

(Photo Credit: http://www.lookoutnow.com/feeder/hairy_01.htm)


DMI Mar 9B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 9B temp_latest.big (1)

“Thretate” is breaking through the high pressure ridge separating it from the Morphy family of storms, but the surge of Atlantic mildness invading Scandinavia looks like it will head east rather than north.  The cross-polar-flow over the top of these lows seems to be closing the lid on Atlantic invasions for the time being.

Watch the temperatures over the Arctic Sea to see if they drop the next few days.


UK Met Mar 9 FSXX00T_00

UK Met Mar 9B 12900996 (CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE)

“Thretate” continues wallowing north, as “Thretine” appears in the lower left and seems likely to also follow the new pattern up towards Iceland, rather than clobbering the British Isles. A sort of wall of high pressure extends from Siberia to the Azores, shunting storms north, and even keeping the storm’s cold fronts from pushing far to the east.

However, as people in Dublin and London are suffering from post-traumatic-stress-syndrome, due to being punch-drunk after so many winter gales, some may have a deep need for some new hazard to worry about. (Sunshine makes them uneasy.) Therefore I would like to point out a potential fly-in-the-ointment, in the form of that weak low to the west of Spain. I don’t recall seeing that in the forecast models. Nothing much is likely to come of it, but it is small features such as that one which escape the notice of big computers, (flying-under-the-radar, as it were).

Therefore, if you really need the security blanket of having something to worry about, you can keep an eye on that low. Perhaps it will run up the front and give a sunny day a sprinkle of rain, and even a roll of thumping thunder.

LOCAL VIEW  —The trickster sun—

A battle 153 satsfc (3)A battle 153 rad_nat_640x480

These maps show a couple of interesting things.

First, they show the Great Lakes still can produce snow even when ice-covered, if circumstances are right.

Second, isobars show the north winds over me are turning to west winds, and a hint of the west winds even got into the final north winds, coming around the corner of the high pressure.

The analyst who drew this map, “Fanning,” was aware something was up, and drew the orange dashed line over us, and divided the high pressure into one over Virginia and one over western New York State. What isn’t so obvious is that the southern high is colder than the northern high, and the southern is from north winds and the northern is from west winds.  The west winds are kinder, and slightly less stable, though clouds are few; I can see the stars tonight, and the planet Jupiter shining beside the half moon. The lack of stability is weak, and is a sort of ghost-front, and only shown by the snow over the Great Lakes.  The change in air-masses is subtle, unless you happen to spend time in a place some modern people are unacquainted with, called “the outdoors.”

The clear boundary is Threat #10’s, much further to the south. (You would think a system named Thretten could live up to his name and threaten,  but the only threat is that low pressure left behind in the Gulf of Mexico, “Threttenson.”) However there was a clear boundary, felt by skin, between the truly arctic discharge of the north wind and the more benign air of the west wind. However thermometers didn’t show it. Why? Because the coldest air passed when the March sunshine was highest and brightest. Temperatures stayed fairly flat all day, but did rise slightly as the coldest air moved through, and then fell slightly as the milder air arrived as the sun sank low. In other words, skin registered something the thermometer missed.

(There is a whole essay worth writing, which I hope to get to work on, regarding the difference between being-out-in-the-weather and being-removed-from-reality, but that will have to wait. My focus now is how cold it felt despite the bright sun.)

As the core of the cold passed over, the morning March sun had the power to produce puddles on the street, though the thermometer in the shade stated it was still below freezing. The sun was sort of a trickster, producing a scene that looked warm though it wasn’t.

I can recall when, as a little boy, the brilliant face of the jolly March sun beamed in at me, filled me with boyish joy, and called me out like a best friend to run without reason in happy rays, that as soon as I stepped out the door the bitter air told me to pause, and perhaps wait until noon for more warming.

Now I’m wise, and the glare of the old, trickster sun cannot fool me…or does it? I check the thermometer and sagely stay in, but what did I see that made me check? (Some distant, bright glitter is calling from between the snow-swept trees like an old best friend from a lost time’s ease.)

They say that people who win the lottery often end up incredibly miserable, despite their good fortune.  Perhaps they are miserable because they can afford to stay indoors and removed-from-reality, and miss the contact with what is real.


DMI Marc 10 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 10 temp_latest.big (1)


I hid a sonnet in last night’s purple prose.  Written in a more formal manner it would look like this:

I can recall when, as a little boy,
The brilliant face of the jolly March sun
Beamed in on me, filled me with boyish joy
And called me out like a best friend to run
Without reason in happy rays, that as soon
As I stepped out the door the bitter air
Told me to pause, and perhaps wait until noon
For more warming. Now I’m wise, and the glare
Of the old trickster sun cannot fool me…
Or does it? I check the thermometer
And sagely stay in, but what did I see
That made me check? Some distant, bright glitter
Is calling from between the snow-swept trees
Like an old best friend from a lost time’s ease.

Although I obey my own rules regarding rhythm, (and stricter poets might claim I abuse my iambs), I do obey a lot of constraining conventions, such as having ten syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG.  Even as I obey all these restraints, I am suppose to make the result sound like ordinary speech, (albeit prose that is a bit purple.)  When I hide a sonnet in my ordinary prose it is to see how well I am doing. If I am doing well you shouldn’t know you are reading a sonnet, even as you do so.

In the same way, order is hidden in weather maps that seem very chaotic. In actual fact there is no such thing as chaos. When we think we see disorder, and call it “chaos,” it only demonstrates our incapacity to comprehend our Creator. Therefore it is sometimes better to stop frustrating our brains by trying to make sense of clouds that are far above our heads, and instead to sit back and enjoy the show.

LOCAL VIEW  —A dusting of snow—

I got a bit of a surprise this morning when I saw the blue daylight of dawn show light snow falling, and a radar map looking like this:

A battle 154 rad_ec_640x480_01

However the snow settled south and more or less evaporated in the strong March sunshine, and, though I had to rush off and sweep the walkways at the Childcare and spread sand, the situation now looks like this at noon:

A battle 154 satsfc (3)A battle 154 rad_nat_640x480

The snow was caused by those west winds I talked about last night moving milder air in. The only fronts they show are stationary, one down in the Carolinas and one up north of the Canadian border, but I figure that west wind deserves some sort of orange dashed line, considering I had to sweep it up, and also you can see the stream of clouds back all the way west to Nebraska.

However that is but a pettifogging detail, considering we now have a heavy snow watch for Wednesday onto Thursday.  I still have a hope the cold will come pressing back down from the north enough to push it all south of us, but I confess it is a slender hope.  It looks like our luck is about to run out.

I’ll post maps, but likely my comments will be brief. Besides making ready for the storm I have an essay brewing in the back of my mind, and likely will be working on that as well.


DMI Mar 10B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 10B temp_latest.big (1)


UK Met Mar 10B 12926977  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Storm track continues north, well west of Ireland.

A battle 155 satsfc (3)A battle 155 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

I’m just going to pretend that light snow isn’t headed our way. Why spoil a good night’s sleep?


DMI Mar 11 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 11 temp_latest.big (1)

“Thretine” is taking the new storm track up Denmark Strait, on the west side of Iceland, about as far from the old storm track as you can get, as western Europe experiences this odd thing they can hardly remember called “high pressure.”  “Thretate” has merged with the Morphy family of storms, and is churning east along the Siberian coast, giving northern Scandinavia some polar winds in its wake, but pushing the ice away from the Siberian coast of the Kara Sea and even the Laptev sea, as can be seen in this animation of sea-ice thickness: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticict_nowcast_anim30d.gif  This may reduce sea-ice extent and open a channel along the coast, while crunching up and thickening the ice towards the Pole.  The air blowing off shore will form new ice quickly, but it will be thin.

The air over the the Pole is cooling fairly quickly.


UK Met Mar 11 12939617 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The people of Dublin and London must be looking about, blinking in disbelief and wondering if they are on the same planet as they were during the winter, as high pressure settles over them. The weak cold front that pushed east into the channel is stronger up in Scandinavia, where it is closer to the storm track.  It will be a battle to get the nice weather up there, especially to the east in Finland, as “Thretine’s” fronts will be closer as it passes north of Norway, however southern Scandinavia may get in on the glory days.

“Thretten”,  appearing to the lower left, will take the same path as “Thretine”, but a little further east, and as the lovely pattern starts to break down it’s fronts will start to nudge into Scotland by Friday as it stalls northwest of Norway, and a secondary forms northwest of Scotland.  Here is the forecast map for late Friday:

UK Met Mar 11 friday forecast 12943734

The above map is only a forecast, and reality may be different, but if I was in Ireland or England I’d make sure to get out and take long lunches during the week, for by the weekend it may be windier and showery.

LOCAL VIEW  —Forecast turns gloppy—

A battle 156 satsfc (3)A battle 156 rad_nat_640x480

Just before I went to sleep I glanced out the bedroom window, and saw snowflakes swirling around the streetlight by the street, as that small feature you can see departing northern Maine passed through. It didn’t keep me awake, as I got plenty of exercise moving firewood yesterday. I slept like a brick, and this morning I’m about as flexible as a brick, but refreshed.

All eyes are on Threat #11, now gathering strength out in Nebraska. Henseforth I’ll call it “Thretelve.” A lot depends on how far south the cold front of its parent-low rippling weakly to our north comes, and how quickly the arctic front further north is brought into play.  (A interesting factor is the weak “Thretenson” in the western Gulf of Mexico.  It may be able to tug the storm further south.)

Currently we still have a winter storm watch, but now the forecast includes rain and freezing rain at the heart of the storm, before it turns back to snow at the end.  That would be a mess, especially as all the slush would freeze to rock in the storm’s cold aftermath.


DMI Mar 11B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mat 11B temp_latest.big (1)

“Thretine” is much weaker north of Iceland, but isobars between it and strong high pressure to the south is shifting northwest winds over Scandinavia to the southwest.

The cross-polar-flow is weakening and starting to meander, as the air over the Pole gets colder.


UK Met Mar 11B 12951796 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

All those fronts in the Atlantic will be swept north, and the beautiful weather will last, even getting into southern Scandinavia. Soak it up.  It doesn’t look so lovely in the long range, with a deep low pressure trough over Europe in ten days.

LOCAL VIEW  —False echoes—

A battle 157 satsfc (3)A battle 157 rad_nat_640x480

With the Analyst “King” drawing so many lows on the map, and the radar producing so many false echoes, I’m not even going to attempt to guess if we’ll get rain or snow. (My hunch is more snow than they now forecast, which is 1-3 inches.)

It’s been a beautiful day, with a warm sun and temperatures up to 51.  I’m just going to enjoy the sunburn. Let tomorrow bring what it will.


DMI Mar 12 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 12 temp_latest.big (1)

“Thretine” is slightly stronger as it moves north of Norway towards the Morphy family of storms, retaining surprising strength in the Kara Sea.  Most of the Atlantic input of relative mildness is pumped south of these two storms, part of a larger flow of relatively mild air (only slightly below freezing) that holds sway over western Siberia and the western and central Russian steppes. There is a turn to much colder (below zero [F]) air to the south and east of the Morphy family, and Morphy is pulling that colder air north into the Arctic Sea. All in all the two storms are cooling the Pole more than warming it, at this point.

“Threten” is getting its act together west of Iceland in Denmark Strait, and looks likely to start out on the northern storm-track, but then veer more to the south, crashing into northern Scandinavia from the northwest.  “Thretelve,” which is effecting my neighborhood today, looks like it will scoot across the Atlantic even further to the south, passing over Iceland and then hitting more southern parts of Scandinavia, winding up in the Baltic next weekend. The southward progression of the storm-track suggests the Pole will be exporting air down into the north Atlantic, rather than the flow being up from the Atlantic to the Pole.

The cross-polar flow continues, but is weak. It curves around Greenland into Hudson Bay. Meanwhile a counter flow is developing from Alaska back to eastern Siberia, as a low in southern Alaska generates low pressure in the Bering Strait.  Between the two flows is a ridge of high pressure bisecting the Pole.


UK Met Mar 12 12965767  (Click to enlarge)

Looks like lovely weather for most of Europe today.

Low pressure is going to stop heading north of Norway, and start attacking down into Scandinavia. By Saturday a storm could be cutting southeast right where the high pressure is now located, and the high pressure will be nudged down to the Azores.  This Azores high could keep things pleasant in the south of the British Isles, even as the Scotland gets the front and edges of that storm passing to its north. The North Sea and Baltic Sea will become the battle-line between a counter-attack of winter, and sweet springtime over France.

LOCAL VIEW  —I burned the sap—

A battle 158 satsfc (3)A battle 158 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It looks like the rain-snow line is setting up just north of me, and the storm will begin as rain. The trouble will start in the evening, as the cold presses south and the rain turns to snow.

However I burned the sap, so trouble has already started for me. Rather than delicous maple syrup, I have only charcoal to offer the children.  That will not go over well, nor will the way the pot looks go over well with my wife.  It is one of those mornings where I wish there was a rock I could go crawl under and hide like a worm.

LOCAL VIEW  —At noon—Nothing—(except aching joints)—

A battle 159 satsfc (3)A battle 159 rad_ec_640x480

I’ve been watching this storm rush towards us without enthusiasm. I’ve got better things to do than deal with snow. (Such as clean a burned pot.) When I’m rich, and can afford hiring some strong young fellow to do my work, my attitude may switch back to the way it was when I was younger, and relished storms.

