Just a while a go, I posted some comments about the current deluge. Well, I just drove from Cedar Rapids to Mount Vernon and several streams I cross are now 60 or 70 feet across, some tiny streams are rushing torrents, and the rain keeps coming down. All day, the radar has looked like we’re right at the end of the line of rain, but the line keeps forming. We’re over 7 inches now, and it looks like we could hit 10 by the time it’s all done. As I said, I’m building an ark…
Archive for the ‘weather’ Category
It has been slow going, but over the last few days Iowa has started turning green again. More importantly, yesterday and today saw the return of some of our good friends: hummingbirds, orioles, and grosbeaks are now at our feeders again. We’ve also had kinglets, phoebes, and meadowlarks for awhile, and the Goldeneyes have moved through already. This weekend also saw the return of thunderstorms, tornado sirens, and flash flood watches. Spring is here indeed.
Well, winter hit us with a vengeance this week. Several clippers came through, dropping about 16 inches of snow on us and then a serious deep freeze settled in. Wednesday and Thursday night both got down to -29 (that’s actual, not wind chill). I do love weather like this at least for short bursts (I’m not sure, for instance, if I could actually live in Alaska even though the romantic winter-lover in me pretends he could). Everything is so crisp and the snows whip into marvelous sculptures. On the other hand, it does take it’s toll. And that’s where birding comes in. The more you learn bird songs, the more you can hear the shift in seasons before they actually arrive. Thursday morning I was walking in to work, bundled up in layer after layer of clothing, walking across the creaking snow in the deep quiet of our small town. The sun was brilliant but ineffectual. It was a crystalline cold world. And there, ringing sharp and brilliant through the cold, were the clear tones of a cardinal’s spring song. It’s the first spring song I’ve heard, and it seemed so out of place in that context, but the birds don’t lie: no matter how deep the winter, spring is in fact just around the corner.
I had no intention of writing a blog about the weather. Then, last winter was so intense that I couldn’t help writing about the snow piled up against our door. And it kept coming and I kept commenting on it, seeing that our life was pretty consumed with ice and snow and twenty below for several months straight. But I figured it was just one of those years and I deserved to dwell on it a bit, but I’d get past it. Then we had the floods that rose up in large part from all the snow we had, and well I had to talk about the floods. But that too was an anomaly, worth talking about but I’d move on from the weather. Well, I’m here to say that today the weather went from a beautiful sunny late October sunday morning to an ominous gray windy late novemberish afternoon to, you guessed it, snow this evening. No accumulation or anything, but it definitely took me by surprise. We’ve barely gotten the roads straightened out from the abyssal potholes from last year and the snow is knocking on our door. Hmmm, am I ready? Let me put that Bear Republic stout that I’ve been saving into the fridge and I’ll get back to ya.
Yesterday was the first day of my spring break, and the whole day was a gray, drizzly, snowy washout. Today everything is coated with an inch of snow. 19 degrees right now and the sun is a dazzling mid-winter flash. I love winter, but I was certainly ready for it to be done. This is not exactly how I envisioned starting spring break, but I must say it’s a breathtaking morning. If I were one to wake a little more quickly (I’m up early, but that doesn’t mean I’m really awake until mid-morning) I’d have gotten the camera and snapped a few shots. Frankly, I’m more concerned with the next cup of coffee and staring out at the dazzling sight–and breathe a sigh of relief that I can already see it dripping away and remember that just a few days ago, I was taking stock of the bulbs that were starting to sprout around the yard, the sedum that were just starting to break out, and the first shoots of lilies and daisies starting to appear. By noon I’m guessing the snow will be gone, unlike a mere month ago where every inch kept piling up on themselves showing no signs of disappearing. Just a gentle reminder, I guess, but I’m not so sure of what…
I swore when I started this blog I wouldn’t discuss the weather–the cliche of bad conversation. But this winter has been nuts! Today warmed up into the mid 30s and I’m always amazed at how warm a sunny 34 feels after a long round of subzero (as in, is this the same temperature that I was freezing in back in late Oct? Now I’m out in t-shirt soaking up the sun). But the real issue right now is the roads. I just drove down to Iowa City (sure, a stop at John’s Grocery was the plan beyond all the other mundane matters I had to take care of–a few new Jolly Pumpkins for me to try this weekend) and the interstate is just crumbling. We’ve had so much ice, so much serious cold followed by thaws, that the edges of the highway are disintegrating and the middle strip is just one long gulch. Really, if you’re not careful when and how you change lanes, your car can get swallowed up and disappear and no one will find you for six more months. I am prone to exaggeration at times (and sometimes just a touch of sarcasm as one commenter hopefully realized concerning my last post) but really I’ve never seen roads this bad. I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands just to get on the highway. And the in-town roads, holy crap, are like four-wheeling. I’m gonna put a fire in the woodstove, open some beers, watch the snow melt, and I’ll see you in June.
It’s been a real “old-fashioned” winter here in Iowa this year (although I’m not sure what the term means–is that, like, pre-global-warming?). 50 some inches with several very serious ice storms thrown in for good measure in mid-december. Temperatures lately have been hovering between 10 below and 10 above. This last snow storm in particular was far too cold for salt on the roads to do anything. We’ve been driving on solid ice rather than road surface. My drive to Mt. Vernon on a nice, scenic rural route has been like Siberian permafrost, drifting shut every night with snow piles higher than my little mazda on both sides of the road. The driving in particular I think is wearing Iowans down.
That said, I’ve really been loving it. It is absolutely beautiful and my drive home at sunset the other night with wispy sundogs flaring through the frozen atmosphere was absolutely transcendental, the fields of drifting snow in the blue twilight like the sea rolling in toward the road. We’ve been out hiking many times in the bitterly cold and really there’s nothing like it. Sounds take on a different texture; the crystalline world reflecting every possible fragment of light. For me, winter is great as long as it stays winter. Once it starts pretending to be spring but really only offering days of damp bone-chilling grayness (I find those damp days in the low 30s much more unbearable than the dry subzero days), then my spirit begins to sag a bit. But that’s march; here in the frozen tundra of February I’m happy. And even in the deepest midwinter, I found myself walking across campus yesterday morning, brilliant sunshine and a balmy 5 below and there they were: the cardinals have started their spring songs and several were belting them out at full volume. Quite surreal and wonderful.
My only complaint then with all this serious weather is I have nowhere left to throw any snow. One more serious snow and I just may lose my back. Here’s a sample: