Sunday, January 31, 2010

View from the Porch

No, not that porch, my porch. Well, actually from by back deck, but you get the idea :)

As you can see, we've had a bit of winter weather here at Casa de Casey. It started Friday afternoon, on the way home from work. About five miles or so North of town, I started seeing snow falling, and the farther I went, the more obvious it became that snow had been falling for a while. I called Goose, to let him know what he faced when he finally got shut of the office, and then called my wife to make sure she and the kids were getting home ok.

I do that, because as I've pointed out here before, winter weather in the South, is not at all like what our neighbors to the North think of when they imagine snowfall.

This started off benignly enough. It'd been warm the days before, so the snow wasn't sticking to any of the pavement, but was accumulating nicely on anything that didn't have vehicles traveling over it. The snow itself was a bit unusual, at least at my house. Normal snow here is large wet flakes, that clump together and make a mess of everything. This snow on the other hand, was fine and dry. I remarked on it to my wife, because it was glittering in the light as it fell, which is what marked it as unusual. We ended up with about four inches of snow, which isn't bad at all, until Saturday morning came around. That's when the sleet started. What you see on the railing there is about four inches of snow, compressed down to about three inches thickness by the weight of the full inch of sleet on top of it.

This makes for dangerous conditions outside. The roads were wet, from where the snow melted on them Friday afternoon, and then froze solid as temperatures dipped below freezing overnight. Snow piled up on top of the frozen roadway, and was then compressed by the sleet falling on top of it. Couple that with the fact that temperatures hovered right around freezing all day yesterday, which means it was not warm enough to melt the sleet away, but just enough to make it stick together, and you have quite the ice sandwich to attempt to drive on.

Needless to say, we decided to stay home this weekend. I got a fire going in the woodstove, and the wife got a pot of beef stew going. The kids had fun playing in the snow and sleet, and a generally good day was had by all.

Of course, today, the temps are well above freezing, pushing close to 40 degrees, and everything is melting fast, just as it should be here in the South. :) A nice snowy weekend, but clearing off in time that the morning commute tomorrow should be difficult at all, aside from the odd patch of black ice on the road where trees have shaded it from getting sunlight today.

The picture above was taken this morning, about an hour or so after sunrise, before the temperature started rising. That low hanging cloud off to the South is obscuring a view of the nearest small town, about ten miles away or so. You can see it easily on a clear day.

The bird feeder is a gift from my In-Laws. It holds black sunflower seeds, and, so far, has not been given over to the predations of the local squirrel population. We normally see a variety of birds at it, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Tufted Titmice, Goldfinches, Carolina Wrens, House Finches, Carolina Chickadees, Purple Finches, and the odd Nuthatch or two.

The reason it's so free of snow accumulation in this picture, is that we've recently had a new visitor to the feeder, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. Now we have a number of woodpeckers in our area, the Pileated, the Downy, the Flicker, and the Yellow-Bellied SapSucker, however, this is the first time I've ever seen a Red-Bellied, and the first time I've ever seen a woodpecker at the feeder. We see them all the time on the trees around the yard, but never on the feeder itself. A first time for everything I guess.

Hope you're all having an enjoyable weekend, I think I'm going to take a nap now :)


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