LOCAL VIEW –The Underground Bugs–

I’ve always been a member of the underground, and the underground bugs people who believe you should be up front and honest, and step forward to be shot at.  About the only time I “came out” in any way, shape or form was in 1969, and that wasn’t really my doing. I was not at all cool in my school, being rather shaggy and unkempt, but suddenly that was in style, and to my amazement people were abruptly looking up to me as some sort of authority on coolness. It didn’t last long. Before I could really settle into the novel experience of being in-fashion, Disco came along, and I was back to being an outcast.

I don’t really see how people find the time to be fashionable. There are much better things to think about, and too little time to think about them. So I have tended to go my own way, disinterested in fashion, and far more interested in this thing called “Truth”.

Many fashionable people don’t want to hear the Truth, preferring  stuff they find snazzier, and therefore Truth gets relegated to their subconscious, and if they want to get at the Truth they have to hire a psuedoscientist psychologist. I had better things to do with my money, (and anyway, back in the 1970’s when I fooled about with such things, I tended to cause psychologists nervous breakdowns by telling them the Truth about psychology).

Years have past, and I’ve become a grouchy old man who wanders an inner world others avoid, and I’ve discovered that this underground bugs people. For example, people say you should be up front and honest, but when I have told the Truth about Global Warming I am told I am a “Denier” and should zip my lip. I don’t. One of the prerogatives of being a grouchy old man is that you don’t have to be as shy and reclusive as a young poet must be, and you are allowed to be a royal pain, and heck if I am going to give up that right.

In any case, it is likely for this reason I identify with underground bugs, especially when they go to the top of a tree and scream at the top of their lungs. We had a bunch of these “come out” yesterday, as little brown crawly things that scrabbled slowly up the sides of trees, and then cracked their backs. Not only did they come out of the dirt and darkness, but they came out of their old selves.

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That bunched-up thing to the side is a wing, and the first order of business for this bug, called a “cicada”, is to pump up that wing so it works.

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The kids at our Farm-childcare were not entirely impressed by this wonder, and some found it pretty gross.Cicada 3 IMG_3562

However I myself found it a wonder, and also a handy symbol; IE:  If you come out of the dirt and darkness into the Truth and Light you discover you have wings.

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This means you have to leave the dirt and darkness and the husk of your old self behind. Unfortunately back in 1969 hippies like myself didn’t get this part quite right. We felt being open and honest meant plunging into lust and drugs and greed, and made a mess of things by remaining with the old husk.

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Not that joy wasn’t involved, and being depraved wasn’t such fun that, if I was young again, I might not be tempted to make the same mistakes all over again. But even insects know enough to leave the husk behind.

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They fly to the tree tops and sing a song that contributes to the sheer sizzle of summer.  And we? What do we have in hand? The mere husk of life?

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Besides the emergence of cicadas being an interesting tidbit of science, the underground bugs also demonstrates how I can take a symbol and run with it. Many psychologists find this unnerving, because they figure they are suppose to be telling you what the symbols mean, but poets (and small children) tend to juggle symbols and fling them about like paper airplanes, while psychologists are still laboriously counting on their thumbs and consulting the manual.

By the way, the cicadas that spend 17 years underground before emerging have red eyes and live further south. Therefore, in the true spirit of Yankee one-upsmanship, I have decided to call our species  “18-year-cicadas” (until I learn otherwise.)

I can feel a sonnet brewing. I’ll add it on to this post later if I get around to writing it, but I think the final line will be, “It’s amazing how long some can live in the dark.”

(PS:  I finally wrote the sonnet on July 31):

Some summer long ago I knew the light,
But fell to earth and came to dwell down deep
In dank tunnels, subsisting on sap. Sight
Became a groping thing, and to creep
Became the norm, until today I got
The crazy urge to quit sucking the sap.
The dark felt suffocating, and I thought
I must go up for air, and left the trap
I’d long embraced. I climbed up, returned
To the dazzle of light, the push of wind.
My crusty skin felt old; my back burned;
And then I split from the husk where I’d been pinned.
I find I’ve grown a set of lacy wings
And can fly to tree tops where romance sings.

Local View –A choir of quackers–

Spring is way ahead of last year, for we have already heard our first quacker frogs. I heard them on March 24, and brought a small child who moved up here from Arizona to the side of the road to hear them. Last year I first heard them on April 16, and I remember there was still a bit of ice on the north side of the pond where I heard them.

They are not as shrill and overpowering as spring peepers, which is the first frog most notice. The quackers are more subtle, and when a car goes sighing by on the road the car drowns out the sound of them. In fact our Childcare usually drowns out the sound of them, which is why I brought the small girl to listen alone. If you bring many children they are too loud, and if you bring the dog it charges ahead and all you see is many ripples in the pools.

The quackers actual name is “wood frog”, but that is rather a drab name for an amazing critter. They can be frozen, and then come back to life. I can’t, though I’ve come close, and I always appreciate those who can outdo me, even if they are just a frog.

When I was younger I called them “banjo frogs”, (before I learned real banjo frogs live in Australia). The sound of their voices is somewhere between a banjo and a quacking duck. However all recordings I found make them sound much louder than they actually are.

Their entire strategy seems to be: To be done with the entire business of reproducing before the rest of the animal community knows what hit them. They breed in forest melt-water pools that are often dry by the end of May. Their eggs hatch into tadpoles that hop off as frogs in a matter of days. However in order to do this they have to be right in the woods, so they skip the bother of burrowing in the mud at the bottom of ponds to hibernate. They burrow down in the forest floor and allow themselves to be frozen solid. Or, actually, not quite solid. The center of their bodies contains some sort of natural antifreeze and never entirely freezes (or, if it does, they don’t survive.) If you’re interested, there is a fairly good post here:


And there is a melodramatic PBS YouTube video (with the overdone PBS music) showing a quacker thawing out here:

However in the actual woods there is no PBS music. Thank heavens. There is just the silence of a sunny day, with the forest floor brilliant as the closest thing to shade is the swamp maples, barely beginning to bud.Swamp Maples IMG_2154And on the sunny forest floor is what is barely more than a puddle, reflecting the sky. Wood Frogs IMG_2157And from that water you suddenly hear the soft, strange sound of something utterly unlike PBS music. It is reminiscent of a duck playing the banjo, however, as you’ve never heard a duck play the banjo, it a music unto itself, so soft that if the wind stirs leaves and sighs in the pines it can be drowned out. But when the wind quiets the sound stirs something in you, and you too are awakened. And it is then you cannot stay quiet, are inspired to write words to drown out the PBS music.

Before the geese make eyes wild by calling,
Before the first bluebirds make soft hearts weep,
Before spring’s strength is enthralling
The brown woods stir from their long, frozen sleep
And a strange music plucks from new, black mud
And ripples the waters of forest pools.

Too quiet to surge ones long unstirred blood
And too quaint to make austere men be fools
It is a background to a bright prophecy
Like a quiet herb in a warm mother’s love-soup.

I take a small child to hear it with me;
To watch her face, as time loops the loop
And see as she sees life’s not forsaking
The bleak; Instead the bleak are awaking.


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(Click maps to clarify and enlarge)

A weak front moved through today, mostly with mid-level clouds that I like, as they dapple the sky with subtle hues, and can be particularly lovely  when the sun gets low, and the sun is getting pretty low even at noon these days.  Our days will as short as the last day of January, tomorrow. It isn’t as cold, because there are many lakes and bays between here and the North Pole still “remembering” the summer sunshine, and until they are all frozen and the landscape is all snow covered, the cold is moderated as it comes south. However one by one those lakes are freezing over, and even Hudson Bay starts to freeze over in November. I remind myself to cherish every moment remaining, when I can scuff through the leaves in a snow-free woods.

The air behind this current front is Pacific air. Likely it poured off Siberia and then was warmed by several thousand miles of ocean, and then was warmed further by the Chinook effect of crossing over the Rockies.  The next batch of arctic air will  come down the east side of those Rocky Mountains, and be warmed by neither Pacific nor Chinook. The first map below is the current map, with the cold air far to the north, but the second map  is 60 hours from now, and the sub-zero Fahrenheit air (gray, and, in Celsius, minus 17.77777777778 degrees, to be precise,) has stormed right through Montana and into Wyoming,  and is already spilling east to bother me, though it hasn’t gotten here yet.

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(Map credits to  Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.)

With this kind of cold air coming, you would think that I could enjoy the relative mildness of the current air, but I don’t always live up to my own standards. Even slightly cold air bites the back of my hands like it never did when I was younger. I suppose my skin’s gotten thinner. I can even understand why other geezers my age flee to Florida, (though I could never stand the traffic, and crowds of other geezers.)

It doesn’t help much that my church is just a dwindling bunch of geezers, with a geezer Pastor who is in a bit of a sermon-slump. He seems pretty much convinced churches are dying out in New England, and has a morbid fascination with the process of becoming extinct. One book he had us read was “Autopsy Of A Church.” It’s not the most uplifting stuff. Today he even managed to make the Beatitudes depressing. I won’t go into the details. Let it suffice to say I wasn’t pleased. Now I’m probably in trouble with my fellow geezers, because telling your pastor he’s a real downer is apparently a symptom of a dying church.

It just seems to me that the Beatitudes were suppose to cheer the downtrodden up. Somehow today’s sermon seemed to portray it as eight steps in a wonder-plan,  with the final step being that you become a social outcast.  I have to admit I’d never thought of it that  way before. I’d always thought that, where most people think a streak of bad luck means God is punishing you, Lord Jesus was saying He especially loves people who suffer.

In any case, I walked out of church with an expression like a prune. A gust of wind bit the backs of my hands. I was in no mood to head off to the farm and deal with a population explosion of gray squirrels.


(Photo credit:  http://www.animalspot.net/eastern-gray-squirrel.html )

It’s bad enough that I have around four days to get two weeks of work done, before the hounds of winter come howling.  I also have to deal with twelve squirrels, as the local weasel apparently headed off to Florida, and two pairs of neighborhood gray squirrels managed to each successfully raise a brood of four, at the very end of summer. They are all frisking about, as cute as can be, causing an incredible amount of damage.

I set rat traps, but apparently the squirrels are a bit too big for those over-sized mouse traps. They got clobbered but not killed. One has no hair along his spine, and another has a crooked tail, and a third looks a little cross-eyed, but they are still frisking about.  So I got my varmint rifle, but apparently someone else in the neighborhood has been taking pot-shots with a .22, for soon as I stepped outside they were gone. I could barely see their gray tails flicking as they headed off into the woods. What was particularly aggravating was the fact that as soon as I put the rifle away, (you have to be careful with guns when you run a Childcare), they would reappear, more frisky than ever.

Then I heard them up in the airspace-attic of the Childcare.  There are vents up at the peak of the roof,  securely nailed and with screens, but apparently, when twelve squirrels all say :”heave-ho” at once, they can rip entire vents out.  So I had to cut squares of thick wire hardware-cloth and teeter up there on a ladder, with the wind biting the back of my hands and the ends of the wire drawing blood, using a staple gun to close up the openings with squirrel-proof screening, as I took the badly-gnawed vents down for repairs.

While I was up there I glanced down towards my garden, where my popcorn is ready for picking. Popcorn takes 110 days to grow, and then has to dry on the stalk, and, with the last frost on May 29 last spring,  it was a feather in my cap to get any crop at all. However, as I looked that way, it looked like, rather than ears of corn, the stalks held gray squirrels. All twelve were frisking about in joy and delight.

That popcorn was suppose to be for the children at my childcare! Those cute squirrels were depriving cute children! A cold emotion came over me, and I decided the childcare curriculum for next week would include, “How to make a squirrel pie.” I would use my “Have-a-heart traps,” which would be renamed “Have-a-pie-traps.” I would use peanut butter for bait. Squirrels can’t resist peanut butter. (After all, they kept coming back to the rat traps for peanut butter, no matter how often they got clobbered.)

As I came down the ladder in this grim mood I learned an astounding thing:  Squirrels are psychic. They had vanished. I could understand them vanishing when I came outside with a varmint rifle, because they could see the rifle, but to have them disappear when I was thinking grim thoughts? They had to be psychic.

Then, as my grimness faded into wonder, I decided they couldn’t be psychic. There must be some other reason. So I started to look around. Suddenly I stopped. Up in the leafless branches of a big, old oak tree beside the Childcare was a frowning, gray hawk. (I think it was a Cooper’s Hawk.) Compared to cute squirrels, it looked very mean.  It was cocking its head left and right, scouting out the situation. It looked tired and hungry. Then it met my eye before I could look away.



(Photo credit:  http://www.lloydspitalnikphotos.com/v/birds_of_prey/coopers_hawk/coopers_hawk_F5R8024-01.jpg.html )

It’s a funny thing about hawks: They will sit up in a tree for hours as you work, and never budge, but as soon as you meet their eye they will fly away. It is as if they recognize they have been recognized. However as this one flew away I could see it didn’t fly far, and I also imagined I could see a cartoon balloon above its head, reading, “Memo to self:  Delay migration. Much food here.”

Not that I won’t set the have-a-heart traps, but I may not catch any squirrels.

And the moral of the story is this:  Sometimes your problems are cute, and the solutions are not.

Hawk and squirrel image_preview (Photo credit: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/gallery/2007-winners-and-finalists/RETHAW_ArdithBondiNY07.jpg/view ) (This hawk is a red-tailed hawk.)


LOCAL VIEW —Backwash—

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At this time of year there are great surges and counter-surges of air from north to south and south to north, and we are currently in a counter-surge from the south. People appreciate the mildness much more, after a shot of cruel cold.

With the clocks switched an hour backwards, it is now dark when the parents pick up their children at our childcare after work. We had our first evening fire last night out in the pasture, with some of the children roasting small cubes of pork on pointed sticks, and others roasting potatoes on the hot coals. The parents tell me it makes quite a scene, as they drive in.

This morning found me grumpy, as the Democrats won here in New Hampshire, and that means more paperwork and bureaucracy for a small business owner like myself. I wanted to sit and sulk, but two young boys were full of energy, and bouncing off the walls indoors, so I took them out for a walk. The boys are only at our Childcare for an hour, until the bus comes, but an hour can be an eternity, not only for boys, but for my staff. Sometimes it spares everyone to just go outside, especially when the morning is mild.

We headed off to the nearby flood-control reservoir next to the farm.  I was trying to teach them to walk quietly so we might see some wildlife, but they were so exuberant and loud that it is likely that even hibernating woodchucks stirred in their sleep, underground, a mile away. In my grumpy mood I decided to teach the boys a lesson.

I didn’t actually lie. When we came to the edge of a clearing, and I told them to pause and peer before moving out into the open, and instead the boys utterly ignored me and walked right out chattering away like a flock of grackles, I pointed off to the distance and said, “Did you see the deer over there?”

This wasn’t a lie, because it was a question. I didn’t say I saw a deer. (And I actually did see a deer “over there” years ago.)  I then added a deer will slip into the woods as soon as it sees you, so you only have a moment to see it, before it is gone. That isn’t a lie either.

To the boys it may have sounded like I was saying a deer had been there in the present tense, and that the deer swiftly vanished in the present tense, but I didn’t actually say that. (Obviously I have been studying politicians too much.)

My deception did have the effect of making the boys become quieter. They were disappointed about missing the sight of a deer, and more somber, as we approached the dam. I told them to walk up the slope slowly and quietly, and to only poke their heads gradually over the top of the rise, and then demonstrated by holding my hands flat, like the brim of a hat, up by my forehead, and then gradually lowering my hands to my nose, like I was looking over the top of a fence, and then owlishly looking left and right.

My expression must have been too exaggerated, for both of the boys nearly fell down laughing.  Then they proceeded to exaggerate their stealth, by crawling up the slope like a couple of Apache approaching an encampment of the US Cavalry.  I didn’t mind. At least they were quiet.

Then we were unexpectedly rewarded. The boys had been so noisy that I didn’t think a creature would be in sight, and at first the waters looked still and deserted.  I was trying to think of some way to make the effort seem worthwhile, and was quietly saying, in an ominous tone of voice, that it might be a sign of a bad winter that the ducks were heading south without stopping this year. (I figured saying this might make seeing nothing more interesting.) However even as I spoke I saw a motion on the shore of a small peninsula that juts out into the middle of the reservoir. I pointed towards the ripples expanding from the that shore, and then we watched a mother otter and her two nearly-grown young swim out and away from us. They kept lifting their heads like periscopes to see us better, and then diving: Long, sleek and shiny.

The boys thought it was interesting, but their attitudes were matter-of-fact. They had no idea how special the event was. I didn’t mind. At least they had seen that it pays to be quiet when exploring the woods and fields and shores, and that is not easy to teach. In fact that behavior is nearly impossible to teach,  because even when you manage to keeps kids relatively quiet for a relatively long period of time (like 45 seconds) you usually see nothing, and therefore cannot prove silence is worth it. This time we had proof, and that seemed like a gift to me.

I guess it goes to show me: Maybe the side I want to win doesn’t always win elections, but I can still occasionally win in other areas of life.

But now I must endure five tedious hours of “adult education”, ordered by a bureaucracy that wouldn’t know an otter if it bit them. So I don’t always win, either.


(Photo credit:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/RiverOtterSwimmingOregonZoo.jpg )



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(Click map to enlarge and clarify)

Last week’s storm has finally drifted up off the upper, right hand corner of the map, and the weak storm that followed it is has floated up to Labrador, with its cold front dangling down off-shore to a weak low in Georgia. That weak low will be invigorated by the first low plunging down through the Great Lakes and second low in the Mississippi Valley, and the merging low pressures are expected explode into a gale off shore.

All week long there has been worry and fret about the strength and track of a gale that doesn’t even exist. On Monday it looked like we could get a foot of snow, but by Tuesday it seemed the storm would go out to sea. Often the European model differed from the American GFS model which differed from the Canadian JEM model. Joe Bastardi pointed out where the models tended to go wrong, and what to look for and be wary of, and held a view all his own.

I was wary anyway, as the ghost of the Pacific hurricane Ana is in the Mississippi Valley, and I’ve always noticed such meteorological “ghosts” tend to add energy to storms. It is one of those cases where a sixty mile difference in where a storm forms and tracks makes a huge difference in the local weather. Considering the storm hasn’t even formed, the skill of forecasters is taxed to the limit.

Then last night’s computer models came out with a solution I wasn’t looking for at all. Rather than a single storm there would be two. This divides the energy and weakens the effects (until the two storms combine north of here, up in the Canadian Maritimes.   We might get  howling northwest winds after the storm passes, but the storm itself would be more diffused, with lighter east and northeast winds as it approached, which would be less likely to drag down cold air and make snow, and we’d be more likely to get cold rain.  Maine might get buried in snow, but we would dodge the bullet. (Maybe.)

That would be fine with me. I’m not ready for snow.  I still have potatoes to dig, and with the clocks changing next week it will be dark when the parents pick up their children at my farm-childcare, so I need to prepare to have bright fires out in the pasture for the children to gather around, with the emphasis of our childcare on the outdoors, as it is. Our kids tend to head home smelling of smoke, but have experiences children at institutional childcares miss, such as roasting potatoes in a fire, and learning to be careful near flames.

In a way I was helped by the last nor’easter, as it blew down a dead tree, which smashed into another dead tree as it fell, snapping the second tree’s trunk and making a sort of jumble I need to clean up in order to clear a much used path. That will supply some free wood.

However it also created an interruption, as the second dead tree turned out to be hollow. A member of the staff tapped on the side of the trunk, as this can bring life that was hiding within out, and sure enough, the faces of flying squirrels appeared above. We had no camera, but this picture gives you an idea how their faces look. (Photo credit: http://photovide.com/flying-squirrels/ )

Flying-Squirrels-2 Flying squirrels are quite common, but seldom seen because they are nocturnal, which is why they have such huge eyes. Most people don’t even know they are around, until they get into an attic and start gnawing everything they can get hold of, including electrical wiring, in which case people do not find their big eyes cute. (Photo credit: http://www.zappwildlife.com/flying-squirrels-athens-ga/ )

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However when they are out in the woods where they belong, they are definitely appealing creatures, if you ever see one.

I’d been telling the kids they were out there, because there were signs. I’d point out that the  pine cones were stripped of their scales, and were reduced to nothing but a central spike, and that beneath certain branches there were drifts of pine cone scales. Or I might find an owl pellet, and open the oval of fur to show the bones and teeth, and speak of dark events in the dead of night. However for the most part this was just a fairy tale told by the old coot who  watches over them. Small kids live in a dream, and fairy tales are real and reality is a fairy tale, in many ways. In some ways that may be a sort of wisdom, for reality does contain some strange marvels, such as a squirrel that glides from tree to tree in the moonlight.

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(Photo credit http://www.zappwildlife.com/flying-squirrels-athens-ga/ )

The forest is very alive at night, with many creatures preferring starlight to daylight. Besides owls, flying squirrels need to be wary of foxes and raccoons and skunks, as, like many rodents, they are near the bottom of the food chain. However an old foe, which only recently has returned to this area because it fur was so valuable that it was hunted to local extinction, is the American Marten, which is as at home in the trees as any squirrel. When I recently saw one early in the morning I thought it was a squirrel at first, and then did a double take.

American Marten am_marten(Photo credit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/45531.html )

When I’m walking in the woods, pointing at various signs and telling tales of how a flying squirrel can escape a marten when a red squirrel can’t, because they can leap into the air and glide to another tree, the children sometimes roll their eyes, as if I’m telling another one of my tall tales. I can hardly blame them. (One boy once confronted me with his hands on his hips and announced, “My Dad says there is no such thing as walking trees!”) However I find that introducing a bit of Tolkien wonder increases a forest’s enchantment, (and it also keeps kids from running off, if they think there might be a few orcs about.)

When they realized there was actually such a thing as flying squirrels, it made a bit of extra trouble for me, as they wanted to take their parents to the tree, rap the trunk with a stick, and have the two faces of the two squirrels peer out from above.  (At first the squirrels emerged and scampered about looking alarmed, but by the tenth time they only poked their heads out, and I think I detected some irritation in their faces.) What’s more, the parents wanted to see as well, even after a long day’s work.  They seemed to  forget I’d also had a long day’s work, and might want them to skedaddle and let me go put my feet up.

However I’ve got to admit it is a fine sight to see a parent and their child walking hand in hand, when the sun is so low it sits on the horizon and sends long stripes of gold beneath the boughs and between the trucks of the pines. I can’t help smiling, and thinking that maybe my childcare does some good, after all, and is something more than a predatory way of squeezing scarce cash from the skinny wallets of overworked parents half my age.


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.

LV June 8B satsfc (3)








LOCAL VIEW —A day to skip planting—

LV May 28 satsfc (3) (click to enlarge)

It was 65 yesterday morning, but only 44 this morning, with a raw east wind and drizzle. It is a day where even sixty miles inland you feel like you are on the  cold water on the coast of Maine.  The “back door cold front” that clobbered us will, like the one last week, push all the way down to Washington DC, and only slowly back off.  It is a glorified sea breeze bolstered by the chill imparted to the off shore waters by a nasty winter.  (Here is a Dr. Ryan Maue  map I lifted from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at the WeatherBELL “Premium Site,” which costs me the price of a cup of coffee each day, and is well worth it, as long as I still get my coffee. [They offer a one week free trial.] )

LV May 28 wrf_t2m_nmm_ne_2

(You can click the above map to get a larger, clearer view which can be further enlarged with another click.)

To our north, Hudson Bay is still frozen, and to  are west the Great Lakes are very cold. How would you like to be a life guard at this beach on the shores of Lake Superior?

LV May 28 lake_superior_memorial_day_ice


All these factors create a slow spring here in New Hampshire, and a situation where only a fool would have a vegetable garden.  I am such a fool, and this post will describe my woe and misery.  I’ll add updates to the bottom of this post, until it gets too long.

MAY 29   —FROST!!!—

LV May 29 satsfc (3) (click to enlarge)

It is practically June, but there it was, on the grass by the garden, white and glistening in the early , slanting sunbeams,: Frost.  Now I smile, remembering the more laid-back old-timers, who said it was never worth the trouble of planting before Memorial Day, which in the old days was always on May 31.  They’d been-there-and-done-that, and seen all the hurry and worry of early planting cut down by a late frost.  Their attitude seemed to be, “Why bother?”

I likely lost a few flats I haven’t planted yet, but I’m so far behind with my planting that there’s nothing tender to lose.  I’d be a lot more upset if I had my tomatoes planted.  (I would have risked planting some early, but my goats ate those flats before I had a chance.)

The sun rose so early and was so brilliant that the wet telephone poles were smoking with steam soon after the sun crested the hills. It’s a glorious day, but cool.


Today was like a different planet.  Yesterday it never got much above 45, (7 Celsius,) with drifting drizzle off the cold Gulf of Maine, and when the wind gusted the wind chills were in the high thirties (3 Celsius.) The whole world was grey, but today the sky was cloudless blue, with May’s green leaves vivid and lush, after the watering they got.

What grows best is the grass, which is fine for the goats but lousy for me, for I’ve got to cut it. However, before I suffered the deafening growl of my archaic rider-mower, I just stood in the windless quiet amazed by the sheer beauty.

Our old barn cat vanished during the winter, so I’m expecting an invasion of voles in my garden, and mice in the barn.  (We already have an amazingly brazen chipmunk stealing the goat’s grain.) So I expect I’ll miss the cat, dubbed “Gnarly.”  But not much. He had a nasty habit of arching up to people purring, pressing against their leg, and then, when they reached down to pat him, affectionately biting right down to the bone. I’d only pat him wearing work gloves, and even then he could draw blood. He was not popular among the customers at my Childcare, and “Don’t pat Gnarly” was a strictly enforced rule with the kids. Of course modern children are not well-disciplined, and tend to sneer at the rules of grown-ups. Gnarly, (and also our rooster,) taught the young whippersnappers to listen to me.

Most outdoor-cats around here vanish because they are eaten.  Coyotes and Fisher-cats like a meal of cat, and a Great Horned Owl will swoop down to dine at night. However I doubt that was Gnarly’s fate. He was smart, and also very tough. I once watched him deal with a fox out in the pasture.  It was winter and the fox was hungry, and bigger than Gnarly, and stalking him, but Gnarly was faster when he needed to be, and then would slow down and become casual, looking over his shoulder in a way I swear was taunting, for the fox would look offended and try a different approach, and again be evaded.  After each evasion Gnarly would saunter in a most careless, casual and unhurried manner, home to my barn.

If he could outfox a fox I doubt it was a wild animal that robbed him from my barn. I fear that, rather than a wild animal, it was a tame human, and the hint was due to a change in Gnarly’s dreadlocks.

Gnarly was a long-haired orange cat, and was bred to grace some rich woman’s Persian living-room, and never sneak through briers and burrs, but fate gave him to a daughter’s wild boyfriend, and when they went their separate ways somehow Gnarly got left behind, and rather than fluffy fur had dreadlocks. I’d snip the biggest clumps off, (wearing thick canvas gloves,) from time to time, however such grooming only made the cat look worse: Dreadlocks with bald patches. However looks don’t matter to a barn Tomcat, as long as he catches mice. Therefore it was very noticeable when Gnarly returned from one of his three-day courtship journeys looking remarkably groomed.

This new, smooth, tidy, sleek Gnarly visited the barn less and less often, and I could hardly blame him. Why live in a barn when you can live in a Persian living-room? (Even if it is the living-room of a cat-thief.) And last winter was a cold one.  It is little wonder he stopped coming back altogether, though I couldn’t help but feel a bit hurt and rejected, and also that Gnarly turned out to be more of a sissy than I ever dreamed he could be. You’d think a Tomcat would value independence more. I half-expected him to return, once the weather warmed.

He didn’t, nor have the mice, voles, and occasional rat he chowed down on, (so far.) But this morning, as I stood amidst the stunning beauty of blue sky, golden sunshine, and rain-washed May greenery, I suddenly noticed what had returned to our barn.

Barn swallows. What a beautiful bird they are! Few birds fly so adroitly, with such swift swoopings and swerves, with the blue sky shining off their black-blue backs.


However not even a barn swallow’s back catches the blue of the sky like the back of a bluebird. They were nearly extinct, after a terrible ice-storm in my boyhood, but have made a comeback and we’ve had a few of them around recently, but always far from the barn, and never sitting on near fence posts. Because they were so rare for so long, I can never see one alight near without becoming Norse and feeling it is a good omen.


Not only that, but a common American Robin hopped across the lawn, cocking its head, listening for worms. They’d never dare that, with Gnarly in the barn. Then an enormous Oh-My-Gosh-Bird (Pileated Woodpecker) swooped down to slam rippingly at the stump of the maple ruined by Hurricane Irene.

Pileated Woodpecker 53386976.PileatedWoodpecker23

Also a song sparrow, which had sung from the very top of the backyard balsam fir, now sung from a low bough. In fact there seemed to be birds all over the place. A tiny chipping sparrow flitted about the manure pile, and there were titmice and chickadees, goldfinches and warblers, and all seemed to be singing at the top of their lungs, rejoicing that the cruel east wind and drizzle had given away to sunshine and a dead calm.

Softened by the rapture induced by all this beauty, I murmured, “Screw you, Gnarly. Who the heck needs you? You can sit in your Persian living-room and rot, for all I care.”

Of course, I won’t be saying that once the rodents start to proliferate. The bird my barn needs most is a rodent-eating barn owl. Unfortunately such owls are few and far between, because they eat mice and rats that come staggering from barns and out into the open dieing, poisoned by rat poison.  Rat poison kills more owls than even Gnarly could.

Farmers face choices, and given the choice between rat poison and a Tomcat that bites, I’d chose neither, and go for more heart-faced barn owls.



MAY 30  —The Cold returns—

Not bad in the morning, with temperatures up near seventy, but then a cold front drifted south with a few brief smatterings of rain;  big drops but not all that heavy. Temperatures drifted back down through the sixties. During our entire brief warm-up the clouds never stopped floating down from the north.

Besides the ordinary Childcare duties I got some mowing done and planted nine tomato plants. I’ll never get that garden planted, it seems.

MAY 31  —More ocean air—

LV May 31 satsfc (3) (Click to enlarge)

That rogue storm out to sea is creating a northeast wind, so again we have a grey morning with temperatures in the fifties.  However when the sun peeks through the purple it is instantly warmer. It looks like the high up in Labrador is going to press south and give us more sunshine.  I think it’s a pretty sorry state of affairs when your warm weather comes from Labrador.

Can’t plant first thing, as my granddaughter has a gymnastics event. But I’ll get a lot done later.

JUNE 1  —Finally planting—

LV 601 satsfc (3)

Although the high cresting over us has arctic origins up in Labrador, it can’t defeat a June sun. Now that the onshore wind has died temperatures are leaping upwards. When the winds turn south tomorrow it may actually get hot.. Therefore I have no reason to avoid planting, right?  Wrong. It’ is Sunday, and I’m “Deacon On Duty” at Church.

(If the food I grow meant the difference between children living or starving, I’d skip church.)

However I did get a lot done yesterday, even without planting seeds.

I spent $800.00 on a new rototiller, which is in some ways ludicrous as the garden isn’t likely to produce $800.00 worth of food. However, because the Childcare I run is all about teaching children about farming, it is a tax-deductible expense.

I used to rent a monster for $70.00 a day, and had to work like crazy to get all the work done in a single day. The machine was a brute, a sort of merciless beast that just about ripped your arms from their sockets each time you hit a big stone, and the soil in New England is full of big stones.  It doesn’t matter how long you work to remove them; the frost heaves up a new crop every spring, which is why New England has such lovely stone walls. Stones may be our best crop.

My new tiller is smaller, digs deeper, and when it hits a big stone it politely shuts down. You remove the stone, and then the machine politely is easy to restart.  (I’m not used to equipment that is easy to start.)  However what is best is that I don’t have to hurry to be done in a day, to avoid a late fee.  In fact I can actually dawdle.

At age sixty-one, I find dawdling is more like a necessity than a vice. I need to pace myself. However I also need to avoid being like King Theoden, (in Tolkien’s masterpiece,) when he was under the spell of Wormtongue (who was under the spell of Saruman who was under the the spell of Sauren).  Wormtongue was always saying things like, “Oh don’t strain yourself, most venerable one.”  Bah!  I may need to pace myself, but that doesn’t mean I need to cower.

When I was young I could underbid other landscapers by skipping the expense of a rototiller. All I needed was a stout spading fork, (American-made, not one of those cheap forks with tines that bend at the first root). Spading by hand was tiring, but like long distance running: I’d “hit the wall,” but then get a second wind, and then a third and fourth and fifth wind. Furthermore I could do all sorts of things rototillers can’t, stooping to toss aside roots and stones and weeds, so that the garden’s soil was much cleaner when I was done tilling. I’d do an entire garden in a day, perhaps taking longer than a guy with a rototiller, but doing a better job and doing it a little more cheaply.

The next morning would find me stiff and sore, but I’d just think the stiffness and soreness was a sign I was “getting in shape.”

As you get older you get out of shape more swiftly even as it takes longer to get back in shape. However stiffness and soreness is often the same, as sign you are “getting in shape.”  Yet a Wormtongue in the back of the brain does not tell you, “You are getting in shape.”  Instead it says, “You are getting to old for this nonsense.”

In any case, I’m stiff and sore this morning, but glad I got some tilling done yesterday.  I also got some more seedlings in yesterday, including a number that were topped by hungry goats, and may not even survive. Lastly, before I tilled, I dug up a whole bunch of volunteer Sunflower seedlings and transplanted them around the periphery of the Childcare playground, which hopefully will delight my wife in August, when the grounds are surrounded by the flower’s happy faces.  Not bad, for a day I “didn’t plant.any seeds.”

After church today I’ll meet with the young fellow who is helping me become more up-to-date, in terms of my computer, which may lead to a new post in the “Poet’s Plan” series.

After that I’ll plant some corn.  However, as this particular post is about “not planting seeds,” I suppose this post is over.  The continuation of this series can be found at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/local-view-planting-corn/


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/


This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was, https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-days-lengthen-cold-strengthens/

If you are a first-time visitor I will simply say this post will get longer and longer, as I add updates to the bottom several times a day. If you revisit the site to check up on the latest update you can enter on my home page, and click the little “comments” balloon to the right of the title, and that will take you to the bottom of the post, where you can scroll up a short ways to see the latest. This avoids the bother of sometimes needing to scroll down a long, long ways to see the latest.

Secondly, I should say this series of posts began discussing the views from the North Pole Cameras.  Camera 1 has been retrieved by an ice-breaker, while Camera 2 was flattened by a polar bear and then covered with snow, and the fellows from the icebreaker couldn’t locate it. Furthermore all the O-Bouys have been shut down for the winter, (likely because they are solar powered and there is no sunshine up there, these days.) In conclusion, you are reading a post about views when no views exist.

I have considered shutting down this series of posts until spring, but I have a stubborn streak.  Also there are still views, though they are very, very long-range views, from a satellite.  Nothing can be seen with visible light, until the 24-hour-darkness ends, however they are able to gather some data via radar. (There is debate about how valid such data is, but let’s skip that for now.)

I try to make the meager information we receive interesting, and also to talk a little about how the arctic is effecting where I live, in southern New Hampshire in the USA. However for the most part this post is more like a notebook filled with my sketches and scrawling.  If I happen to come up with something worth more than mere wondering, I will usually write a separate post.

I’m prone to purple prose, and from time to time hide a sonnet in my prose just for the fun of it. At the end of my last post the hidden-sonnet had the rhyme-scheme words: “Gray, blues, play, brews, chimneys, rack, trees, back, lay, its, gray, wits, drawing,  and thawing.”

(And yes, I know it is sort of illegal to end a line with “its”, but I’m the boss of this blog, and if I want to cheat it is allowed.  But only for me.)

I tend to look at polar weather maps twice a day, and look at my own neighborhood (and life) at the end of each day, and occasionally look at other parts of the world, (including, one time, the Sahara Desert, which must be a sea-ice first.)  However I attempt to tie everything back to sea-ice, which is the “sun” all else orbits (supposedly) in this post.

Each news item will have a headline, and appear as follows:

JAMMIN’ IN THE BEAUFORT GYRE  —(Keep your eyes on this)—

The ice was flushing nicely down through Fram Strait nicely at the start of the winter, but more recently wrong-way-winds have created a new clot up in Fram Strait, keeping sea-ice from exiting the Pole.  This is a bit like the situation we had last summer, which seemed to keep the sea-ice from melting by keeping it condensed, and also by keeping it up in the arctic, and lastly to even increase the multi-year-ice north of Canada, by cramming ice that way rather than flushing it down through Fram Strait.  We now seem in a mid-winter version of the same situation.  The current drift of the ice towards the Beaufort Gyre, rather than towards Fram Strait, is seen in this drift map: (Click twice to fully enlarge.)

Speed and drift Jan 29 arcticicespddrfnowcast

The thick multi-year-ice appears as reds, yellows, and greens in the map below.

Thickness January 29 arcticictnowcast

You can seen a little red leaking away down the east side of Greenland.  You’ll have to take my word for it, (or visit other sites to reaffirm,) that this is less ice escaping than occurred during other winters. You’ll also have to take my word for it, when I say much more of the thicker ice is remaining behind north of Canada, and now even north of  Alaska, than was there at this time, only two years ago.


DMI Jan 29B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 29B temp_latest.big (1)

The two-lane-highway of cross-polar-flow seems to be reforming, after being split by the intrusions of milder air from both the Atlantic and Pacific sides.  The center of the Pole remains much warmer than normal. The cold on the Canadian side is being sucked south over the Canadian Archipelago by the strong gradient between the 950 mb Labrador Low southwest of Greenland and the 1030 mb high over the Canadian arctic coast. The cold on the Siberian side is extending towards the Pole as the “Snout of Igor” reappears. (For first time readers, “Igor” is the persistent extreme cold and high pressure over Siberia, and his “snouts” are the bulges of cold moving out from that center. “Igor,” (or Siberia,) is colder than the North Pole and even the Icecap of Greenland, this time of year. We have been watching one bulge that intermittently sends shots of cold across the Pole into Canada, and a second bulge that has recently extended east towards Europe.)

QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP —Battle of the Bulge—

UK Met Jan 29B 11891746(click map to enlarge)

The western “Snout of Igor” continues stand as a strong bulge into Scandinavia.  It has shunted the Icelandic low south, and the last attempt of the North Atlantic to restablish the Icelandic Low is now being discarded south over France towards a more southerly storm track through the Mediterranean. This map is the closest we have seen to the map we’ve been on guard for, indicative of the negative AO and NAO.

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

The truly cold pattern hasn’t fully developed, and at this point the patterning seems more like a hybrid pattern, wavering back and forth between having an Icelandic low and suppressing it.  One sign the Icelandic low may try to reassert itself is that the Labrador low is weaker, (up from a 950 mb low to 961 mb low, and seems to attempting the morphistication of the towering Greenland icecap. (To newcomers, “morphistication” is my word for “transit” or “cross-over,”) This is shown by the 973 mb forming on the east coast of Greenland, complete with a web of fronts hanging south.  Earlier in the winter we saw such morhpisticated lows become strong as they moved towards Iceland, but computer models suggest this one will weaken.

A second attempt to reestablish the Icelandic low will occur as the low I dubbed “Whiff” (as it passed out to sea and missed my locale,)  appears in the lower left of the above map and heads out into the Atlantic, turning into a gale center. We need to watch it, to see if it heads towards Spain or up to Iceland. (The last one split the difference, and headed straight to England.)

It is interesting to note that the high over Iceland often creates a calm, or even a slight south wind, way east in Fram Strait, keeping the sea ice from flushing out of the Arctic Ocean.


In order to truly comprehend the enormity of cold in Igor’s gut in eastern Siberia, it pays to look at a temperature map of that region. (Click map twice to fully enlarge)

Igor Jan 29 cmc_t2m_asia_1

All the pink area on the above map is colder than the magic minus forty, where Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same, and the pinkest pink indicates a temperature of minus 73.3 (58.5 Celsius).  In other words, the center of cold in the north is not the North Pole. Canada is a second center, but rarely can match such cold, and when it does it is usually because Siberian air has crossed the Pole and then lingered to chill further over Canadian snows.

When Siberia speaks, northern lands tremble.  The best-case-scenarios for most people are when the cold drains east into the Pacific, for when it drains south China suffers, and when it drains east Europe freezes, and when it drains north the Americas can expect their coldest arctic outbreaks.

In the above map you can see one snout bulging west towards Europe, fighting the Atlantic’s desire to push warmer air east. A second plume of cold pours out into the Arctic Ocean like a curving feather to the northeast, and towards Alaska, Canada, and the USA.

(If you are a European fearful of fuel-poverty, you hope that northern plume sucks all the cold out of Siberia, leaving little behind to move west towards Europe, (and perhaps thinking it is the turn of the Americas to taste how fuel-poverty is bitter, and what dunderheads politicians who intentionally raise fuel prices are.)

In order to get a feeling for the flow of winds at the surface it is helpful to look at a map of Asia with winds and isobars shown. Then you get an idea where the cold is headed.

Igor Jan 29 cmc_mslp_uv10m_asia_1 Double click to fully enlarge

This map shows a strong high pressure over eastern Russia delivering murderously cold east winds westward on its underside, and giving Scandinavia a sort of uppercut of cold from the southeast.  Meanwhile the north side of this high is drawing slightly milder air east along the arctic coast of Eurasia, which may weaken the high, as warm air weakens highs because it rises and rising air lowers pressures at the surface.

A second high to the east is delivering the coldest south winds on earth up into the Arctic Sea. Even down on the coast of Antarctica, the south winds off the coldest continent are not this cold, in January. (In July they are worse.) However this high also has its warm side, sucking slightly milder Pacific air in from the Bearing Strait.

I haven’t a clue what these high pressure systems will do. I’m just an observer.


The above two Asian maps are the work of Dr. Ryan Maue, who creates them from the data spewed out by various forecast models.  I get them from the WeatherBELL site, and they cost me the price of a cup of coffee each day. When you consider how many models there are, and how many maps can be produced by the model’s data extending ahead, three-hours-at-time, to 360 hours, and how many different types of maps can be produced including various levels of the atmosphere, and various elements of those atmosphere such as humidity, wind speed, pressure, temperature, and stuff I haven’t learned about, there are over a thousand maps to look at, and they update between two and four times a day. I think it is a gold mine, if you are interested in weather, and my understanding is you can get a free trial for a week, if you are even cheaper than I am. (Also you get the opinions of two fine old-school forecasters, Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo.)  This resource can be found at http://www.weatherbell.com/

Another great resource is provided, absolutely free, by Anthony Watts on his “Sea Ice Page.”  This gold mine compiles a whole slew of other free sites without the bother of having to search for them.  It also allows you to access the sites without dealing with the annoying fight going on between Alarmists and Skeptics. You can even avoid my brilliant wit, if you have a headache and my brilliance hurts your eyes.  This site can be found at:  http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/

There are many other excellent sites I hope I never fail to give credit to, as I steal from them, however the above two sites are in a league all their own.

LOCAL VIEW  —Sneaky cold—

A battle 65 satsfc (3)A battle 65 rad_nat_640x480

The maps show that “Whiff” has run harmlessly away past the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and that there is no snow in a thousand miles. However maps don’t always show the full picture. Even as “Whiff” headed away, and maps showed the cold “lifting” away to the north, we got hit by a little bit of nasty cold, swung south by Whiff as he departed.

The maps do not show the typical arctic outbreak pushing a cold front, when a storm is as meek as Whiff was, but Whiff had his little backlash.  It was one of those things that are very real, if you spend time outdoors, that maps utterly miss.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore maps, and greatly enjoy pouring over the results of the efforts of others. I am well aware someone worked late into the night to produce the maps, and therefore I am not blithe about dismissing them. However I also know they are approximations, and miss the little details at times.

Little details can be big, in the microcosm of a Childcare. If a golden day turns windy, and the wind has a sting, I need no maps to fear the children will get cold.  I need no maps to hustle about and build a fire so big you have to step away, to avoid the radiant heat.