The wind was light and from the north all morning, which suggests the cold air is sneaking south “under the radar.” The pressure was falling to 29.50 fairly swiftly. The clouds were high and from the west (and from the west-north-west at sunset yesterday). We even had a bit of milky sunshine this morning through thick high clouds. The clouds abruptly came up from the south, which gave me more hope of rain. However down here on earth the wind was still from the north.

Another hope is this storm might zoom by so fast it hasn’t the time to cloud us.  It isn’t the sort of storm that gets blocked and just sits off Cape Cod dumping on us.  Instead it is surging northeast at top speed. I think it has an appointment to be across the Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea by Saturday.

Fine with me. I’m promoted to chief pot scrubber for a while.

LOCAL VIEW  —Storm speeding past—6:00 and pressure down to 29.15

A battle 160 satsfc (3)A battle 160 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Dry slot headed up our way. We could escape with little more than a dusting, if we are lucky. (Surprisingly, even the kids are starting to seem sick of the snow.)


DMI Mar 12B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 12B temp_latest.big (1)

Pole is colder. It has “reloaded.”


DMI Mar 13 mslp_latest.bigDMI March 13 temp_latest.big (1)

LOCAL VIEW  —Just an inch—

A battle 161 satsfc (3)A battle 161 rad_ec_640x480

Barometer 29.15 and rising, with light snow. Time to go clean the walkways at the childcare.

LOCAL VIEW  —Lunchtime Report—2 inches in snow squalls—

A battle 162 satsfc (3)A battle 162 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Temperatures were around 20 when I got to work, but had dropped to 13 by 9:30 AM. There is a roaring wind and drifting snow, and squalls that often don’t show up on the weather radar. They must be low scud having its moisture squeezed out by the cold.  We have actually had more snow after the storm than during the storm.

The good side of the cold is that it will slow the run-off and keep the streams and rivers at a lower level. There is an amazing amount of water stored in our foot of snow cover.


DMI Mar 13B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 13B temp_latest.big (1)

“Morphy” is stalled and weakening on the Siberian coast in the Kara Sea, however its east-side winds pushed ice away from the shores of both the Kara Sea and the Eastern Laptev Sea. This exposed warer swiftly freezes over, but may lead to a swift ice-melt this spring in coastal areas, and slower ice-melt further off shore, where the ice piled up.

“Threten” has restrengthened and is diving towards the northwest coast of Norway, sucking some Atlantic air up the Norwegian coast, however this air for the most part seems likely to get wrapped around and will wind up wound-up occusions, rather than invading the Pole, which continues to get colder.

“Thretelve” is just appearing at the southern tip of Greenland.


UK Met Mar 13 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 13B 13004741  (Click maps to enlarge)

Even as these maps show “Threten” bombing out off Norway, they show the high over Europe is so strong it keeps the cold front from penetrating farther south than the top of Scotland. This high pressure will sag south slightly as “Thretelve,” south of Greenland, rushes across the Atlantic and into the Baltic Sea on Saturday. Not even it, on a more southerly track, will be able to drive fronts far south.  Scandinavia will get all the weather, as most of the rest of Europe gets a sunny spell. Enjoy it while it lasts.  “Thretelvis,” who has given me a wild day over on this side of the Pond, is just appearing as warm fronts to the lower left, and it is likely to nudge the kindly high pressure a bit further south.

LOCAL VIEW  —Purple hands, purple nose, and purple prose—

A battle 163 satsfc (3)A battle 163 rad_nat_640x480

At the top right corner is “Thretelve” is rushing off to a date with Denmark on Saturday, and below it is the storm that gave us a better backlash than front-lash, which should be called “Thretelveson” but I’ve decided to call “Thretelvis,” because it made things sway.

Yesterday was so mild that even the packed paths in the snow got soggy, and each step plunged down knee deep, and just walking fifty yards up a hill to get a sap bucket was exhausting, and left me leaning against the tree catching my breath. This morning was so cold I walked right along the top of the same snow, but found new things to gripe about, due to a wind that blew snow in your eyes like a sandstorm and sometimes tried to butt you off your feet.

The kids at the Childcare did go out, likely because it looked wonderful out the window, and they clamored to go out, but once they were out they were clamoring to go back in, and wound up spending most of the day indoors. I would have stayed in, but had to make amends for burning the sap, though the trees swiftly stopped producing any sap when temperatures dropped to the teens. All in all I only gleaned about two gallons, which will make perhaps a cup of syrup for sugar-on-snow.  I said the heck with boiling it outside, which I usually do to avoid steaming up the house and making the ceiling sticky. The air was so dry I decided the house could use the humidity.  So I did manage to stay indoors more, but not entirely, and the time I was outside was murder.

I’ve confessed I’m no longer fond of winter, but when it gets really extreme the embers of my old heart get stirred, and even though I hardly curse at all any more, in ordinary circumstances, in the most vicious winds colorful curses spring to my purple lips. A veritable rainbow of blasphemy can pass through my mind, even if the children are about and I don’t speak. In the end the rainbow turns purple, as the best outlet for extremities upon extremities is purple prose. And purple prose is more satisfying than just cursing, in the same way that singing the blues is more fulfilling than cursing, when your love-life drives you to drink.

Therefore I suppose I should be thankful for awful weather. They say, “you’ve got to pay the dues if your going to play the blues,” and therefore the sandblasting wind was dues I was paying, for poetry.  And I must say it did approach some different level of consciousness at times, when the gusts made me stagger, and my life passed before my eyes. But my more pragmatic side just wanted to get out of the outside, knowing this cruel day is better seen through a pane than walked through.

The pain the wind blew, (nails and needles,) threw spears, drew tears, grew the mane of a wild white horse tossing flared contrails from mad nostrils, mad eyes and mad white teeth biting, wheeling, kicking, whirling, sinking, settling to just snow seething flat beneath slacked wind between surf roars in pines winking harsh light, swaying thick trunks, brandishing boughs like shaken fists, all lion-voiced but then howling up to a scream, as white swirling stings the distance pale, ’til it’s haze-hidden and I stagger inside.

Here I’ll remain, for this cruel day is best seen through a pane by a warm stove.  I watch the snow’s hard crust be polished to a glare by whistling powder’s drifting ripples.

Bending crows with their thrust, making all small birds hide from their powers, the winds roar onward, scoop falcon zephyrs towards uncertain dooms as the sun burns brass low between corridor shadows the firs and pines sway across a glossy canvass made of polished snow.

Brassy is the glare of of the snow and the sky and the sunk sun, and brassy is the taste of grim despair ending a day I wish hadn’t begun, though I must see it through, although I rue confessing this cruel day is best seen through a window made of art gallery frames, painted by an artist who knows the view for he once walked within the canvas creation I’m staggered by.

(OK. Enough of that purple profundity. Can you spot the hidden sonnet?)


DMI Mar 14 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 14 temp_latest.big (1)

“Threten” is stalled off the northwest coast of Norway, bringing strong east winds across Scandinavia and likely a lot of sea-ice south through Fram Strait.

Milder Pacific air is working towards the Pole across Alaska, though the Pole as a whole continues cold, nearly down to “normal.”

LOCAL VIEW  —Cold’s core out to sea; warm-up ahead—

A battle 164 satsfc (3) A battle 164 rad_nat_640x480

The worst cold passed during the daylight yesterday. Last night was not as cold as I expected, with the snow-cover fresh, as the winds didn’t slacken until dawn.  Winds slackened earlier to our west, and in the Connecticut River valley at the Vermont border they set some records with sub-zero readings, but most places around here were down around 10 (F).

Now the March sunshine is brilliant, and the map shows a nice southwest flow behind the arctic high, and the radar shows dryness.  I’m dubbing that low over the Great Lakes, (Threat #14,) “Marchair.”  I’ll hopefully explain my reasons later, but now I have to hurry over to the Childcare and hopefully redeem myself by treating the kids to a little maple sugar on snow. (My name has been mud, since I burned the sap earlier in the week.)


DMI Mar 14B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 14B temp_latest.big (1)

UK Met Maps  —March 14 and 15—

UK Met Mar 14 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 14B 13030969UK Met Mar 15 13045649 (Click maps to enlarge)

“Thretelve” has rippled across the Atlantic into the Baltic as expected, but the kindly high pressure is fighting back and pushing its fronts back north, and even keeping “Thetelvis” bottled up back in Baffin Bay.  However this apparently is a last hurrah, as the kindly high will be flattened, and squeezed east by a reversal in the upper air flow.

This reversal can be seen in two of Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps from his WeatherBELL site,  the first showing the current situation, with the lovely upper air ridge over the British Isles, and a trough back over North America. The trough flattens out as it presses up and over the high, and then digs down to give us the second map, which forecasts a trough over the British Isles five days from now. (These maps show the 500 mb level.)

CURRENT MAP  UK Met Mar 15 gfs_z500_sig_natl_1

120 HOUR MAP UK Met Mar 15 gfs_z500_sig_natl_21 

This should be an interesting reversal to watch.  Care to make a guess at what sort of surface features such an upper air map will produce? (Double click the Maue maps to fully enlarge them.)

MARCH 15  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI Mar 15 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 15 temp_latest.big (1)

“Threten” continues to occlude and be flattened northwest of Norway, even as some of its energy is kicked east into coastal Siberia, to be joined by “Thretelve” rushing through the Baltic. While sea-ice is still likely being flushed through Fram Strait, it is interesting that once again Iceland enjoys high pressure, and the isobars between Iceland and Norway suggest winds that are not helping the Gulf Stream warmth get north.

An interesting feature in this map involves the milder isotherms curving around Morphy, as Morphy is reinforced by a low coming up from the Steppes to the south.  Even a month ago south winds from Siberia would supply the coldest air, however the situation over Siberia is changing, as the days lengthen. Siberia is no longer the icebox it was, as the days soon will be longer than the nights.  While the sun is still low, and there are still some patches of sub-zero (-17 Celsius) air, we are transitioning into a time when south winds from Siberia will be warm.

It looks like the addition of the low from the south and Thretelve charging past the Baltic will make Morphy part of a general pool of low pressure bulging towards the Pole, recreating the Siberia-to-Canada cross-polar-flow.  Likely this this will be the last truly arctic blast delivered south into North America,  as conditions change in the source regions due the wonders of sunshine.

LOCAL VIEW  —Whiplash weather—

A battle 165 satsfc (3)A battle 165 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It is above freezing this morning, with rain pattering lightly on the roof.  We are in the warm sector of “Marchair,” passing to our north. When its cold front, now over the Great lakes, swings by this evening temperatures will crash, and tomorrow morning it will be 15, just as it was 10 yesterday morning after being mild the morning before.

You get a sort of whiplash if you allow your heart to surge with hope with each mild hint of spring.  You know it will be crushed by following cold, but you are made manic by the sunbeams just the same. It is so illogical I think the logical must be biological.

Yesterday I redeemed myself by serving the children at the Childcare sugar-on-snow.  In the process I demonstrated that after you burn the sap life isn’t over. Just because you may feel like a worm is no reason to behave like a worm. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start scrubbing the pots. When the pots are clean you start all over again, and wind up snatching success from the jaws of defeat, and also licking your lips, because the result tastes so good.

I salvaged some humor, (though I did not feel the sap-burning situation was funny at the time,) by showing the children how I behaved when I discovered I had left the outdoors burner on and burned the sap to a crisp.  I acted it out, stomping around kicking the snow and raging at the sky, and the kids found that was very funny, especially when I said, “How could I have been so stupid!” and slapped my forehead, continuing  “Dumb-dumb-dumb, duh-duh-duh, stooooopid!”  Then they looked very interested when I stopped, put my hands on my hips, and said, “There must be someone else I can blame for this. Who can I blame?”

The children looked thoughtful, and then one suggested, “The goats?”

I put on an enlightened and hopeful face, nodding, but then pretended doubt crept in, and finally concluded I couldn’t blame the goats as they were in the stable.  So we considered other options.  The dog? No, it was back at the other house.  The rabbit? The chickens? The rooster? Nope, they were caged. Then I allowed a eureka to escape my lips, raised an index finger, and said, “I’ve got it! I’ll blame you guys!”

The children did not think this was a very good idea. I said it probably wasn’t, because they had all gone home when I burned the sap, however I could always say that it didn’t matter if they weren’t around, because I burned the sap because they had driven me, (and here I dramatically paused, took a deep breath, and then waved my hands, bulged my eyes, made my voice shaky and high, and uttered the word) “crazy” (in a long, wailing, and drawn out manner.)

They all looked at me in delighted horror, and then one said, “Do it again!”

After “doing-it-again” around ten times, I got down to scrubbing the pots, conceding, as I did so, that I had no one to blame but myself, and that the thing to do, when you make a mistake, is to fix it.

I would like to be able to say I had this all planned out beforehand, and that I burned the sap on purpose, to demonstrate to small children how to handle emotions and how to recover from a debacle. However the entire thing was an example of flying by the seat of my pants. In actual fact, when I actually have a plan, more than half the time children swiftly make my “curriculum” mincemeat. They live in a world of spontaneity and appreciate spontaneous responses.

In order to be spontaneous, and not have the result be ruin, you need to be able to trust yourself, and to be fairly certain you are not prompted by subconscious demons, and this involves years of the trial-and-error called “life.” It is important to have elders who give you guidelines to go by, but the actual learning can be done by none but yourself, and there are times you feel very alone. You are never actually alone, because God is everywhere, but you sure can feel alone. However if you persist you can arrive at a point where spontaneity is something you can trust.

