Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Clear and Cold

Big snow flake, picture taken by the "father of snow", The snowflakes photos here were taken by Kenneth Libbrecht of CalTech, using a specially-designed snowflake photomicroscope. They show real snow crystals that fell to earth in northern Ontario, Alaska, Vermont, the Michigan Upper Peninsula, and the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
Little snowflake.

This time of year "clear and cold" is a frequent weather report. This was explained by this rhyme from my childhood.

"As the days grow longer the cold grows stronger."

I will also report at this time that our first "cat-tracking snow" was very late this year. Our local Snow Witch or snow prognosticator, as she prefers to be called, forecasts 35 snowfalls this winter.

This last week we were suppose to have flurries through the day with accumulations of between 1" and possibly 3" near the "lake". The lake being Lake Michigan. I'm really not "near the lake" in the sense the weatherman is predicting. I stepped out of the house, seeing the very tiny flakes and thought:

"Big snow little snow; little snow big snow."

I'm sure this sounds like gobblety-gook to most of you. To others interested in the old ways of weather forecasting, read carefully. When the size of the snow flakes are large, conditions (cold, humidity, etc. in the upper atmosphere are right for a small amount of snowfall. When the snowflakes are small, heavy snows.

Since back moving to Wisconsin where my family has lived for over 150 years, I have been attempting to get to the meat of this saying. As such, I have noticed when the snowflake size changes from the small to large flakes the snow storm is finishing up. Last week when I walked out of the house and saw the tiny flakes, I thought, "Whoa! This is a lot more than an inch or so."

It ended up being somewhere between 7" and 10". I shoveled, and shoveled, and shoveled.

So what's the cut-off between a little and a big snowfall? I've been analyzing this,too. I would say somewhere between 3" and 4" is that line, at least this has been my observation.

In this digital age we are moving farther and farther away from the wisdom of observation and more into the realm of science. The weather persons were all over themselves apologizing for the vast difference in call this last storm.

They could have asked me...

I came across Libbrecht's research working on a picture book on snow for the Twins. With an entire generation separating their father (my brother) and me, I feel the need to pass along these "wisdoms."

Now, if I could just get the village Snow Witch into sharing her knowledge which allows her to predict our annual number of snowfalls with such accuracy! For other weather stories, search my blog using the search tool and enter "snow witch".

Have a Happy New Year! (And, if it is sunny and the moon is close to full, expect fairly cold weather.)

1 comment:

  1. Happy new year to you! We have just a couple of inches on the ground, which I guess means we have big snowflakes.