Even then, I miss obvious details. When a  kid takes offence over another kid, and slumps by the fire,  I tend to assume they are merely offended. In fact the child may be coming down with the ‘flu.  His rude responses to my care may have nothing to do with rudeness. His shivering may have nothing to do with the weather. The kid is just sick.

Little details can be big things.  Therefore I am noting that rain and snow down in Florida, though no model shows a storm coming up the coast.

The big detail on the map is the broad southwest flow behind the arctic high currently freezing our socks off.  Oh! That sure would be nice!

However I’m keeping my eyes peeled for those sneaky details.


DMI Jan 30 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 30 temp_latest.big (1)


DMI Jan 30B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 30B temp_latest.big (1)

(click images to enlarge)

The high over Russia continues to waft light and mild winds towards the Pole on it’s warm west-side, now bringing a slight thaw to Svalbard., and “balmy” +5 readings to Iceland. The Pole is averaging (north of 80 degrees,) some ten degrees above normal, -15 rather than -25. (Remember it is -50 in Siberia.)

Pacific air is being drawn in through the Bering Strait along the east Siberian arctic coast.

Between the two the Snout of Igor is pouring air from Siberia across to Canada. The isotherms seem to indicate the channel is narrowed slightly in the past 12 hours, but the -20 isotherm now extend nearly across to Canada. Remember that this air is warmed as it crosses the Arctic Sea, despite the ice-cover, but also that this warming tends to be shallow. As soon as the air gets over land again in Canada it chills rapidly.


DMI Jan 31 mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 31 temp_latest.big (1)

The most interesting feature is that little, tight low moving the wrong way along the Siberian coast.  It’s east-side winds are drawing cold air from Siberia north. Models suggest it is the first of a series of wrong-way lows. More typically lows enter the Arctic Sea on the Atlantic side and head east along the Siberian coast, getting weaker as they lose their source of Atlantic fuel, but often discernible all the way to Bering Strait. Now it is as if the lows are circling clockwise around Igor in Siberia, rather than circling the Pole itself.  This may have something to do with the warming of the Stratosphere high above, an event which has only been a forecaster’s focus for the past decade or so.  It is new territory and a frontier.

The Icelandic low may be trying to reestablish itself on the Atlantic side.

The Pole itself has little identity, and seems more like a boundary between other forces.


UK Met Jan 31 11929143 (click to enlarge)

“Whiff” has exploded into a powerful North Atlantic gale, and looks like it is splitting-the-difference and heading straight towards Britain.  The Snout of Igor is remaining strong, and the flow between the two will be from the south, however it will have less of an ocean component and more of a continental component than the southerly flow back in December: More of a southeast flow than a southwest flow.

Up in Fram Strait the wrong-way flow continues, though it may return to a more normal north wind if “Whiff” occludes and loop-de-loops back towards Iceland, which is what some models suggest.  If the Icelandic low reestablishes itself things will become more ordinary, but if a lot of Whiff’s energy escapes under the Snout of Igor lodged over Scandinavia, into the Mediterranean, then the pattern is changing.

LOCAL VIEW —Southwest flow—

A battle 66 satsfc (3)A battle 66 rad_nat_640x480

No stars in the sky this morning, as the southwest flow around the back-side of the last arctic high starts to bring moister mildness north.  The radar shows it is snowing down in Dixie, so it is not all that mild.  However, after days when it’s been the single digits at daybreak, you tend to call 19 degrees (-7 Celsius,) in the dark before dawn “mild.”

It’s a relative mildness, and your skin does recognize it as being milder, but down deep I don’t think you are fooling anyone. Yesterday was a gloriously sunny day, but cold. I was trying to enjoy the sun as I lugged firewood to the front porch, and attempting to take delight in the fact the temperature was inching through the teens up past twenty, when suddenly it occurred to me, “I’m sick of this.”

Into my mind crept one of my earliest memories, when I must have been at preschool age, for I was kicking around the house as my mother chain-smoked and payed bills at her desk. I was bored, but couldn’t go outside because it was too cold. Abruptly a thought occurred to me, and I trotted over to my mother and asked her, “Mom? Does January mean it will be spring soon?”

She looked downright startled that I should ask such a question, and replied, “No, dear. Spring won’t be for a long time yet.” I must have slouched in deep, ridiculous dejection, for a smile flickered on the corners of her lips. As I walked away I was slightly offended. Waiting for spring did not seem like a laughing matter.

Now here it is, well over a half century later, and I am no better at waiting.

Looking ahead there is nothing to see but (as Joe Bastardi puts it) “storms and rumors of storms.” All the month of February; all the month of March; and even April is a long tease around here; spring never really busts out until May.

I suppose this is what separates the men from the boys, but I’m weary of winter already.


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

Pushes of milder air continue to invade the Arctic Ocean from both the Atlantic and Pacific side,  with a slender and disjointed flow from central Siberia to Canada between them. Strong high pressure over Russia is squaring off against strong low pressure (“Whiff”) south of Iceland. A weak low has again formed due to the intrusion of Atlantic air lifting north of Greenland, assisting the continued wrong-way-flow northward through Fram Strait. Meanwhile the wrong-way-low in the East Siberian Sea continues to draw Pacific air through Bering Strait into the Arctic, and draw very cold Siberian air (“Igor”) into the the immediate coastal waters of that same East Siberian Sea. The ice is thickening in that sea, as can be seen in this 30-day animation of the Navy ice-thickness map, (well worth watching and thinking about.) (The last 7 days are a forecast; not reality.)

QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET —The big boys square off—

UK Met Feb 1 11954628

“Whiff” is a powerful 941 mb gale, while “Igor” remains a powerful 1054 mb high pressure. The pressure difference between the two is creating a swath of south winds over Europe.  While this is a colder picture than December, the south winds do indicate a return to the “old” pattern” and a failure of the “new” pattern to dominate.  I’m assuming the patterns will wobble back and forth, with neither dominating, for a while, but in the short-term it looks like the Icelandic Low will reappear, as the Labrador Low fades away. Bad news for lovers of extreme winter weather in Europe, but good news for those in energy-poverty.

POLE ABOVE AVERAGE  —Where’s the cold?—

The DMI graph below shows the recent intrusions of Atlantic and pacific air towards the Pole have elevated the average temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude nearly fifteen degrees above normal.

DMI Feb 1 meanT_2014

While these averages are still at minus twenty, and therefore no ice-melt will result, one might wonder is it is a sign of Global Warming and a reduced amount of ice at the Pole next summer. We will have to wait and see, as every summer is full of surprises, but there are other indications the ice is thicker and will persist more. What the above graph may indicate is that a lot of the cold air has been shunted south. It pays to look at a temperature map that shows some of the subarctic, as well as the arctic.

Below is the current GFS initial run, (a product of Dr. Ryan Maue at WeatherBELL.)

GFS Feb 1 gfs_t2m_arctic_1 (Double click to fully enlarge)

This map shows the cold in Canada, and the unreal, murderous cold in Siberia. It also shows the Atlantic and Pacific intrusions over the Pole, and a sort of Chinook pressing east into Alaska.

In terms of “warming the planet,” it is likely lively debate could be sparked, discussing the effect this map would have in the long term. I would take the tack of stating that, because it is still dark over the Pole, warm intrusions represent heat that will be lost to the arctic night. They don’t melt the sea-ice much, and in fact make snow fall which adds to the top of the ice, and creates a white shield that reflects sunlight. Further south the arctic outbreaks create snowfalls which reflect heat in lands that do have sunlight, and freeze bays and lakes that then increase night-time radiational cooling, and also slow the arrival of spring until they melt.  I’d conclude the overall effect of the above map would be cooling, and then I’d sit back and fully expect some persuasive counter-arguments.

In the short term what matters is whether that extreme cold stays in Siberia where it belongs.  There are signs it will not:


The three maps below show the cross-polar delivery, at the 850 mb level, (roughly 5000 feet up, or 1500 meters), of some extremely nasty cold, over the next six days.  (Maps produced by Dr. Ryan Maue of WeatherBELL.) They represent data produced by the European model. The first, top map is the “initial” run (and represents the current situation,) and the second, middle map represents the situation 96 hours from now, with the cold over the Pole (likely making the DMI graph plunge,) and the third, bottom map represents the situation 144 hours from now, with the the cold moving ashore in Canada, (and also some “home grown” extreme cold over Hudson Bay.) (Double click the maps to fully enlarge.)

Delivery 1 ecm_t850_arctic_1Delivery 2 ecm_t850_arctic_5Delivery 3 ecm_t850_arctic_7

My guess would be that now is not the time to put away winter clothes, in North America.


Slowly, as the winter has come on and built, the bodies of water that moderate arctic air as it passes over, protecting the people down wind, have been freezing over. Way back in September the edges of the Arctic Sea itself were unfrozen, but they began freezing up in early October. In Novermber the huge lakes up in northern Canada froze over, as did the northern inlets of Hudson Bay. By mid December Hudson Bay was ice-covered, as was much of Baffin Bay, and the Great Lakes were starting to freeze.  Despite a few warm-ups in January, the month as a whole has been very cold in the center of the USA, and the lakes have far more ice than usual:

Great Lakes Feb 1 lice_00 _1_(1)

(Hat tip to Joseph D’Aleo, who pointed out this map on his “Wednesday Great Lakes Update” on his blog at WeatherBELL, [a weekly feature.])

With this much ice on the Great Lakes, and with the ice continuing to grow, it means winds will be colder for the people in the lee of the lakes, and that includes poor, little, old me.  (It also can can delay the spring. Drat.)

LOCAL VIEW  —A lull— Don’t bug me bugs—

A battle 67 satsfc (3)

A battle 68 satsfc (3)

The above maps (click if you care to enlarge,) show that we are in a bit of a lull. The arctic high that froze so many socks off has in part “lifted out” taking some cold air back north, and in part has simply hung around the south too long and has moderated.  It’s front can be seen down in Florida, with one of those innocent lows that always make me wary, as I’ve been “lulled into submission” in the past. However we are on the warm side of the high, though the southwest flow has fallen apart (along with the high) and isn’t too strong.

You still know it is an arctic high, even though you feel warmer.  Half of the apparent warmth is because your metabolism is in winter-mode, and freezing seems mild.  Even the children at the Childcare seemed a little sluggish yesterday, while I myself was getting too much excersize shoveling the scant snow onto the top of their sledding trails, as they have been breaking the Childcare’s plastic sleds at an alarming rate hot-dogging over snow that is so shallow that some roots poke through, as well as the tops of some stones.

When temperatures were down around ten (-12 Celsius) the lack of snow didn’t slow the children one bit, and they were demonstrating their propensity for making even the shallowest slope as dangerous as possible. However yesterday, as I added to snow to a part of their trail that had been made brown by the dirt churned up into the snow, the kids seemed a bit listless in the “heat.”  It was nearly up to freezing! They lolled about in their snowsuits, as impervious to the cold fact their couches were crystal ice as huskies are when they loll in Yukon drifts.

I’m not much different. This morning I walked out without my hat and gloves, enjoying what seemed like a thaw, and then a glance at the back porch thermometer told me it was nineteen. (-7 Celsius.)  People who don’t live in the north tend to roll their eyes when they hear statements like this, but anyone who has lived in the north knows it is a truth. In fact you can always spot a person just back from a lovely Caribbean vacation, because they are the person in the heavy coat with the woolly hat midst a group of folk who are hatless and in winter shirts. (It takes around a week to acclimatize to the north.)

I’m acclimatized, but years of smoking means my circulation isn’t what it once was. This sort of lull in the winter always reminds me of when I was young, bored, and suddenly the powder snow grew sticky enough to make a snowball.  However that is a post for another time. Let it suffice to say I did not mind it, at age sixteen, when my hands were beet red from making snowballs without gloves. (Hint: In those days, if you threw snowballs at cars, sometimes the driver would stop and chase you.)

This sort of lull reminds me that mild spells were often the prelude to big storms. I thought this might be merely my memory embellishing upon my fond recollections of times school was cancelled, however both Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo have mentioned that when the PDO and AMO are in this configuration winter often saves its best storms for the second half.

Still, a lull is a lull, and the weather fits my mood, as I am in a sort of creative lull as well.  My last creative effort resulted in praise and five-minutes-of-fame on the What’s Up With That site, however that sensation is over, and now I am kicking about, listless, awaiting the next creative impulse in my imagination.

Such periods are hard on my wife.  What I call “incubating an idea” looks an awful lot like “loafing” to her. She feels she might be able to help me out of my doldrums by what she calls “motivating.” I am not always as grateful as I should be, for my word for “motivation” is sometimes “bugging.”

After a bit of bugging motivation I did take a large load of trash to the dump today, as well as tending to the dog and goats and a few other things, and then, to avoid being bugged motivated any more, I did the cowardly thing, which is to hide. I found a patch of sun on the south side of the outside of the house, and sat back to sunbathe in the wan sunbeams, and also to loaf incubate a new idea, when suddenly a swarm of bugs that looked very much like mosquitoes appeared about three feet in front of my nose.

Winter Crane Fly images

The irony was not lost on me, however I swiftly determined that the bugs were not needle-nosed, and my irritation subsided to fascination.  The little flies were forming a swarm like summertime gnats, but with an odd yo-yo pattern to their flight, where they bobbed up and down about two inches in the same spot. At times they seemed to nearly get their act together, and to all bob at the same time, but the fly in charge of choreography wasn’t all that good at it, and their dance would get all out of whack. Then they’d call it quits and all sink and settle on the glossy green needles of a yew beside of the house, resting a bit before deciding to give it another go.

I started to consider the ecological niche these little flies were in.  In the dead of a cold winter the temperature had only recently risen from a morning low of 19 to just above freezing, and here they were, apparently mating. Who knows how long the thaw would last, and how long they’d have to lay their eggs wherever the heck they laid them? It didn’t seem they had much breathing room, but it was a clever space they’d found for themselves, for there wouldn’t be too many predictors around in the dead of winter, spoiling their little party by eating them.

They must have some sort of amazing metabolism to be able to produce the energy to fly in such cold.  The few other crawling critters you see in the winter don’t fly.

Around the time the sap starts running in the maples, (any day now,) you start to see tiny little grey grubs wriggling in the snow.  (If you lay a quarter in the snow, they’d be roughly the size of the letter “o” in the word “Quarter Dollar.” ) They only look like grubs until you see one hop and land a foot or six inches away. Then you understand why they are called “snow fleas,” though more officially they are dubbed “spring tails,” but that is also incorrect, for actually it is not their tails that spring, but their fifth and sixth legs, which curl under their body like a tail, and spring free all of a sudden shooting them (without any attempt or semblance of control) out of danger.  (Get me the heck out of here!) Though they have six legs it may even be incorrect to call them insects, for apparently the people who study such things think they may be some sort of primitive order that existed before insects, and evolved into insects. I wouldn’t know about such things; I only know they are a pain when I want to eat some snow. There can be hundreds of thousands of them, covering all the snow in sight.