This is not to say it ever gets easy. Even at age sixty-one there are times the hardest thing to do is to get out of bed, especially when I’ve disappointed a bunch of small children by burning the sap.

LOCAL VIEW  —Hidden sonnets revealed—

A battle 166 satsfc (3)A battle 166 rad_nat_640x480

There’s plenty to worry about on this map, if one is so inclined, but I have been seduced by a beautiful day, and am not inclined.  Or, I should say, I am not currently inclining, though I have been in a lazy mood, and did incline a bit after lunch.

The rain rolled away early, and the sky cleared to a kindly blue with the sun wonderfully warm. I couldn’t do the weekly deposit at my desk, and did it sitting on the front porch in the sun. Of course, when I arrived at the bank a check was missing, but after a brief panic I found it behind the woodpile, where a stray breeze had blown it, and when I returned to the bank I was in a better mood than ever.  A brief panic is a sort of tonic to your system, I suppose, providing all works out well. Also it enhanced my reputation, at the bank, as a dreamy airhead and mad poet.

Speaking of poetry, I should give the solutions to the hidden sonnet parts of prior posts.

I cheated in the March 13th post, because I changed the punctuation in order to hide the sonnets. I say sonnets because there were two. It was what I call a sonnet-duo, [which is pronounced as if it was one word, (perhaps Italian?) “Sonneduo.”]  It went like this:

This cruel day is better seen through a pane
Than walked through. The pain the wind blew, (nails
And needles,) threw spears, drew tears, grew the mane
Of a wild white horse tossing flared contrails
From mad nostrils, mad eyes and mad white teeth
Biting, wheeling, kicking, whirling, sinking,
Settling to just snow seething flat beneath
Slacked wind between surf roars in pines winking
Harsh light, swaying thick trunks, brandishing
Boughs like shaken fists, all lion-voiced but then
Howling up to a scream, as white swirling
Stings the distance pale, ’til it’s haze-hidden
And I stagger inside. Here I’ll remain,
For this cruel day is best seen through a pane.
By a warm stove I watch the snow’s hard crust
Be polished to a glare by whistling powder’s
Drifting ripples. Bending crows with their thrust,
Making all small birds hide from their powers,
The winds roar onward, scoop falcon zephyrs
Towards uncertain dooms as the sun burns brass
Low between corridor shadows the firs
And pines sway across a glossy canvass
Made of polished snow. Brassy is the glare
Of the snow and the sky and the sunk sun,
And brassy is the taste of grim despair
Ending a day I wish hadn’t begun,
Though I must see it through, although I rue
Confessing this cruel day is best seen through.

I also hid a sonnet in my last post, on March 6, above the picture of the Cardinal

The east blushes blue. A cardinal tweets,
Insanely loud in the subzero hush.
Jaunty red plumage black against dawn, he greets
Winter’s conquest with counter-claims, a rush
Of twitters, and then, “Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!” he yells:
A winced headache to all with hangovers
And a plague to sleep. “Tweet! Tweet!” It compels
Curses from virgin lips; even pushovers
Push back against the madness of claiming
A white waste of tundra for a dull spouse
Who likely thinks he’s mad, and is shaming
Him by basking in Florida.  What house
Can he claim for her when the odds are so low?
”Tweet! Tweet!” screams the cardinal at seven below.

That will end my poetry for a while, for I must embark upon one of the most un-poetic voyages there is: Doing my taxes.  Not that I won’t be driven to write some spiteful doggerel.  It drives me half mad that I have to be responsible, and then the imbeciles in Washington take my money and are incredibly irresponsible with it.

But I’m not going to let it get to me, No, No, No.  This year will be different. I’m going to keep my cool and pretend it is a sort of crossword puzzle I’m doing while reading the paper, for my own pleasure, on a cozy Sunday afternoon.

It likely will get my brains working in a more down-to-earth wave-length, and then, after the taxes are done, I plan to use those pragmatic brain-cells to reorganize this blog-site.

That is another effect of spring sunshine. It makes you ambitious, even if you’re old enough to know better.


DMI Mar 15B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 15B temp_latest.big (1)


DMI Mar 16 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 16 temp_latest.big (1)

“Threten” remains as a general area of low pressure northwest of Norway, as what remains of “Thetelvis” moves over Iceland to join it, creating the sort of confused web of occlusions that makes forecasting in the North Atlantic more changing than areas further south.

“Thetelve” has moved beyond the Baltic and is east of Finland, moving towards a rejuvinated “Morphy.”  As these two lows swing around each other, (performing an arctic version of the Fujiwara effect,) they will create a situation where high pressure is on the Canadian side and low pressure on the Siberian side of the Pole. This may flush some ice towards the Atlantic and create a false peak in the arctic sea-ice extent.  (False because it is not due to freezing as much as it is due to flushing.)


UK Met Mar 16 13067783 (click to enlarge)

The kindly high pressure is hanging tough, southwest of Ireland, but the squeeze has begun, and a strong westerly flow is developing across northern Europe, as “Threteven ” moves away east of Finland.  It looks like an east-west front, with ripples on it, will divide that westerly flow into polar air over Scandinavia and northern Germany, and milder air from the kindly high and the Azores to the south.  At this point the front is expected to sag south as the kindly high retreats, without any major storms appearing, however that only looks forward five days.  My antennae are twitching, sensing something is brewing.

The low in the lower left is not “Marchair,” which is just off the map. I think it is a secondary or tertiary storm on what is left of Thretelve’s cold front. I’ll dub it “Thretersh”. It is expected to stall where it is, and then be kicked ahead by Marchair, arriving over northern Scotland as a weak, dissolving occlusion-spiral on Tuesday, and drifting on in the westerly flow to the Baltic by Wedensday.  Meanwhile, rather than turning into a big gale, it seems Marchair will rest content to flatten into a bunch of ripples in a strong westerly flow.

The north Atlantic is so prone to brew up big gales that it seems downright odd, especially in March, to have the flow be so flat.

LOCAL VIEW   —Bastardi baffled—(Me too)—

A battle 167 satsfc (3)A battle 167 rad_nat_640x480

This sure looks like the set-up for a storm to me: A big cold high pressure to the north and lots of juice to the south.  However rather than brewing anything up it seems the moisture will side meekly out to sea, well to my south.  When I went looking for an explanation I noted Joe Bastardi at WeatherBELL, who I respect for his genius and honesty, stated he too was “stumped” by the behavior of this pattern.

Not that I’m complaining.  I’m glad I don’t have to shovel and trudge around behind the snow-blower, though in actual fact I’d prefer doing that to doing my taxes.


DMI Mar 16B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 16B temp_latest.big (1)

I’m going to call that combination of lows netween Iceland and Norway “Elvis.” It is  blocking Atlantic air from getting into the Arctic, and instead strong westerlies are swooshing that air across Europe,  North of there a lobe of high pressure is poking down over Svalbard, and had stopped the flow of ice through Fram Strait.  It also is delivering north winds into northern Scandinavia, but interestingly those north winds are not especially cold, at this point.  The air over the Barents, Kara and Laptev Seas is actually relatively mild, despite the fact no Atlantic invasion is going on, and despite the fact “Morphy” is sucking air up from Siberia.  Siberia simply lacks the punch it once had.

However the Pole still has power, as the twilight hasn’t been broken by the sun. The minus-thirty air swirling around it is some of the coldest air we’ve seen up there this winter, and the cold is building at a time the DMI graph shows temperatures usually begin to rise.

DMI Mar 16B meanT_2014 (click graph to enlarge)


DMI Mar 17 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 17 temp_latest.big (1)


UK Met Mar 17 13092956

The kindly high has fought back and reclaimed Scotland and denmarp from the polar flow.  A last hurrah?

LOCAL VIEW  —Another frigid morning—

A battle 168 satsfc (3)A battle 168 rad_nat_640x480

8 Degrees to start the day. ( -13 Celsius) Typical Monday gloom. Grey overcast from a storm down over Washington DC.  Good. Maybe it will slow their spending a little.

It cleared up later but stayed cold. The snow just fades away in the bright sunshine, seeming to evaporate more than melt. It was odd to think that on Saint Patricks Day two years ago it was eighty degrees (27 Celsius) and the soil was thawed enough to plant some peas.  We still have eight inches of snow and enough ice on the rivers to worry about ice jams.


DMI Mar 17B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 17B temp_latest.big (1)


DMI Mar 18 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 18 temp_latest.big (1)

“Morphy” continues to whirl, though weakening, over Barents Sea, bringing air up from Siberia over the Pole. Ordinarily this would be cold air, even with the sun now up on the Siberian coast, however central Siberia is enjoying a balmy spell with temperatures up near freezing, which is twenty degrees above normal. The real arctic cold has been displaced down into Canada, (which is a bit annoying for me, as I’ve had enough of winter.)

Because the air moving up over the Pole from Siberia has a source region down in the steppes around the Caspian, it is much drier than Atlantic air, and cools swiftly.  This may raise the “relative humidity” but doesn’t raise the amount of “precipitable water” in the air, and reduces the chance for any snow, and even reduces the amount of latent heat turned into available heat.  It is worth thinking about the differences this sort of air mass has, compared to an Atlantic one.

The Fram-Strait-flushing has resumed, with winds turning north there.

UK MET MAP  —The kindly high retreats—

UK Met Mar 18 13118132 (Click map to enlarge)

The kindly high is now west of Spain, and the gnawing of the colder Atlantic westerlies are chewing its edges southward. “Thretersh” has been booted ahead towards Scotland, as Marchair hangs back as a Labrador Low.  Europe is basically in a westerly flow, with colder Atlantic air to the north and milder air from the Azores to the south.

The kindly high is forecast to stage a final counter attack, but in effect will be caught up in the flow and move as a kindly blob into southern France, where its west-side warm winds will combine with “Marchair’s” east-side warm winds to bring a final surge of warmth north, though it will likely be spoiled by the strength of the wind and showers. Then we will watch to see if Marchair settles southeast as a final example of the Icelandic Low becoming the Britannic Low, before we can leave the wet winter in the past.

The recent flow of mild air into Europe rather than up to the Pole extended east into the Steppes and up to Siberia, where Siberians were likely overjoyed to see the intense cold break.  (The cold was all shipped across the Pole to freeze the socks off people in North America.) The departures from normal are now impressive.  If you want to get silly about proof of end-of-the-world Global Warming, it is best you ignore North America, and focus on Siberia. To help you find misery in the joy of Siberians, I’ll include a Dr. Ryan Maue WeatherBELL map showing the temperature anomalies over Asia, which makes the mildness over Siberia clear. (Remember, the map shows anomalies, not temperatures.  The highest anomalies still represent temperatures at freezing.)

UK Met Mar 18 gfs_t2m_anomf_asia_1 (Double click to fully enlarge)


A battle 169 satsfc (3)A battle 169 rad_nat_640x480

It was 6 degrees (-14 Celsius) when I drove the kids to kindergarten at 8:20 Am, after the sun had been up over an hour. This is getting ridiculous. However the snow is actually shrinking, sublimating into thin air in brilliant sunshine. Only in the most protected places is the sun able to produce actual puddles, which freeze as the sun sinks in the late afternoon. There are none of the melt-water rivulets that engrossed me as a boy, and got me in trouble because I could never manage to walk home from school without getting my school clothes muddy.

I’m going to be busy with an essay for a while.


DMI Mar 18B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 18B temp_latest.big (1)


DMI Mar 19 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 19 temp_latest.big (1)

We have to start paying to how daylight effects temperatures now. Roughly speaking, the bottom half of these maps are in night as the top half is in day. This will be reversed in the afternoon map.  Watch to see how much colder the upper half is at night.

Morphy continues to fade. I feel like fading a bit, myself.


UK Met Mar 19 13143028 CLICK TO ENLARGE

The kindly high is losing a fight with “Marchair” but some nice weather is nudging into France. That high pressure will be swept by the westerlies to the Black Sea by Friday, as Marchair stands victorious over the Atlantic and shifts the winds to the south over western Europe, but they will be cooler south winds, with a polar source region rather than coming from the Azores.


DMI Mar 19B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 19B temp_latest.big (1)

LOCAL VIEW   —Warm front approaching; wet snow falling—

A battle 170 satsfc (3)A battle 170 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

I was up until 1:30 last night writing an essay, and now I’m paying the price. When I get a bee in my bonnet I just can’t rest until it is out and on the page.  It is great fun, but the next day I suffer a sort of hang-over, and the work looks like garbage.  But I’ll get over it.

It was clear at sunrise, and up to 16 degrees (-9 Celsius) which seemed warm, after what we’ve been through. By 9:00 AM  it was clouding up, as a warm front pushed towards us, and sleet began in the late afternoon, which has now changed to wet snow.  That is the price you pay for milder weather: Snow.

There is a lot of talk about another arctic blast coming on  Sunday night, and lasting well into next week.  People are definitely starting to grumble about the unrelenting cold.

MARCH 19 —DMI MORNING MAPS—Sunrise at the North Pole—

DMI Mar 20 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 20 temp_latest.big (1)

The sun is rising at the North Pole, and it won’t set until September. It will take a while to warm enough for the ice to start melting, so the next 30 days or so will represent a window of opportunity. It will be light enough to see, and the ice will be hard enough to walk on without having to deal with slush or melt-water pools. My best wishes and prayer go to the fellows who head up that way now, and risk meetings with 1600 pound bears to set up the arrays of intruments I enjoy so much.

The map shows that even as Morph fades reinforcements are arriving from the south, while down in the Atlantic Marchair is gathering stray storms into a sizable entity.  Low pressure is staying to the Eurasian side, while high pressure owns the Canadian side, which will speed the Transpolar Drift and the exit of ice through Fram Strait. The open water northeast of Svalbard has closed up as the ice shifts, increasing the “extent” of the ice.

The isotherm maps now clearly shows the diurnal rise and fall of temperature, as noon swings around this map like the hand of a clock.

LOCAL VIEW   —A tale of two seasons—

A battle 171 satsfc (3)A battle 171 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

A battle 172 satsfc (3)A battle 172 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Spring came in a little after noon, but the change in mood came around 8:30 AM, when the sun popped out after a gloomy dawn greeted all with a solid inch of heavy slush to plod through, remove from windshields, and shovel from walkways when you had to, though many opted to ignore it and hope it would melt away.

I couldn’t get around shoveling the walkway of the entrance and the steep part of the Childcare entrance, and the slop weighed a ton, putting me in a sour mood. As I drove the kids to kindergarten I saw faces through windshields of on coming caes, and everyone looked in the mood to bite the heads off nails. Then the sun poked through. The transformation on the faces in oncoming cars was amazing and instantaneous. Everyone was smiling, car after car. It would have been laughable, if it wasn’t also strangely touching.


DMI Mar 20B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 20B temp_latest.big (1)

The reinforcements have arrived, and rather than fading away “Morphy” has a second life. I likely should call it “Morphy2,” but can’t be bothered. It is created because the warm air drawn north from the Steppes is unusually warm, and lashing with polar air typically cold, so of course this brew up a storm.

“Marchair” is over Iceland, an actual Icelandic Low, which has been rare this past winter.

I am curious about the switch from Siberia being a land that generates cold, to Siberia being a land that generates heat. I think that is the only reason I’ll continue these posts, for March Madness has me in its sway. There are other things I am much more interested in.


UK Met Mar 20 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 20B 13182445 CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE

The kindly high has been defeated, and a final gasp is kind to France in the first map, and kind to Greece in the second, as the low “Marchair” triumphs over western Europe, though he is hanging back over Iceland. This is a fine example of a strong westerly flow becoming a strong southerly flow.

In the same manner I sense winds are changing in the USA. They are changing in a way making me profoundly uneasy.  They are political winds, and therefore the focus of this blog upon beautiful clouds and weather patterns may be forced back down to earth.

I hope I am wrong, which is unusual in a fellow who likes to forecast correctly.


A battle 173 satsfc (3)A battle 173 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

The maps show the low that passed north of us and its coastal sidekicj (which I dub “Springer and Springerson” ) now have me in a colder northwest flow. We got a bit of their warm sector today, which was lovely as temperatures were actually up to normal, and slush was thawing, but now snowflakes are whirling again around the streetlight  at the foot of the drive.  Worse, much colder air is coming south from Canada, and even though this air is way up in the top center of the above map, I expect it will give us a snow event as it plunges south.  That nest of lows out by Montana will scoot along the front trailing from Hudson Bay, and, because they will kill the spring, I’ll dub them “Sprinkle.”

I’ll try to keep up my posts about local events, however this blog is likely to see a change, due to a government map which just came out which states the past winter, which I have attempted to portray in colorful detail on this site, was a near-normal-winter.

This makes it apparent to me my government is deranged.  Who in their right mind could call the past winter, “near normal?”  If you who visit this blog have been watching with any sort of care, you know this is a hard winter. For crying out loud!  The ice on my farm pond is not melting away atthe advent of spring; it is between two and three feet thick!

It is quite obvious the government doesn’t care a hoot about me or my “colorful details.”   If they did, they couldn’t make such ignorant proclamations,   The fact they ignore all evidence in favor of some unspoken agenda is causing me to face issues much less lovely than “colorful details.”

I hope you will forgive me if this blog becomes less colorful, because the thing I seem to see staring me in the face is written in black and white.

Hopefully this is only a case of March Madness, but I do feel like I’m stepping ahead into a taxing time.

END OF POST  — this series of posts will be continued at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-a-taxing-time/

ARCTIC SEA ICE MAXIMUM —THE PEAK AT THE DEPTH—(February 24 — March 6, 2014 )

This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was, https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-equipoise-of-battle/

This series of posts has wandered a long ways from its original intent, which was to discuss the view from the North Pole Camera.  That camera has been gone since September, and we still have roughly 45 days before the new one is set up in April.

April!  That word has a nice ring to it, after the long, hard winter we have been through in the USA, and the long hard winter it looks like we’ll continue to go through for at least the next ten days. In fact the “local view” sections of this post may predominate, as we get through the final weeks of cold and snow.  However eventually the warmth will return, and views from the North Pole Camera will be a refreshing break during hot summer days.

In the mean time views of the Pole are from the Satellites.


DMI Feb 24 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 24 temp_latest.big (1)


DMI Feb 24B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 24B temp_latest.big (1)

“Polo” has drifted off the Pole towards Canada, as an extension of the Icelandic low probes north of Scandinavia. It looks a little like an attempt to recreate the autumnal storm track along the Siberian coast, though of course the Kara and Laptev Seas are now frozen over.

A rather impressive slug of very cold air has been delivered into northern Canada.


UK Met Feb 24B 12561390 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Very cold air is coming south down the coast of Greenland as mild air heads north up the coast of Norway. The boundary between the two is unclear on this map, but clear if you look at the isotherms. Perhaps a better front should be drawn in. Nature is drawing it, with the string of low pressure systems from the Atlantic up into Barents Sea.  These lows are drawn as occluded remnant lows (that I had names for, “Kwik” and “Skwishzip,”) but are too persistent to be purely remnant.

The only new low is “Thotson,” which has scooted across the Atlantic south of the remnants, but now will stall and loop-de-loop west of Ireland, southeast of Iceland, in a position more like a “Britannic Low” than an “Icelandic Low”

“Thot” himself, which was a major North American Feature south of Hudson Bay and North of the Great Lakes, is now a weak low west of Greenland, but its tertiary low will appear at the lower left and become more of a Labrador Low than an Icelandic Low, perhaps held west by Thot’s  dent in the upper atmosphere. This new low, “Thotertiary,” will combine with the stalled “Thotson,” and beneath the two a long fetch of westerly winds will cross the Atlantic.  When these winds reach Europe they will be asked to do an abrupt, hairpin turn and join the south-to-north flow, but may not be able to make the sharp turn, and may go crashing through the guard rail,  creating a southern storm track into the Mediterranean.

In other words, some influences are trying to create a storm track north of Norway as others try to create a storm track through Spain. I doubt the two can coexist.

It is also interesting to note on these maps how often the southeast displacement of the Icelandic Low, creating the Britannic Low, create winds that blow across the Gulf Stream. This may push the warm surface waters south.  Or perhaps the storms that keep blowing up as they approach the British Isles suck the heat out of the water. Or perhaps both. In any case that water’s temperature has gone from being above normal to below normal, this winter.

LOCAL VIEW  —The bluster is back—

Today was one of those miserable Mondays that make men want to ban the day from calenders. Yesterday we had strong west winds, but it still was thawing, though you could feel the edge coming back to the wind.  The radar map showed a front which hadn’t existed had come into  existence right across the USA:

A battle 123 satsfc (3)A battle 123 rad_nat_640x480

(These maps can be clicked to enlarge them)

Towards the end of the day I headed over to the farm to tend to the goats, and noted the show-shedder roof had done its job, and shed the snow. This makes huge heaps in front of doorways, so I had to do yet more shoveling, to dig slots through the heaps of snow. However when I was done I felt confident I’d face a Monday when I didn’t have to shovel. Wrong.

The snow-shedder roof over the main entrance of the Childcare has such a shallow pitch that, rather than shed the snow all at once, like an avalanche, it tends to slowly ooze snow off the edge, like toothpaste from a tube, giving you plenty of time to carve it away as it overhangs the main entry, and giving the children much to be fascinated by, as it forms a slow curve, moving the speed of a glacier, beside the main entrance. Or that is what happened other years.

This morning,as I arrived at work, consciously vowing to stay serene even though it as a Monday, I was confronted by a three foot tall heap of snow in front of the main entrance, as the snow-shedder roof had waited until I departed the day before, and then dumped a winter’s worth of snow onto my nice, clean, dry walkway.  Nor was it fluffy, powder snow. It was compacted slush, frozen to a crust three inches thick at the top. I couldn’t dent it with a snowshovel, and had to go running for a round-nosed garden shovel. My vow to stay serene was utterly shot.

Then there followed an embarrassing and frantic time of hacking away at frozen crush, and digging at slush that stuck to my shovel, as early arrivals had to be escorted to the kitchen doorway, and the children had to be told to stand by the front window and watch me, so I could watch them as I shoveled.

And then the first snow squall hit.

A battle 124 satsfc (3)A battle 124 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

On the weather map you can see our nice westerly flow abruptly became northerly, as the low I dubbed “Thotertiary” started to blow up to our northeast. On the radar map you can see some decent lake-effect squalls blew south off the still unfrozen parts of Lake Ontario to out west, but doesn’t show our local squalls, as they were from low, tumbling clouds that flew beneath the radar like stealth bombers. Some were white clouds and the snow flew in the gusty wind even as a brilliant sun shone, but others were deep purple and the world would briefly look like the middle of a blizzard, and the roads were coated with white.

Ordinarily I enjoy intense flurries, but I had to drive to the last of a series of appointments at my dentist, and then had to drive back roughly a grand poorer.  Furthermore, smashing through a pothole did something to my exhaust pipe, and my old truck now sounded like a hot rod. It  all combined to make me less than appreciative of the winter wonderland I was a midst.

One thing I don’t understand is why visiting a dentist should be tiring. All you do is sit in a comfortable chair,  and my dentist is a good one, and practically painless. However I always wind up feeling like yawns could dislocate my Novocaine-numbed jaw, and I could sleep for a week. Instead I had to restock the porch with firewood and then get sand and spread it where the slush had refrozen and turned a path to the upstairs entry into a lawyer’s delight. I would have put that sanding off, but my wife was fighting the onset of cabin-fever by holding one of her wonderful dinners for staff and parents. So I had to attend that as well, and attempt to be charming as the Novocaine wore off. And then I had to tend to the goats, and my goats are in a bad mood about the weather turning colder.

But now at long last Monday is over, and I can sit back at my computer and have some fun, looking at maps and trying to guess the neck hay-maker life will deliver at me.

A battle 125 satsfc (3)A battle 125 rad_nat_640x480

You can see “Thotertiary” is getting deeper as it departs stage right, to appear on the UK Met maps, and the radar map shows another northern-track feature south of the Great Lakes, headed this way, though the north winds may push it south of us. However these northern-track features don’t scare me much, as even when they explode on the coast they are often heading away, like “Thotertiary,” and even if we get snow it is powdery fluff.  What worries me are the southern-track storms, especially  when they “phase” with the northern-track storms.  For example, that front-less low over Georgia may want to join up with the patch of snow south of the Great Lakes, and prove that the sum can be greater than the total of the two parts.  (Because both are so weak, I don’t expect much, but I’m keeping an eye on them.)

What concerns me is that low over Georgia looks like a harbinger of a whole series of southern-track storms of increasing size.  If you look west you can see another in north Texas, another in southern California, (with a lot of moisture to its south), and lastly an impressive swirl out in the Pacific.  These feaurures tend to crash into our west coast, giving California much needed rain, and to roll across the USA like bowling balls,  largely divorced from the northern storm track until, sometimes with astonishing speed, they “phase.”

If that should happen I’ll look back on this Monday, and with the rosy glasses of 20-20 hindsight, think of how lovely the white flakes were, swirling in the sun, and how nice it was I could drive all the way to the dentist and back without skidding once.  For I’ll be out behind my snow-blower in two feet of heavy wet snow. And, if I could look at this day that way then, I might as well do it now.


DMI Feb 25 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 25 temp_latest.big (1)

The Pole is starting to export cold down to Canada, and also down the east coast of Greenland,so I expect temperatures up there may rise a little, as the air is replaced by milder Atlantic and European Continantal air via the Barents Sea entrance region, and also  to a lesser degree by Pacific air via Bering Strait.

While the stripe of high pressure across the Pole does have its own circulation, it also represents blobs of heavy Siberian air pressing down as it moves from Siberia across to North America.  Europe and China can breath easier to see this air head away, and can sit back and snicker at Canada and the USA and even northern Mexico, as this year is their turn to shiver.


I checked out the True Color Arctic Satellite Image and was surprised to see how swiftly the circle of darkness is shrinking over the Pole. It makes sense, when you think that in only 26 days the sun will peek over the horizon at the Pole, and for six months there will be no circle of darkness at the Pole at all.

Despite the fact areas are often obscured by clouds, I highly recommend returning to look at the sea-ice from above on a regular basis. There is nothing like using your own eyes.

One thing I noticed right away was that the parts of the Beaufort Gyre now reappearing show signs they were stressed and did fracture, last winter. While it was not as dramatic as last year, you can see the signs. The old cracks have refrozen, and are various shades of milky white, while the fresh cracks are much darker, nearly black. Each crack represents a patch of sea water that was dramatically cooled for a while, until the ice reformed.

What you can’t see are the smaller features, such as whether the ice is smooth or jumbled slabs. I really wish I could fly around up there in an airplane, (preferably in a heated cabin.)

It remains cold for a while even as the sun peeks above the horizon. It takes a while for the real summer warming to set in.

LOCAL VIEW —Pressing cold—

A battle 126 satsfc (3)A battle 126 rad_nat_640x480

It sure was nice to open our Childcare this morning, and to look east, and see the sun above the horizon.  True, the sun did look like it was shivering in the blustering winds and single digit temperatures, but it wasn’t that long ago I was opening in the dark.

The map shows the first  “threat” is moving out to sea to our south. At worst we’ll get a few flurries, which is fine with me.  The next “threat” is that snow over Nebraska, and the moisture coming across Mexico into Texas from the Pacific. I don’t really see how that can come north, when I look towards the top of the map and see isobars showing north winds from Labrador to Montana. It looks like the entire North Pole is flooding down this way.

Oh well. Take it one day at a time, I suppose.  And today I see what I can do about my ridiculous junker of a truck. I hit a pothole and knocked the exhaust-pipe from the muffler. I wake half the town now, driving to work. Not that I mid that; I’m paying many back for times they hit potholes and suffered the same embarrassment.

What really gets to me is look of reproach I get from my dog, as it sits beside me in the cab. That dog has a most expressive face. Usually it likes the music on the radio, though classical violin music makes it look very sad. This new noise makes it wince, though it still wants to come along for the ride.

I could go on about my experiences with junkers, but I don’t want to be one of those old men who repeats himself. I wrote about hitting “One Pothole Two Many” nearly a year ago: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/one-pothole-too-many/


DMI Feb 25B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 25B temp_latest.big (1) (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The Icelandic Low seems to be separating from what we could call the Barents Sea Low, which could lead to an interesting shot of cold from Svalbard to Norway. Also it looks like the pool of cold over the Pole is heading towards Canada as one huge blob..


UK Met Feb 25B 12587197  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“”Thotson” has become ensconced in the position of the latest “Britannic Low.”  The high pressure bulging off Greenland to the north is deflecting cold air across the Atlantic towards Norway and the British Isles. Meanwhile cold air is trying to sneak west under the high in the upper right, over Siberia. However at this point it doesn’t look like these two cold thrusts will be able to penetrate the mild air between and link up.

“Thotertiary” to the lower left will stall and fall apart, and never make it across the Atlantic, but will kick its fronts east and they may stir up future storms which models show passing under England and crashing into France or even shooting tight into the Mediterranean.

LOCAL VIEW  —Second threat—

A battle 127 satsfc (3)A battle 127 rad_nat_640x480

The second “threat” is heading east. Though it is weak both in the northern and southern branch, it may “phase” as it moves off shore, and give us around an inch as it moves away. There could be a messy commute for people down in NYC tomorrow morning.

Bright sunshine with a few cumulus and stray snow flakes today. I beat down a path for the goats on Saturday, leading across the pasture to the edge of the woods, as the goats don’t like walking in deep snow. Today I led them up that path so I could chainsaw them down a birch tree, as they are sick of their diet of hay and grain, hay and grain. They crowded so close behind me I had to yell at them back off so I could start the chain saw. Then they panicked and started crowding back down the path, rudely pushing each other off the path. It was at this point they discovered the crust on the snow is so thick they can walk on top of it. They celebrated. I have seldom seen such prancing and cavorting, except when the grass is first green in the spring.  The deep snow has been cramping their style, and they apparently are euphoric about being able to do something besides trudge.  (They liked birch branches, as change in diet, as well.)

LOCAL VIEW  —Worry if you will—

A battle 128 satsfc (3)A battle 128 rad_nat_640x480

It makes me a bit nervous to see so much juice down on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, with two innocent-looking lows approaching us, one in the northern branch north of Lake Ontario and one in the southern branch over Carolina. With the water so warm off the coast, it is as if a lid is taken off the convection as soon as the lows get off shore, and I’ve seen innocent-seeming lows get big very fast.

I peeked out at the pre-dawn darkness, not staying on the porch long as it was a frigid 2 degrees out, and was reassured to see the brilliant stars.  However when I poked my nose out later to see if I could see Mercury peeking over the horizon in the dusk, it has clouded over.

I like to stay down to earth, and note things such as smoke from chimneys, but it was fairly calm. Perhaps there is a slight drift from the southeast. However I decided to consult things that are above my head, and peeked at Dr Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL map of the 500 mb level of the atmosphere:

A battle 128 gfs_z500_sig_noram_5  (Double click to fully enlarge.)

This is definitely above my head. At WeatherBELL Joe Bastardi states you should heed the “tilt” of the trough. If it leans to the northeast it is a “positive tilt”, and everything presses east out to sea, but if it leans back to the northwest it is a “negative tilt”, and storms can dig in and hug the coast and bomb out.  However my eyes can see both in these isobars. It depends which isobars you look at. The 940 mb is marked in red, and tends to be the focus of many, and to me that one looks indecisive. Like a politician it says, “Maybe positive; maybe negative; see me later.”

I don’t have time for that. I suppose I’ll just keep an eye to the sky and my ears to the forecast updates.


DMI Feb 26 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 26 temp_latest.big (1)

It is interesting how that Barents Sea low now has a life of its own.  Hope to find time to focus on what’s up with that, later today.

LOCAL VIEW  —A lunchtime look—

A battle 129 bsatsfc (3)A battle 129 rad_nat_640x480

Just a quick check to see if any “phasing is going on. It isn’t. The moisture is sliding out to sea well to the south, as a cold rain over the Carolina’s.  (Hmm. That might make a good title for a book: “A Cold Rain Over the Carolina’s.”  I’ll get right to work on it.) (As soon as I’m done my chores….which is basically never.)

It’s a cold and blustery day, with only a handful of snow thrown into the wind now and again like sparse confetti. It is keep-your-head-down weather, though there is something about the hint of brilliance in the March-like sunshine that gets you poking your head up just the slightest bit, like a turtle from its bomb shelter, before the all-clear.


DMI Feb 26B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 26B temp_latest.big (1)

The Barents Sea Low, which I suppose ought be dubbed “Kwik” as it seems to be the remains of that old storm, weakens but persists, it has built a weak ridge of high pressure between itself and the Labrador-Icelandic Low to the south. This creates a flow from Norway back towards Greenland, and through the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland, to the south, while to the north there apparently is a reverse flow from Greenland east to Finland and western Siberia.  The ice in Fram Strait must be confused, and perhaps is moving east towards Svalbard rather than south.

It will be interesting to watch Kwik. It may be reinforsed by some pockets of mild moisture and become a low like “Polo” was, that wanders about the Pole and creates a sort of zonal flow, and allows temperatures to again drop up there.  This would give me a brief respite, down here in the northeast USA, from the amazing arctic flow we have witnessed, however if the pattern persists the next reservoir of cold air would again dump down over Canada and the USA.

Judging from this view the milder southerly flow over Europe diverges over northern Scandinavia, and doesn’t thrust towards the Pole with vigor. Rather half turns away east and then southeast, while the other swerves west and then southwest.


UK Met Feb 26B 12614187  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

As Usual, the Icelandic Low refuses to establish itself in any sort of lasting manner. Thotson, which was in the best position to accept the crown, is weakening, and Thotertiary, which was in the best position to be a successor, is hanging back like a Labrador Low.  Thotertiary is kicking ahead its fronts to annoy the Irish and English, who have had what Anthony Holmes described as “six months of autumn.” (IE rain after rain, with very little snow.)

Below Thotertiary is a strong westerly flow, with a slight tilt to the south, which seems likely to sweep North American storms more towards France and Spain than towards Iceland. The little storm appearing in the lower left was Threat One in my “Local View,” so I’ll dub it “Thretwan.” It will be interesting to watch it, and see if it defies tradition and actually passes south of the British Isles.

The high to the upper right is not the “Snout of Igor” I expected, as it ingested and holds too much modifying air, and isn’t as cold as I thought it would be.


DMI Feb 27 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 27 temp_latest.big (1)


UK Met Feb 27 12626396

LOCAL VIEW  —Dry and cold—

A battle 130 satsfc (3)A battle 130 rad_nat_640x480

LOCAL VIEW  —snow squall line—

A battle 131 satsfc (3)A battle 131 rad_ec_640x480

LOCAL VIEW  — A brief whirl of white—

A battle 132 satsfc (3)A battle 132 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It was interesting how the arctic front faded after sunset, in some ways like a line of summer thunderstorms. It shows you that the sun is now high enough to stir up even an arctic air-mass.  We did get a brief squall as it came through, and a quarter of an inch dusting.

Built a fire for the children out by the skating pond. Lacing up skates in the cold wind does a number on my old hands.  Also I had to rush off to deal with a bank that does not seem to to care if it loses me as a customer. (They’ll be sorry when I’m rich.) However the day was redeemed by a country garage that fixed up my old truck’s starter and muffler for about a third of what a dealership would charge. I’ll take my small victories where I can find them.

The pines are roaring up on the hills tonight. There is a “wind chill warning” issued.


DMI Feb 27B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 27B temp_latest.big (1)

“Kwik” is weaker, northeast of Svalbard, but seems likely to be reinforsed by some mild air working up the west coast of Norway.  A Pacific Low I’ll call “Rongweh 7” is moving the wrong way along the Siberian coast. There is not the same joining of Pacific and Atlantic mildness across the Pole that there was 2 weeks ago,  though this does seem to be a meeker version of the same atmospheric stunt. The Pacific invading air is already chilled, even from what it was this morning, and a new wave of “Igor’s” cold seems to be moving off the coast of eastern Siberia.  My impression is that we might get a brief break from the arctic onslaught, here in North America, but then it will resume.


UK Met Feb 27B 12639897 (Click to enlarge)

“Thotertiary” continues to hang back like A Labrador Low, and now is weakening, as “Thotson” wobbles up towards Iceland, also weakening. In the westerly flow beneath the two occluded gales “Thretwan” is making a beeline towards the south coasts of Ireland and England. No surprise there, unless it is that the coast may just get clipped ratherbthan clobbered.  “Thretoo” is making an appearance at the lower left, and at this point looks like it will make a beeline in Thretwan’s wake. These storms are crossing far enough south to start pushing a storm tack into the Mediterranean.

Over Europe the winds continue from the south, but that stubborn high pressure east of Scandinavia is starting to push back, and introduce some east winds into the equation, especially in eastern Europe.


DMI Feb 28 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 28 temp_latest.big (1) (click to enlarge)

LOCAL VIEW  —Zero at daybreak—

A battle 133 satsfc (3)A battle 133 rad_nat_640x480

The wind roared during the night, but is fading as the horizon brightens with orange. It is zero, (-17 Celsius,) and dry as a bone. Even when it “warms” to 20 this week the dew points are down near zero. However the real news is that the dust is finally getting dampened in Southern California.  That pulse of moisture will roll across the USA and may make headlines when it crashes into  the cold air.

LOCAL VIEW  —Snowman’s sunglasses—

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I tend to drive my wife crazy by living too close to the edge. She likes to arrive early, but to me that is wasted time.  I squeeze every last second from my dawdling, and then rocket out the door to do whatever it is I have to do. In terms of opening up the Childcare, I like to charge about and then pretend to be serene, as the first customer arrives and I unlock the front door.  Only occasionally does this efficient use of every available second come back to bite me, as it did last Monday when I arrived to find three feet of snow had slid off the roof and blocked the entry.  (Then I have to fall back on my charm.)

Lately I have become less efficient, as I keep arriving early. This inexplicably aberrant behavior is due to the dawn messing up my biorhythms. I tend to be checking out weather maps on my computer until a certain tint of the eastern sky rockets me out the door.  With the sun rising nearly two minutes earlier every day, in only five days I can go from being punctual to being ten minutes too early.

Twice a year daylight messes with your mind this way, and the confusion is heightened by the landscape being so utterly different.  Today the day is eleven hours and eleven minutes long here, the same as it is on October 13, but in October the trees are only starting to change, and the ponds are still unfrozen, and while frost may have killed the squash and tomatoes and corn and peppers, there are still beets and broccoli, kale and carrots and cabbages, parsnips and parsley and potatoes to pluck from the soil. Now the soil is rock hard beneath a sweeping stretch of white, and considering humans are creatures of habit, it is little wonder we feel perturbed, as if something isn’t quite right. Days don’t break the same.

Glittering stars, with bitter black breezes, are broken by a sudden streak of blue along the eastern rim, as Spring teases hope into hardened eyes, not because you feel any kindness in the stinging gale, but rather because morn taps your shoulder and you check your watch.

Deep darkness grows pale earlier each dawn: White page from dark folder, new day unwritten-upon arises earlier. Earlier ends dark brooding. The inevitable isn’t. Surprises shock the pessimist with hope’s mood-swing, and all of this unexpected delight smiles because more daylight’s in sight.

Even my cat gets crazy, as usually it winces and will not step out into sub-zero cold, but this morning it went out and just sat in the sun, despite the cold. It sensibly turned and came in after five minutes, but those five minutes hint at the start of March madness.

It is no coincidence that the two holidays we dedicate to pranks and tricks are situated when daylight is messing with our minds. The trick-or-treating of Halloween is a bookend to April fooling.

True, April first is still a long month away, but already I can see that the first sign of Spring is not a robin. Instead it is happy insanity.


