7 February, 2013

Hi Folks,

To anybody that happens to actually be following my blog, let me apologise for the relative lack of posts over the last week or so.  I had lots of various chores to work up around here, and there were, as is becoming usual, some health issues.   My basic plan is to add one good sized post and a couple of short chatty posts per week.  If anybody comments, I will reply, of course, if it seems I should. 

After a bit of cold weather in early January, it appears that around here we are having an extended early spring.  We seem to be in a weather pattern having bright days with a high of about 40F (5 C) and a low of about 20 F (-6 C).  This pattern is far different than what it used to be at this time of year.  The highs are typically 40 deg F warmer than in the bad old days.  And our snow cover mostly isn’t.   We have scattered skiffs of crusty snow, but there is a lot of barren ground. 

Such a weather pattern is not good for our local vegetation – trees transpire away their moisture, but the ground remains frozen so they can’t replenish what is lost, and as a result, there is a lot of winter kill.   Also our snow cover is damnably low, which will give us a drought come summer.   But… I’ve got to say, even with all the negatives, I can do without the blistering cold.  Now, we certainly can – and probably will  – get some very cold periods before the definitive spring sets in, but the longer it stays the present version of nice, the better I will like it.

With the nice weather, we have been having a herd of furry birds hanging around eating the seed I put out for birds.   There is little forage for these animals, and I am quite worried about their survival.  About 15 years ago, we had a yearling fawn die of starvation in one of our flower beds, and that was a really sad thing to watch.  By the time she showed up in our yard she was too far gone for me to do anything except provide a quiet environment for her.   And then I had to dispose of the body.   She was less than half the normal weight for that time of year.

So far this year, though… so good.

Mom and her two kids last year's fawns,, resting by evergreens in our back yard.

Mom naps with her two kids, last year’s fawns, all resting by evergreens in our back yard.   This doe has distinctive markings, and I have photographs of her in our yard since 2002, when she was a half grown fawn.


Have a good one, if you can.

More later,

Cheers, Ron

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2 Responses to “7 February, 2013”

  1. Alex Hirsekorn says:

    Hi Ron,

    This post got me thinking about our local weather and climate. Because of our proximity to the Pacific, such things change more slowly and subtely than in your area but change they do. My main point of comparison is that I remember having somewhat more snow in the lowlands and a LOT more snow in the mountains as well as the mountain snow being far more persistant; I recall large areas of virtually permanent snowpack being visible from Port Angeles (= lower elevations of the Olympic Mountains). That is no longer the case and now, by July or so there are only a few tiny patches of snow visible from the same viewpoint.
    Conversely, recently there have been reports in the local media about snowpacks in various areas in Washington being at very high levels. The latest report says that the snowpack in the Olympics is at 213% of “normal”.
    I’m pretty confident in my memory of how things were during my childhood so I went looking for an explanation for the difference between my view and the official statistics.
    Turns out that “normal”, at least in this case, has been codified into a sort of average for the last thirty years; as such, normality has become a moving target that tends to obscure the long range view in most media. Today’s snowpack comparisons are drawn from data gathered between 1980 and 2010; I’m convinced that comparisons to earlier periods or broader timescales would look very different.
    You have often drawn attention to the idea that no one really knows what a coral reef or other ecosystem ‘should’ look like because we are all limited by the longevity of our experience. That’s a powerful and useful concept that, by its nature, must be a bit fuzzy around its edges. OTOH: This thirty year average thing strikes me as a codified way of deluding ourselves that things aren’t quite as bad as we might otherwise think.

    Conspiritorily yours,

    • Ron says:

      Hi Alex,

      Yeah, the aspect of using a 30-year moving average as “normal”, sure is obscurring any changes. Some years ago I did a presentation about the climate change in Livingston, and was able to go back with good “weather station” data to 1895. These data showed quite convincingly that we had had a nice rise in temperature over the century. And they showed that the rise accelerated starting in 1950. As I was born in ’48, I have never seen what the indians and gold panners of 1864 (the first whites who lived for long periods in MT) ever experienced as a normal winter. For that I am glad. ‘Twas cold enough to free ’em of the proverbial brass monkey here. Sure is a lot nicer now, but if we use a 30-year rolling average, it hasn’t gotten all that much warmer.

      If we use the plants… well, the spring wildflowers are now anywhere from 3 weeks to a month earlier in their blooming. They are the real indicators of the change.

      Cheers, Ron