Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wildly Unpredictable Winter Weather

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
-Bill Morgan, Jr.

Having lived in Georgia for the last twenty years, I have learned to accept that there is only one predictable truth about winters in Georgia:
Winters in Georgia are entirely and quite wildly unpredictable!
 

Friday  
Having said that over and over again, even people who have lived here all their lives still do not seem to understand and accept the simplicity of this inerrant truth. This is why I always expect any winter front to be far worse than any of the predictions.

We were told up to three days ago that it might snow and that we might see accumulation of up to an inch on our decks and in the grass, a dusting perhaps. (We were also told that about a week ago and all we got was some rain.)

Two days ago that changed to possibly four inches of snow. The state had all bridges and overpasses prepared ahead of time. Georgia officials stepped up our winter weather preparedness ever since the terrible fiasco in January 2014: When it Snows in Georgia.

In the dark before the dawning day, it started with a winter mix of sleet and rain. I know because my Mishka woke me far too early for his morning outing and we were out in it. There already was some slippery slush on the steps but nothing that was not easily displaced by my low tread garden boots. (Do not let that sweet innocent look fool you. He is a just wanted to jump back into the snow after we just got him out of it.)



A friend in Arizona, who originally lived in Pennsylvania and may be missing those snowy winters, texted me to ask if we were snowed in yet. I texted back that here it is more about being "iced" in, because just few inches of accumulated snow ends up causing serious icy conditions, but I forgot that one should never say never in Georgia about winter storms.


The wintry mix changed to huge fluffy clumps of snow and by the end of the morning we had that four inches, but it was still snowing. The schools decided to end the day before noon.

The temperature was above freezing but the large fluffy flakes outpaced the melting of the fallen come-befores and my little world was blanketed in a wondrous white. We had a power outage for about two hours and then flickering in the power for about another 24 hours. Trees bowed under the unfamiliar weight and many lost branches, split, and fell over exposing the roots even though there was no wind.


The picture above is pointed in the same direction as the one below. You can see that our neighbor's tree split off a large branch. Those types of trees are notorious for splitting even with just heavy rains or a little wind when they are 20 years old. We just cut ours down a few weeks ago. (Yeah, I really have been doing other things when I have not been blogging.)


Since it was just snow and not ice, it probably would have been better if we had some wind that would have blown the snow off of the trees. So if you can imagine seeing six inches height of wet snow catching more flakes on the thinnest of branches, you can understand how amazingly different everything appeared to us. Well, not entirely because...it did not stop snowing at six inches. I measured it at about nine inches at dinner time and it apparently has continued to snow all night.


Saturday
Although my favored husband did make it home the night before, having to make a couple of detours around jack-knifed semi-trucks and accidents and working around vehicles parked on the side or the road or half in the ditch, Mishka decided to let him sleep and put his sweet wet nose in my face to say that I was the lucky pick again for his early morning outing. Mishka has discovered that he loves, loves, loves snow!

 


I measured and the snow was at twelve inches! TWELVE! (That's 30 centimeters for my metric friends.)


The temperature was just at freezing and it was predicted to dip down a bit and then will be rising enough for a slow melt. The sun was supposed to be hidden behind clouds today, but prediction has changed so today the roads will clear mostly and tonight everything will freeze again and that makes for patches of black ice, but for the most part all main roads will be mobile again—getting to them from the side roads is the problem.

This is the most snow we have ever seen here at one time, although I read that in 1993, before we moved here, a blizzard dumped 30 inches.

Why do I expect the unpredictability? If we had a strong relentless northwestern storm come blustering through like that 1993 blizzard, that would be more predictable, but when we have a weakening or stalling northwestern cold front that is just strong enough to slipstream the warm moist air up from the Gulf of Mexico in front of it making the northwest front turn into a southwest draw...well, it is not easy to predict if the moist warmer air will produce rain or the cold will prevail making snow or sleet. Amounts of any one of these depend on how slowly the storm moves east with one part trying to go southeast and the other pulling up toward the northeast making our area a point of turmoil.


Sunday Morning
As expected, after teetering around the magical temperature that turns water into ice, the weather decided to take a plunge into temperatures in the 20s at night. Then allowed some of the snow to melt in with temperatures in the 40s on Saturday to plunge again into the low 20's, so now what areas of the roads that did not dry out during the melting of the day are icy...at least until around noontime. We might not make it to church services, because our street and the roads to the main ones are icy but we will be able to go shopping and pick up my new bunnies around 3:00 since the sun will be out and temperatures are to be in the 40s again.

Typically, such crazy weather conditions are more likely to happen in January, but...Georgia!

I love its wild unpredictable winters.



My Lord, may we always be in surprised by Your creative ways that we cannot predict, even though we keep attempting to do so.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.