Friday, January 19, 2018

Winterwise, all bets are off

Apparently, the combination of La Nina, the volcano in Bali about which we hear nothing anymore, and climate change in general, has brought us wild fluctuations that defy routine.

Christmas brought snow, followed by subzero nights and days where the temperature stayed below 10F for the most part. I recorded nighttime lows of -14F, -15F, and -10F before leaving for Baltimore to copilot the cellist back to her school-year employment in the Baltimore area.

Baltimore was as cold as a slightly below normal New Hampshire January. Water mains were bursting all over the city. There were more than 50 of them while I was there. And, of course, the plight of Baltimore city schools has made national news.

I was snowbound in Baltimore when barely an inch of it fell during the "Bomb Cyclone." Helplessly I watched the storm swirl over my home, while was stuck 500 miles away. My train to Connecticut kept getting canceled. While my part of New Hampshire got less than 10 inches, It was followed by a frigid wave with lows down around -20F, and relentless winds.

After just enough time for me to clear the driveway, porches and decks, and rake the roof edges, the temperature mounted steadily above freezing before vaulting into the 50s, with heavy rain. Nearly all of the snow disappeared. The fog was like trying to see through a sheep.

After another little dip toward zero, the temperature settled at an unspectacular but still frozen level. The four or five inches of snow we got on Wednesday made the roads slippery, but did nearly nothing to reopen the cross-country ski trails.

My prediction, based on the pessimism born of 31 years living in New England, is that the next shot of bitterly cold air will arrive around the third week of March, followed by large storms of heavy, wet snow. Spring snow is horrible for spring skiing, because it is always clumpy, and never manages to firm up. You need a decaying snowpack that has consolidated over a couple of months to get the legendary best conditions. My forecast is based on the idea that I will be jonesing hard for the bike commute by then, so what can nature do to make that highly inadvisable. Last winter went a bit like that. I had started riding base miles in February and early March when winter came stumbling back with a series of storms that ended with a 10-inch snowfall on April 1. It was mid April before I started a somewhat regular schedule of riding.

Whatever happens, we'll creep in this petty pace from day to day. Time to creep off to work now.

No comments: