LOCAL VIEW —Christmas Bluebirds—

We are experiencing a truly kindly spell of late December weather, if you are an old coot like me, and have grown less fond of cold with time.

Not that I can’t remember being young and hot, and walking with a girl I was trying not to fall in love with, (and failing), and being warm through and through, though it was so cold the snow on the road squeaked as we walked over it. Also I can remember being desperate for snow, for I was running a lunch-counter at a cross-country ski area. However those are memories, and the reality is the present, and the Christmas present was mildness for an old coot, this year

What was really remarkable was a finger of warmth that reached the tops of the hills where I lived, but not the valleys. Indeed it was 43° atop Mount Washington, at 6000 feet, and only 40° at sea-level at the coast at Portsmouth. It was 39° in the Merrimack River Valley at Manchester 40 miles to our east, and 38° close to the Connecticut River in Keene 40 miles to our west, while here temperatures spiked up to near 60°. (57° in Jaffrey, 7 miles to our west.)

You can dimly see the finger of warmth in this temperature map, poking up into south-central New Hampshire (and also all the way north to Burlington, Vermont):

Xmas rtma_tmp2m_neus__1_(2)

On Christmas morning the sun came out and the breeze felt like April’s. Because we had the stoves going before the warmth came north, it was actually hot in the old house. I stepped out onto the porch and instantly remembered a Christmas back in my youth (1965?) when it was so mild I was running around outside flying a new toy helicopter barefoot.  I dedcided to stay outside to enjoy the mildness, figuring it wouldn’t last, as a front had come through to bring us our sunshine and clearing.

Temperatures did drop a little, but not much, and I could do my chores without gloves or a jacket.  My middle son was out with bird-watching gear, and announced by cell phone that a small gang of bluebirds, and a male and female cardinal, were by the house. I hurried, but didn’t see them, yet could hear them off in the distance, which seemed very evocative and symbolic of something just beyond my ken. (My son’s pictures:)

IMG_1085

IMG_1087

There was something so summery about bluebirds and cardinals being about on Christmas morning that I decided it must be my Christmas miracle this year, and a auspicious sign.

Then I sat back to wait for the cold to return, as it surely must. A warm wave in the winter is like the water drawing down on a beach; you know the water draws back further for the bigger waves. However though the cold has rushed down to chill western cities like Denver, it is taking its time coming east: (The first map shows our Christmas storm passing well north, with us on the southern mild side, and the second map shows two days later, with the east still spared the arctic air plunging into the west.) (Click to enlarge.)

20141225 satsfc

20141227 satsfc

The radar map shows snow along the battle lines between the cold west and the warm east:

20141227rad_nat_640x480

This battle line could brew up some big storms, as it works its way east, before the cold air eventually engulfs the entire USA. However for the moment we get a pause, a time of peace. The wind has died and the winter sun shines. Bluebirds are about. Obviously it is time for a sonnet.

I awoke to how wonderfully fashioned
Is a winter day, though the low sun is weak.
 
Faintly flavored, as when tea is rationed
And one sips a thin cup, one should not speak
Or one may miss the taste.   The breathless air
Is hushed; the sole birdsong is over a near
Hilltop, and is the scratchy cry of a rare
Christmas bluebird: Very faint; very clear.
 
I tell my noisy brain to be quiet.
I’m tired of its racket, and how it squints
At silence like bats in sunshine.
 
                                                    “Try it,”
Speaks the silence. “See My fingerprints
On every bough; with each breath you draw
See it takes no thought to wander in My awe.”

Advertisements

LOCAL VIEW —The Worst—(updated)

I looked out the window this morning, and there it was: The worst.

20141206 rad_ne_640x480

The blue on the radar map is snow to the north of us, and the greens, yellow and reds are rain to the south of us. We are at the southern edge of the purple, which represents glop.

There is enough glop to call this weak low Winter Snow Event #8. We had roughly an inch of snow, compressed to a half inch by sleet, which has been further compressed to a quarter inch by freezing rain.  The warm air was forecast to surge north and change the freezing rain to rain, and get temperatures up to around 43 today, but temperatures have been reluctant to budge above freezing. I keep looking out the window, waiting for the sight of the glaze of freezing rain falling off branches and power lines, but so far it hasn’t happened. I think the air might have just nudged above freezing now, at noon, but the melting is so slight the power lines still wear their rows of tiny icicles, as if decorated for Christmas.

It is a good thing I got the wood on the porch yesterday. This is the worst sort of weather in which to attempt doong anything outside. All the firewood is glazed, so not only is it so wet that it drenches you, but also it is so slippery you inevitably drop a log, usually one of the largest, onto your big toe. Therefore I’m staying in. Later I may go do some work repairing the interior of the stables, which the goats have once again trashed. However right now a nap sounds like a good thing. I need to recover from my cold, and have had a large dose of post-Thanksgiving stew, and the tryptophan is inducing a siesta.

I need to rest up, as a major storm next week is looking more and more likely. The question now seems to be whether we will get snow or rain.

The map shows storm #8 as a disorginized collection of centers, the closest slipping south of us, and moving to the east. It doesn’t look like it will explode into a gale and bring the arctic air down on strong winds, but the cold air is seeping south nonetheless. Yesterday the arctic front was up on the southern coast of James Bay at the very bottom Hudson Bay, but now it has snuck down to Lake Superior. It doesn’t look like our promised “warm up” will be all that warm.

Next Wednesday’s super-storm is in that tangle of low pressure currently navigating its way through the Rocky Mountains. It may not look like much, but that is because the energy that is going to generate the storm is up in the upper atmosphere, which is another way of saying it is above my head (and pay grade.) You can see the thicker, higher clouds are to the north. As that energy comes over the top of a ridge and swings south it will “dig” further south than the jet stream is currently curving, and become so pronounced it may even become a cut-off-low in the upper atmosphere, which generates super-storms. However that is still five days away, and much could change (and I hope it does.)

Joe Bastardi has an interesting 15 minute video about the coming storm, and why the American GFS model fails to see the storm until only a few days before it arrives, at the Weatherbell Site. It is in his “Saturday Summery,” which is for the general public and is free.  [Over on the right hand side of the screen.] http://www.weatherbell.com/

20141206 satsfc

UPDATE  —11:00 PM  STORM ENDS WITH SNOW

Just as the precipitation ended, we received a quick blast of snow.

20141206B rad_ne_640x480

This storm was a close call, as the temperature never got above 36.  Later in the winter, with the surrounding landscape colder, it likely would have been all snow. The pressure never fell that much, and is currently at 30.25 (1024 mb) . We received roughly an inch of rain, judging from what I poured from the goats food dishes, where they were exposed. The goats looked disconsolate, as they don’t like rain but it is getting muddy under the barn. They may even decide moving indoors isn’t such an imposition. I worked at fixing up their stables, my hands clusy in the raw cold.  (I intend to have the stables strong enough to hold an elephant before attempting to coral the goats again.  What a total mess they made of things, last time.)

The map shows the resurgence of warmth was largely deflected east, and the arctic is coming south. If you compare this map to yesterday’s you can see the cold air has pressed back towards the Canadian Rockies across Alberta to the west, and has come down from Hudson Bay to the St Lawrence Valley to the east. The high pressure area following our current storm and warm resurgence has pumped up to 30.40 (1029 mb) and now holds less Chinook air, with arctic air sweeping south in its eastern side.

If this was an ordinary year, this would be a wintry map, for this early in December. The very fact people are calling this a “warm-up” and speaking of winter “backing off” shows how very cold November was. Ordinarily this is when winter is just starting to come south, with maps that look like this one.  However we know this is no ordinary year. This is the start of the worst winter ever.

20141206B satsfc

(As always, click these maps, or open them to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge.)

LOCAL VIEW —WORST WINTER EVER—(A Synopsis) Updated

I figured a sensational headline might get you interested.

I looked over at Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at Weatherbell, and got a bit of a shock. Despite the fact we are midst a “warm spell,” the European model is printing out three storms next week. I can only suppose “warm” is a relative term, and “above-normal” can still be below freezing and still produce snow.  It may only amount to three inches in Boston, but if you look at the map below you will notice a lobe of higher amounts sticking down into south central New Hampshire, which would mean that these hills got over 28 inches. Yikes!  Now I understand why Joe Bastardi calls this pattern the “Heckuva Way To Run A Warm Up Pattern.”

Worst ecmwf_tsnow_ne_41(3)

This brings back a memory from when I was young, involving the way old-timers would worry when it got warm during the winter. Severe cold didn’t bother them much, because they would simply say “It is too cold to snow” and get on with their work.  However warmth promised snow, and snow was a bother and a nuisance, (and rain would bring muck and slush that would freeze and be worse,) so they would crumple their brows when the weather got nice.  It didn’t make a lick of sense to me, for to me the nice weather made the snow sticky, and be better suited for making forts and conducting snowball wars.

People now don’t need to work outside so much, but they still furrow their brows when the weather gets nice. They think it suggests Global Warming is occurring and the sea will rise and drown Boston. It still doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but perhaps it is best I don’t go there.

In any case, the current computer models are showing a mild spell, but the above graphic demonstrates that might not keep this from being the worst winter ever. Therefore I will continue to record the storms, as if this might be an event people in the future would want to read about.

You people in the future might be interested to know that we people back at this time still had little idea what lay ahead, despite an amazing arctic outbreak in mid November that buried towns on the shores of the Great Lakes in as much as seven feet of snow, and also a rare Thanksgiving snowstorm. The waves of arctic cold were countered by waves of resurgent mildness, and the snow-cover that blanketed the land all the way south to Texas retreated back to the Dakotas often enough to allow us to entertain the hope the heart of the winter might not be all that bad.  You know if we were fools, but at this point we don’t.

Tonight we are experiencing the resurgent mildness. We had a snow-eater fog earlier, and now the low clouds are hurrying above, lit by a waxing moon that occasionally peeks down at the pines that roar up in the heights. The west wind brings a cold front this way, but we still hear the sounds of thaw, as the last of the snow and freezing rain that encrusted the trees this morning plash to earth, and eves drip. The roads are bare and the foot of snow that fell over Thanksgiving has shrunk to a dense inch, with bare patches on south-facing slopes. The temperature peaked at around 46, but has only fallen back to 41, as the pressure continues to fall even as the snow-event moves away, now down to 29.86.

20141203B satsfc20141203B rad_ne_640x480

The lake -effect snow behind the cold front, shown by the radar, suggests the air is below freezing. Remember that below-freezing can be above-normal, now that we’ve reached the month of December.

If I’m looking for stuff to worry about I look up to the southwest of Hudson Bay, at the second cold front bringing arctic air in our general direction. Then I look to the very bottom of the map, at what seems to be a tropical whirl appearing south of Jamaica.  (Believe it or not, New England’s 400 years of weather history does contain a few references to what they called “snow-hurricanes.”) At the very least, a glob of tropical moisture coming north could add punch to a nor’easter.

Actually I’ve got a bad case of the sniffles to worry about.  It seemed to be getting better, however after cleaning up slush this morning I’ve been laying low, pampering myself just a little. I did go and buy some Italian chestnuts so the children can understand the song with the lines, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Jack Frost Nipping at your nose…”

It’s funny how it once sounded cozy and romantic to have Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Now it just makes me worry my nose will turn blue.  When I was a boy I never much liked old guys with blue noses.

While pampering myself I got bored, and decided I should prepare a list of snow events that occurred during the “Worst Winter Ever.”

WORST WINTER EVER SNOW EVENTS

  • #0 November 3  Just missed us to the east; coastal nor’easter. Caused concern just before the Patriots-Bronco’s game, but field was cleared up before game time.
  • #1 November 14  Mini-nor’easter. 1 inch, melted by noon.
  • #2 November 17  Trace of snow changed to freezing rain, then rain. Primary low over Hudson Bay with secondary right over us.
  • #3 November 19 Dusting from Alberta Clipper bringing Arctic Outbreak #1 and amazing lake-effect snows by Great Lakes; only a few flurries made it this far east.
  • #4 November 23 Dusting at the very start of a mild surge as a storm moved up to the Great Lakes and then northeast through Quebec.
  • #5 November 26 Thanksgiving Storm. 12 inches. Formed on cold front trailing down coast from #4. Just barely below freezing, and little wind.
  • #6 November 29 Norlun Wave that formed behind Thanksgiving Storm. Followed by brief Arctic Outbreak #2. Temperature 3 degrees in Jaffrey.
  • #7 December 2 Another secondary on front dangling from a mild-surge storm that passed well north, over southern Hudson Bay. 1 inch followed by freezing rain, then rain.

There.  That’s a fine start to a worst winter ever, especially when I think back to milder Decembers when people were worried whether we’d have a white Christmas or not. I can remember one year, either 1991 or 1992, when it was in the sixties in December and I was hired to do some last minute house-painting. The way some are responding to the recent computer model’s ideas of a warm-up, they are expecting similar warmth this December, however when I look at the European map of snow totals by a week from tomorrow, I doubt much house-painting will be seen in New Hampshire.

UPDATE  —Take your pick—

Insomnia has me up at 2:00 AM, and I thought I’d take a look at what the computer models show for next Wednesday.  The American (GFS) shows fair weather for New England, while the Canadian (JEM) shows a howling storm.  The fascinating thing is they start out with roughly the exact same data, and come up with such wildly differing solutions. (The American map is on top and the Canadian on the bottom. (Click to enlarge.)

Pick gfs_precip_mslp_noram_53 Pick cmc_precip_mslp_noram_27

(Maps created by Dr. Ryan Maue at the Weatherbell site.)

LOCAL VIEW —Warm Sweeper—

Today the wind was kindly, from the southwest and, if not warm, not cold. Temperatures were a little over 50, (+11 Celsius) and the snow wilted away. I sat in the sun and basked, feeling more thankful than I felt on Thanksgiving.

One thing I don’t fully understand is why the warm fronts have such trouble pushing north into New England, while other times they rush past and all the way up to Labrador. In theory I know it has to do with the upper air pattern, and whether the troughs ripple around the planet or lock in place and stand still, but that is just theory.  Reality is down to earth, and, because I know how cold air can refuse to budge week after week, it seems wonderful when it does budge.

Though this is a break in the cold weather, all the ups and downs in temperature tend to give everyone colds. I’ve got one, and it felt good to relax in the sun today.  My body feels the exercise I’ve gotten recently, shoveling snow and splitting firewood, and though I’m sure it is getting me in shape the transitional shape I’m in sad shape, and enjoy a good slouch.

We’ve gone from having a foot of snow to having about two inches. The snow-cover maps show the snow again retreating north. The maps below are from five days ago (top) and today (bottom).

Snowcover 20141201B ims2014331_usa Snowcover 20141201A ims2014335_usa

 

The maps also give an idea how swiftly Hudson Bay is freezing over. It is ahead of schedule. Once it is iced over our north winds get colder.

The weather map shows the storm that passed far to our west has traveled over southern Hudson Bay and is now stalling way up in the right corner off the north coast of Labrador.  The warm front whisked through  without even a sprinkle, though it did make some rain when it caught up to the cold air north of Maine. The following cold front is catching up to the mild air’s moisture, and the radar shows a bit of snow in the middle of the USA.

20141201 satsfc 20141201 rad_nat_640x480

Although this is the seventh storm, it is hard to call it storm #7 when we haven’t gotten anything but mild breezes and sunshine.  Perhaps I’ll skip numbering it, unless a secondary on the front dusts us with some snow.

 

LOCAL VIEW —THANKSGIVING STORM APPROACHES— updated with afterward

This is a quick insomnia report, to show maps of the storm #5’s development, and also to express amazement that anyone would have the sheer audacity to forecast snow, when it only got down to 39 last night (as of 4:00 AM) and is still 46 in Boston.  In fact it is only recently that the radar started to show snow at the northwest edge of the rain.

20141126A rad_nat_640x480_05 20141126B rad_nat_640x480_11

If I was a suspicious fellow, I might suspect the fellows over at the weather bureau were pulling our legs.  After all, it likely gets boring looking at isobars all the time. Maybe they decided to cause general panic and hysteria throughout the east coast just for the fun of it, and now are sniggering up their sleeves.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

20141126A satsfc (click maps to enlarge)

I’ll update later, after I’m done hysterically panicking.

UPDATE–8:00 AM EST

Storm is deepening over South Carolina. Watch to see if the following second low over Florida persists. A strung-out storm is weaker.

Temperature here has dropped 4 degrees to 36 in 4 hours. Alto stratus with some high scud indicating falling rain, from west. Radar shows rain here, but it isn’t reaching the ground. Pressure in Manchester 30.19 Hg and falling. In Jaffrey 30.16 Hg.

20141126C satsfc 20141126C rad_ne_640x480

UPDATE  —2:00 PM—  Storm is here.

The first flakes started falling at 8:30 AM. There was no rain.  I went and picked some wild cranberries with one of the older boys.  The bright berries contrasted nicely with the purple-green foliage and the white snow.  Then we dug the final row of potatoes, plus some scattered onions and carrots that remained, from the frozen and then re-thawed soil, which was very muddy. I wore yellow raingear which soon was covered with briwn slush.

In the yard a boy built a snowman as the snow swiftly mounted up to over two inches. The snowman was a bit muddy as well. Parents came early to pick up their kids. Now only a single child remains.

20141126D satsfc20141126D rad_ne_640x480

Temperatures down to 34 Manchester, 32 Jaffrey.  Pressures still fairly high, at 30.11 Manchester and 30.07 Jaffrey.

UPDATE  —7:00 PM—in for keeps—   (not posted until 9:00 AM)

Temperatures down to 32 at Manchester and 30 at Jaffrey.  Can’t check pressures, as we have just lost our internet connection. but at 6:00 Manchester was down to 29.89 and Jaffrey was down to 29.87.

I’ve saved the maps but can’t access them at the moment. Nor can I post this, so why am I writing?  Life is such a mystery at times!

At least we still have power, though the lights keep blinking. The snow is so sticky that all the electrical wires look as thick as a man’s thigh, like long white noodles.

My last outdoor job was to snow-blow the Childcare drive so the last,  lone child and single member of the staff could leave. We had around five inches then, at 5:00, and have aound seven now, at 7:00.  The drive home was a creeping crawl. Coming down the steep hill into town I saw a policeman pushing a car with spinning tires up the hill, well away from his cruiser and its flashing blue lights.  You don’t see that every day.

Now I’m home and there are very few things that could pry me from my chair and out the door again.

20141126E satsfc 20141126E rad_ec_640x480

FINAL UPDATE  —AFTERWARDS—

We received a total of a foot, tapering off to light snow by midnight. Winds remained fairly light and the pressure never got below 29.85. Temperatures remained mild, and this morning it is at 34 in Manchester to our east and 28 in Jaffrey to our west. The snow was very sticky, and all the trees are burdened and stooped, especially the evergreens, which barely show any green at all, and resemble big blobs of white. Everwhites, perhaps, or that is what they will be until the wind picks up. 

I’ve been out shoveling this morning, to prove to my sons that the old man is tougher than he appears, and to make them feel guilty for sleeping late.  The snow was fairly light until I got to the pile the plow made by the road. Then I spent a lot of time leaning on my shovel, except for a brief time shoveling vigorously because a car was passing, and I wanted to keep my reputation.  I used to have the reputation of being “hale”,  but now I think I’m called “spry.”  I’m not sure I like the demotion.

I’m not sure when we got our internet connection back. One of my sons rebooted the computer, and there it was.  I went to look at my favorite blogs, and at Weatherbell saw Joseph D’Aleo claim places had two feet of snow. We usually get the most, because we face the east in these hills, and I doubted very much that Flatlanders down in the cities could get two feet, when we only got a fluffy foot that settled to ten inches by morning.  I thought this might be one of those rare occasions where I’m right and Mr. D’Aleo is wrong, but then I’ll be darned if he didn’t go and offer photographic proof:

TWO_FEET

In Canada that would be “61 cm of snow fell this morning,” and the joke would make no sense. Nor do we make sense for celebrating Thanksgiving five weeks too late.

http://www.insidehalton.com/whatson-story/4923662-10-reasons-why-canadian-thanksgiving-is-better-than-american-thanksgiving/

Be that as it may, thanks for visiting and HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Oh, I nearly forgot the Afterward maps: (Note the new lake-effect snows, and the small storm being whisked south of us.)

20141127 satsfc 20141127 rad_ec_640x480

CALGARY, PREPARE FOR EXTREME COLD!

I was looking “upstream,” for hints at what the weather will be like downstream, here in New Hampshire, after our Thanksgiving snowstorm, and I came across this Dr. Ryan Maue map at the Weatherbell site. It is an anomaly map, showing if temperatures are above or below normal, and shows the conditions 90 hours from now, on Saturday.

The map shows it will be a little below normal round here, in the fading north winds after our Thanksgiving storm, but then I look northwest to western Canada…

Yikes!  That light purple is temperatures more than 50 degrees below normal, Fahrenheit. In actual fact the coldest spots are off the color-code key to the right of the map, which only goes as low as 50 below normal.  If you look at the small writing at the upper right, you see the lowest is actually -63.6 of normal.  Double Yikes! (Click maps, or open-to-new-tab, to clarify and enlarge.)

Calgary cold Nov 25 gfs_t2m_anomf_noram_16

In terms of actual temperatures, it looks like the core of that cold will touch -50, but Calgary may be to the edge and “only” get to -23. (-31 Celsius.)

Calgary cold Nov 25 gfs_t2m_noram_31

 

They can keep that stuff up there, as far I’m concerned. For heaven’s sake! It isn’t even December yet!

My hope is that the cold clashes with the above normal air to the south, and brews up a big west-coast gale. Some models are showing California getting some needed rain as a storm hits them at the end of the weekend. If that storm would only suck in the cold, and swirl it around with Pacific air, it would be much milder when it came east.

LOCAL VIEW —THANKSGIVING SNOW? MILD AT THE MOMENT—

Quite a lovely rush of mild air swept over us yesterday, after the day began with a cold rain and temperatures down close to freezing. I didn’t mind the chill as I’d picked my smoked bacon and ham up, at the slaughterhouse in Troy, and was using the back of my truck as a sort of refrigerator, because the refrigerator in the house is crammed with stuff for Thanksgiving.

It was 36 when I drove the 6 five-year-olds to kindergarten, and then I went home to test out the fresh bacon for breakfast.  It was delicious, but then the after-effects of insomnia hit, and even though I had a ton to do I lay down to listen the lulling drumming of rain on the roof, and the next thing I knew it was over an hour later and the low sun was beaming through the window into my eyes. I headed into the cool kitchen for a second coffee, and stepped out onto the porch, and it was ten degrees warmer outside than inside.  (62 versus 52) (17 vs.11 Celsius) A warm front had swept north and past us.

It was hard to take the winter storm watches seriously when the kind wind was ruffling fingers through my hair, but I managed to potter about, putting the smoked meat from the back of the now too-warm pick-up into the freezer, getting some late carrots from the thawing soil in the frozen garden, dismantling the box I built in the back of my truck when I moved the pigs, moving the lumber into the stall to repair the goats stables with, instructing the fellow who came by to tow off my youngest son’s car to the shop to be fixed, loading the porch with firewood, all the while in a dreamy mood due to the mildness.

20141124B satsfc 20141124B rad_ne_640x480

Even after dark it stayed mild. The family is starting to gather for Thanksgiving, and we had a fresh ham for dinner with six adults and a baby at the table. (I never seem to get to enjoy much empty-nest-syndrome.) A lot a talk was about the coming storm, even as we were in T shirts due to the heat from the oven and the nearly completely closed-up wood-stove (which has had the same fire burning in it since mid-October.) I checked the computer and saw that at the Weatherbell site Joe Bastardi had noted the NAM model had upped the snow amounts:

Thkz3 Screen_shot_2014_11_24_at_9_40_56_PM

Now I’m up at 2:00 AM with my typical insomnia, and it is still mild, with hazy starlight. It is nearly impossible to imagine that in 24 hours it is suppose to be snowing heavily.  It is 57 out, (14 Celsius) and 64 (18 Celsius) down in Fitchburg, a half hour south of here in Massachusetts. The cold front won’t get here until around daybreak. Even though I can see the backlash snow well west of here, north of Chicago on the radar, and can see the first hint of low pressure down in South Carolina,  it is hard to think the storm won’t be rain.

20141125B satsfc 20141125B rad_nat_640x480

Considering worry is something I am all too good at, it seems odd I am doing such a bad job of it.

The mildness has chased the snow-cover north, and it has retreated greatly from its record-setting levels of only five days ago, when it was just north of here and clear down to Texas. However the west side of Hudson Bay is freezing up swiftly. The warmth never got up that far.

Snowcover 20141125 ims2014328_usa