Down where it is wet there is a bigger bug that wakes up just when all the other bugs are going to sleep in the fall. If you scrape the snow away from some black ice and peer through the ice into the water below you can see them moving about, for they are like dragon flies and spend the first part of their life under water. They are called “stone flies” though when they come crawling up as adults onto the ice their wings look a bit pathetic and I’ve never seen one fly. They sing their love songs to each other by thumping on the ice, though my old ears can’t hear a thing.  Then they duck down under the water again to lay their eggs, and when those eggs hatch the babies duck down into the mud, and hide all summer, when other critters are lurking about. So these insects also take advantage of a certain niche. However my main point is they don’t fly, or don’t fly much.

Flying takes a lot of energy, and energy is at low ebb when temperatures are close to freezing. This made the swarm of over-sized gnats hovering a yard in front of my nose, making me cross-eyed, all the more intriguing.

The only other bug I’ve seen flying around in the winter seems to require a bit more warmth, but when it get up into the forties in an especially mild thaw, I’ve often seen these ratty looking moths fluttering about in the pine groves.  They don’t seem to fly very well, and likely wouldn’t stand a chance in the summer, but in the winter the insect-eating birds are few and far between, so it doesn’t matter so much that these moths take forever to get wherever it is they are going. They have found their niche.

Even down at the bottom of the sea, where the water is near freezing and sunlight can’t penetrate and the pressures are so great that CO2 exists as bubbles of liquid rather than as a gas, undersea vents supply just enough energy to provide a niche for strange clams and crabs and tube-worms and shrimp.

As I looked at the swarm of bugs in front of me it occurred to me that the Creator filled every corner of his creation with life.  Even when energy is in very short supply, it is still a niche, and amazing life flourishes.

Therefore, it logically follows, just because my energy is in very short supply is no excuse for my not flourishing and flying, or at least hopping like a spring-tail,  which is what I set out to do with this post. I’d prefer not being bugged, but even if I am bugged I’ll still make art of it.

Furthermore I’m not too old to learn, either. That swarm bugging me was critters called “winter crane flies.”  I just learned that, via search engines.

FEBRUARY 1  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— Wrong way low and wrong way flow

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

Not very much cross-polar flow is apparent on these maps. What is apparent is that the Atlantic air delivered to the Pole is cooling.  Also the flow in Fram Strait remains stubbornly the wrong way, though that may soon change.  Also the powerful low “Whiff” at the bottom of the map is matched by a Pacific storm, barely seen as deep blue at the top.  This Pacific storm is forecast to follow the wrong way storm that is currently past the New Siberian Islands and into the Laptev Sea.  Just as the current wrong way storm is pulling some cold Siberian “Igor air” north in its wake, so will the following storm, but the following storm will pull some big time air clear over to Canada, according to some models. We’ll just have to wait and see if this actually comes to pass.

FEBRUARY 2 —MORNING DMI MAPS— second wrong-way-storm

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

Some interesting stuff is going on up in the stratosphere above the Pole, which may explain why storms are rolling along the Siberian coast from east to west, the “wrong way,” but such things are above my head. I prefer to be down to earth, and just note the odd motion of the storms. I’ve decided to dub the two storms “Rongwe 1” and “Rongwe 2.”

Besides pulling a stripe of Pacific moisure west over arctic waters, they are also pulling a bulge of frigid Siberian air north. The clash between the cold and mild is likely their fuel. (By the way, the very cold air on the Siberian coast is just south of eighty degrees, and will have no effect on the DMI temperatures-north-of-eighty-degrees graph.)

On the other side of the Pole “Whiff” is milling around between Iceland and Britain, and extending its isobars up towards Fram Strait, hinting the wrong-way flow through that Strait may end, and the wad of ice up there may be flushed south. Temperatures south of Iceland are the warmest we’ve seen in a while, above +5 Celsius, (41 Fahrenheit), so there is plenty of energy in the Atlantic to fuel the Icelandic Low. However the +5 isotherm is a bit further south than it was yesterday.


UK Met Feb 2 11981231 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“Whiff” still can’t decide whether he wants to be an Icelandic Low or not,  but is not being shunted south over Spain like the prior storm.  Some energy is going down that way, to join the storm track east through the Mediterranean,  but other energy is loop-de-looping back towards Iceland. Perhaps Whiff wants to cover all the angles.

The Labrador low is giving up and getting sucked into Whiff’s circulation, joining with a ripple on Whiff’s trailing front to form a new storm, which isn’t exactly a son of Whiff, so I guess I won’t call it Whiffson. (I’m reserving that name for a storm way back in Florida.) This new storm will be dubbed “Whifflab,” to indicate its mixed origins.

The flow over Europe seems to be swinging from southeast to southwest, though Igor remains strong in the north.  A break in the cold for Scandinavia seems likely, but across the North Sea it looks like the British Isle get no break from rain, rain, and rain.

LOCAL VIEW  —The last of the lull—

A battle 69 satsfc (3)A battle 69 rad_nat_640x480

(click maps to enlarge)

To our west it looks like Chicago didn’t even get a 24 hour break from the cold, before it came roaring right back. The cold up in Canada is impressive, especially when you consider it is basically home-grown cold, without much help from a cross-polar-flow. You can see the boundary between the milder Pacific air and arctic air goes out to sea over Seattle, and continues off shore north to Alaska, indicating Pacific air has been driven back, though there does seem to be a sort of ghost-Chinook east of the Rockies, but it can’t overpower the cold, which is chilling the heartland as we on the east coast enjoy yet another break in our yo-yo winter.

By the way, that weak low south of Cape Cod is “Whiffson,” and represents the area of rain over Florida I have been regarding with deep suspicion for days.  It did come up the coast after all, though it is very weak. As I did the chores after dark last night some big fat snowflakes began falling, and I watched them very carefully to see if they’d intensify, however they didn’t. However you have to keep an eye on these innocent-looking features. Sometimes the computer models don’t even see them, until POW. They are upon you.

The stars shone dimly before daybreak, through a gauze of high cloud, and now the sun is rising as a smear of bright brass in that webbing of cirrus.  It is delightfully mild, this side of the front, and the warmth had snuck north all the way to the southern suburbs of Montreal, where it is above freezing, though Montreal itself is in the upper 20’s.

This is our day of rest before a week of storms. Hopefully the first will just miss us to the south, but we can wait until tomorrow to face that. Today we watch the first storm, which I’ll dub “Luller,” passing to our north, and look down to Texas at “Lullerson,” which is next in line. For the most part, however, I’m just going to enjoy not wearing a hat.

The map below is the initial run of the GFS, (a Dr. Ryan Maue map from WeatherBELL,) and shows the home-grown cold over Canada, that Minnesota is below zero (-17 Celsius), yet again, a ghost-Chinook of warmth east of the Canadian Rockies, the sneaky plume of warmth heading up to Montreal ahead of the cold front, and the fact that, mild as it may seem, we couldn’t quite stay above freezing last night, here in New Hampshire.

A battle 69 gfs_t2m_noram_1 (double click to fully enlarge)

LOCAL VIEW  —Evening Update—

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“Luller” moved to our north today, bringing us rain showers as its cold front swung past.  A lot of the rain and snow associated with the front has dried up as moves towards us, and is continuing to do so as “Lullerson” starts up from Texas. (I’m ignoring that little ripple on the front over Virginia, assuming it will ripple by without developing much. If it develops at all [which doesn’t show in the radar], it would “steal energy” from Lullerson.)

I’m a little worried about Lullerson’s snow coming further north than forecast. Each time they run the computer model it’s position is just a bit further north.  And that is an impressive blob of moisture it is bringing north with it. So I’ll probably try to cut my writing short and hit the hay early tonight.

However I have to mention that something I wrote a year ago, called “Groundhog Stew,” got over fifty hits today.  A lot are coming through Facebook, (and I haven’t figured out how to trace the source.) I suppose it happened because today was “Groundhog Day,” and someone chanced upon my old piece and liked it, even though it has nothing to do with Groundhog Day.  Here it is: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/groundhog-stew/

That was written on February 4th, and the funny thing is that on February 2nd last year I actually did write something about Groundhog’s Day, and its relationship to the old holiday called “Candlemas,” and that hasn’t had a single hit today. (I’m sort of glad, because I was a bit grouchy and cynical when I wrote it:)  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/candlemas-or-a-ground-hogs-day/

Anyway, just an interesting observation about traffic on the web.


DMI Feb 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 2B temp_latest.big (1)

FEBRUARY 3  —DMI MORNING MAPS—west-bound east-bound train wreck—

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

The “Snout of Igor” over Europe is getting attacked from both sides. “Whiff” has managed to push northeast of Iceland, the first storm to take that route in a while, and is attacking from the Barents Sea side, while the series of wrong way lows is attacking from the East Siberian Sea on the East side.  Rongwe 1 dissipated as it moved towards the Kara Sea, and Rongwe 2 now moves in its wake into the Laptev Sea, with a trailing Rongwe 3 behind it. Rongwe 2’s circulation will orbit Rongwe 3 out over the Pole, and the flow behind the two storms will be distinctly cross-polar, from Siberia to Alaska.

Igor seems likely to duck beneath the onslaught to the north and to some degree back out of Europe, but to bulge across the Pole behind the onslaught.

QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET  —Atlantic surge—

UK Met Feb 3 12006456 (click map to enlarge)

The Icelandic Low is reforming as the “Snout of Igor” is backed away from Scandinavia. The first warm front is pushing north in Scandinavia in a long time. As “Whiff” weakens between Iceland and Norway “Wifflab” builds to its south, and Britain is hit by more stong winds and rain. “Whiffson” and “Luller” are appearing at the lower left., and are expected to merge and head straight across to England by Wednesday, which doesn’t support the rebuilding of the Icelandic Low and the Old Pattern.  However all of Europe is enjoying a southerly flow something like December’s, except the people who ran away to the Mediterranean to avoid the storms. The southern storm track remains.


A battle 71 satsfc (3)A battle 71 rad_ec_640x480


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It is a cooler day, grey and now with a light snow falling. It reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, “Dust Of Snow.”

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

LOCAL VIEW  —Storm One, Over and Done. Storm two’s sorrow comes tomorrow.

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It’s pretty amazing that so much precipitation can just slide off the radar screen in so little time, but it shows you the storm was a slider, and not a digger.  It just slid out to sea, which is fine with me.  The storms that really clobber us stall and just sit by Cape Cod.

Already we have a “Winter Storm Watch” for the next storm, which you can see gathering in Texas.  Another one will come after that for the weekend.  So I may be too busy to write for a while.

Pity, for I have a bee in my bonnet. I’m working on something funny about a huge flock of robins out by the flood control reservoir. Rather than, “The First Robin of Spring” it will be called, “The 79th Robin of Winter.”

Just to keep things interesting, the State Inspector paid our Chilkdcare a visit this morning. (No comment.)


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

Ice is flowing south again through Fram Strait. Will comment more in the morning.


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

The cross-polar-flow from Siberia to Canada is back, behind Rongwe 3 as it was swung out to the Pole by Rongwe 2.

Flow is from the north in Fram Strait. The big jam of ice between Svalbard and Greenland will be shoved south. (Ice extents are currently above-normal in that strait.)

Atlantic warmth from the south is invading up the west coast of Norway.


UK Met Feb 4 12031696 (CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE)

“Whiff” is fading fast and much weaker ( 992 mb) but made it much further north than most storms have been able to make it, recently. “Whifflab” is south of Iceland and very strong, ( 947 mb) but is occluded and weakening. To its south “Whiffson” is heading straight for Ireland and Great Britain, where they must be sick of these storms.  What is interesting about “Whiffson” is that as it does the typical loop-de-loop up the English Channel and around Scotland, a bunch of its energy will kick south into the Mediterranean storm track, while another bunch refuels the Icelandic Low.

You can’t bet on all horses and expect any winnings. With only half the energy going into the Icelandic Low the low will get flabby towards the weekend.  However “Igor” has no reinforcements I can see, as a lot of his strength is pouring north towards the Pole. Europe may have a time where the weather has “subtle features,” with no big news to write home about.  I hope they enjoy the quiet, while it lasts.

LOCAL VIEW  —Winter Storm Warning—

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The switch from a “watch” to a “warning” occurs when the snow is expected to start within 24 hours.  Currently they are predicting we’ll get 8-14 inches.  So I’ll be rushing about getting ready today.


9:30 AM  Actually it is a lovely day with bright sunshine and little wind, stirring the sap in the maples.  I’m looking around, trying to see signs a crafty old farmer would see, back in the days before satellites and weather-radios.

The pre-dawn night seemed starry and still, which means a high pressure is cresting, and you can expect the barometer to fall. Then the dawn was a lovely rose, as an unapparent veil of high clouds was lit by the sun, which activates the “red-sky at morning; sailor’s take warning” old saw. However the high clouds then vanished, which activated the old saw, “When the sky is feckless blue; rain or snow in a day or two.”  (Also old timers would stroke their jaws, looking at a cold and clear sky, and call it a “weathermaker.”)

When you come right down to it, just about any weather is sure sign of storm, if you are a prophet of doom. The only thing alerting me is the fact the weather might get worse is that the jet’s contrails, high in the sky, are not dissipating, and instead stay and expand, like long seeded clouds. That’s a sign of my own that fair weather won’t last, but I don’t suppose it counts, because back in the old days they didn’t have contrails.

FEBRUARY 4 — DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—  Cross-polar-flow

DFI Feb 4B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 4B temp_latest.big (1)

LOCAL VIEW  —Here it comes—

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A battle 77 satsfc (3)A battle 77 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Although the radar shows snow, at this point it is all evaporating before it hits the ground.  This both cools and moistens the air overhead.  Now I should do a final few chores before it starts falling.

5:45 AM  Snow has started and is immediately heavy.

FEBRUARY 5  —DMI MORNING MAPS—Cold crossing Pole

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

The cross-polar-flow is established, for the time being, and you can see a tongue of very cold air moving across from Siberia, towards Canada. Meanwhile milder Atlantic air is flowing up Norway’s west coast and thawing Barents Sea.

What is left of “Whiff” is in Fram Strait, confusing the southward flow of ice there.


UK Met Feb 5 12057860 (CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE)

“Whiflab” is weakening and drifting southeast back towards Cape Farewell  as “Whifson” is a strong 947 mb gale hammering Ireland. Lord, they must be getting sick of these storms.

I guess that is “Lullerson” crossing the Atlantic to the lower left.

Igor looks less like an arctic high, and more benign, as south winds are over much of Europe.


There is an interesting post about this at WUWT. It actually seems to be focusing on data from last October, but we’ve been watching the ice recently go the “wrong way” in Fram Strait, and I assume that continues to pack up the ice, rather than allowing it to be dispersed.  The thicker ice shows in the Navy map of thickness, curving north of Alaska in the Beaufort Gyre.

Thickness Feb 5 arcticictnowcast  (Click to enlarge)

Another factor to watch is the open water in Barents Sea.  Is this allowing warmer water to enter the Pole? Or is the open water more exposed to cooling and mixing, and is cooler water entering the Pole?

Here is the WUWT post on increasing ice-volume: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/05/cryosat-shows-arctic-sea-ice-volume-up-50-from-last-year/#more-102678


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We are currently in that “hole” in the radar map, but it is still snowing. I suppose the snow is so fine that it is like drizzle, and doesn’t show on a radar.  Occasionally we get a gang of bigger flakes falling, which I suppose would be a sprinkle of rain in the summer.

It was a relatively windless morning. In fact it was completely calm when the snow first began falling, and with the twigs and limbs of trees not hushing or roaring with wind, you could hear the actual sound of millions of flakes falling in the pre-dawn darkness. The barometer was in no mood to fall either, as the pressure remained up over 30.00 inches.

Recently the pressure has begun to fall fairly rapidly, (down to 29.71 at 2:00,) as the low approaches from the west and the coastal low develops to the south.  The wind is also picking up a little.  We could get a final burst of snow as that coastal low goes by, but everything is sliding along swiftly, and there is little sign of one of those storms that stalls and dumps feet of snow on us.  We have roughly ten inches and might get a couple more.  It is a fairly dry snow, and the roads haven’t been that bad, even when they were not plowed.  It was like driving in sand.  The treacherous snow is the sticky stuff. Besides packing into a good snowball, it packs down on streets and becomes a layer everyone slips and slides on.

My break is over.  Back to work.

LOCAL VIEW  —8:15 REPORT—  Clean up

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The coastal low is moving off, but one blob of snow, the remains of the original low, will pass over, making a mess of my clean up.

The barometer got down to 29.68 at 4:00, but has now risen to 29.75.  It really was a small storm. (Ireland keeps getting pressures below 29.00 this winter.)  Still, eleven inches of snow is more than they’ve had in most of England all winter.

Besides snow-blowing all the drives and the Childcare parking lot twice, I lumbered the snowblower across the pasture and  blew off the farm pond. Usually I do this because if you don’t, the weight of the snow pushes the ice down, water wells up through cracks, and the snow on top of the ice turns to slush, and the pond is useless until the slush freezes. (I described this in greater detail last winter, in a post called ” A Surprising Zamboni,” https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/a-surprizing-zamboni/ )

However this year I actually think the ice is so thick the eleven inches of fluffy snow wouldn’t have pushed it down enough. Though it has been a yo-yo winter, the mild spells are measured in hours as the cold spells are measured in days.  Also, since we had a decent snow in December, which was melted by a thawing rain, I doubt there has even been more than an inch or two on the ground at any one time.  That means the Pond’s ice has never been insulated by an igloo-like cover of snow, and has constantly been thickening.  The rains and thaws have only added ice to the top, because they were followed so swiftly by freezes. The ice is likely two feet thick.  Cars were racing on a lake fifteen miles from here, last weekend.

(In fact a problem is starting to become apparent over a range of hills from here, in the Contoocook River Valley.  I’ve never seen that big stream iced over as early as it was this year, and all the thaws and rains have done is create brief freshets that heap the ice up in a jumble in places, before the next big freeze.  There is actually more ice, altogether, than there would have been if there hadn’t been thaws and rains, for the open water has refrozen so swiftly and thickly.  Consequently there is concern about ice-jams [and the floods that result from ice damming-up rivers], when the next freshet happens.)

Actually I blew off the pond because it creates a place for the kids at the Childcare to play. I suppose I could have blown off the pasture, but the pond is more fun.  Also there is a secret strategy involved.  When kids run on ice, they can’t get much traction, and their feet are a blur of energy even as they don’t travel very far.  This makes it easier for me to keep up with them, (and to catch them if need be), and also they are exhausted by lunch and sleep soundly during “quiet time.”

So you see, I’m not as dumb as I look.

(I forgot to name the storm that just passed over. Although it did involve a Pacific storm that came inland over Washington State and headed southeast, it also involved low pressure and moisture from the very end of Luller’s cold front down on the Gulf of Mexico coast of Texas, so I guess it might as well be “Lullerthird.”) (It will soon appear on the UK Met maps.)

(I don’t like the looks of the isobars in Canada.  The Pole exporting cold this way.)


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

The cold air associated with the cross-polar-flow is very apparent.

Rongwe 2 has made it to the Kara Sea and is in touch with Altantic air.  Rongwe 3 is fading into general low pressure west of Greenland. A new low, Rongwe 4, is appearing over East Siberia, but looks like ti will be blocked by the cross-polar high pressure, and head across to Alaska.

Icelandic Low is actually double barreled, with a long fetch of east winds north of Iceland and a long fetch of west winds far to the south. Over on WUWT the blogger “Richard111” brought up an interesting idea, saying the long fetch from the west might defect the  Gulf Stream more to the east, and towards Spain rather than Norway.


UK Met Feb 5B 12070017 (click to enlarge)

The double-barreled Icelandic Low I mentioned above is very apparent on this map, as is the long westerly fetch across the Atlantic. Usually the western low (“Whifflab”) would be weaker and the eastern low (Whiffson) would be stronger, but some of Whiffson’s  energy has kicked ahead to the south coast of France, forming “Whiffthird,” which will take the southern track and hit Italy tomorrow. Behind Whiffthird is Lullerson, on a southern track, however it seems likely to come up the English Channel.

This is a hybrid pattern, and can’t decide if the Icelandic Low is established, or the Southern storm track through the Mediterranean is established, and tries to do both. Ordinarily a storm track through the Mediterranean would have east winds to its north, however for the moment there are south winds to the north, as if the Icelandic Low ruled.  However ordinarily south winds would prevent the southern storm track from being so persistent.

The very fact storms keep taking a southerly route suggests Igor’s retreat to the east may only be temporary, and the Icelandic Low may fade.  It may turn out that just when England is expecting spring, they will get bitter east winds and snow.  (The English blogger Anthony Holmes wryly suggested as much, when some branches of his cherry tree bloomed in the mild spells last December.)


Great Lakes Feb 5 lice_00(6) CLICK TO ENLARGE

Hat tip again to Joseph D’Aleo at WeatherBELL, who included this map with many others in his weekly “Great Lakes Update.”

Compare this map with the map of a week ago, (above, in this post,) and consider the fact we did have a thaw and a warm-up, and you can see how ineffectual the thaws have been.  The ice is increasing rapidly.  Then consider the fact it is more likely to be below zero (-17 Celsius) than above freezing (0 Celsius) over the next week, and it seems fairly certain the ice will nearly completely cover the lakes by Joseph D;Aleo’s next weekly update.

For me it means my west winds will be meaner and colder right into April.


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

The Siberian air continues across the Pole towards Canada.


UK Met Feb 6 12082988 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

If you follow the 996 mb around, you can see a triangle (or, if the winter dark has made you morbid, a skull,) with three long fetches.  One is from the Azores up through the English Channel, one from the North Sea across Iceland to Greenland, and one from Baffin Bay down to the Azores.

As  “Lullerson” heads up towards the English Channel it will be interesting to see how much southern warmth gets pulled north, or whether it gets kicked east into the southern storm tack.

“Lullerthird’s” warm front is just peeking into the map’s lower left corner.

Igor is backing off the map.


As Lullerthird heads off to the northeast, there seems to be nothing but northwest flow left behind, right across to the Rockies. No signs of a Chinook.

Here it is a beautiful starry dawn-twilight, with the fresh snow glittering stars of its own. In the dark sky Venus is brilliant, low to the southeast, the red stinger of Scorpio is to the south, with pale yellow Saturn higher above it. And to the southeast and high is red Mars.  It is cold, down around ten degrees.

I have a dentist appointment this morning, and likely will not be a happy camper this afternoon.

A battle 80 satsfc (3)

LOCAL VIEW —Rumors of storm— Frigid Evening

A battle 81 satsfc (3)A battle 81 rad_nat_640x480

This is a great example of a feature that might not be apparent on a model’s map, and which a model might not even see. I am always looking south for brewing trouble, but didn’t see much on the weather map. The radar tells another story. Not that it won’t all slide out to sea far south of me, but I’m sure people in North Carolina know snow when they see it.  And I’m going to keep an eye on what is left behind, on the tail end of Lullerthird’s cold front.

It is very cold here tonight.  Temperatures were up in the mid-twenties (-4 Celsius) in the bright sunshine, but as soon as old Sol slid behind the the hills you could feel the cold was strong. (Likely it was the low dew points, though I sometimes think there is some quality air has that we haven’t invented an instrument to measure, yet.) Now it is five hours later and down around 4 degrees. (-16 Celsius.) That is the sort of sunset-drop-in-temperatures you see in the dry air of a desert, and stirs a bit of hope in me, because it shows the sun is higher and stronger.

There was a lot of gossip and hoopla about some big storm that was suppose to hit us over the weekend.  I heard talk of us getting two feet of snow. I was not thrilled by the prospect of more snow-blowing to do, but not overly concerned, because when the models see a storm seven days in the future the storms more often than not are altered, if they exist at all, when the seven days have passed.  Sure enough, the forecast for the weekend now only is for scattered snow-showers.

Being something of an alarmist myself, I won’t rub it in when I next see the guy who was trumpeting his dire prophecy of two feet of snow.  He’s likely sucking lemons and laying low. I know how bad it feels to have made such a moron of yourself.  I think I learned my lesson when I was thirteen.

Besides the fresh and new wonder of long-range-forecasts, I was also clobbered by hormones and infatuated by a girl who stood waiting for the bus with me and around five other teenagers, every morning. She had a way of tossing her hair when she spoke that I deemed indicative of a great many admirable things. To impress her I said, on a Monday, “No school, next Thursday.” She tossed her hair.

I then suffered hour upon hour of agony, as I waited for the next long-range-forecast, and learned for the very first time that such things, like women, can change.

When Thursday dawned sunny, I hoped the girl had forgotten. She hadn’t. She looked at me, tossed her hair, and said, “So?  Where’s your big storm?”  The other five teenagers found her wit humorous, but I sucked lemons and then concluded that hair-tossing is likely a sign of immaturity and a low IQ.

Ever since I have been slow to trumpet a dire prophecy, and tend to be more reserved, and to say non-committal things such as, “Keep an eye on that rain down over Florida.”

There is currently not a single storm in our ten-day-forecast.  To that I will non-committally say, “Humbug.”  (Not that such a drought wouldn’t please me.)


DMI Feb 6B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 6B temp_latest.big (1)

We tend to think of an arctic outbreak as heading south into the subarctic, however this one is heading across the Arctic Sea. Because it is bumping against Altantic air on one side and Pacific air on the other, I would not be all that surprised to see a storm form on either edge, as it crosses.  That might wrap the cold around and keep it from coming down through Canada to freeze my socks off.

Obviously, with this cold crossing so near the Pole, the DMI graph of temperatures north of eighty degrees latitude will plunge, however it is interesting to notr arctic temperatures are still above normal:

DMI Feb 6B meanT_2014 (click to enlarge)

One might wonder if “Igor” in Siberia has exhausted his supply of cold air, sending this shot towards Canada. So I look to Dr Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL map (GFS initial run) to see if Siberia is depleted, in terms of cold:

DMI Feb 6B gfs_t2m_asia_1 (Double-click to fully enlarge)

Hmm. It looks like Igor is saying, “Take that! And there’s more where that came from!”

Also note the cold extends back west towards Europe.  Igor may have backed away from the Icelandic High, but he remains a potent threat.


UK Met Feb 6B 12095903 (click to enlarge)

The Icelandic Low has become flabby. It needs to do some calisthenics.  “Lullerson” seems a bit slow to obey the models and head up the English Channel and across the North Sea to Norway. Likely he will eventually get around to it, but the reluctance seems to suggest energy is being lost, crossing Spain to join the southern Mediterranean storm track.

Across the Atlantic “Lullerthird” is starting his cross-Atlantic voyage.  Models suggest that rather than up to Iceland,  the storm will head directly for (Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!)  Ireland and England. I think those people may be united for the first time in a century.  If that storm had a neck, they would wring it.

Perhaps we should rename the Icelandic Low the “Britannic Low”.

FEBRUARY 7 —DMI MORNING MAPS— Impressive high pressure

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

That is an impressively strong high pressure area moving across from Siberia to Canada. It indicates cold, heavy air sinking and pressing down, yet at the same time its Canadian side is drawing some milder Pacific air east along the Alaskan coast.  Try to wrap your mind around that. Is it colder or is it warmer?

Another interesting development is the joining of two flows, one from central Siberia to Canada, and one from Finland to Canada.  It looks like the flow from Finland will take over and predominate over the next few days, creating a cross-polar-flow from the lower right to the upper left.  I am unsure whether the air in this flow will be Atlantic or Continental, or a mixture, but it seems unlikely to be as cold as the pure, unadulterated, 100 proof Siberian air in the current flow.

These flows are not contributing to the flow of ice out of the Arctic Sea through Fram Strait, and seem likely to jam ice into the Beaufort Gyre instead.

The minus-thirty isotherm island above the Pole on the temperature map is is the shape of a sideways heart.  This is convincing proof someone is going to need warmth on Valentine’s Day.


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

The heart is gone, just above the Pole on the map. (To reassure hopeless romantics, I’ll point out a new little heart has appeared up towards Bering Strait.) The heart I refer to was formed by the minus thirty isotherm. It looks like that air has warmed to around minus twenty-seven.

I always point out when Atlantic air around freezing comes north and swiftly cools to minus ten or even minus twenty, so it would be unfair of me not to point out this cold pool warmed.  What warmed it?

My own view is that, though ice itself is an excellent insulator, there are enough cracks in the ice to allow seawater to warm the air passing only a meter or two above it.  However others suggest the CO2 in the atmosphere above bounces down infrared radiation, even when the physical sun isn’t shining.  Usually they speak in terms of tenths of a degree, not three or four degrees, but it gives you something to think about.

Some discussion of this subject can be read here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/03/arctic-layer-cake/

My own view, as a person who simply watches what happens, is that truly frigid Siberian air is indeed warmed as it crosses the Arctic Sea. I think the warming, when the water isn’t open, is a very shallow layer, close to the surface, and that a map of temperatures 100 meters up, rather than only 2 meters up, would show less warming. It certainly does seem that, as soon as such air gets over land again, the 2 meter temperature plumits more than it would drop if the layer of warmed air was deep.

In any case these maps are interesting. Very high pressure towards the Pacific, low pressure towards the Atlantic, and between the two a stream made of isobars heading from Siberia to Canada.


UK Met Feb 7 12124711  (CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE)

“Lullerson” managed the left turn and headed up the English Channel to the North Sea, but at 975 mb is no big deal. In fact this counts as good weather in Jolly Old England, even as they look west to a 946 mb “Lullerthird” bearing down on them.