DMI Feb 28B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Freb 28B temp_latest.big (1)

“Kwik” has come back to life, after nearly fading away, and is rebuilding the weak ridge of high pressure between Norway and Greenland that to some degree walls the Atlantic influence away from the pole. The north winds between Kwik and Svalbard might even be cold enough to grow a swift skim of ice on the edges of Barents Sea, which doesn’t mean all that much as it will be melted away in days, or at most a few weeks, however in terms of the politics surrounding sea-ice it means a great deal and will cause all sorts of hoopla.

The past few years we have seen the ice keep expanding past the time when it usually hits its peak. This has been seen with great consternation by Alarmists, and as a reason to rejoice by Skeptics. Actually it is six inches of HTGT ice that matters little in terms of the big picture, and likely barely causes the slightest blip in terms of the stratification of seawater and its temperature. However it has happened, and it will be interesting to watch and see if it happens again.

Meanwhile I’ll be watching Kwik to see if it has the effect Polo had, and creates a semi-zonal flow around the Pole which causes temperatures to plummet at the very top of the globe, right when Siberia’s increased daylight is reducing its effectiveness as the Northern Hemisphere’s refrigerator.


UK Met Feb 28 FSXX00T_00UK Met Feb 28B 12667187 (CLICK THESE MAPS TO ENLARGE)

These maps show “Thotson” weakening while doing a poor impersonation of an Icelandic Low. Thretwan has scooted just south of England into France, somehow failing to bomb out and ruin the weekend for the British Isles with drenching rains and howling winds. :Thretoo and Thretree are weak in its wake, and are likely to pass too far south of the Isles to spoil the party.  Interestingly Thretfor, just appearing to the lower left, which was little more than a squall line when it passed my farm on this side of the Pond, may well be the next Britannic Low, but it won’t be able to spoil the weekend, as it likely won’t get across until Monday.

The high pressure to the upper right, east of Finland, is forecast to gradually shift the winds over Europe from south to southeast and finally east, as it just sits there for the next five days.  A hugely simplified schematic would show, by Tuesday, a northern flow from the Black Sea to the Baltic and on to Baffin Bay, and a southern flow from  Newfoundland Island to France to Turkey.  (We are unlikely to see anything so simple develop.)

LOCAL VIEW  —Dry cold to end?—

A battle 135 satsfc (3)A battle 135 rad_nat_640x480

If you include yesterday’s arctic front and squalls of snow, we have had four “threats” pass us by with little more than a dusting, or a handful of flakes on a brisk breeze. Today we didn’t even get that; it was the first day without a flake in days. It was cold and amazingly dry. When dry air comes in your house, and you heat it from zero to sixty-five, it is parched air, air that is drier than most deserts. We have a pot of water on our wood stove to keep the air from withering us, and on days like today it is amazing how swiftly that pot empties without boiling. Evaporation is extreme when the relative humidity is five percent.

The above map shows that the fifth “threat” will likely also pass us by, with the northern branch failing to “phase” with the southern branch, and the snow over the Great lakes being little more than another dry, arctic front when it gets here. However by then the sixth “threat” will be hard on its heels, full of California rain-clouds, and it may ram its moisture into that arctic front.

Moisture.  What a nice word.  It’s been a while since we last heard the trickling of rain off the roof. Not that we’ll get rain. That arctic front all but guarantees us snow.


DMI Mar 1 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 1 temp_latest.big (1) (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“Kwik” continues to whirl up near the Pole, over Franz Josef Land, drawing a tendril of milder, moister air up to its east, but sweeping cold air down to its west past Svalbard and over Barents Sea. The Atlantic is being cut off from the Arctic by a weak ridge of high Pressure south of Svalbard, turning the winds around the weak “Thotson,” (between Iceland and Norway,) around so they blow east from Norway to Greenland, rather than up into Barents Sea. However the Pacific is invading to a greater degree through Bering Strait and north of Alaska.  The cross-polar-flow has been interrupted, at the surface at least.


UK Met Mar 1 12680295  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“Thretwan” has occluded and stalled across the Channel in Belgium, kicking its energy southeast to the Mediterranean. “Thretoo” and “Thretree” are weak in its wake, and are likely to be little more than occlusions as they pass over Ireland, also kicking energy southeast. “Thretfor” is brewing up a Labrador Low southwest of Greenland, which is likely to cross the Atlantic, again farther south, and to try to become the next Britannic Low.

To the north “Thotson” and “Thotertiary” continue to swirl weakly, doing a poor job of being an Icelandic Low. It appears more Atlantic moisture is heading southwest between Iceland and Greenland than is getting up to the Arctic past Norway.

What is most intriguing to me is the gradual tilt of the flow over mainland Europe to the southeast, due to the high east of Scandinavia. This should eventually import very dry air from the Steppes. Though cold, it won’t be true Siberian air.


Drift mar 1 arcticicespddrfnowcast (click to enlarge)

This map shows ice moving across the Pole and through Fram Strait in the textbook manner. What is interesting to me is how often the flow has refused to take this route and do things by the book, over the past year.  If you watch the animation of the past 30 days you can see the ice often moved against the flow: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticicespddrf_nowcast_anim30d.gif

The current flow may bring about a spike in the extent maps by closing the open water north of Svalbard and clogging Fram Strait and the coast of Greenland south to Denmark Strait. (Also cold air may create HTGT ice on the edges of Barents Sea.)

Also the current flow may create a channel of open water along the arctic coasts of Alaska and Canada, which may inflame the aspirations of mad sailors to attempt the Northwest Passage this summer. It doesn’t seem like a good idea this year, as that channel along the coast is like the jaws of a crocodile. If the wind shifts to the north the ice returns south, and the jaws close.  The ice is far thicker and denser to the north than it has recently been.


A battle 136 satsfc (3)A battle 136 rad_nat_640x480

Five below zero, even though it is March.  When I went for my morning coffee neither the hot nor cold kitchen faucet worked. Therefore I started my day under the sink with my wife’s hair drier.

One good thing about old copper pipes is that they conduct heat well, and I don’t have to squirm around in the crawl-space beneath that kitchen floor. After a couple minutes I had the water running.  Still, it was noteable that those pipes froze, not only because it is Match, but also because the snow is deep around the house, and usually that insulates the crawl space. However perhaps the snow shrank down enough, on the south-facing side.

This winter hasn’t been all that bad, in terms of the worst cold. I can recall a cold wave (1994?) when it got down to minus-27 (-33 Celsius) and, even with three wood stoves burning, I had the kids sleep in the living room rather than their icebox bedrooms. That was one time that a 250-year-old house’s charm was lost on me. This winter the coldest it has been is minus-9 (-23 Celsius,) but the cold has had a persistence that stands out.  Even our yo-yo mild spells, which we got because we are on the eastern edge of the national cold, only thawed the top of the snow, which then quickly refroze.

One odd thing I noticed yesterday was that the surface of the farm pond was actually higher than the edge, in places.  Over and over the warm-ups created layers of wet slush atop the ice, which refroze. Meanwhile the ice grew down at the bottom of the ice, until it is now nearly three feet thick. And because a tenth of an iceberg floats above water, the ice has lifted three inches at the outlet, and is three inches higher than the outlet without flowing out.

Hmm. If the ice all melts at once in a warm rain, we could get quite a spring freshet this year, especially because the ground was frozen deeply early in the winter when there was little snow, and the water can’t be absorbed by the ground until that semi-permafrost melts. However we won’t cross that washed-out bridge until we come to it.

The above map still looks quite dry to me, despite everyone talking about a storm on Monday.  Another amazing mass of cold air is pressing south, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this next threat was shunted south of us.  That is fine with me.  Let Washington DC do a bit of shoveling, for a change.


DMI Mar 1B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 1B temp_latest.big (1)


DMI Mar 2 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 2 temp_latest.big (1)

“Kwik” has joined with low pressure pushing through Bering Strait to create a sort of backwash to recent cross-polar-flow, with isobars suggesting winds coming back from Canada.  This doesn’t show very well on the isotherm map because as soon as air gets over the open water of Barents Sea it is warmed at the low level the isotherms describe.  Only two meters above the open water the air is swiftly warmed, though the water is  swiftly cooled.

This backwash looks to be a brief event, with the flow again reversed by tomorrow, as Kwik weakens and the lobe of low pressure between Svalbard and Greenland strengthening into a new low, again separate from the Atlantic, which I guess I’ll call “Sval,” as it is developing right next to Svalbard. This will create isobars which suggest a flow again from Siberia to Canada. (Currently that flow is from far east Siberia across the Bering Strait to far west Alaska, but will rapidly expand as Kwik weakens and the flow on the Atlantic side of Kwik  vanishes, and reappears south of Sval.

Sval  looks to be the last of  these small polar lows that are independent of the Atlantic. Models now suggest a major flow will surge north up the coast of Norway from the Atlantic, as a storm comes up the coast of Greenland, to the west of Iceland. This is very different storm-track from the current pattern’s, which has storms heading east well south of Iceland. It will be interesting to watch.

LOCAL VIEW  —snow staying south?—

A battle 137 satsfc (3)A battle 137 rad_nat_640x480

Milder, with a dust of snow this morning. A very cold arctic front is approaching, likely with another dusting, however at this point it looks like the bulk of the following snow will be pushed south of us by the arctic front.

LOCAL VIEW  —Finding sweetness in bitter blasts—Scripture and squirrels

A battle 138 satsfc (3)A battle 138 rad_nat_640x480

A southern band of snow does seem to be increasing as the northern band decreases, which does suggest the storm will slide south of us.  Fine with me. If I don’t have to spend time cleaning up heaps of snow I have more time to entertain the kids at my Childcare, (and hopefully a few observers of this blog, as well.)

I checked out the WeatherBELL site to see what Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo had to say about the coming cold, and they didn’t hold out much hope for warming. In fact some models suggest the core of the cold will shift east, and rather than Minneapolis and Chicago getting the core of the cold, it will be the northeast. In fact, as I squint at the maps, the exact center of the cold looks like it is located in my back pasture.

Oh well, I suppose things have to balance out. A couple of years ago the soil thawed early and  I actually got my peas planted around the first day of spring.  This year it looks like it is likely to be the more traditional time, which is “Patriots Day,” on April 19. (And I can remember planting peas midst whirling snowflakes, even on April 19.)

In any case, it will be a wait. Sometimes the waiting and waiting and waiting for spring gets people down, especially when the frozen ground gives way to “mud season,” where the top four inches thaws above frozen earth, and water cannot drain away, and life gets downright sloppy.  Even indoors-people get discouraged, because the mess sticks to feet and mud tracks indoors, despite the best efforts of housewives to battle it back at the front entry.

I try to be sensitive to my wife, and to remove my boots a tenth of an inch inside the front door, but so invasive is the mud that it uses that slender foothold to spread like butter over toast throughout the entire house.  I spread my palms in incredulous disbelief when my wife points to evidence in far corners of our abode that I was careless. I have no idea how mud got onto the ceiling of the bathroom. It is just one of those things that happens, during mud season.

And, as if a husband isn’t bad enough, my wife must also deal with a hoard of small children at our Childcare.  Seventeen small children translates to  thirty-four feet, all spreading mud like butter-knives over toast. This is not merely discouraging. It is tantamount to a spiritual crisis.

I should be able to handle a spiritual crisis, as I am a deacon at my church. True, I only became a deacon because, as Christianity has become politically incorrect in New England, membership declined to a degree where they had to employ me, even though I confess to being more focused on being a good cantankerous anachronism than on being a good Christian.

The way a cantankerous anachronism handles a spiritual crisis is through a wry sense of humor. While the Bible never actually comes out and states a wry sense of humor  is a spiritual gift, I see it in the scriptures. For example, in Galatians 5, verse 12, Paul is basically stating that if people think circumcision of the foreskin is so spiritual,  he wishes they would be even more spiritual and cut their entire penis off. If that isn’t a wry sense of humor, I don’t know what is.

Around these parts, when people are suffering from a long, long winter, one thing we have done in the past, to fight off the spiritual depression of a long, long winter giving way to a long, long mud-season, is to hold a “talent show”, where people can express a wry sense of humor. I think the last time we did this was in the last century, around 1996,  when we suffered a winter which simply refused to quit. That doesn’t seem so long ago to me, but time has flown, and, somewhat to my amazement, there are now very young mothers who were not even born, the last time we had a mud-season talent show.

The idea popped into my head that this winter was so hard and so prolonged that now was high time for another mud-season talent show.  My pragmatic side was screaming, “No, no, no!  That would be extra work!” However, in a most careless manner I “floated” the idea, as a deacon of a very small church. I didn’t think the idea would catch on.  It was just an old-fashioned idea of an old-fashioned, anachronistic geezer. However the idea did catch on, and now I’m stuck with it.

I was sort of hoping everyone would forget I ever mentioned the idea, but this morning, as I came dashing into the church at the last possible moment, despite the fact I am “deacon on duty” and obliged to stand at the pulpit and begin the service with the “announcements,” I glanced up towards a big screen I don’t much like, which my church has plastered up on the wall above the pulpit in an attempt to be “modern.”  (The most recent invention I, as an anachronism, approve of is the invention of stained glass.) On that screen was the blaring announcement: “Talent Show!”  Then, in the small print, it stated, “See Caleb Shaw for details.”

As I sauntered up to the pulpit to begin the service I was attempting to think fast. My brain did not comply. As I announced the other church activities I was troubled by a troublesome detail. That detail was that people could not “see me for details” about the Talent Show, for I hadn’t worked out any of the details. I had merely floated an idea. Now I suddenly found myself in charge of an event, and in some ways Master of Ceremonies of an event, which only moments before I had been hoping everyone would forget I ever mentioned.

