LOCAL VIEW –2017 Boston Blizzard–Winter’s Revenge (With post-storm update)

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In order to fully comprehend the irony adopted by New Englanders, its important to understand the weather has been attempting to play us for chumps, with many signs of an early spring.  A couple February storms had given us a quick three feet of powder snow, but then mild breezes swept north and the snow vanished with amazing speed. Signs of an early spring were everywhere. The pussy willows budded (wearing warm coats, which shows you they, at least, are not fooled by the weather).

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Mosses greened on the forest floor:

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And, of course, we had a hard time keeping coats on the kids, at our Childcare. Even when they sort of kept them on, they seemed to think they served better as sails in the warm gales from the south.

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The sap was running so fast in the maples the sugar-makers furrowed their brows with worry that it would be a bad year, with the run of sap over-and-done in a flash, and I was amazed by how quickly the ice vanished from ponds.

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Usually in late February we are still tromping across the ice, and it is March first when I start to be very careful, because strong spring sunshine has a way of thinning ice even when it is below freezing. (I think the ice may be like the roof of a greenhouse, and warms the water just beneath.) This year I didn’t worry about that, and instead had to keep an eye out for kids falling in at the edge. There is something irresistible about water,  to children in the spring.

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And even if they don’t fall in, children can find ways to get very wet.

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But this was February, and old, cantankerous anachronisms like myself are not fooled. We know March comes in like a lion.

The cold front that came was fascinating to me, for it was very dry on both sides of the front, so there was no line of showers or thunderstorms. However I did notice the sky, which had been perfectly blue, suddenly had a few small cumulus to the north, coming south fairly rapidly. I was herding a small gang of 6-9 year-olds out to the bus stop, and the sky was so fascinating I was unimpressed by a drama occurring between a boy and girl right in front of me.

The “official rules” state one cannot “save” their place in line with a backpack, but one girl was seeing if she could break the rules, and the boy objected. Rather than seeking me (as I am judge and jury) he booted her backpack about fifteen yards away, which breaks another “official rule.” The girl then flopped on the ground and sobbed, achieving a level of decibels that might make a jet airplane cower. The boy folded his arms and sneered at her. Rather than giving the children any attention, I pointed at the sky and exclaimed, “Will you look at that!”

The other seven children were shrugging and rolling their eyes, for the drama was everyday. Perhaps that is why I was giving it so little attention. No matter how much I arbitrate, that boy and that girl always seem to enact the same drama. However the young girl was having none of it. She was bound to get my attention by hook or by crook, and was working herself up into a hysteria, as the boy just tugged the brim of his baseball cap down over his eyebrows and looked all the more ruthless. I pointed off at the horizon. “Look! Entire trees are swaying. Big wind is coming!”

I have a reputation for attempting to deal with some petty squabbles with distractions. (I basically change the subject.) Perhaps this explains why absolutely no one payed any attention, as a roaring noise approached. The thaw had uncovered the unraked leaves in the pasture…

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And suddenly the leaves stirred and then swirled up like a vast dust devil and came charging towards us. “Here it comes!” I shouted, and then we were hit by a blast of wind I would guess was around 70 miles an hour. The seven children who were onlookers all screamed for the sheer joy of screaming, the hysterical girl became owl-eyed and silent for roughly a second, before starting anew, and the tough boy burst into tears, for his favorite baseball cap took off for Europe. Meanwhile a mother was just arriving with her five-year-old, and looked around at all the screaming and sobbing midst swirling leaves with deep concern, as her child looked about with a sleepy expression, and then smiled in approval. I just shrugged and said, “Don’t worry. It goes with the territory”, and then went to retrieve the boy’s hat from across the street, as the bus came lumbering down the road. Roughly fifty seconds later the wind was dying down, and the noise was the bus driver’s problem, and peace returned. However I could feel the difference in the air. By afternoon flurries were dusting the landscape, and the mud I had told the children to stay out of was becoming hard as iron.

March had definitely come in like a lion. The expression that is used in many lands, “If you don’t like the weather wait a minute” is said to have originated in New England (when Mark Twain lived here) but everyone else says it originated in their neighborhood. I don’t want to start any fights, so I’ll just quote what Mark Twain actually wrote:

“I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather. I don’t know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerk’s factory who experiment and learn how, in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don’t get it.

There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger’s admiration — and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on the people to see how they will go. But it gets through more business in spring than in any other season.

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four-and-twenty hours. It was I that made the fame and fortune of that man that had that marvelous collection of weather on exhibition at the Centennial, that so astounded the foreigners. He was going to travel all over the world and get specimens from all the climes. I said, “Don’t you do it; you come to New England on a favorable spring day.” I told him what we could do in the way of style, variety, and quantity. Well, he came and he made his collection in four days. As to variety, why, he confessed that he got hundreds of kinds of weather that he had never heard of before. And as to quantity — well, after he had picked out and discarded all that was blemished in any way, he not only had weather enough, but weather to spare; weather to hire out; weather to sell; to deposit; weather to invest; weather to give to the poor.”

As an old grouch I began warning people to keep their guard up as soon as this winter had a nice spell in January. Then I looked very smug when we got three feet of snow in early February. Then, when that melted, I pouted only a little while, before I remembered the winter of 1887-1888 was remarkably mild and snowless, before THE blizzard of 1888 struck on March 11, and lasted until the 14th. New York City got four feet.


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It is always good to have some history, if you want to be a pessimistic old grouch, and spoil another’s good day. However it is quite another thing to actually predict when such a storm will happen. Here I must be humble and state I bow before the ability of some meteorologists, especially Joe Bastardi and Joe D’Aleo, who gave me a heads-up over a week ago on their Weatherbell Site, when the computer models were still waffling with a wide variety of possible solutions.

I know just enough about meteorology to know how many things can go wrong with a forecast for a storm. I have suffered considerable agony over such forecasts, for when I was young a storm was a gift from heaven, freeing me from the purgatory of school and allowing the sheer paradise of play. My opinion of the white stuff has considerably altered since then, but I still recall the shamefaced TV weathermen explaining why certain storms of my boyhood failed to manifest. They could veer out to sea, or they could “elongate” and become two or three weak storms rather becoming a single gale, or, worst of all, they could hook inland and turn the snow to pouring rain.

A lot of things have to happen right, but when they happen they can happen fast. I recall reading a description of the blizzard of 1888 from the perspective of fishermen, (I can’t offer a link, because I have never found that article again), and apparently even the sailors were fooled. The sail-powered Long Island fleet was trying to sneak a trip in, on a balmy spring day, and suddenly the sky swiftly grew black and they heard thunder, and it was a battle to get back to shore, and not every boat made it.

This abrupt development of a storm (not a lone thunderstorm but a gale many hundreds of miles across) is dubbed “bombogenesis” by meteorologists, and while the word has not yet been accepted by Webster’s Dictionary, it does express the explosive nature of the development. Joseph D’Aleo is an expert on how it occurs, and to simplify his excellent explanations, (found on his Weatherbell site), what occurs is that a “lid” which has been holding ocean-warmed air down, and keeping it from rising, is abruptly removed as a high pressure’s descending air moves away. Then the uplift is further enhanced by one or two jet-streams.

One fascinating thing about jet streams is that they don’t merely move in a straight line, but corkscrew in a clockwise manner at the front and a counter-clockwise manner to the rear (facing forward.)  Therefore if the back of a departing jet lines up correctly with the front  of an arriving jet, the uplift can be extreme, and storms go from having a lid on them to having every encouragement to explode upwards.

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What amazes me is the ability some meteorologists have to see when this “might” occur, days in advance. I think meteorologists deserve far more credit than they get, for giving us fair warning. Everyone is eager to make them a laughing stock when they are wrong, but they sometimes are right, and when they are right they deserve thanks, because, to be honest, I doubt we’d have a clue these storms were coming without them.

I like to test myself.  I spend a lot of time outside, and like to see if I can tell when a storm is coming, by only using what I can gauge with my own eyes. I saw very little that clued me in this past week. Not even my goats seemed to be wary.  Yesterday morning there was a weak low down in the Gulf of Mexico, and a small storm rolling across the Great Pains, and a “lid” of high pressure off the east coast.20170313 satsfc

The radar showed some snow over the midwest, but no sign of a bomb to the east and only a few sprinkles of rain in the Gulf.20170313 rad_nat_640x480

We’d been experiencing bitter cold:  -2° on Sunday morning and 3° on Monday morning (-19° and -16° Celsius) with Sunday’s bitter winds giving way to Monday’s calm. Rather than falling the pressure kept rising, to 30.17 at noon on Monday. High clouds made the skies gray around noon on Monday, but then it cleared off. I joked it was a gorgeous day, and people were foolish to be rushing about, but they continued. The stores were crowded with people stocking up, though there was no sign of a storm. In fact it was the dull sort of day worthy of one E.B.Webster’s “Life’s Darkest Moments” cartoons.

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I was able to salvage some of the afternoon by allowing the older boys (8 years old) to start a fire on their own, and then showing them tricks to success when they failed.

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However the future still looked dull, though word came school had been cancelled at the public schools, the following day. (Our childcare has never been closed.) Then the evening map showed some signs the northern and southern lows were “phasing”

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And the radar showed the “lid” was coming off at the coast, but it looked like mostly rain.

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Still, the moon was bright, and the barometer was high, only slightly falling, 30.15 at 7:45 PM and 30.11 at midnight.

Then, this morning, the storm had appeared on the coast, with the barometer starting to fall more swiftly to 29.98, and light snow falling outside.

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The rain had changed to snow as it pushed north, and after bottoming out at 17° my thermometer was refusing to rise.  It looks like bombogenesis for certain.

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Update.  Only one boy showed up at the Childcare. Everyone is hunkering down, as the forecast is ominous for the afternoon, with gusts to 60 mph and perhaps some freezing rain briefly mixing in to break branches and perhaps knock out our power, in which case I guess I won’t update, (Ha ha).

Barometer is falling rapidly to 29.65, and temperature has nudged up to 19°. (-7° Celsius)

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Snow is moderate. We have 4 inches. The real heavy stuff is not far to our south.

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Update: 1:41 PM  Heavy snow and windy. — 23° — 29.38 and falling rapidly.

Update 3:30 PM  Heavy snow and windy — 23° — 29.16 and falling rapidly. Snow may slack off as dry slot pushes north from south of us.

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Update: 4:08 —24° — 29.06  Windy but snow slacking off. Now it is fine, sifting flakes penetrating chinks of clothing on a strong wind.  No way am I heading out to clean-up quite yet, but I can take a picture out my front window.Z12 IMG_4447

5:00  –24°–  –28.98 — No snow shows over us on radar, but the fine stuff is still falling. The wind is going to make clean-up problematic, as places will drift back in. In fact, by raising walls of snow either side of a walkway I may merely make a deeper place to drift in. Therefore perhaps its wiser to stay indoors?

6:07 PM  –24°– –28.86– Dry slot over us on radar but steady light snow falling

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9:50 PM Clean-up done at childcare. Snow was not light and fluffy. It was starchy and fairly heavy. Hard to gauge depth, due to drifting. I’d guess 16 inches.  Wind slacked off, with occasional big gusts. Snow was fine and didn’t show on radar, but in the past half hour big flakes began falling, and abruptly appeared on the radar.  Barometer 28.88 and steady. Temperature 23° (-5° Celsius) .

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Update:  1:00 AM  –18°– –28.99–Still some light snow

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7:00 AM 9° — 29.13 —  Blue skies we had about another inch, but lots of drifting.


11:00 AM  Sunny 19°; Barometer 29.15 and steady. Winds surprisingly light, considering how tight the isobars look on the map. Backlash snows well to our west over New York State.

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I had to do more clean-up due to drifting, and also due to the fact State Law wants all exits clear. (I think it is so Child Care Professionals can escape the building when the kids are about to drive them bonkers, but I could be wrong about that.) There was a two-hour-delay, so the older children got to stay with us longer before the bus came. I tried to look appropriately sad about leaving the din to go out into the gorgeous sunshine, but my frown was upside down.

The snow was stiff and starchy and the snowblower has only five blades working because a rock broke a sheer-pin on the sixth, so the blower crept through the deep snow with exasperating slowness. I’d say it moved at around a yard a minute.

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There were some emergencies that couldn’t wait for a path to be cleared. There was no heat in the childcare, and I assumed the air-inlet was blocked by snow, and that I needed to trudge through the drifts. (Inlet just beyond blocked exit).

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I was able to clean the inlet with my pinkie finger, and saved the day. This is the fourth time I’ve been a hero with a minimum of effort. Ice was starting to skim the upstairs toilet, but I realized the upstairs heat had been accidentally turned off, so I fixed that problem by turning on the heat. Then the water pressure was low, and I became aware a pipe had frozen and burst because a window had blown out in the basement of the old farmhouse, which seemed major, but I fixed the window by picking it up from the floor (it had six panes and not one broke), and jamming it back where it belonged, and then the broken pipe turned out to be a side-line leading to an outdoor spigot, so I simply turned a faucet handle and shut off that line (to be fixed when the weather was warmer), and just like that I’m a hero again.

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Then I could get back to clearing the exits. Unfortunately the blower only clears snow two feet deep, which is only enough for a dog door in some exits.

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I was thinking of telling my wife that in an emergency people could crawl, but after further consideration I broke down and used an old fashioned shovel. I’m still alive.

Now all eyes are looking to the Canadian prairies. An Alberta Clipper is expected to slide down from there over the next few days, and again there may be bombogenesis on the coast.  Never a dull moment.

From Joe Bastardi’s blog at Weatherbell, here is how one model sees the snow this weekend. (Cape Cod gets hammered, and we only get an inch….fine with me.)

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2:30 PM  29.22 and steady. 21°,  and partly cloudy; some high clouds of the “junk” variety, but mostly low cumulus looking suspicious, like we might get some flurries.

10:00 PM –29.41– –14°–Scattered flurries

Thursday, 7:00 AM –29.55– –13°– Partly cloudy (Overnight low 10°)



ARCTIC SEA ICE —The Shadows Lengthen—Updated 5 times—

I saw a child on a playground troubled
By his shadow. He cried and he backed off
But the shadow, unrelenting, doubled
The child’s alarm, for it never slacked off
And hounded the child’s feet, until the child backed
To the ladder of a slide. The shadow
Couldn’t follow up the ladder, and blacked
The ground below, as the child felt joy grow,
And jeered down, and looked up, and forgot the dark.

In the same way, I’m an old man troubled
By lengthening shadows, and seek a spark
Like the child’s ladder, though odds seemed doubled.

Faith is a ladder towards lights that strengthen
As winter comes closer and shadows all lengthen.

You’ll have to forgive me for waxing poetic to start this post, but I got off into an interesting tangent of thought during the sermon at church last Sunday. This often happens to me. Just as I forgot to pay attention to my teachers at school, and my mind went sailing out windows to clouds blooming in the sky, in church some idea in a sermon sends my eyes to the windows, which are stained glass lit by morning sunshine.

(I think that, if they really expected people to heed the entire sermon, the windows would be painted black. The fact they are stained glass encourages independent thought.)

Among other things, the sermon suggested a “saint” isn’t some person with a long white beard and a halo of shimmering gold, but is just an ordinary person who happens to believe that Truth is a good thing. I sort of like this idea, because it suggests that even a cantankerous anachronism like me could be a “saint”. However I didn’t like the next part of the sermon, which suggested being honest invited persecution. I have enough troubles without “inviting” any.

However, as my mind went drifting off from the sermon into the colors of the stained glass, I had to admit that simply stating the truth about arctic sea-ice has earned me a lot of grief. People I greatly respect, members of my own family and church, have used that silly word “denier” on me, when I simply state a mundane fact about banal stuff called “sea-ice”.  It seems more like a knee-jerk reaction on their part, than a deed involving one iota of actual thought.

As I gazed off into the colors of the stained glass it occurred to me that perhaps civilization has made some progress over the last two or three thousand years. Back in the day, the authorities, and especially the Romans, physically tortured people who spoke Truth. Now the authorities only psychologically torture people who speak the Truth.

Hey, it may not be pretty, but it is progress.

If you study Roman times, the brutality of Roman authority stands out. When the Romans marched in, there was no talk about political correctness, it was a case of, “My way or the highway.” They thought nothing of slaughtering all the elders of a town, or all the professors of an university, or all the leaders of a government. In fact they made their slaughter a spectator sport, feeding people to lions at the Colosseum. Physical cruelty was everyday, and Jesus Christ on the cross was no exception.

Nowadays the cruelty is psychological. A modern Christ would be crucified on some sort of  psychological cross. Or so I found my mind thinking, as my thinking wandered through the lights of stained glass lit by Sunday morning sunshine. However the next question is, “What would a psychological cross look like?”

The answer that leaped into my my head was, “To begin with, rather than throwing you to the lions, they throw you to the morons.” That made me chuckle aloud, at which point I figured I had better stop daydreaming, and pay attention to the sermon.

Later, however, the thought came back to me, and I found myself wondering what makes a person a moron. I’m not talking about the fellow with an IQ of 60, who maybe drools a little. I’m talking about an otherwise intelligent person, with an IQ well over 100, who feels they somehow deserve the right to be indignant about a subject they have never studied and know nothing about.

As a boy I was a moron, concerning the subject of New York, because I was a Red Sox fan after Ted Williams retired in 1960 and before Carl Yastremski led the Impossible Dream Team in 1967. Every year New York won the pennant and every year the Red Sox came in next-to-last, (which was ninth place back then), and I developed a foaming hatred towards New York. If anyone said anything good about New York I became quite indignant. I was actually surprised I wasn’t immediately mugged when I first visited the city, and astonished that I actually met kind and helpful people.  The scales fell from my eyes, and I stopped being such a moron.  I also dropped the right to be indignant, which was no great loss, for when I thought about it, being indignant doesn’t feel all that good.

However it seems to me some people really like the feeling. They must, for why else would they spend so much time being indignant about this and indignant about that?  And most especially, why would they bother to feel indignant about things they know nothing about? I mean, as a boy I might feel indignant of anyone who said anything nice about New York, though I had never visited the city and my knowledge of New York (beyond the Yankees) was nil, but I was just a boy and didn’t know any better. As you grow up you are suppose to know better.

Some don’t know any better. They simply like to feel offended, I suppose, and I do my best to steer clear of them, the same way I steer clear of my rooster when his neck feathers stick out and he looks at me in an indignant manner.

Fortunately, at this site, we don’t deal with big issues, such as the definition of marriage, or the point at which aborting life becomes murder. All we are concerned with is whether we are moving towards the next Little Ice Age, or the next Medieval Warm Period. Furthermore we have retreated far from the maddening crowd, to a landscape devoid of mankind, or even signs of mankind, except for a stray contrail in the sky, and perhaps a buoy, every five hundred miles.

However I am sad to inform newcomers that, even when you retreat to a point this far from civilization, you may still find yourself a “saint”  for simply stating what you see, and may even suffer a sort of psychological crucifixion for being accurate.  All you need to do is state a Truth; for example: “The so-called ‘Death Spiral’ did not manifest during the summer of 2015”, and people may become extremely indignant.

They remind me of my rooster, who always is extremely indignant when I come into the stables to get buckets of grain for my pigs and goats. It doesn’t seem to matter that the rooster has a record of 0-524, in his battles with me. He is a bird-brain, which is like a moron. He comes up to strike at me with his spurs, and I have to lower the lid of the grain barrel as a round shield, and there is a loud “plink” as he strikes the metal, and then he gets shoved backwards by the shield, and loses the battle. (In case you are wondering, if a rooster ever successfully strikes you with his spurs it feels like a solid tap on your shin, and you bleed a little trickle, but the next day you are hobbled, as he has penetrated right to the bone and given you a bone bruise. Needless to say, I don’t allow this particular rooster to ever succeed.)

I don’t know why this particular rooster gets so indignant when I enter the stable, especially when you consider the fact I’m the guy who gives him grain and water. However I forgive him because, after all, he has a brain about the size of an aspirin.

It is very painful to me to see my fellow mankind behave as if they have brains the size of aspirins, and to watch them become absurdly indignant about subjects they know next to nothing about. Even worse is the fact many get such a strange joy out of being indignant that they don’t want to learn more about the subject they know next to nothing about. When you attempt to patiently explain things, they sort of go, “La-la-la I’m not listening.” And that is the modern, psychological crucifixion of people who simply speak the Truth. They get thrown to the morons.

I’m sorry to spend so much time explaining this phenomenon, on a site which for the most part is dedicated to simply watching ice melt, and then watching water freeze. However, if we are going to study the state of affairs, concerning sea-ice, it is important to know you will meet maddening, indignant roosters, for they are included in the state of affairs, concerning sea-ice, and they are also one of the shadows lengthening across our social landscape.

In other matters, the shadows are lengthening, as are the nights, across the Pole. The times of daylight are shorter, and also farther and farther from the Pole, as the Pole itself has already started its six-month-long night (though some always insist on calling it “twilight”). (Some even insist on calculating the microscopic amount of heat that comes from twilight, after the sun has set.)

It remains worth watching, even as the views become fewer and farther between, because you can occationally see some interesting events. One thing I have discussed is how leads can open up and expose open water even when temperatures are well below the melting point of salt water. We saw this happen at O-buoy 8-b. I mentioned that such open leads can also slam shut, and rather than an open lead you see a pressure-ridge. We saw this happen at O-buoy 8-b over the weekend, giving us a picture of how an area of open water or thin ice can become extra-thick ice (as we remember 9/10th of a pressure ridge is under water, as is the case with all bergs.) In a sense we have been privileged to see what usually is hidden by winter darkness, and have a sequence of pictures that would teach well on a textbook.Obuoy 8 0923B webcamObuoy 8 0924 webcamObuoy 8 0924C webcamObuoy 8 0925B webcamObuoy 8 0927 webcam

Of course, having such splendid leads and pressure ridges so close to the camera is a bit like living right next to the San Andreas fault. The camera is at risk.

Today’s picture from O-buoy 8-b indicates some milder air is moving in, but is lifted by the cold air at the surface. Wet, sticky snow is falling, though temperatures remain low, down at -10°C.Obuoy 8 0928C temperature-1weekObuoy 8 0928 webcam

The invasion of mild air is much more dramatic over at O-buoy 9 at the north entrance of Fram Strait. Obuoy 9 0928 temperature-1weekHere we are seeing winds of 25-30 mph bringing a flood of Atlantic moisture and mildness north. Also the sea-ice is being pushed back north in Fram Strait, which is unusual this late in the season. Fram Strait is the major exporter of sea-ice from the Arctic Sea, and such export is a major part of low levels of sea-ice.

Now, if you are an Alarmist, and have a major emotional investment in seeing there be less arctic sea-ice, it is hard to know whether the current southerly gales in Fram Strait are good news or bad news. The ice being pushed back to the north is bad news, as it keeps the Arctic Sea loaded with last year’s ice. However the mild temperatures must be good news…or are they? Mildness and moisture makes more snow fall, on the ice, which would be “good” if conditions were calm, for the snow would insulate the ice and keep the ice from freezing. However, as conditions are not likely to be calm, the snow is likely to be blown from the ice into wind-created leads, forming slush which increases the amounts of ice, which is “bad”.

I find it wiser to avoid the value-judgement of calling what happens “good” or “bad”.  Whatever will be will be. Furthermore, it is the Truth, and Truth is a good teacher.

They say history repeats itself, but I can never recall seeing such a wrong-way gale in Fram Strait after the solstice. This is a new one, for me, and I think it is wise to sit back and learn.

Someone said that Harry Truman once stated, “The only thing new under the sun is the history you haven’t read.”  However we don’t have all that much history to read, concerning the arctic. We are newcomers. And when you have no  history book to read, you need to sit back and watch the present tense make history.

Also I doubt Harry Truman ever said that, because he had to handle the atomic bomb, and there was no history book about that topic. When I researched the above quote, it seemed some reporter was putting those words in Harry’s mouth, when Harry might have been talking about Mark Twain, who had a more cynical view about how we are revisionists, concerning history, and may have said something along the lines of, ” The only new thing mew under the sun is the history you haven’t invented.”

While I do believe history repeats itself, and that meteorologists who search the past for analogs can do wonders, I also believe no two snowflakes or fingerprints are alike, and there is something eternally fresh and new in every sunrise and in every weather map. Therefore I watch the current surge in Fram Strait with great interest, fully expecting to see something I’ve never seen before. The view from O-buoy 9, at the moment, is rather dull, gray, and even slushy.Obuoy 9 0928 webcam

Further north, at Faboo (my name for the North Pole Camera), the surge of mild air has arrived, and melted the hoarfrost off the lens after days of blindness. They haven’t figured out the problems they’ve been having transmitting the official data, so I have had to rely on unofficial data from a co-located Mass Balance Buoy (which lacks a time stamp). The surge was rather dramatic, as we saw temperatures shift from -16.98°C to -0.76°C. We also saw Faboo get as far south as 84.69° latitude, and then be jolted back north to 84.84° latitude. Somewhere the ice must be buckling, but no buckling is apparent in our views (which I am very glad to again have.)NP3 1 0928 2015cam1_3 NP3 1 0928B 2015cam1_2 NP3 1 0928C 2015cam1_1

I notice “Lake Faboo” is buried under the new snow, but as is usually the case in the arctic, the snows are not all that deep. In the few places where records are kept, I notice now is the most snowy time of year, but the snow amounts are only an inch or two. At other times the monthly amount is barely a half inch, or even less. The arctic is a desert, in terms of precipitation. When you talk of a half inch of snow per month it is like talking about five hundredth of an inch of rain in an entire month.

You will hear a lot of talk, from various people, about how snow insulates the ice and the water under the ice. It is important to remember we are not talking about snow that you wade hip-deep through, but rather ankle-deep stuff. When the winds howl, often the ice is blown clear of snow.

In order for winds to howl what is called a “meridional flow” is needed. What is called a “zonal flow” is more neat and tidy, and more according to textbooks. Textbooks like to talk about the “Polar Cell”, and place a high pressure at the Pole, with well-behaved lows rotating around it, with the air rising in the lows and sinking in the high pressure centered on the Pole.

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This is elegant and tidy, but a meridional flow makes a total mess of it. Floods of warm air surge right up to the Pole, and fuel low pressure right where the textbook states we should have high pressure, and air rises right where the textbook states it should be descending. We are likely to see a splendid example of this, the next week.

When a zonal flow places high pressure over the Pole, conditions tend to be quiet, as calm often occurs under a center of high pressure. However a meridional flow creates storms, and winds smash and crash the sea-ice. Rather than ice and snow sheltering the water, ice splits and leads, sometimes ten or twenty miles across, open up, and the sea is exposed to bitter winds. Not only is the water chilled more, but more ice forms on that open water than would be formed if the water was protected by a yard or two of ice. Air temperatures may be higher, as the open water loses heat to the air, but that heat can only be lost to outer space in 24-hour nighttime. All in all, IMHO, a meridional flow is far more conducive to building the volume of sea-ice.

So let us sit back and watch as the atmosphere does its dance.

In the maps below we see the feature ESib1 has been flung from Bering Strait across northern Alaska to the east side of Hudson Bay, as its Fujiwhara-dance partner FG4 got left behind and whirls north of East Siberia.  I should be paying more attention to that, but only have so many brain cells.

What grabs my attention is the ridge of high pressure sliding east across the Atlantic and the low forming off northeast Greenland, which I’ll call “FG5”.  Between them is the remarkable “wrong way” flow in Fram Strait, and the warm flood toward the Pole. As that warm air hits the cold air it is bound to fuel a frammerjammer, and the flow in Fram Strait could swing right around for a while. “FG5” looks like it might be an interesting storm, and briefly be king of the mountain, riding high atop the entire planet Earth.

DMI2 0927B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0927B temp_latest.bigDMI2 0928 mslp_latest.big DMI2 0928 temp_latest.bigDMI2 0928B mslp_latest.big DMI2 0928B temp_latest.big


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Obuoy 9 0929 webcam


The buoiy is roughly  at 78.5° N, 141° W, which is south and west of O-buoy 9 in the Arctic Basin. (I’ll call it a Beaufort Buoy because that so obviously irks nitpickers.) Temperatures are around -5°C and winds fairly strong around 25-23 mph. Obuoy 13 0929B webcam


The gale exploding south of Svalbard isn’t suppose to be there. Of course, I haven’t been paying proper attention to maps, (as I have to attend to six-year-olds), but the last I knew the development was suppose to occur around that weak low north of Greenland. I did notice it got abruptly colder at O-buoy 9, suggesting that weak low had a cold front, and apparently the gale blew up along that front. It is more like a true North Atlantic gale than a frammerjammer, but I’ll call it “FG5son.”

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Considering there was little sign of that gale this morning, the above example is a fine example of what happens when you mix warm and juicy south winds from the Atlantic with bitter cold from the arctic. The isobats suggest the winds are really howling off the coast of Norway, but haven’t picked up in Fram Strait.  However this map is actually from noon, and by afternoon the north-moving ice was lurching back to the south, which is more normal for this time of year.

Across the Pole ESib1 is a decent low, adding to the fact that uplift is occurring over much of the arctic, which sure makes a mess of the textbook defination of “The Polar Cell”, as an area of decending air. Yet all this uplift must go somewhere, and the powers-that-be can’t send the air further north as a Ferrel Cell does, as there is no such thing as further north at the North Pole.  It is a test to our ordinary thinking, which tends to be zonal, and see weather systems parading around the globe from west to east. At the Pole, I sometimes think, the weather simply goes up and down like a yoyo. When all the uplift has no place to go it just comes crashing back down, turning low pressure into high pressure. And before you laugh at this idea, check out the computer models, and notice that where FG5son is a sub-960 mb low tomorrow the maps show it swiftly  fading, and being replaced by a 1040 mb high pressure system. It will be interesting to watch, as will be what happens to the temperatures.  Currently it is much milder than it has been. DMI2 0929B meanT_2015


O-buoy 9 saw the mild temperatures abruptly crash, as the winds slacked off, veered 180°, and increased to the 25-33 mph range of a true gale, which makes for a nasty wind-chill and a swift halt to any thawing that might have been going on.Obuoy 9 0929 temperature-1weekThe buoy stopped the wrong-way movement north and lurched south.Obuoy 9 0929 latitude-1weekThere is little to see, as the nights are getting long up there, but so far the ice hasn’t broken up despite the strong and shifting winds. (Remember that a month ago O-buoy 9 often drifted in seas relatively free of ice, and much of the ice we look at is new “baby ice” between thicker bergs. It doesn’t take all that much to smash up such baby ice.)Obuoy 9 0929C webcam


On September 25 Faboo drifted 4.35 miles south east in very light winds to 84.728°N, 8.772°W and saw temperatures fall steadily, crashing to the low of -17.4°C at 1800Z, before rebounding to the period’s high of -10.8°C at 2100Z.

On September 26 Faboo sped up as winds picked to around 10 mph, covering 6.93 miles southeast to 84.683°N, 7.798°W. Temperatures rose to the high of -7.2°C at 1500Z, before falling back to -13.3°C at 2100Z,

On September 27 Faboo reached its most southerly point at 0300Z, at 84.678°N, and its most easterly point at noon, at 7.510°W, before deversing back to the north and west and finishing the day at 84.752°N, 7.542°W, which was 5.03 miles the “wrong way”.  Temperatures fell to a low of -18.2°C at 0600Z before recovering to -9.4°C at the end of the period. The breezes grew stronger, up to 15-20 mph range.

On September 28 Faboo again returned to moving east, but continued north to finish at 84.876°N, 6.452°W, which was another 15.76 miles the “wrong way”. Temperatures rose from -9.3°C at midnight to a balmy +1.0°C at 0900Z. After dipping to -1.8°C at 1500Z, a second thaw was experienced at the end of the period, with temperatures at +0.5°C. Winds peaked early, with a steady blow of 27 mph, before slacking off to 15 mph.

Unofficial reports showed we continued north for a while today, but then headed south, as temperatures fell. Unfortunately freezing rain was involved. It is my experience that this stuff is hard to melt from the camera’s lens.NP3 1 0929 2015cam1_2



Obuoy 13 0929D webcam


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I’ll try to play catch-up later. It is hard to run a decent blog when pulling double shifts.


It is also hard to focus on sea-ice when a hurricane is milling about to your south.


On September 29 Faboo  continued northeast as far as 84.904°N at 0600Z before a 180° wind shrift hit, dropping temperatures from +0.5°C to -7.0°C at the next report at 0900Z. Winds picked up from 11 to 17 mph as temperatures fell to -13.2°C as Faboo moved 3.49 miles southeast to finish the period at 84.826°N, 6.363°W.

Yesterday temperatures slowly rose from -13.2°C to -10.2°C as winds climbed to a steady gale-force blasting of 36 mph, grinding the ice 17.6 miles SSE to 84.574°N, 5.923°W.

It is difficult to get your mind around tons upon tons upon tons of ice, covering hundreds of square miles, all moving north twenty miles and then all being snapped back south twenty miles, especially as the shift from north-movement to south-movement does not effect all areas equally at the same time, but rather is a radical change along a front. Somewhere the ice has to buckle and build pressure ridges, while somewhere else it must crack open and expose leads of open water. The frustrating thing is the camera’s lens if frozen over, and we are unlikely to see much more than this:NP3 1 1001 2015cam1_2


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Quite a mild stream of air has been pulled east over the Siberian Side, as the cold is reduced to a pool north of Canada and Greenland. I expect the cold to expand as the gale weakens and fills.


Temperatures are at -10°C and winds at 4-7 mph. If the recent gale didn’t smash this ice up, nothing will, until it gets further south.

Obuoy 9 1002 webcam


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SATURDAY’S DMI MAPS (To be repeated to start the next post)

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I apologize for being unable to properly withdraw from life and enjoy the pleasures of escape to the arctic. Sometimes life won’t let you escape.

Time and tide and arctic sea-ice wait for no man, and a lots been going on I haven’t had time to talk about. A veritable flood of milder air came north with low pressure and made the Pole an area of uplift, which drew more air north at the surface.  A lot of this “air” was water vapor, which went from taking up a lot of space as vapor to taking up very little space as a drop of water or an ice crystal.  Therefore there does not need to be as much outflow aloft as one might expect, with all the inflow.

The vapor also released a lot of heat as it went through the phase changes of gas to liquid and liquid to solid. (There is a phase change the other way when precipitation evaporates of sublimates when falling, but for the most part the recent storm has been releasing more heat than it has been sucking up.)

They say what goes up must come down, but this is not true of the Pole. Water vapor goes up there and does not return, and heat goes up there and is lost to outer space. Once the sun sets the Pole is like a chimney for the planet, and what we have just  seen is stuff heading up the chimney.

That being said, when a mild surge heads north for the Pole I often look for an south-bound arctic outbreak somewhere else,  and indeed  there were two decend surges of cold into eastern and western Siberia, as well as a snowy spell in Alaska that drew notice.

Even as milder air floods the Pole, snow-cover is building on the tundra in Siberia, Alaska and Canada.  This will assist the creation of cold air through radiational cooling, and result in the Arctic ocean being frozen by south winds from the tundra.

Snowcover Oct 3 ims2015276_alaska

However one interesting feature is that swath of snow northwest of Hudson Bay, as much of it is well south of the actual coast of the Arctic Sea. This tendency also shows up in a Dr. Ryan Maue map posted on Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent blog, of the the deepening snow in Western Siberia. Much of the snow is well south of the actual coast.Snowcover Oct 3 ecmwf_snowdepth_russia_41(1)

This of course makes one wonder about the maps which show the arctic coasts as well above normal, in terms of water temperature:  

(I point out elsewhere that these maps can show water as red even when it is full of floating ice, as was the case in Hudson Bay last summer, which does make one suspect they are estimating on the warm side.)

In conclusion, we have a situation where we have a cold circle of ice atop the globe, surrounded by a larger circle of milder coastal waters, surrounded by an even larger circle of cold tundra. Until the coastal water freezes, the situation is wonderfully unstable.

The current temperature graph for areas north of 80° shows the current surge of mild air past its peak, and about to begin what I suspect will be a steep plunge.DMI2 1003B meanT_2015

The ice “extent” graph shows the mild surge did slow the refreeze, but couldn’t halt it.DMI2 1003B icecover_current_new

Most of our surviving buoys did show the milder air reaching across the Pole to Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, and the pacific side of the Central Arctic Basin, as the Atlantic and Siberian side haven’t experience the early season cold as much, and continue fairly mild. Yet the temperatures only briefly could thaw, in only a few places, and rather than thawing there was falling snow and freezing rain. Most of the slow-down in the refreeze was due to bottom-melt having a chance to occur without much upper-freezing,  and also gale force winds smashing up the new baby-ice.

It is unfortunate that O-buoy 10 got crushed (or perhaps retrieved by an icebreaker) as we have no eye down in the Beaufort Sea “Slot”. The NRL concentration map suggests the southern “reef” of the “lagoon” got dispersed by the gales, though we cannot tell if the water still has ice and slush in it once everything gets wet, as it doesn’t show up well to satellite sensors.  If the reef reappears during the refreeze we will know it wasn’t fully dispersed.Concentration  20151003 arcticicennowcast

I’ll download some pictures from cameras, and catch up on Faboo’s doings, in the morning.

LOCAL VIEW —Record-setting cold in Boston—

The cold extended well inland, even to our hills here, about halfway across the very bottom of New Hampshire. I didn’t notice what the temperature peaked at, but the highest I saw the thermometer get was 45°.

It was quite a shock to our systems, because the temperatures touching 90° on Saturday. That is nearly a fifty degree drop. “If you don’t like the weather, wait a while.”

I stoked up the wood stove both days. It makes all the difference to have a cheery and warm room on a bleak and cold day.

We did get a lot of rain, which was desperately needed.

Today the sun has burst forth beautifully, as the cold and wet slips out to sea. The dry and browning world has gone gloriously green, which pleases everyone, unless you have to mow the grass.

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LOCAL VIEW –Peas and Patriots–

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(photo credit: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=6688362#b )

Yesterday, with the help of my eldest daughter, we got 75 feet of edible podded peas planted. (I don’t bother with the ordinary peas any more; too long a run for too short a slide.) With God’s grace we should be getting crunchy pea pods to munch around June 15. They are incredibly popular with the kids at the Childcare, often to the amazement of parents who can’t get the same children to eat vegetables at home.

Actually it is a double row, (and therefore 150 feet,) with the two rows around a foot apart and a four-foot-high fence running between them, for them to climb on. Last year they grew two feet above the top of the fence, and formed a pretty hedge with snowy white blooms, and then began producing more pea pods than we knew what to do with. I became a pea pod philanthropist, and resorted to freezing them in a way I read about on the web where you don’t bother with blanching, (not bad, but the texture was a bit fuzzy when they were thawed and boiled up in February,) and still I had too many. It turns out that picking them just stimulates them to make more. So finally I just set the kids loose to graze on them, despite the fact they tended to rip up some plants by the roots, when picking pods.

There was something about grazing that made munching vegetables much more attractive to even the most fussy child. Some, who absolutely insisted they hated all peas, would start out merely hanging out with the others, and then I’d see them sneak a nibble, when they thought I wasn’t looking. I tried not to rub it in when they joined in with the others, and grazed and munched their way down the row. Others were not officially grazing. They were officially “helping me pick”, but more went into their stomachs than the baskets they carried.

You’d think they’d get sick of eating the same thing. (Actually, come to think of it, one little girl did get sick one afternoon, but it partly was due to failing to chew, and she went right back to munching a couple of days later.) There may have been a few days when interest slacked off, and they were more involved with building forts in the woods, but right to the end of the season, when the heat of July makes the lush plants wither and dry, the children would bring up “pea-picking” as a thing they desired to do.

Not that it will happen again. If children have taught me anything, it is that what works one year may not work the next. However I figured it was worth a try. So, today, my muscles all ache in the way they do, when you put in a garden. When I was younger I would tell myself the ache meant I was getting stronger, and meant I would look more attractive to women at the beach. At age 62 I tell myself it is likely either killing me, or keeping me alive. In any case it is an old, familiar ache that walks hand in hand with Spring.

Less familiar is a sort of post-taxes ache in my brain. I find myself trying to keep books concerning the profit and loss of my pea patch,  and imagine facing a highly suspicious government auditor, who assumes any private business is selfish and greedy, and that only the government has the best interests of children in mind. (The funny thing is that government officials make more, and spend more on themselves, as I make less, and spend more on children.)

I think an ache in your brain is far worse than any ache in the body. It is easier, for me at least, to tune out physical pain. The government is involved in a sort of psychological torture, and it is harder to tune out mental pain, for the tuner itself is involved.

In any case, I find myself muttering to myself, involved in needless justifications of being the being I am, and doing the doings I do. I mean, why should the government care a hoot about a pea patch on a remote farm? Haven’t people got better ways to spend their time than to make me nervous, when I write down “pea patch” as a business expense?

I actually feel the pea patch was a profit, over all, last year, but my measure-of-profit is beyond the ken of needle-nosed bureaucrats who measure with money. When my books show that I spent $5.00 on seed, and didn’t sell any produce, they wonder what happened to the peas I planted. Lord knows what disaster could befall me if they found out I ate some myself. I’d wind up like Al Capone, who could not be arrested for what he did, so they had to get him for “tax evasion”. But what is my crime?

That is the psychological torture, and the cruel and unusual punishment, our government is guilty of. It makes people feel guilty for breathing and being alive.

Or that is what I was muttering to myself today, as I walked about achy. There is so much the government inflicts upon its people that is needless. For example, why shouldn’t I simply pay my employees with cash? Why does my government make me responsible for collecting nine of its ridiculous taxes, and doing all the paperwork? I simply don’t have time for such nonsense, and actually pay a firm called “Paychex” to do all that paperwork for me. It costs me $70.00/week, week after week, and after a year that adds up to $3650.00/year I have to pay, when I could just as well be handing my employees cash, and paying nothing.

The government makes you pay in other ways as well. It adds up, and it isn’t merely taxes. It is tantamount to a sort of endless haranguing that makes a nagging wife seem gentle. It is a psychological torture that either so weakens people that the government sees its people collapse, and has killed the goose that laid the golden egg, or else its people rise up and revolt, being driven mad by the government’s psychological torture, and its people are driven to bizarre behavior, such as dressing up as Indians and throwing tea into a harbor.

Here in New England we celebrate our forefathers going nuts, and throwing perfectly good tea into a harbor, and forcing the authorities to respond, with a holiday we call “Patriot’s Day”. We also have a saying, “Plant your peas by Patriot’s Day”.

Well, I have planted my peas. I also enacted a minor rebellion by burning more weeds in my garden without obtaining the proper burn permit.

There was no wind, and you can only burn weeds when it is dry, but if I had tried to get a burn permit yesterday I know darn well I would have been told I had to wait until it was raining, in which case you cannot burn weeds. The government is idiotic. Farmers have burned weeds in gardens ever since the land was first gardened by Indians, (and likely the woods were burned before that, by the pre-agricultural Indians, to keep the glades open and clear for deer), so I just did what needed to be done without a permit.

The fact of the matter is that the government has created so many laws that the average American commits between two and five felonies each day. (Not misdemeanors; felonies.)The laws are seven stacks of paper, each seven feet tall. No normal person has read them all,  and many laws contradict, (so you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t), and they have reached a sort of tipping point where the Law, which is something we should honor and respect, resembles the raving brays of a jackass.

In the face of the government’s psychological torture, it seems civil disobedience is only natural, however I loathe the violent kind. Blowing up spectators during the Boston Marathon is not my idea of a proper celebration of Patriot’s Day. Rather I prefer the peaceful disobedience of Henry Thoreau, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi. Therefore I burn weeds and plant peas, and have business expenses that put love ahead of profit.

A bit of rain came through this morning and dampened the dust, but by afternoon the sun was back out and the dryness was returning. The radar shows a front passing through, but the government could not bother to put a front on the maps.

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LOCAL VIEW —Boston Sets Snowfall Record—“An Inconvenient Winter”

We got around an inch of snow up here yesterday. The first half inch was glop, a sort of wet layer that melted as fast as it fell, and then nearly as fast as it fell, as the vibrant March sun dropped lower, and stopped the amazing job it does of melting snow even when it is behind clouds. Then the sun got to the horizon and we had a flash freeze, so the second half inch was powder drifting over a layer of frozen crust.

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I heard my wife heading out for her predawn-twilight power-walk. Her footsteps crunched a certain way on the drive, and I swung out of bed in a sort of angry thrash, as I knew I had to start work an hour earlier, heading to the “Town Garage” to shovel sand into the back of my pickup, and then heading to my Farm-Childcare to cast that sand around the entrance of the parking lot, and the area where parents disembark with their children, and the front walk, and lastly the rise where cars exit and young mothers tend to spin wheels and get stuck. Who needs Monday to start an hour earlier?

All was redeemed, however, when I learned Boston got 2.9 inches of snow where we only got an inch. That bumps their winter’s total past the most snow ever recorded (in recent times) of 107 inches in 1993, to 108 inches. This is all the more amazing because Boston was below the normal snowfall of January 10 on January 10.

It makes me look rather good, for I was talking about this being “the worst winter ever” back in November.  Not that there haven’t been worse winter’s up here in these hills, or even in Boston. Back in in the 1600’s, when the Back Bay neighborhood was actually a bay, the bay was frozen over for six weeks, and there were 26 “snowfalls.”  However nothing matches 1717, when the snows were so deep that some houses were buried and could only be located by holes in the snow,  with smoke coming out, melted by the chimney and the constant fire that heated the home.


It does seem sort of anticlimactic to beat the record with only 2.9 inches of snow. Not that it isn’t too late to have a final massive storm. The blizzard of 1888 began on March 11 and ended on March 15, and we got four feet in these hills, (as Boston got two inches of slush.) The “April Fools Storm” a few years back gave us two feet.

The good thing about setting a record is that it justifies a sensation many around here have that they have been through a mugging. People not all that far to the south roll their eyes and act as New Englanders are sissies, fussing about a minor inconvenience. Not that people did fuss all that much.  Come to think of it, the tougher New Englanders don’t even fuss when they get mugged.

I remember an old man who ran a tiny four-lane-bowling-alley in Portland, Maine, back in around 1975. You got to it by descending a stair in a dark alley, and it was a subterranean affair, with everything a bit mildewed, and the balls old and slightly bumpy as they rolled, but the old man was a genius when it came to candle-pin bowling, and also he had the cheapest rates in Maine. I was interested in the sport back then, and picked his brains, and besides learning how to curve the balls around the fallen “wood”, I got bits of his philosophy, such as, “Never bowl without a sponsor and never sponsor a bowler.” Often I was the only person bowling, and I doubt he even could pay his electricity bill with his gross take, and concluded he only ran the place because he loved bowling, but one time I went in to discover he’d been mugged for the small amount of money he had. He had two black eyes, and a scab on his forehead. When I expressed my concern he dismissed it, muttering, “Arrh, it was just kids. An inconvenience.”

In any case, I guess we can call it an Inconvenient Winter. It is especially inconvenient to Al Gore, who through “Inconvenient Truth” and lecture tours assured us snow would become rare and our ski areas would need to close down.

Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when Al Gore used his political power to start up the Global Warming fraud, cutting off funding to Bill Gray (whose predictions based on the cycles of the AMO have proven wonderfully accurate) and pouring money onto James Hansen, (whose forecasts have proven to be balderdash), you actually could graph the snowfall in Boston and create a “trend line” that demonstrated that snowfall was decreasing. If you look at the graph below as far as 1992, the “trend” is definitely down.

Of course 1993 changed all that. In fact, in terms of snowfall since 1890, six of the nine greatest yearly totals have occurred since Al Gore opened his big mouth and stated we’d have to shut down our ski areas.

Inconvenient Winter Screen_shot_2015_03_15_at_8_13_11_PM

(Graph from Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent blog at the Weatherbell site.”)

If anyone has been mugged by this winter, it the Alarmists who are attempting to sell Global Warming. However they are not stoic about being mugged, like a tough New Englander. Rather they become increasingly shrill, shrieking the heavy snow proves it is warmer.

Mann Tweet screenhunter_7071-feb-11-22-19

People in New England tend to be suckers for liberal causes. Freeing slaves seemed like an altruistic deed, and every town in New England has a monument in its graveyard commemorating the astounding number of young men who died for that cause. However the Global Warming cause is starting to be harder and harder to swallow, even for New Englanders, because right after Michael Mann spoke of waters off Cape Cod being 21 degrees above normal (utterly false) they saw waters looking like this:

Cape Cod iceberg2

Maybe even in New England it will turn out that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. After all, Abraham Lincoln stated that, and people voted for him in New England. Perhaps the political winter we are finding inconvenient will give way to a spring.

In the mean time, we have to endure a bit more winter. Today we saw the bright March sun melt away the crust of snow, but later tomorrow the cold will fight back, and the rains advancing from the west likely will change to more snows as they move over us.

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These amazing pictures are from the Dapixara Blog at:  http://www.dapixara.com/News/files/Human-Size-Icebergs-In-Cape-Cod.html

Cape Cod iceberg2 Cape Cod 2 iceberg

I lived on the coast of Maine during the very cold winters in the late 1970’s, and never saw the sea-ice this thick, though it was thick enough back then to allow me to walk from Freeport to Eagle Island out on Casco bay.  These pictures are from further south, on the “inside” beaches of Welfleet, out on the forearm of Cap Cod. Though the beach pictured is on the “cold” side of Cape Cod, it is not as cold as Maine.

What we are seeing is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime event. I find it amazing.

Even over on the “warm” side of Cape Cod, down on the Island of Nantucket, it was cold enough to form “slurpee surf” of slush, back in February.

Slurpee Waves B-zUYWaUEAEJnt9

Shortly after the above pictures were taken, the surf froze solid.

For this to be happening out on Nantucket, which after all is not all that far from the Gulf Stream, is amazing to me.

However there was something even more amazing. It was the attempts of Global Warming activists to blame the freeze on some freakish side-effect of a “warming world.”

One of my favorite attempts was by Dr, Michael Mann (of “hockey stick graph” fame). Shortly before the seas froze up as pictured above, he blamed the blizzards Boston was experiencing on extra moisture put into the air by warmer-than-normal waters off Cape Cod.

The timing of these fellows is simply amazing. They are the only people I know who manage to shoot themselves in the foot at the same time it is in their mouth.

If that water is warmer-than-normal, I’d sure hate to see it turn colder.

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LOCAL VIEW —Boston nears all-time record snowfall—Updated twice with summery

For me it was Monday, back to work and back to winter. We had yet another “snow-event” overnight, and as I awoke my ears listened for the scraping of a plow, passing the house.  I really was expecting it, as this winter has been beating me up, and it would seem quite normal to begin another work-week having to go to work early and spend time trudging behind the snow-blower, clearing the entrance and exit and parking lot of our Farm-Childcare. Also I have been indulging my creative side, and whenever I goof-off in a dreamy manner it seems reality likes to bring me down to earth with a solid thump. To my amazement, I heard nothing. Despite the forecast for two to four inches, (which has usually meant at least six inches, this winter), the disobedient skies had only produced an inch of fluff, despite the map and radar looking like this, as I sought a Sunday evening slumber. (Clicks images to clarify and enlarge)

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As has been usual this winter, (and quite the opposite from most winters), the radar shows Boston getting heavier snows than the hills where I live, in southern New Hampshire. They got another two inches, putting them just over 104 inches, and very close to the “all-time-record” of 107.6 inches in the winter of 1995-1996. This is all the more impressive when you realize that in the middle of January their snowfall was below normal for the season. They have had over eight feet since January 24.

I don’t think anyone was in the mood to break a record this Monday, and were glad to see the snow swept swiftly  out to sea .

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The amazing thing about Boston’s winter is that so little of their snow has been washed away by rain. I grew up in the hills roughly twenty miles west of Boston, and can recall how often the rain would change to snow as you drove out through Waltham, (on the “Boston Post Road” [route 20], as the “Turnpike extension” [I-90] hadn’t been built.) I actually think the winter of 1968-1969 might have been snowier out in those suburbs, as I can recall jumping from a second story roof into snow so wet and heavy my feet didn’t touch the ground as I plunked down, winding up in deep snow to my armpits, (and only then wondering how the heck I was going to extract myself). However this winter Boston has had little rain to wash away the snow, and is even snowier than the suburbs or New Hampshire hills.

As I cleared inch of snow from the front walk and nearest parking places with a shovel it didn’t seem cold at all. I didn’t even bother with a hat. Seeing the thermometer was down at a morning low of 19° (-7.2° Celsous) surprised me. You know you’ve been through a cruel winter when that seems warm. I felt no pity for the parents returning from vacations in Florida and California, who arrived muffled and hunched over, with their metabolisms out of whack. They’d had their way; now they must pay.

I had my own vacation in the dreamy landscape of creativity, and had my own readjusting to do. I think I did fairly well, especially dealing with small children who had flown home on the red-eye, the night before. Perhaps we were in some ways on the same page.

I was very distrustful of the puffy clouds passing overhead. As soon as the calender states it is March the sun starts to turn what is merely scud in December into “thermals.” Weathermen suffer many embarrassments as cumulus puffs up, turning from a passing cloud to a passing flurry, and then the flurries add up. Today they didn’t add up, but a few passing clouds did cast a handful of surprisingly large flakes down.  All the while the wind picked up, as our “snow event”, (which actually was little more than a glorified warm front), blew up into a decent storm up towards Labrador. We hit our high temperature of 28° (-2.2 Celsius) in the late morning, and then the north winds began to drag winter back down from the north. The inch of snow began flying around as the white wraiths and swirls of powder we’ve grown all too used to this winter.  We have yet to have any of the sticky snow children love, because it clings and makes the construction of forts, igloos and snow-men easier.

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Although the snow still swirls powder, as if it was January, and though it has been weeks since we’ve been above freezing in these hills, on south-facing roofs, and hillsides, and roadside snowbanks, the deep snow is starting to sag in the strong March sunshine. A top fence-rail has reappeared in part of the pasture. For the moment the spring is winning, and the depth of the snow is shrinking slightly.

In the above map you can see the true arctic front is still north of us. The temperature is only down to 18° at 9:00 this Monday evening, despite the gusty north winds.  It is likely to drop sharply towards morning, but few are looking north. Instead the weather bureau has all eyes looking hopefully west towards the next glorified warm front,  and is tantalizing people with the prospect of temperatures above 40° ( +4.4 Celsius) on Wednesday. For the locals who haven’t been able to escape to Florida that will be an excuse to wear a short sleeved shirt, especially if the sun is out.

However I have doubts the mild air will make it north. It may do so up a thousand feet or so, but with the Great Lakes frozen and hundreds of miles of deep snow in the way, the air at the surface often hangs tough. (Also Joe Bastardi explains, over at his excellent site at Weatherbell, that something called a “thermally induced eddy” creates light north winds ahead of such a warm front, at the surface.)  In any case it may only barely nudge above freezing, and only after glop. (“Glop” is snow-turning-to-sleet-turning-to-freezing-rain-ending-as-light-drizzle.)

This will depress the people of Boston, who are sick of snowbanks. They are hoping for a light but warm rain, with lots of snow-eater fog, which can swiftly reduce the snowbanks without flooding. Instead they may get glop to add to their snowbanks.

The good thing about glop is that they make snowbanks by roads much firmer, and more able to keep skidding cars on the road.  The current snowbanks contain far too much powder snow, and it is all too easy for skidding cars to penetrate them and hit trees.

This brings back a memory from that winter of 1968-1969. My mother didn’t want to have to pick me up after the bus got back to the high school from an away wrestling match, as she had a Christmas party she wanted to attend, and so she did a foolish thing. She allowed her sixteen-year-old son to drive her husband’s car to that wrestling match, so he would not have to take the bus.

When driving back from that match in an elated state after a splendid victory, I was toodling east on the Massachusetts Turnpike at around 85 mph when I noticed I was missing my exit, and swerved sharply from the highway, which was dry, into the exit-ramp’s cloverleaf, which was snow-covered.  Instantly I knew I’d made a big mistake, as neither brakes nor steering had any effect, and all I could see in front of me was headlight-lit snow shooting straight up in the air. Fortunately the huge snowbanks along the cloverleaf functioned much like the walls of a bobsled run,  and I proceeded around the cloverleaf until, after fifteen to twenty seconds, the vehicle stopped. I could see nothing, so I turned on the windshield wipers. I then saw a man in a toll booth, looking at me with a totally amazed expression.

This was one of those times I feel God was sending angels to watch over me as a teenager.  Any time my luck doesn’t seem good, in the present tense, I just think back to this event, and see I likely used up all my good luck early in my life.

This also shows you how difficult it is for me to come down from my creative state. I am suppose to be talking about the year 2015, not the year 1969.

(However maybe I can sneak one more chapter in, before the weather turns bad again.)

I’ll update this post as the next “snow-event” advances.

UPDATE  —Tuesday morning—Winter weather advisory—

A shot of arctic air came south over us, with flurries, and it was down to 6.3° (-14.3° Celsius) by dawn, when the gusty wind had already died. No one was paying much attention to the north winds and the arctic air, as all eyes were on the south winds on the west side of the same high pressure, dreaming fond dreams of the magic, the heaven, the ambrosia of forty degrees.

Unfortunately the radar didn’t show much warm rain.

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I’m nervous people aren’t giving the arctic credit for having the pressure it has. It has been pressing air-mass after air-mass south. If you are terribly old fashioned, and keep track of air-masses, then an arctic air-mass has a quality which differentiates it from tropical, even if it has been greatly moderated by sitting over the Gulf of Mexico. And the air sitting over the Gulf of Mexico now, south  of the stationary front strung along the gulf coast in the above map, is just such extremely stale arctic air that came south over a week ago. The true border between arctic and tropical is a vanished front, a “ghost front” as it were, which has pushed south of Cuba and along the southernmost border of the Gulf of Mexico.  That is where the true tropical juice now lives, lurking and waiting for its chance to rebound north and pour gasoline onto the development of a storm.

All the moisture involved in the approaching storm is largely home-grown. If it has any sort of tropical origins they lie out in  the Pacific,  and have been mingled with Pacific polar air and wrung out by the Chinook-effect while encountering the speed-bump of the Rocky Mountains. Most of the moisture has been sucked from American snow-cover or American soil,  which isn’t exactly tropical right now. In conclusion,  the approaching warmth is not the most powerful warmth we have seen. Meanwhile the cold, still pressing from the north, has been some of the most powerful we have seen. In fact there is a veritable river of bitter cold pouring from Siberia, over the Pole, and down to the eastern USA, as today’s Polar shot shows.

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So what we have is a weak army charging north to meet a strong army charging south. It seems fairly obvious who the winner will be. Call me a pessimism if you will, or a wet blanket on a party cheering for forty degrees, but I just feel all the warmth will be lifted high off the ground, as the cold presses south like a wedge beneath. I’m girding my loins for more battling with winter. I hope I’m wrong, and can face forty degrees and be pleasantly surprised.


EVENING REPORT: Snow HAS started. Today’s high was 27.1° (-2.7° Celsius.) Sky went through awesome shifts and changes, through all the moods between pure blue and pure gray. Despite obvious influx of southerly air, smoke from chimneys has stubbornly drifted away to the south, showing a north wind that will not quit. Here are the maps:

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INSOMNIA UPDATE  At the time of the above radar shot the temperature had dropped to 20.8° and the snow was thumping down, and it looked obvious I’d have to get up early to snow-blow the Farm-Childcare. I wasn’t too thrilled, and after an excellent meal ambition was at low ebb, and I slipped into a nap. A couple hours later my wife woke me to tell me it was time to sleep, and I was surprised to see the radar radically changing.

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Temperatures are up to 28° and the snow has changed to a swirling, freezing drizzle, but there seems to be little snow-eater fog. The wind is really roaring in the pines. I have a sense the press from the north is squeezing everything east in a big hurry.  Also that I might not have to snow-blow in the morning. Maybe I’ll work on my novel a bit.

 SUMMERY  —Brief Thaw—

After the thump of snow gave us perhaps 2 inches in the late evening, the rushing west winds flattened the precipitation to our south. I wasn’t faced with snow-blowing in the morning, but did have to push some heavy, wet snow about.  The two inches had settled to a little more than an inch, which is too little for a snow-blower but enough to force you to run to and fro with a shovel, basically plowing a driveway with a blade only a foot wide.

I also spread some sand. After a solid month of powder snow and sub-freezing temperature, the surface of the drive is not sand, but rather a couple inches of incredibly packed powder snow, which remained squeaky but adopted the consistency of glass. As soon as such a surface gets a little warm it can become amazingly slippery, which is why I scraped it clean and then scattered sand.

  Then, during the morning, temperatures did rise above freezing, and near 40°.  There were rumbles and crashes as massive icicles on south-facing roofs melted as a glazed sun peered over the southern overcast, and shone heat through the clear ice to darker shingles below.  This was followed by a softer thunder as snow-shedding roofs did what they are intended to do, but have refused to do for over a month; IE: Shed snow.

At the Farm-Childcare, this dumped large amounts of snow abruptly in front of exits which, by law, must be clear of snow. I would have been law-abiding, and promptly sent all the children home until the exits were clear, but the working-parents likely  would have tarred and feathered me. Anyway, as our Childcare is focused on the outdoors, none of the children were in the buildings, and the emergency exits being blocked had little meaning, unless you are a bureaucrat and want to show off your power.

Still, when you only have had an inch or two of snow, you don’t expect to have to deal with three or four feet blocking doorways. Nor is this snow the fluff that falls from the sky. This is snow that has lain about on a roof, and compressed for thirty days, and then become slightly slushy, and then pounded down. It is like concrete that hasn’t quite hardened all the way.

I dealt with it, but was in no mood to post updates to this blog, afterwards. You’ll have to forgive me for that.

Boston also got 1.6 inches of snow, which brings their total very close to the all-time record.  However their snowbanks remain substantial. They have slumped but are now more compressed, and again are freezing solid as the cold returns. We remain vunerable to the whims of weather, for a big snow could still bring things to a standstill, with little space for plows to push snow. Worst would be a heavy and wet snow, as often comes with March snowstorms.

I’m not all that concerned about the current front, which is giving some snow to the folk down south. (A close friend is just back from travelling down their to hold a new grandson in his arms, and he brought our snows with him, and he rolled his eyes about southern drivers, stating only two inches of snow created a situation where he saw eight cars off the road in a five mile drive.)  The current front is settling south, with storms mere ripples running along its edge.

Instead my eyes are watching down in the Gulf of Mexico. No model yet shows the rebound I expect. When the cold presses to true tropical juice all the way to the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico, it is an action which I’ve often seen provoke a reaction, and I am nervous about high pressure setting up south of Cuba, and south winds developing over the Gulf. Once that tropical juice starts north it has a habit of gathering steam and being the warm sector of a mighty nor’easter that charges up the coast. And I have an intuition we have such a storm in the cards, before this winter relents.

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