Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunset through forest

When a forecast in my area calls for a “wintry mix,” you can be sure that up on the mountain I will see the wintry part of the precipitation. With some regularity, I will encounter rain down in the valley, and as I am driving up Roundtop Mtn., I can watch the temperature drop and then suddenly, the trees will be ice- or snow-covered. This usually happens about 200 ft. below my cabin, though I’ve seen it happen as few as 50 feet below. Often, someone looking up can even see the line across the mountain where the changeover took place. Whenever I see that line, I can bet my cabin will be above it.

The latest storms predicted for tonight and tomorrow probably won’t be much, though when precipitation falls as ice, it doesn’t take much to make everything treacherous.

Yesterday, the sky gave no sign of an impending storm. By sunset, when I took today’s photo, there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky. At first light this morning, I could already see the cloud shield covering about half the sky, moving slowly but inexorably, hiding more of the blue sky by the minute.

Up here on the mountain, where I am surrounded by forest and sky, watching weather patterns moving in and out has become something of a hobby. I often think about the time, not very long ago, when the only “forecasts” came from old sayings by sailors or farmers. Many are true in large measure. “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” Yep. “Dew on the grass, no rain will pass.” Yep. And for this one, the opposite, no dew, often presages rain.

But even though they are usually true, these little weather sayings don’t give much warning time for bad weather ahead. Last evening is a good case in point—not a cloud in the sky. This morning, I can tell there’s a storm ahead, but if I was a sailor or a farmer, a few hours notice wouldn’t give me much time to prepare. For that, today’s modern radar is a very good thing.

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