In the end I was honest, and simply stated there were still “a few details to work out.” However, on the way to that honest confession, I babbled a bit. In fact I reminded myself of Calvin, in the old “Calvin and Hobbs” cartoons, when he was asked for homework, or an answer, by his battle-ax teacher, and was “buying time,” for if he procrastinated long enough the bell would ring and he could escape the classroom without answering or producing homework. Unfortunately no such escape was available to me, for, in a very small church, I, as the deacon who announces the announcements, am also the deacon who, just after that, rushes to the bell rope and rings the bell.

During the time I babbled a bit, my mouth produced some wonderful sidetracks, including the weather report.  I discussed the reasons for a talent show, avoiding the subject of the talent show itself. I discussed how cold and dreary and, in the end, muddy, the month of March could be. I found myself discussing ways the monotony and dreary boredom of waiting for April could be relieved, besides holding a talent show. Among other things, I babbled about snapping the twig of a maple tree to grow an icicle of maple sap.

I cannot say where that idea came from. Blame it on the Holy Spirit, if you will. In any case, as I looked out over the mostly empty pews, I could see the scattered congregation was looking at me with obvious interest, as I babbled. Apparently they had never heard of growing your own maple syrup Popsicle.

What happens is that, when you snap a maple’s twig in subfreezing temperatures, perhaps due to the power of the sun on the south-facing side of the maple’s bark, the sap flows even though it is below freezing. When you interrupt this flow on its way to a bud, by snapping a twig, the tree bleeds just as we bleed from a small cut, but as soon as the sap hits the air it freezes, forming an icicle. Then, because the air is so extremely dry, a process called “sublimation” occurs, where ice becomes water vapor without the bother of melting. (A bit like “dry ice”, which is CO2 and cannot exist as liquid at ordinary sea-level barometric pressures.) What this does is shrink the icicle, and reduce the amount of water in it, which increases the amount of maple sugar.  On occasion the icicles from a maple tree’s broken twig can be surprisingly sweet.

I’m not sure if this has anything to do with Christianity. Perhaps, in a symbolic sense, it may explain how an anachronistic old icicle like me wound up a deacon. Sweetness is found in unexpected places.

In any case, no one got mad at me for the fact I haven’t worked out the details of the talent show. But I’ll have to get busy.

After church I got curious about who first discovered the sweetness of maple icicles, and decided to research the subject.  Apparently the credit goes to a red squirrel:


(credit also goes to the photographer Allan Oman, whose site is at:  http://allanoman.photoshelter.com/image/I0000yMZQ8Rsmf2w )

In conclusion, if you want to find sweetness in a World man has made more bitter and cold than it needs to be, there are two places to find sweetness: Scripture, and squirrels.


DMI Mar 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 2B temp_latest.big (1)  (click to enlarge)

“Sval” failed to develop, but right where models thought he would move, a weak low has swung around along the Canadian coast from the Bering Strait. I guess I’ll call it “Rietway,” because it came the right way rather than the wrong way. It may well be a fleeting feature, but it has allowed the cross-polar-flow to resume in its wake.

The wall of high pressure continues to segregate the Arctic from the Atlantic, and for the time being ice sxtent should be growing in Barents Sea. Models suggest the Atlantic will mount an invasion by midweek.


UK Met Mar 2 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 2B 12720117  (CLICK THESE MAPS TO ENLARGE)

“Thretfor” has become a powerful storm, and is not heading up to Iceland like a good Icelandic Low, but is following the pattern and is heading straight towards the British IsleS to give those poor, drenched people a blue Monday.  However at least they got a shred of a decent weekend, between showers.

Models are flip-flopping all over the place, concerning a coming change.  The most extreme “solutions” have the next trans-Atlantic storm completely breaking the pattern, and heading straight north rather than straight east, and rather than passing well south of Iceland passing well west, up the coast of Greenland. However that is only one of a number of different “solutions.”

Things have got to change, because the seasons are changing, however I have a “rule,” (though at times it seems more like a “superstition,”) that you can sometimes learn how the next winter will begin by how the last winter ended.  I am watching the current maps keenly, for clues.

Those who have visited this site during the duration of this winter know I have been on guard for the east winds from Siberia, and for situations to become like the map below.

A A Screen shot 2013_05_19 at 10_33_10 PM(1)

In fact, if you look at the above UK Met maps you can see elements of the above “AO and NOA negative” map, with a storm track into the Mediterranean and the winds over Europe shifting to the east, however time and time again we would approach this “solution,” only to swing the other way. In fact the true pattern this winter has been to be between two patterns, neither here nor there, which is why I think we may have discovered a third pattern.  It is a sort of illegitimate bastard pattern, as it does not have an authorized and official name, but it sure does plunk a gale over the British Isles with annoying (to those people) regularity, which is why I decided to give the bastard legitimacy, and called it “The Britannic Low.”

My curiosity now wonders, “Will we begin next winter in this pattern, or will a new pattern evolve?” My hunch is: A new pattern. Therefore I am watching the end of this winter for hints.

LOCAL VIEW —The seventh threat—

A battle 139 satsfc (3)A battle 139 rad_nat_640x480

Last Friday some of the older kids at our Daycare confided to me that they expected their vacation would be extended a day by a snowstorm tomorrow, but it looks like they will be disappointed.  The amazing (for March) press of arctic air seems to be pushing everything south. Threat-number-six basically evaporated, the air was so cold and dry, (though a remnant storm “Thretix” may ripple onto my UK Met discussion tomorrow.)  The seventh threat may well also be squeezed south of tomorrow.  In fact I am planning on it.

However,until the storm moves out to sea, I’ll reserve judgement, and retain my option for worry.  (I learned how to worry from my mother, who had an amazing capacity for fretting about things happening to me that never happened.) (Also the American Prophet Yogi Berra is said to have once pronounced, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” which is especially applicable to the above maps.)

The worrisome aspect of the above maps is the warmth coming north in the east as the cold swivels south in the west.  This suggests the seventh storm could tilt the table, becoming bigger than expected.  The forecasts are based on things staying “flat,” but the radar shows the warmth has come north far enough for rain in the south of New Jersey, even as plunging cold amazes the northern panhandle of Texas. (In one north Texan town, where the average high temperature for this date in March is 67, the actual high was 7; a mere sixty degrees below normal!!!) (Meanwhile, on the southern coast of Texas, it was 87 degrees.  That is an eighty degree contrast, and able to dumbfound computer models built upon “averages.”)

In a worst-case-scenario this seventh threat, (which I dub “Threteven”), would become bigger, dig deeper, and move slower. This would then cause it to dig even more, deepen even more, and slow even more.  Rather than being a big but “flat” system, moving to our south and giving Washington DC snow, it would give them more rain, as it tilted the tables and rode a retreating arctic front north. I would wake tomorrow to winter weather advisories, which would become winter storm warnings around noon, resulting in local schools closing early, and our Childcare experiencing total chaos and confusion, and, all things considered, a typical Monday.

I prefer to imagine it will be an atypical Monday.  Nothing unexpected will happen. The day will break steely grey, with the storm passing south of us, and the winds will stay from the cold and dry northwest.  Temperatures will refuse to rise, even when the sun pokes through in the afternoon, and the high temperature will be seventeen.  In that cold I will thank the skies for dryness, and the fact I don’t need to remove snow. Instead I’ll focus on tapping maple trees, even though it will be so cold no sap will flow.


DMI Mar 3 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 3 temp_latest.big (1)

LOCAL VIEW  —Storm slipping south— 

A battle 140 satsfc (3)A battle 140 rad_ec_640x480


DMI Mar 3B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 3B temp_latest.big (1)

“Sval” has formed over Svalbard, and is drifting up towards the Pole, likely to absorb “Kwik” and “Riteway” and to create a very brief period of semi-zonal flow. It will be interesting to watch how much mild Atlantic air Sval brings north, and how quickly that air cools.

Some models are showing a huge area of low pressure completely surrounding Greenland by Thursday.  There can’t truly be a low center over the icecap, but the 996mb isobar will surround Greenland and also much of the north Atlantic.


UK Met Mar 3B 12746096

“Thretfor” has parked over the British Isles and become the Britannic Low, as expected, while kicking low pressure down into the Mediterranean storm track.  “Thretix” is crossing and will likely take a southerly route, but is leaving energy behind as a Labrador Low which will be interesting to watch, as it is expected to grow and engulf Greenland. Talk about morphistication! In some ways, with shreds of the typical icecap high pressure at the center, it will be like the low is a whole bunch of lows around Greenland, like the petals of a daisy.  The lows moving up Greenland’s east coast could get pretty big and bring a surge of south winds up towards the Pole, with the southerly flow stretching clear across to Norway.

LOCAL VIEW  —grey day—

A battle 141 satsfc (3)A battle 141 rad_nat_640x480

The seventh threat was the biggest, and held the most potential and power, but it too slipped off the coast to our south, and all we got of it was a grey day.  Temperatures had dropped to twelve by dawn, and barely rose all day. The kids didn’t want to play outside much. The snow has all turned to a gritty crust, and I can walk atop a foot of snow as if I am as light as a squirrel.  I’m not.

It was a tedious sort of day, and I’m in the mood to turn in early.  I’ll let the maps speak for themselves.  (Get talking, maps.)


DMI Mar 4 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 4 temp_latest.big (1)

“Sval” swirls up by the Pole, creating a bent flow from Finland east along the Siberian coast to the laptev Sea, where it takes a left turn and is a cross-polar-flow to Canada. This creates a flow with a split personality, as it has two source regions. Milder air comes from north of Europe, while Siberian air is pulled up from central Asia. I wonder if the clash between these two stripes of air will make Sval stronger, or influence his track.

No sign of the flood of air up from the Atlantic yet.


A battle 142 satsfc (3)A battle 142 rad_nat_640x480

It was another bitterly cold morning. As I opened the door at the Childcare for a parent loaded down with her child’s supplies, I saw her glace at the thermometer,  which read three degrees.  (-15 Celsius.)  Brightly and cheerfully I stated, “Well, at least it is above zero. That’s a sign of spring for sure!”  She managed a chuckle, just barely.

However as soon as the March sun got up in the spotlessly blue sky, you could feel the warmth in the rays.  Temperatures fought up towards twenty, however if you got on the south side of a building out of the wind you could bask, and even see the snow soften and slump a little.  But then the slightest overcast came over, and immediately the world turned back to stone.

This is an amazing start to March. In March hot and humid air usually comes north from the Gulf of Mexico, and we get our first tornadoes in the Midwest as it clashes with polar cold. The above radar map shows snow down on the Gulf Coast. Unbelievable!

That southern snow is a southern-branch feature hardly getting notice on the map, and the snow over the Great lakes is a northern-branch feature equally undignified with attention. Together they represent “threat eight,” which is not much of a threat, though it does turn our blue skies milky, and our landscape back to stone, like a wink from Medusa.


DMI Mar 4B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 4B temp_latest.big (1)

This is a very interesting couple of maps. (To me, at least.)

For one thing, as “Sval” has gobbled up “Rietway” and “Kwik” he has become a decently strong low on the Pole.  Imagine that!  With all the talk of Polar Vortexes, in an attempt to explain every arctic outbreak, we now have a vortex on the Pole, which likely will get no press whatsoever. True, compared to what is brewing down around Cape Farewell at the southern tip of Greenland, it is a small low, but the isobars are tightly packed on the Suberian side of the Pole, and you can bet winds are strong and the sea-ice is getting crammed into the Beaufort Gyre, rather than down towards Fram Strait.

Second, look back at the maps for the past few days, and contemplate what has become of the mild Pacific air associated with “Rietway.”  Unless a little got sucked into the top of Baffin Bay, it has all been ingested by the development of “Sval.”  Just compare the isotherms from the morning map of two days ago with today’s afternoon map:

DMI Mar 2 temp_latest.big (1)DMI Mar 4B temp_latest.big (1)

That entire pool of mild air has been transformed into cold air.  Magic?  We are talking the green hues turning to deep blue, or -8 degree air changing to -25 degree and even -30 degree air.  Not magic, but fact. (Likely the warm air rose, lost heat to outer space, and showered down snow.)

Third, notice the tongue of “warm” air “Sval” is now sucking up into its core from Barents Sea. (This contains a lot of air from the Steppes, and isn’t true Atlantic juice.) Will the same “magic” aflict this mild air, dropping its temperature 20 degrees in sixty hours? STAY TUNED!!!

Lastly, watch that low south of Greenland. It may engulf all of Greenland, and then even grow bigger.  Indeed it may become this thing called “A Grand Planetary Wave,” wherein the polar, sub-polar and sub-tropical waves all match up, and you can get a gigantic plunge in the isobars forming a trough from west of Greenland to the Gulf of Mexico. Such events are rare, and likely won’t happen, but tend to happen this time of year when they do happen. If it happened people in Europe could sit back and munch popcorn, watching the USA cuss and tantrum and shovel feet of snow.

Even if that doesn’t happen, you can see a decent cross-polar-flow is redeveloping, which makes warm spells highly unlikely on this side of the Pond.


UK Met Mar 4 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 4B 12773405  (Click these maps to enlarge them.)

These maps show the mixed muddle of switching patterns. “Thretix” is taking the old patterns southerly route towards the Mediterranean track, as “Threteven” appears and seems hesitant, and even divided, with part following along behind on Thretix’s cold front, as a northern part has independent fronts and is getting sucked into a deepening of isobars at the southern tip of Greenland.