Another interesting feature on this map is the low pressure kicking back from the Icelandic Low to the wrong side of Greenland. (It actually was more obvious earlier, and may be fading away.)  It is sort of like the Icelandic Low is having an identity crisis, and in part wants to become the Labrador Low.

LOCAL VIEW — Thirteen storms to ignore

A battle 82 satsfc (3)A battle 82 rad_nat_640x480

Look west young man, Look west. “Ryan,” who drew this map, will never be accused of missing the “Big One.”  There are twelve storms in the west. Of course, we are protected by a huge, dry, arctic High Pressure, but you never know, especially with even colder air dragging an arctic front down from the north.  A ripple could come east. Stranger things have happened.

The thirteenth “storm” is over Northeast Georgia (I think that listed low pressure of 1032 inches is a mistake, and “Ryan” meant 1022 inches.) It has a ghost front trailing back to a wrinkle in the isobars over Louisiana, which is creating the snow you see over Arkansas.  Likely this will all get shunted out to sea south of us by the enormous and frigid arctic high pressing down from the north.

The fourteenth low is the one I’m most wary of.  Where is it? Way down in the Bay of Campeche, in the southern Gulf of Mexico, at the very end of Lullerthird’s cold front.  It could make a mess of my plans, which are based on a period of snow-drought.

I’m pretty tired, having wrestled with the snow-blower a lot. I snow-blowed the inch that fell on the skating pond after I last snow-blowed it, and also expanded the edges of the rink a bit. The weight of the snow was pressing down on the ice, and as I expanded the rink I started running into slush, from water welling up through cracks.  Likely I got the snow off in the nick of time, as slush doesn’t blow, and only clogs up my snow-blower.

After I got it unclogged I went to our Childcare playground and followed the chugging blower around in a small circle, blowing the snow into the middle. Then I spiraled slowly out, always blowing the snow into the middle, until I had created a considerable heap of snow.  I have vague plans to carve an igloo out of it, (the snow is too dry and powdery to properly roll snowballs,) but even if I never get around to that I know kids will make a pile of snow be fun.

Anyway, that’s the Childcare agenda for next week. Skating on the pond and building a dry-snow igloo.  (Sledding is not good when it is so cold the snow squeaks.) What could possibly go wrong?

A drenching rainstorm from the Bay of Campeche, perhaps? (That might surprise many, but not me.) (When you survive as long as I have you tend to become a bit pessimistic at times.)

I’m heading off to Boston tomorrow to visit family, so entries may be sparse. Have a great weekend!


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


UK Met Feb 8 12134130 (click to enlarge)


A battle 83 satsfc (3)

Nice sunny morning, with temperatures down around zero (-17 Celsius.) I’m just posting maps for the record. I’ll try to catch up later.


DMI Feb 8B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 8B temp_latest.big (1) (click to enlarge)

Cross-polar flow continues.


UK Met Feb 8B 12146575 (click to enlarge)

Another gale hitting Ireland.  The following gale at the very bottom of the map looks like it will stay further south and run into northern Spain and France.


A battle 84 satsfc (3)A battle 84 rad_nat_640x480

Radar shows what the map doesn’t. I’ll comment more in the morning. (Just back from Boston late.)

FEBRUARY 9  —LOCAL VIEW—  A ghost snow

A battle 85 satsfc (3)A battle 85 rad_nat_640x480

It’s a dull grey dawn, with brilliant Venus barely able to penetrate the high haze, more of a smudge than a star. Though nothing shows on radar, the lightest snow is falling like dust. An insane cardinal is singing its fool head off in the cold, wan dusk, around two months early but definitely staking a claim on the snow-scape. Though no front shows on the map, snow south of the Great Lakes marks the prow of more cold air, bullying its way east, cold on top of cold, dry on top of dry, squeezing water from air you would swear was to dry to generate snow.

The map only shows the stub of a front north of Maine, and another stub crossing Florida, however it is fairly obvious a new boundary exists between the two.  We are in an invisible warm sector, with temperatures “up” to fifteen.  (-9 Celsius) An invisible storm is heading our way.  I’ll be out there tomorrow morning shoveling invisible snow with my invisible shovel.  Fortunately invisible snow isn’t heavy and wet. Perhaps I’ll be able to use my invisible broom.

The last snow may have been dry here, but it was sticky and wet near the ocean down in Boston. Driving along Storrow Drive the Charles River Park was full of snowmen.  One was built around the trunk of a tree, so branches protruded  like arms, creating a snow-ent Tolkien would have smiled at. However invisible snow will likely be dry and powdery even in Boston, where the Charles Rives is frozen shore to shore.

The Great Lakes are increasingly frozen, but enough water shows between floes to warm winds and create uplift, so an invisble low becomes barely visible, like a ghost in a sunbeam. This faint impression will “phase” with another faint impression made by uplift as winds hit the Appalachian Mountains, and give many a surprise tomorrow morning. Dare I say four inches of fluff?

Some are hoping the blessing of rain, now charging inland  over parched California, will continue east and warm us by the end of the week, but I have my doubts. I’m too conscious of that cross-polar-flow coming down from the top of our map. Winter is settling south and will dig in its heels, I fear, when any warmth tries to dislodge it. (Sometimes that generates a storm, but we’ll wait and see about that.)

It is starting to dawn on some that this is a cold winter. Hmm. Where have they been? Indoors a lot, I suppose. I’m starting to notice articles about boats requiring icebreakers to free them, in the Great Lakes, and even about the Great Lakes having record amounts of ice. Again I wonder, where have these reporters been?  We’ve been watching the lake’s ice since December.

A battle 85 lice-00 (click to enlarge)


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

You couldn’t ask for a better example of non-zonal polar circulation and cross-polar-flow.

THE WHOLE WEB IS WATCHING  (You can’t correct without it being noticed.)

The ice extent in Lake Superior dropped from 92% to 85% in the middle of a sub-zero night, without a storm to rip apart the ice, which seems very odd. Perhaps it involves some sort of correction or adjustment being made to the data.  However when such corrections are made they should be explained, especially when news items have come out about the 92% setting a new record.

Chris Beal, (AKA “N.J. Snow Fan”) immediately noticed and documented the drop in ice extent.

Actually this deserves a post of its own.

FEBRUARY 9  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—interesting arctic contortions 

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

The interesting features (to me) on these maps is, first,  the way the cross-polar-flow has shifted clockwise, and now is predominantly from Finland to the Canadian arctic archipelago,  which seems bound to eventually press less cold Atlantic air north of Greenland and north of the archipelago.  And, second, the new wrong-way storm which is moving in the wake of the strong high pressure that crossed north of Bering Strait last week.  I’ll dub this weak low “Rongwe 5.”  (“Rongwe 4” preceded that strong high pressure, but I failed to name it as I was dealing with a snowstorm in my neck of the woods., at that time.)

Rongwe 5 represents the last in a series of deliveries of Siberian air across to Canada. The new cross-polar-flow from Finland may represent a cutting-off of such deliveries, especially if the slot of Atlantic air pierces the arctic cold all the way to Alaska.

Far to the south a test of my pet theories is about to occur.  All eyes way down south in the USA are fixed on west-to-east patterns, wondering if the flood of Pacific air giving California its first rain in a long, long time can charge right across the USA, wiping winter off the map.  The cross-polar-flow is not considered.  Perhaps it is not worthy, and I am wrong to consider it. We shall see, this week.

If you have any experience in brawling you know the blows that send you to la-la land are the ones you never see coming.  You watch for the jabs, coming from straight ahead, and the left and right crosses coming from the sides, and the uppercut coming from below your chin. The one thing you never expect is an over-cut, coming down from the top. However that is what a cross-polar-flow delivers.

QUICK LOOK AT UK MET  —a totally messed up map—

UK Met Feb 9B 12171967

I am glad I am not a meteorologist in England. This map simply cannot make up its mind. I’m fairly certain it is teetering on the edge, and there are equal chances of it falling left or right.  Likely every time they run their computer models they get a different “solution.” Even in the relative short-term, the GFS and European models have a divergence in their solutions.

It would be refreshing to see a TV weatherman appear, some night, and look at the camera, and confess, “To be honest, we don’t have a clue.”

However they have around a fifty percent chance of being right, so they might as well make a stab at a forecast.

“Lullerthird” is weakening north of Scotland, and the next gale, (which I suppose is “Lullerfourth,”) is stunning the people of the British Isles by actually not hitting them. Instead it is slamming into France and northern Spain.

In other words, the above map is teetering between the reestablishment of the Icelandic Low, and the establishment of a southern storm track through the Mediterranean.

In the lower left corner of the map you can see yet another low poking out into the Atlantic.  According to the dubious models, this one (“Lullerfifth”)  will once again split the difference, and again clobber the British Isles. (The GFS says on Wednesday, and the European on on Thursday.)

This has happened so often that perhaps it is wrong to speak of “teetering” between two patterns. Perhaps we can chalk it down as a third pattern. Not the “Icelandic Low Pattern”, and not the “Mediterranean Storm Track Pattern”, but the “Britannic Low Pattern.”

The storms are suppressed far enough south to start giving Scotland and Wales some snow in higher ground, and some snow in Scandinavia as well, but most of Europe remains in a southerly flow.

LOCAL VIEW  —A puff of snow—

A battle 86 satsfc (3)A battle 86 rad_nat_640x480

A battle 87 satsfc (3)A battle 87 rad_ec_640x480

It is nice to see my “ghost-storm” get some sort of recognition, on the maps.

It has been a good weekend, with weather only a side detail. If you obsess too much about the weather, this time of year, it can contribute to becoming “shack-whacky,” (once known as “cabin fever”). Therefore my wife and I got the heck out of our house, going to Boston yesterday, and today I helped another get the heck out of their house, as they drove an hour-plus to visit us.

 Sometimes it is the little things that keep you sane. Besides making the effort to meet with friends who are more than an hour away, I also made sure to simply sit in the sun, when there was sun, and observe. Last weekend I observed a swarm of midwinter crane flies. This week I observed an icicle.

You might not think an icicle is interesting, however actually it was two icicles, growing side by side, one fat and with lots of drops dripping, and one slender and shorter, but with few drops dripping. I made it into a race, and placed my bets.

It turned out the longer icicle, despite the sub-freezing temperature, was growing shorter and moire stubby.  The sun against the south-facing shingles could melt snow and generate a flow of above-freezing water that flooded down the longer icicle, melting its tip. However the occasional drip down the shorter icicle was so cooled that, by the time it reached the tip, it was already clouding with slush, and swiftly froze, lengthening the tip.

That was just the beginning. When the wind blew, the shorter icicle suddenly had an increased flow, and grew shorter, while the fat stubby icicle’s flow shrank, and it resumed growing.

Then, even though the wind stopped, the sun ducked beneath a cloud. Everything changed. No water at all dripped from the slender icicle, as the thick one started growing two separate tips.

Ha!  And they say we country folk have no excitement in our lives!


That was just the microcosm. In the macrocosm the dawn began grey, with the lightest possible snow falling from an overcast so thin I could see the brighter stars, and then the clouds grew brassy, and then briefly peach, and then the brilliant sun evaporated every cloud and the sky was brilliant blue. By the time I went to church I could feel the sun’s warmth, as maples do, though I don’t share the maple’s odd habit of sprouting buckets that hang from their skin.

By the time I left church a few high mare’s tails were appearing, along with some low, grey wolf-cumulus. They thickened as I had lunch and afternoon coffee with old friends, and as I waved good-bye a few fine flakes were again falling. By the time I put the goats in their stables at nightfall we had an inch.

Winter is still winning, but the sun is starting to be a force to be reckoned with.


DMI Feb 10 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 10 temp_latest.big (1)

The weak low Rongwe 5 continues to drift across the pole, and now is sort of a mockery of a zonal flow in the midst of a very non-zonal flow. All the low pressure is in the Atlantic and all the high pressure is in the Pacific, with cross-polar-flow between the two.  In theory all the cold air in Eurasia  should be sucked across the Pole and wind up down in the USA, likely in my back pasture. However perhaps I am just taking a gloomy view, it being a Monday.


UK Met Feb 10 12183370 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“Lullerthird continues to flounder about north of Scotland, cut off and occluded but still a healthy 965 mb gale, as “Lullerfourth” clips Spain and eumbles across the Bay of Biscay to the French coast. Though only a 983 mb low is has strong winds on its west side hitting the Spanish coast.

Further west “Lullerfifth” is disorginized, (as is the entire Icelandic Low,) and now seems to involve a northern extrention which seemingly was kicked off a vauge shadow of a Labrador Low. That Labrador feature comes and goes as if it is part of this pattern-that-can’t-make-up-its-mind.  The GFS has Lullerfifth become a respectable Icelandic Low, and kick a strong secondary storm across Scotland and into Norway on Wednesday.. Other models make it look like Lullerfifth is just going to mill around, and the next split-the-difference gale to clobber the British Isles will be a weak low now departing my area, which I am dubbing “Ghost.” It ought appear on the UK Met map tonight, weak at first but getting stronger as it crosses the Atlantic, and crashing into England on Friday night, just in time to spoil the weekend.  Of course, the way things are going over there they may get hit by both storms.

The rest of Europe looks more benign, though the folk vacationing in the Mediterranean likely are griping about less than perfect sunbathing.  It must be rough.

There is a languid southerly flow up through much of Europe, which is interesting because it seems likely this air will be the source region for the cross-polar-flow, and make the cross-polar-flow milder.

LOCAL VIEW  —The southbound freight meets the eastbound express—

A battle 88 satsfc (3)A battle 88 rad_nat_640x480

A strong flow of Pacific air is bringing California needed rain, and some think that air will stream east across the USA and warm us by the weekend. That air is the “eastbound express.” Meanwhile I’ve been watching Siberian air get shunted across the Pole and dumped into Canada.  My own pet theory is that air has to surge south.  That air is the “southbound freight.” I figure the crash ought make some storms, and my home and business are likely to be on the cold and snowy side.

The map doesn’t show much now. My “ghost storm” is drifting away in the Gulf of Maine, and has been legitimized to non-ghost status by a cold front trailing to a secondary, “Ghostson,” down in Georgia. The radar shows a little snow and rain, but I imagine most will slip out to sea.  What I’m focusing more on is that little low down on the southern tip of Texas, able to tap into Gulf of Mexico moisture, and also that ripple of low pressure descending south through Colorado with just a bit of snow.  They are liable to link up.  The GFS has a weak low sliding out to sea, but my guard is up.

In February the warmth starts to come back, though the winter is still powerful. This is what breeds some of our biggest storms.

I’ve got to get the porch reloaded with firewood, and also fix the snow-blower.

One thing about running a Childcare is that you are always running over toys with your snow-blower.  Or sticks. Or stones where you never would expect a stone to be.  Last storm it was a big wad of twine used for baling hay. It bound up the blades and broke three sheer pins. I always stock up on sheer pins, but replacing them is hard on your fingers in the cold. So I put it off, but now I figure I’ve got to do the dratted job.

We really haven’t had all that much snow this winter, but it would not at all surprise me if it started to mount up now.


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

“Rongwe 5” continues across the Pole, now more a part of the Atlantic low pressure than a separate identity. While he is pulling a plume of milder Pacific air in behind, he is going to slam that door shut by swinging a slug of Siberian cold right up into that plume, and then on into Alaska and Canada. The real invasion of mildness is likely to be from the Atlantic, over the top of Greenland, and actually  oppose the circulation of Rongwe 5 for a while.

The isobars diverge north and northwest of Svalbard, pushing some ice down through Fram Strait while pushing ice further north away into the Beaufort Gyre, and keeping it from entering Fram Strait.  It seems only logical that when ice moves in a way that diverges an area of open water should appear. Perhaps this explains the open water northeast of Svalbard, which keeps attempting to freeze over only to reappear.

DMI Feb 10B arcticicennowcast (1) (click to enlarge)

Even odder is the fact that the open water is “below normal,” in terms of sea-surface temperature, while ice-covered areas around it are “above normal,” according to this map:

DMI Feb 10B color_anomaly_NPS_ophi0 (click to enlarge)

The divergent flow can be seen in the map below. Some ice is being sucked down through Fram strait by the winds on the northwest side of the Icelandic Low, but a lot more ice is drifting straight into the Beaufort Gyre.

DMI Feb 10B arcticicespddrfnowcast

There. I have actually ended this post talking about sea-ice. I figured I’d better do so because we may be in for a stormy spell where I live in New Hampshire, and that deserves a post of its own.  (I think I may repeat the above maps at the start of the next post, as it seems something I should keep in mind.)

This series of posts will be continued at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-equipoise-of-battle/



(click to enlarge, and then click again to be there.)


They say, “You can’t fight city hall,” however city hall has it’s own saying, somewhere along the lines of either, “Beware of kissing pissing babies,” and “Don’t stamp on King Kong’s toes.” This is due to a sad truth bureaucrats learn early: “People don’t get mad, they get even.”

“Getting even.” It is an odd expression, especially in a society that doesn’t, officially at least, accept the idea of Karma. However people say things such as, “What goes around comes around,” and even in Christianity there is the statement, “You reap what you sow,” while science states, “Every action has it’s reaction.” Unofficially, at least, Karma is alive and well, and while young officials think they can outlaw Karma, older officials know better. Even if you make a law against getting even, people will get even, one way or another.

“Getting Even” is the Old Testament idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It is not like the New Testament idea of “turning the other cheek.” It is not a nice concept, for it basically states that if someone hurts you, you are allowed to hurt them back to the same degree, so that the two hurts are “even.”

In other words, two wrongs do make a right, on some primitive level.

It is due to their awareness of this unspiritual side of human nature that anyone who has any experience with public relations is cautious, and indeed walks on eggs, when delivering any sort of official and officious “cease and desist” order. In the inner city injudicious injunctions can trigger a riot, while in the wealthy suburbs you may run up against the wrath of snobs, and either find you are mysteriously laid off or else denied an expected raise or promotion, because someone talked to somebody “behind the scenes.” Out in the country, however, all you are liable to see is a dangerous glint in a bumpkin’s eye, and you’ll immediately know, deep down, you had best apologize, or else risk walking about wearing a target called “reputation.”

In the business of Childcare you run into young bureaucrats eager to show off stuff they learned in college, who walk up to wise grandmothers who have a hundred grandchildren and blithely inform the matriarch she knows nothing about raising children. When politely asked, “How many children have you yourself raised?” these young whippersnappers quite cheerfully respond, “None, but I’ve been to college, and also was a student teacher for a whole semester and a half.” At that point I have noticed grandmothers behave oddly.

Rather than clouting the whippersnapper, the grandmother’s face fills with an expression of compassion and concern, and they take the young bureaucrat under their wing, and try to keep them from hurting themselves. In fact, while it has been my experience that the laws that bureaucrats write, concerning Childcare, are as impractical, obtrusive, obstructive and absurd as the laws written concerning other businesses, the Childcare bureaucrats themselves have a wonderful streak of common sense, and, on occasions when they could “throw the book at you,” are far more likely to “guide you through the red tape.”

I assume this happens because children are the first to probe any law for weakness and any rule for exceptions. It takes far longer for intended good to become unintended bad, in other industries such as wood cutting or chicken farming. Kids can show you that what you thought was a good idea is actually dumb in around thirteen seconds.

Therefore I will skip Childcare bureaucrats, for the remainder of this essay, and instead focus on water-level bureaucrats.

Water-level bureaucrats are the guys in charge of something most would assume God is in charge of. However, in certain cases, the level of water is not determined by rainfall or drought, but rather by a gate on a dam. By adjusting the gate, water is at the right level for docks by summer cottages. With tourism such an important part of the New Hampshire economy, the guy in control of the gate has power.

However it just so happened that one fellow, who I’ll call Hyrum Hoppinmadder, who lived by one lake, decided his property would be much more valuable if he just raised the water level of a pond by a mere four inches. He could barely dock a canoe at his dock, but a mere four inches would enable him to dock a small motor boat. So he decided he would do a dark deed in the dead of night. He crept to the outflow of the pond and replaced a six-inch-wide board with a ten-inch-wide board. Furthermore, he tiptoed on to the stake that measured the water level of the pond, and slightly vandalized that stake, by raising it four inches. Raising the stake was not wise, for the stake soon tilted drunkenly to one side, which caused dawn to break on the brows of others, who noticed strange changes to their own waterfront property.

You would not think a mere four inches would matter, but barely-adequate beaches disappeared, waterside trees sickened and looked likely to die, toilets that once flushed ceased flushing, and indeed the quality of the pond’s water changed and fish stopped jumping, as an four extra inches of soil leeched into the pond. While some blamed Global Warming, others blamed Hyrum, who seemed perfectly happy about the change, and who strangely had a motorboat at his dock when he’d always had a canoe, before.

Obviously the situation was a delicate one, to be handled with kid gloves, because to serve Hyrum with a cease and desist order would spark a feud between pro-Hyrum and anti-Hyrum locals. Fortunately a wise head oversaw the situation, and did the wise thing, which was to pass the buck to an “outsider.” A engineer from the State came in and, even though the tilted water-level gauge stated the level was the same, by looking at the stains on waterside rocks, he determined the water had risen four inches. He went to the outlet gate and, after carefully looking at the aged plank, determined it was a counterfeit and not quite the same as the original. He announced state regulation 87B492 sub-clause 56C had been violated, and replaced the ten-inch board with a six-inch board. Beaches reappeared, dying trees came back to life, toilets again flushed, fish began jumping, and everyone except Hyrum was happy.

I tell this tale to show a situation where a bureaucrat can butt in and actually make things better. Of course, as a meddling “outsider” he expected nothing but blame and abuse, however the State engineer was surprised in this case, because his department got few letters from incensed taxpayers, though he and his department did get six furious threats from some fellow he didn’t know, called Hyrum.

Usually, however, water levels are not so stable. There are reletively few pristine lakes in New Hampshire whose levels don’t change. Those few, (and usually very large,) lakes fill the drowned valleys scooped out by long-ago glaciers, with outlets over solid granite that cannot be raised or lowered, whose water levels may briefly rise in floods but soon return to their constant and steady levels, allowing old pines and oaks to grow on their shores.

Pines and Oaks are not all that interesting to another engineer, whom the State Engineer knows personally, and knows is more powerful than the State, because this other engineer is God’s Engineer, also called the “Beaver.”

Beavers raise water levels all over New Hampshire not four inches, but four feet, and have done so for thousands of years. They create ponds out of streams and lakes out of small ponds, and are part of a rather neat three-step-succession of vegetation.

Beaver love poplar and alder and willows and birches, but tend to eat themselves out of house and home, and eventually have to abandon their dams and lodges and look for new groves of poplar, alders, willows and birches. Once they stop caring for their dam it rots and washes away, and the pond is replaced by a grassy meadow. The very first trees to move in and colonize the meadow are, (you guessed it,) poplars, alders, willows and birches. Therefore, when beavers return to the exact place which they once denuded of poplar, alder, willow and birch, they find a feast. In a sense they have but left the ground fallow, and seen it be enriched.

This succession of pond, to meadow, to grove of trees happens over and over again. In some places it has happened several hundred times since the last ice age ended. Because silt collects in their ponds and fails to fully wash away before the next pond is built, beavers gradually build up flat areas of rich topsoil in once sterile, notched valley bottoms. Also, because they tend to rebuild their new dams on the low rotted remenents of old dams which cross valleys, these mounds gradually grow larger until even when the beavers are gone they form dry walkways across swampy areas.

Then along came man, who preferred a meadow to remain a meadow. Beavers were hunted as edible vermin, unwanted except for their valuable fur, which became especially valuable when top hats such as Abraham Lincoln’s became all the rage and were made of such fur.

Beavers all but vanished from New England, but their geology remained. Their old dams were used as the foundations for roads, with the stream passing under the road in a culvert. Upstream, where the pond had been, was a lush meadow. Often it was a “ditched pasture,” with some of the ditches a memory of the “canals” beavers dig. In places such idyllic farmland thrived, beaver-free, for close to three hundred years, before farming started to become less profitable, and the fields began to be abandoned, and the trees returned. So did the beavers, though their recovery was more slow, primarily due to the Great Depression. People had families to feed, and not only is beaver fur valuable, but their meat is edible.

Then came the post war boom, and much farmland outside cities turned into suburbs. People no longer had to eke by on hardscrabble farms, barely scraping up enough to pay the mortgage and taxes. (In my town the money made by children picking blueberries during the summer vacation often made the difference between a farm that was merely impoverished,  and homelessness.) Instead people made far more money commuting and working nine-to-five jobs, and many became wealthy enough to move from hardscrabble farms to plusher, suburban developments. Left to themselves, the beavers thrived. They too became wealthy, in a beaverish sort of way, and consequently they too decided to move to the suburbs.

A beaver sees a suburb differently than a human. Where a human sees a road with a culvert, a beaver sees a forefather’s dam, and where humans see a farmer’s meadow turned into a twelve-unit housing development, a beaver sees some really yummy flowering crabs, cherries, and some less-desirable lilacs and Japanese maples that will do for dinner in a pinch, and serve well as building material. So the beaver becomes as busy as a beaver, and, because he has only a culvert to block, rather than an entire valley, he can literally raise the water level four feet over night.

This outrages the humans, who can awake to driveways awash and feet of water in their basements. Their first and foremost impulse is to kill the over-sized rat, and that was what was done when I was young. (It does no good to remove the dam, firstly because doing so is very hard work, because such dams are amazingly well-built of interwoven branches, tangled weeds and twigs, and well-packed mud, and also because, even if you remove the dam, the beaver can once again build another overnight.) The only real solution is to remove the beaver, however nowadays bureaucracies step in.

In some places, where beaver were once rare, they are a “protected species,” even though they are no longer endangered, because they bred like only rodents can do. Also, as soon as a beaver floods lawns, lawns become “wetlands,” and a whole slew of other rules and regulations kick into effect. Furthermore, when you break a dam you create a brief down stream flash flood, and alerts and warnings must be issued. There are likely other bureaucracies involved as well, that I can’t think of, at the moment, involving other permits and forms and red tape, which a man doesn’t want to deal with when water is about to pour into his basement and destroy his furnace and hot water heater, and perhaps even make his home condemnable. He wants to act and to act swiftly, and if you tell him he must fill out form 264B and bring it to an office six towns away, you are liable to see a dangerous glint in the man’s eye.

It is situations such as this that separate the good bureaucrats from the ones who wonder why they never get promoted, and instead get transferred to Siberia. The good ones know about loopholes in the law, and about “waivers,” and about obscure “emergency stipulations.” The bad ones….

Well, rather than writing any more I will just quote two letters I found floating around on the internet. They say what I could try to state better than I ever could:

This is a copy of an actual letter sent to Ryan DeVries, from the
 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, State of Michigan. Wait
 till you read this guy’s response – but read the entire letter before
 you get to the response.

Mr. Ryan DeVries
 2088 Dagget
 Pierson, MI 49339
 SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;

 Site Location: Montcalm County

 Dear Mr. DeVries:

 It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality
 that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced
 parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner
 and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

 Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet
 stream of Spring Pond.

 A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A
 review of the Department’s files shows that no permits have been issued.

 Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in
 violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource
 and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994,
 being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws

 The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially
 failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at
 downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently
 hazardous and cannot be permitted.

 The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities
 at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by
 removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel.
 All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2002.

 Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so
 that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure
 to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the
 site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement

 We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter.
 Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

 David L. Price
 District Representative
 Land and Water Management Division


Dear Mr. Price,

 Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20;
 Montcalm County

 Reference your certified letter dated 12/17/2000 has been referred to me
 to respond to. First of all, Mr. Ryan De Vries is not the legal
 landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan.

 I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State
 unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris”
 dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

 While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I
 think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of
 natural building materials “debris.” I would like to challenge your
 department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any
 place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could
 ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam
 ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their
 dam work ethic.

 As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must
 first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam
 activity. My first dam question to you is:
 (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers? or,
 (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said
 dam request?

 If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through
 the Freedom of Information Act I request completed copies of all those
 other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we
 will see if there really is a dam violation of P! art 301, Inland Lakes
 and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act,
 Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.3010,1 to
 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated. I have several
 concerns. My first concern is aren’t the beavers entitled to legal

 The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay
 for said representation – so the State will have to provide them with a

 The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed
 during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a
 natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In
 other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than
 harrass them and call their dam names. If you want the stream “restored”
 to a dam free-flow condition – please contact the beavers – but if you
 are going to arrest them they obviously did not pay any attention to
 your dam letter (being unable to read English).

 In my humble ! opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build
 their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green
 and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I do to live
 and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and
 Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the
 natural resources
 (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams).

 So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be
 referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until
 1/31/2002 The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and
 there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them

 In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real
 environmental quality (health) problem in the area. It is the bears.
 Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you
 should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.

 If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The
 bears are not careful where they dump!)

 Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to
 contact you on your answering machine, I am sending this response to
 your office via another government organization – the USPS. Maybe,
 someday, it will get there.

 Stephen L. Tvedten
 The University of Texas at: Austin
 Office Community Relations/Accounting unit
 P.O. Box 7367
 Austin, TX 78713

 O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand; Between their loved homes
 and the war’s desolation; Blessed with victory and peace, may the
 heaven’s rescued land; Praise the power that hath made, and preserved us
 a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be
 our motto,

 “In God is our Trust”; And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall
 wave, O’er the land of the free & the home of the brave. (last verse of
 the National