LOCAL VIEW —Darkest Day—

Gosh!  The “warm-up” weathermen have been talking about for what seems like weeks finally made it to our hills.  We barely broke freezing, and, because the warmer air was moist, the warm-up was accompanied by lowering clouds and then a dark, dank drizzle.

I’d prefer yesterday’a cold, as at least it had sunshine.

The map shows the Pacific bowling ball storm has not headed up towards Hudson Bay, putting us in a mild southerly flow, but has instead stubbornly plowed straight east, and the warm front has remained to our south. (Click maps to clarify and enlarge.)

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The radar shows a line of rain showers headed our way, but not the drizzle that is already here.

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It looks like the rain-snow line will stay to our north, so there will be no brightening of our short day with snow. Today was one minute away from the shortest day of the year. (At this latitude the shortest day is nine hours long, which is pretty long compared to the days of a winter I spent in Scotland, but is short enough to fuel depression, if the Grinch is allowed into your life.

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The clouds really made it a Grinch of a day. It was actually brighter at nine in the morning, under a light gray overcast, than at noon, by which time the purple had become oppressive. The gloom was made all the more oppressive by the fact that when our local church saw its minister resign, he took a loyalist with him, in the form of the choir director. And, when you think of what the Who’s used to defeat the Grinch with, it was music.

The Grinch has apparently learned a thing or two since the days when Dr. Seuss wrote his Great American Poem,  for back in the day the Grinch neglected to steal the choir director. He wasn’t so careless, this year.

Not that it will stop the Who’s. However, in case you’re wondering why the music is a bit out of tune, and the timing is erratic, this year, now you know the reason why.

The first fifteen days of December have had mercy on a nation clobbered by a November colder than many a January, however if you want to see the special attention the Grinch is giving me, look at this map of temperature anomalies for the USA, for the first 15 days of December. What is the one area below normal?

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Yes, it is centered right over me.

I could go on, but you’d probably start to sob for me uncontrollably. I want a little pity, but not so much that I have to take care of you until the ambulance arrives.

LOCAL VIEW —Gloom Vs. Cookies—

Our barometer has fallen slightly to 29.41, but the temperature remains steady at 34. It seems it has been stuck there for over a day. The rain has ceased, but the little brook behind the house is roaring down over the ruins of the old tannery, loud in the windless night. I snoozed after dinner, despite the noise of two grandchildren, and now am up with my usual insomnia. 

It is odd to think of how my wife and I wondered how we’d handle empty-nest-syndrome, considering how full our house has become. My middle son is out of college and applying for work while working the sort of grunt-jobs college is suppose to help you avoid, and both daughters are back, at least part of the time, due to boyfriend complexities it doesn’t pay to question too deeply about (though I confess curiosity.) .

It is amusing how they ease themselves in. It sort of starts as a visit, but gets longer. My wife is part of the conspiracy. I am like Beorn, and she is like Gandelf telling Beorn he is going to have 12 dwarfs and a hobbit for dinner, not by saying the total number of guests at first, but by slowly increasing the number during the course of conversation.

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(My wife has the hat and stick, but not the beard.)

I am a bit like Beorn, frowning fiercely at my computer at maps of the weather, the economy, the political situation, and the spiritual situation. I am even a bit of a form-changer, for when I frown too much my wife plops my baby granddaughter in my lap, and all frowning must cease. However the racket does get loud in this small house, which may partly explain my recent insomnia. Insomnia is the only way I can get some peace, and concentrate. Tonight it was a bit strange, as I closed my eyes and dozed midst a racket, and awoke to total silence.

The midnight map shows storm #9 is stuck over us. The rain has ceased, but the gloom is likely to remain.  The radar shows backlash snows to the west, and some of that likely will wheel our way before we see any sunshine.

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(Click maps to clarify and enlarge.)

As I look west to try to see what sort of weather is coming our way, I see warmth flooding over the Canadian Rockies, and warm, above-freezing air right up into Alberta.  It seems impossible we will get anything but a sunny thaw, but over and over I’ve been fooled, as innoculous looking high pressure comes sneaking down from Hudson Bay, and pumps itself up with just enough arctic cold to shock us for a day or so, before a resurgence of milder air comes up the coast.  I am also suspicious because cross-polar-flow has built up a pool of murderously cold air up in the Canadian Arctic, and even though it seems in no mood to charge south as an arctic outbreak, it constantly leaks enough cold south to worry me.  Lastly, the days are so short we don’t really need Siberian imports to come across the Pole, as the deep snow up over Canada, and the fact Hudson Bay is frozen over, can take cool air and make it cold. You can see some of that cold leaking south in the intial GFS temperature map (from Dr. Ryan Maue’s amazing collection of maps at Weatherbell.)

20141210C gfs_t2m_noram_1 (click to enlarge.)

If I was an optimist I’d focus on the above-freezing air invading the Canadian prairies, but I’m prone to worry. The storms crashing into the California coast, and giving them needed rains, look likely to roll across the country one by one, and even if temperatures are above normal it will be cold enough to generate snow along the northern edge of each storm, and the way things have been going one of the storms will turn up the coast next week and we’ll have a repeat performance of either the Thanksgiving storm or the current storm.

It is hard to worry correctly about storms with so many children back in the nest.  I keep being distracted by issues that remind me a little of living in a Hippy commune back in the 1970’s: Who shall cook; who shall do dishes; who gets what shelf in the refrigerator; who shall play  what sort of music when. Of course, it is possible to brew up a whole new bunch of worries, especially when low pressure makes my bones ache.  I have the sort of poetic temperament that can make a maudlin melody out of a sunny day, and when the weather gets dark and dismal I really ought be at my best, however my wife has a unique counter-attack which little can withstand: She steams up the kitchen baking cookies.

In defiance of the dreary, my wife
Bakes cookies. The purple mist presses close
To yellow windows; longing for the life
And laughter within, its blue nose is loath
To leave the view of the love it lacks.
It swirls and drips, dribbling down the panes
As outside early night dabs dark, and blacks
The cold stove of sunless skies. It remains
Glued to the glass, sniffing the strange power
Of cookies. Cookies, mere cookies, defeat
The dark. Fragrant piles of cookies tower
And then, to be made more warm and complete,
Are wrapped with red ribbons in green cellophane
For neighbors; warm candles in cold Christmas rain.