This sort of confused map messes with the virtual mind of models, (and the very real minds of true meteorologists as well.)  Until a new pattern becomes clear you are likely to get a wide variety of “solutions” from the models, (and a variety of forecasts from true meteorologists as well.)

One very interesting solution has the deepening south of Greenland becoming a major feature, even to the degree where it may suck some warm air way down at the bottom right of the map from the Azores right up towards England. (Such a visit of balmy temperatures would likely be part of a showery pattern, if not yet another gale, but balmy is still nice, even if it is brief.)

However until such a Greenland-engulfing feature actually manifests, other solutions are still on the table. In any case, I wish I had the time to really study these maps, rather than watching from afar. Some intriguing stuff is going on.


This is pretty neat, for me at least.

I likely sound like an advertisement for WeatherBELL, but I do get all sorts of wonderful information for the price of a cup of coffee each day from their “Premium Site.”  So I headed over there this evening to see what was new, and got my socks knocked off by this headline on Joe Bastardi’s blog: THANKS CALEB, FOR AT LEAST LISTENING

So of course I wondered, “What the heck?”  Then I read on. (I would link you to his site, but you may not have the price of a cup of coffee.) Joe wrote:

“March 4 04:06 PM

I was glancing through WUWT at an article about Dr Jeff Masters and his comments on how this winter is a sign of global warming. I came upon this letter and I want to say thank you to Caleb for remembering the theory behind all this. Essentially if the oceans caused warming and they started turning colder, there would be some climatic hardship, nothing too terrible in relation to what has happened before, but something that was at least there to consider.

“Caleb says:March 4, 2014 at 7:44 am 

Back when I first started paying attention to Joe Bastardi, nearly a decade ago, he was warning we should expect to face what he called “a time of climatic hardship.” His warning was based upon prior weather, and what occurred the last time the “warm” PDOand AMO flipped over to the “cold” phases. His warning didn’t involve Global Warming one bit. It only needed history to repeat itself.

I imagine he got laughed at a bit, as back then the talk was all warming followed by more warming, and how our children weren’t going to know what snow looked like.

Now the PDO has flipped to the “cold” phase, and we are waiting for the AMO to also flip in the next few years. So far Mr. Bastardi looks wise and the Alarmists look like….well, unwise.

At this point the Alarmists are flip-flopping like a trout on hot tar. They need to be reminded, over and over and over, of what they said in the past. Not that they will ever say the three very difficult words, “I was wrong.” Being able to say those three words is the sign of a true adult. Flip-flopping, on the other hand, means you’re up to something fishy.”

I took alot of heat over this, alot of ridicule. And by the way there is no way to say if its truly right or wrong as far as a provable point. The main message is that as long as there were clashes , the weather was likely to produce extreme events. It seemed to me that with the PDO flipping and the amo warm, and then flipping later, we should look to what happened before.

If there was no clash, if one side overran the other, there would be LESS extreme weather. That is a fact of nature.. When one side overwhelms the other, be it the weather or a wrestling match, the weather goes from chaos to lack of chaos.. in the case of wrestling, the match ends.

I realize such things are a threat to people who want others to believe that this is so complex, you have no chance to understand it. But I have found, through watching all of you, whether you like me or not, its the opposite. I have found there alot of very talented people out there that if their path was different, their love of the weather and the talent they have would have them on the same path I am on. This does not threaten me, it makes me grateful that I had the chance. A letter like this makes me understand what a blessed man I am .

So Caleb and all of you, thanks.

Now, is that not a fairly nice thing to blunder across? (I should note that when I wrote that comment on WUWT I had no inkling Mr. Bastardi would ever see it.)

What was even better was to look through his next post, and to see he had examples of “Grand Planetary Waves.”  The first is from March 13, 1993, and is from a situation I fondly remember, because I was younger and stronger, and the resultant storm created so much shoveling I made a quick hundred dollars at a time I sorely needed it.

Grand Planetary Wave compday_J5CFf_N3Nq (click to enlarge)

The second map is from a computer model, for the exact same day, 21 years later:

Grand Planetary Wave gefs_z500a_noram_37(1)  (Click map to enlarge.)

Considering I am 21 years older, I doubt I would be as fond of the same situation, if it reoccurred.  (By the way, which map is superior? The old one, or the Dr. Ryan Maue WeatherBELL map?)

As a final example of sounding like a WeatherBELL commercial, I’ll steal something from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at WeatherBELL, however this one deserves its own headline:


I could hunt down this map and the pictures of Niagara Falls for myself, but why do that work when Joseph D’Aleo works so hard to make it available to me?

Great Lakes March 4 lice_00  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Great Lakes March 4 1960830_10201192157760688_23307115_o  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)


Great Lakes March 4 1911  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

I am sorry if this post seems like some sort of mushy mutual-admiration-society. However the reason is that I admired both Joseph D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi even before “WeatherBELL” existed, back when I made Bastardi my professor at “Accuweather” and heeded D’Aleo through his site at “Icecap.”  I’ve been thanking them for a decade, and even if I didn’t get tonight’s return thank-you, I’d go right on telling everyone I know that their site, and Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps, are worthy, because the simple fact of the matter is: That’s the truth.

Now let me toot my own horn. If you look way back in these posts you will see I had what I called a “hunch” this winter would be a bad one, and backed up my statement by buying several truckloads of firewood. Now it seems, with propane prices above $4.00 a gallon at times, I was not as dumb as I look (and often behave.)

The Great Lakes are not a small body of water, yet are not included in the “Sea-Ice extent graphs,” for the obvious reason they are not salt water.  However, if you include them in the surface area of the planet, they make a blip in the data as big as the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is below average this winter, but if you included the Great Lakes in the sea-ice data, it might more than make up for that deficiency.

In other words, even if it is mild in Europe, this is no slouch, as winters go. And it isn’t over.

LOCAL VIEW  —We duck another bullet?—

A battle 143 satsfc (3)A battle 143 rad_nat_640x480

As an old geezer, this map makes me nervous, however when I check my weather-radio I learn we have a 40% chance of snow-showers tomorrow.  No prediction for snow amounts is made, which suggests a dusting at best.

Why am I nervous? Because the ingredients for worse are there. You have a northern-branch low with a big arctic high sitting over it, and a low in the Gulf of Mexico with plenty of juice.

Even if threat-eight slips harmlessly out to sea, I can’t help but wonder, “How many times can we duck the bullet?”

My hunch is that we will get at least one, big, storm-to-remember, before this winter quits.


DMI Mar 5 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 5 temp_latest.big (1)

“Sval” is becoming the northern appendage of low pressure engulfing the entire island of Greenland.

LOCAL VIEW  —Another gray day—

A battlke 144 satsfc (3)A battle 144 rad_nat_640x480

We were at seventeen (-8 Celsius) this morning, which felt surprisingly warm.  Gray overcast sliding over from the west, as low gray scud came in from the east, with light snow falling. Even the snow looked a bit gray to me.

Temperatures are suppose to get down to five below (-20 Celsius) tonight, which doesn’t have my mood very spring-like.  We might make it up to freezing by Friday.


DMI Match 5B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 5B temp_latest.big (1)

“Sval” has weakened while drifting towards Canada from the Pole, pulling a tendril of mildness with him, as a part of a cross-polar-flow which continues strong even as Sval weakens, due to the powerful low developing at the southern tip of Greenland.  I cam going to dub this low “Morphy” because it involves so much of what I call “morphistication.” (Basically morphistication is what occurs to low pressure areas as they transit high ranges of mountains.)

There tends to be a semi-permanent high pressure parked over the cold ice-cap of Greenland, but Morphy is erasing it. Atlantic air is slamming into Greenland, being hoisted over 10,000 feet as it crosses the icecap, having lots of moisture condense and crystallize and produce available heat from latent heat as the snow snows out, and then a sort of Greenland Chinook occurs as this air sinks more than 10,000 feet from the icecap to sea level on the Baffin Bay side.  Although the Chinook has “warmed” air, a lot of heat is lost to outer space as well, and my guess would be the process represents a loss of heat, even though the Baffin Bay coast may experience a short term warming of sorts. (This would be a neat thing to study more deeply. When I’m filthy rich I’ll hire some brilliant young student to study what happens to winds transiting Greenland.)

For the time being the milder Atlantic air is hitting Greenland rather than invading the Arctic, but it does look like an invasion is immanent.  It will be interesting to watch this invasion, and see how it mixes with the cross polar flow.  It looks like Morphy will dominate the Atlantic side, and high pressure dominate the Pacific side.


UK Met Mar 5 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 5B 12798082

I’m tired, and am mostly popping these maps in here hoping I have the time to study them later. You can see the old storm track continuing to feed weak trans-Atlantic lows into the Mediterranean, even as Morphy grows and takes over the show. O guess I’ll call that appendage of Morphy getting wheeled past Iceland “Morpheven”, as it took over the cold front belonging to “Threteven.”

Watch the Azores High at the bottom center to see if some really balmy air can make it north, and watch the lobe of Siberian high pressure over Finland to see if it can bring cool and dry air from the Steppes west on its south side. Some sort of conflict between the two high pressure areas seems likely.

LOCAL VIEW  —2 inches of fluff—

A battle 145 satsfc (3)A battle 145 rad_nat_640x480

Even as the cold, dry air moved in all day, just enough of a easterly drift continued at the surface to give us light snow all day, with the flakes getting large and thick just before it ended at dark. I wasn’t feeling very inspired, but did manage to get the kids at the Childcare involved with catching snowflakes on there tongues.  As I showed them how the thought occurred to me, “Dang. It’s been years since I’ve done this.”

I’d also forgotten how white flakes look like black ashes, when you look up into a grey sky, and how the flakes expand towards you as they fall, and how the farthest flakes look like a thick swarm of the smallest black gnats.

That low lurking in the Western Gulf of Mexico is Threat Nine.


DMI Mar 6 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 6 temp_latest.big (1)

“Morphy” is impressive as it engulfs Greenland, with “Morpheven” being swung past Iceland. Strong southerly flow developing over Norway. The Scandinavia-to-Canada cross-polar flow should create a milder stripe than the Siberia-to-Alaska flow.


UK Met Mar 6 12811230 (Click to enlarge)

The Azores High has actually linked with the Siberian High, forming a weak wall of high pressure between the old pattern, with lows in the Mediterranean, and the new pattern, with “Morphy” creating a Icelandic High that is displaced northwest rather than southeast over England. In fact it looks like southeast England might even be close enough the high pressure over France to see a thing called sunshine.

The front touching northeast Ireland and Scotland will not move east greatly, becoming a feature on the maps that undulates back and forth over the British Isles and the coast of Norway over the next few days, separating a milder southwesterly flow from a colder southwesterly flow.

LOCAL VIEW —The last sub-zero daybreak of the winter?—

A battle 146 satsfc (3)A battle 146 rad_nat_640x480

Fresh snow-cover bred a pocket of nasty cold in our area, especially down in valleys.It was seven below (-22 Celsius) at the foot of our hill, as I stumbled about in the dark getting going. When I went out to start my wife’s truck for her the east was just starting to get light, but even that was annoying because, just when we are starting to have a glimmer of daylight to work with, the dolts in Washington DC decree that the clocks should spring forward to Daylight Savings Time, an hour earlier than they used to, which means we’ll be working in the dark again next Monday.

I didn’t think I needed gloves just to walk to the truck and back, but the cold stung the back of my hands immediately. It wouldn’t do to start the day crabbing about everything, so I stuck my hands deep into my pockets and looked around for something inspiring.

The east blushes blue. A cardinal tweets, insanely loud in the subzero hush.  Jaunty red plumage black against dawn, he greets winter’s conquest with counter-claims, a rush of twitters, and then, “Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!” he yells: A winced headache to all with hangovers and a plague to sleep. “Tweet! Tweet!” It compels curses from virgin lips; even pushovers push back against the madness of claiming a white waste of tundra for a dull spouse who likely thinks he’s mad, and is shaming him by basking in Florida.  What house can he claim for her when the odds are so low?  “Tweet! Tweet!” screams the cardinal at seven below.

I decided I likely needed a second cup of coffee.

Cardinal images


The sun has risen in a cloudless sky, and by 9:00 AM its beaming face is as high as it is at noon in December. Temperatures have risen 30 degrees, which is still ten below freezing, but feels kindly in the calm. Despite some murmuring about a big storm next week, last night felt like the peak of ice in the depth of winter, and so this seems like a good place to end this post.  However I should add an ice-extent graph, to show its peak as well.

DMI Mar 6 icecover_current_new (Click graph to enlarge.)

I imagine this is the peak of the ice extent because late season increases are largely HTGT ice along the edges, especially in the Barents Sea, and that sea is likely to see a decrease in strong southerly winds, the next week.

Barents Sea is the main reason the extent looks low this year.  It has less ice this winter than any time in recent history:

DMI Mar 6 region.all.anom.region.6 (click graph to enlarge)

My assumption is that this is typical of the situations that develop when the AMO is about to switch.  It may even be a cause of the AMO switching.  It will be interesting to see if having this water unprotected by ice all winter speeds the ice-melt or retards it. (It will make no difference to the minimum, because Barents Sea nearly always melts completely.)  I wrote more about this wondering in an essay called, “Author Of Its Own Demise.”  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/author-of-its-own-demise/

This series of posts will continue at: