means different things, depending on where you live.
some, it doesn’t happen. Never seen it. There are actually folks
that will make attempts to time a visit to Minnesota or Massachusetts
or other exotic northern locations based on hopes to watch snow
fall and actually play in a pile of it.
many, it’s a reality of seasonal life. It happens. It gets shoveled.
thing is, it’s not simply a case of whether or not it snows. It’s
when it snows and the temperature when it does and more.
was thinking about that this morning. Why? Because my wife opened
the curtains and exclaimed: “I thought you said that announcement
last night about snow wasn’t for us!” And… a bit of information
and context might be necessary before we venture off.
you live in the northeast United States, it snows. But, you knew
that. What you might not have known is that in upstate regions
of some states—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York as examples—it
basically snows all the time in winter months. As in, All
is a fairly simple equation. Precipitation + cold temperatures
= snow. See? Simple. (Yes, yes, please hold back on e-mails of
the more complex descriptions and scenarios. It’s raining and
below freezing, we get snow. Let’s leave it clean and basic. (Kind
those upstate regions, the winter is almost without exception
always cold. There have been months in recent years where the
average overnight temperature in several towns and cities… nothing
adjusted, no wind chill or feels like or whatever alternative
descriptions might be applied by some, just the temperature… averaged
negative numbers. Months where the high temperature averaged single
cold. Bitterly so. And in such scenarios, any moisture in the
air presents the potential for snow and frost on your car in the
there are all sorts of weather alerts that may be offered to us
these days. News broadcasts and smartphone apps offer advisories
and warnings and more. And there is a method in how those of us
living in the northeast have come to interpret them…
listen, but we don’t.
is so easy for a strong wind to come across and create a surge
of lake effect snow with only a bit advance notice that you simply
can’t look five days out on a February forecast and accept it
as carved in stone. Things change. They change quickly, and at
weather watch means something might be coming so get prepared,
a warning means it is almost definitely going to strike. But I
don’t know that the differences really matter. We do like predictions
of how much and when so we can plan our approach to it. But honestly…
you won’t catch many people in Buffalo, Stowe, Littleton or Bangor
unprepared for snow, whether three inches or three feet arrive.
Succinctly put, in Caribou, Maine, people understand snow regardless
of advance notice.
and whistles and notices five days in advance are cute, but for
every one that arrives five days in advance there will be two
or three that arrive merely hours ahead of the first flakes.
this case, my wife was talking about a television show we had
been watching the night before, when a weather alert notice scrolled
across the bottom of the screen. The notice itself concerned lake
effect snow and wind warnings for locations further north. Not
us. No mention of our county at all.
she awoke to snow. Right there, on the railing of the deck.
much, actually. Maybe a half to three-quarters of an inch. However,
it was the type I call cotton candy snow. Ever put some cotton
candy in your mouth? Then you know how quickly it virtually melts
and dissolves and disappears. The light fluffy stuff on the cars
this morning was so ridiculously light and fluffy that I could
have cleared the windshield by exhaling a soft puff of air.
kind of a crazy thing. Snow.
took two minutes to wipe off multiple cars and sweep the walkways.
(Yes, sweep. A broom worked but a shovel really wouldn’t have.)
And yet, it was high enough that a ruler could have been used
to give it an amount. Toward the record books, it was an accumulation
of measurable snowfall.
don’t need a storm for it. Just single digit thermometers and
a bit of moisture in the air.