Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Short Winter

Even if it's still snowing in May, this will have been a short winter. We were still waiting for winter to "start" halfway through January. The same weekend that I gave up on snow and invested in a new clothesline, the temperature plunged and we were treated to three weeks of temperatures that rarely left the single digits.

The picture above was taken in our yard about halfway through the cold period. It was one of those dark days, when we needed to use the lights in the kitchen all day. Although we installed second floor heat vents in this old farmhouse, we don't make a serious effort to heat beyond the kitchen and twin parlours. We just stay downstairs until it's time to go to bed.

Yesterday the temperature trend reversed itself just as fast: from nighttime temps around zero, we reached a sunny-day high of 40 degrees F. I hung out laundry for the first time this year and it dried in the southwest breeze.
This is one of Shelagh's pictures, from January's ice storm in Ann Arbor. As a college student, she doesn't drive. When you're walking everywhere an ice storm is less of a hazard and more of a visual treat. She said the trees stayed coated like this for three or four days. She took this picture because it "reminded me of Narnia".

If this winter was like a ski slope, what we're missing is "base." The arctic air masses have showed up and are as cold as expected, maybe colder. But when the arctic air retreats, we get temperatures pushing forty, instead of those seemingly endless weeks of "highs in the twenties, lows in the teens."

Liz reports from Evanston that Lake Michigan is ice-covered "as far as I can see." This corresponds with NOAA's ice-cover map. Suttons Bay is full of chop ice, but I expect it to blow out any day.

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