Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘weather

Oops, Snowy

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You’d think I would know better. In my post yesterday I gushed about the fact we had dodged the snowfall that places north of us were getting. Sure it was a day of messy, wet precipitation with temperatures hovering so close to freezing it felt challenging to set foot outside. But, at least it wasn’t snowy, I wrote.

Such a naive suburban fool. (Tim Curry lyric, Paradise Garage, 1979.)

Reality was hard to ignore this morning.

Thank goodness, Cyndie offered to allow me to stay in bed while she did horse chores this morning. This is the first time she has taken on the morning routine all by herself since she broke her ankle last November. I’m experiencing a feverish reaction to my shingles vaccination shot administered yesterday morning.

On Thursday, I received notice via email that it was time for my annual health checkup with my doctor. Using their online system, I found an available appointment for the following day and filled out all the questionnaires remotely in advance. I was in and out with ease in about 45 minutes but walked away with a jab in each arm. One was to draw blood for my glucose and cholesterol level checks and the other was the first of two shingles shots.

I am thoroughly impressed by the efficiency of our clinic. They sent notice before the day was out that my test results were already available to view. Blood glucose and cholesterol numbers continue to run a little high, which is normal for me, but I am pleased that all of the cholesterol readings had improved since a year ago. My methods are slow but progress in the right direction serves as validation that my good habits are paying off over time.

Knock on wood.

I don’t want my choice to write about the good fortunes of my health status to go the way of my rejoicing over not getting more snow in April.

Who knows what tomorrow might bring? How about we visualize sunshine and warmth for a little change of pace for a few days. And continued good health, too!



Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2023 at 8:49 am

Temporary Reprieve

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Yesterday morning’s wintery start was a bitter pill to swallow but the afternoon arrived with just enough sunshine to make the snow nothing but a memory.

We get a day or two of reprieve from a threat of more snow until the chances go up again by Friday. Ooh, I can’t wait… said no one ever about more snow in April.

Last week I pulled the inserts out of my insulated work boots and transferred them to my non-insulated boots. I didn’t switch them back just because of one little snowstorm and wore my summer boots to feed the horses at the start of the day. It proved to me how well my insulated boots work in keeping my feet warm. It didn’t take long for me to get cold feet in the non-insulated boots.

If you look closely at the fence in the image above there are clues of a spring project that is high on my priority list. The fence in the foreground is leaning from what I fear may be the weight of horses leaning into it to scratch their itches. In the board fence near Light in the distance, there is a high post that needs to get pounded down. Actually, there are a lot of posts that deserve to be pounded down. They get pushed up by the freezing and thawing cycle.

I’d love to have the ease of simply pressing on the posts with the weight of the loader bucket on the diesel tractor but the ground is too soft for driving that heavy machine around. It would do more damage than good. That leaves the task of hand-pounding with the tool I customized for just this purpose. All I need is a yardstick, a step ladder, and a spotter to read the pounding progress on the ruler.

As long as the post keeps moving, I keep pounding until we reach a target height. If it stops moving beneath my pounding, I need to save my energy and not waste effort that isn’t producing results. Some posts have moved easily in the past and others not so much.

Upper body workout ahead. Arms day is a-comin’.

It’s a great feeling when fence posts are all re-seated before the ground dries out and becomes rock hard again. Not that different from how it feels to have growing things trimmed and shaped prior to the spring growth spurts.

Everything in its time.




Written by johnwhays

April 18, 2023 at 6:00 am

Weather Whiplash

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We had been warned but I just didn’t want to believe the weather would swing as far as forecasts suggested. From almost 90°F to a blizzard of blowing snow in a matter of days. It was bad enough that the snow finally began to get the upper hand and cover everything white yesterday but the startling blasts of intense wind gusts last night had us flinching even though we were witnessing it from the comfort of being tucked under blankets in our bed.

At least the drizzly rain we received on Saturday was quickly bringing our green grass to life before it got covered in snow.

The white stuff started to stick in the woods first.

When it gets hot, it gets too hot. When it gets cold, it gets too cold. When it rains, it rains too hard. Every day we aren’t being pushed up against one of these extremes is a day we should celebrate and cherish. With abusive weather getting more oppressive, there is an increased importance for us to take full advantage of calm days when we have that chance.

Especially, when the swings between extremes are happening more often and with shorter pauses between.

There wasn’t a lot of good news to be had in the two PBS Nova episodes we watched last night about extreme weather and Arctic sinkholes. Ruh-roh.

No melting permafrost feedback cycles happening at our house. The structure suffered some scary creaking under the gusts of wind overnight though. I’ll need to do an inventory of the deck furniture that I recently put out on the deck when it was as hot as a day in July last week.

My brain feels whiplashed just thinking about the quick weather switches between extremes. I will wholeheartedly welcome the next span of boring weather days that arrive after this latest wintery blast. Bah, humbug.



Written by johnwhays

April 17, 2023 at 6:00 am

Weather Related

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Just in case you didn’t expect me to write about the weather today, I put it in the title to give you a warning. Where would I be if I didn’t have the topic of the weather to resort to when nothing fantastical happens worth telling? If you ask Cyndie, she’d say we need to get another dog. I find myself in hesitation mode about making that commitment again.

Speaking of the weather, I would like to present “exhibit A” as a photo to show how the increasing angle of the sun is having a visible impact on our snowpack even during the last few days when we experienced single-digit temperatures that felt ripped right out of January:

The right side of the driveway receives a direct blast of sunshine on blue-sky days while the left side does not.

Another phenomenon we are witnessing is the growing icy mounds where flowing meltwater, under pressure from the terrain, pushes up and re-freezes into surprising-looking high spots of particular hazard to hoofed navigation.

The area beneath the old willow tree in the small paddock has melted down to the dirt but the snowpack glacier a short distance beyond is currently getting thicker as melting occurs uphill and flows down to re-freeze right in front of a gate opening.

The horses wisely refrain from venturing out onto the icy surface.

Much less wise was Light’s decision to bolt in an unnecessary panic to get past me and away from Mix when Swings decided to walk over to the other side of the overhang. Swings had been successively switching sides as she waited for me to finish my housekeeping work before serving up feed yesterday morning. Light had made it a mission to follow along with Swings each time.

That meant I was frequently needing to work around their feet as they intruded on and then evacuated from the space where I was trying to scoop manure. On the last iteration of this dance, Light suddenly decided she needed to hurry to keep up with Swings. Light torqued to avoid me by about an inch but that put her off balance as she was passing through the narrow space of the single fence section that is opposite the swinging gates.

I watched with alarm as the weight of her body pushed against the fence boards, flexing them dramatically –I prepared for them to give way, but they held– before her leg slammed into the post at the other end, jolting her a bit as she continued beyond it. That brought her free to stop behind Swings who was by then standing idly.

It all happened so fast that there was nothing I could do but stare in shock over the spectacle. I noticed Light pick up her front leg and bend the joints in a way that I interpreted as her saying, “Damn! That hurt!”

I fully expected to find remnants of her hide stuck to the post after that but I didn’t find any visible damage on her or the post.

When the footing improves in the rest of the paddock spaces, I think the horses are going to be very happy to spend more time away from the close quarters under the overhang.



Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2023 at 6:00 am

Obvious Evidence

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Based on all the mice caught in our traps throughout the winter, it should come as no surprise that they navigate the harsh elements as well as long-legged wildlife, but I am always intrigued by the obvious evidence rodents are burrowing beneath the snow.

Despite the frigid overnight temperatures greeting me bitterly at each morning feeding the last few days, it appears one little critter was busy making tracks.

There is also obvious evidence of the increasing angle of sunshine and its growing influence by way of melting that is occurring despite the chilly air temperatures. That will prove to be a benefit when it comes to the threat of spring flooding. There is a deeper snowpack now than we’ve had in many years and if it were to melt all at once, flooding would likely occur.

There is an additional aspect that could dramatically influence whether we have any troublesome flooding this spring or not and that is the amount of rain that will fall in spring storms. Based on a recent video released by our county’s historical society, flooding from heavy rain can happen at any time of year. In 1942 there was a flooding rain that happened in September.



When I saw this video the first time, I realized I would quickly blame the extent of warming of our planet if this kind of flooding rain happened today. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen rain of the intensity described by Dr. James Vedder happen in the fall. But it did happen back in 1942.

Flooding rain fell in July of 1879 and washed away a mill and flooded my great-great-grandfather’s house a little over ten miles south of where we live now.

To me, this is obvious evidence that the steep ravines and many rivers of the “driftless region,” of which our county is included, are susceptible to flooding from heavy rain.

I wonder how many mice survive that kind of extreme weather.





Weather Intrigue

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It’s mostly quiet on the ranch now that we are in a pause between snowstorms. My latest solo week at home comes to an end tonight with Cyndie’s return from Florida. There were no spectator sports of my local teams to hold my attention yesterday but something else has been catching my eye.

Some interesting weather events around the world have been in the news lately. Did you know that tropical cyclone Freddy now has set a new world record for the longest-lived cyclone in recorded history? It formed early in February between Australia and Indonesia and then traveled all the way across the Indian Ocean before making landfall on the island of Madagascar.

What I find most intriguing about it is the way it floated back away from Mozambique and returned toward Madagascar before heading back to Mozambique again.

Another event that caught my attention is more news than weather. There were a series of more than 20 earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park yesterday. What are the chances it is signaling something bigger in the making? I never like hearing that there is a supervolcano under Yellowstone.

Back to the weather, how about the pounding California has been suffering with atmospheric rivers dumping crazy amounts of snow at higher elevations and flooding rains below? For a part of the country where they are desperate for water, now they are getting too much all at once. If a cyclone hitting twice seems unfair, I can’t imagine what it feels like to get flooded out in a place that is struggling with a water shortage. It’s some version of a double-jeopardy.

We have received so much snow in our region this year that forecasters are beginning to talk about possible spring flooding. The snowpack is having a noticeable impact on our temperatures, holding the daily high well below average.

I’m feeling very ready to have our snow melt away but I sure hope it doesn’t lead to a wetter than-ever spring season.

A really dry spring after a winter of epic snow? That would be intriguing.



Written by johnwhays

March 14, 2023 at 6:00 am

Warm Chill

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I’m no meteorologic expert or physics genius, but this I know: It’s a weird counter-intuitive situation when the temperature rises above freezing while there is still a solid snowpack on the ground. The chill can feel deeper than when there is a biting cold of below zero (F). 

Yesterday was one of those days. The surface beneath the horse’s hooves by the barn was getting muddier and messier as the hazy sun melted the frozen ground. The substantial snowpack everywhere else was evaporating into the atmosphere, bringing up humidity which increases the transfer of cold radiating from the ground.

The result was a warm day for wintertime that feels oddly chillier than a person thinks it should.

It’s impressive how effective the snowpack is at making it seem like you’re walking through the refrigeration aisle of a grocery store. It makes me want to put a frozen pizza in the oven.

Last night after I fed the horses dinner, I attempted to split the herd in two so I could close the gates and reduce competition for space under the overhang. A snow squall moving through overnight threatened to bring mixed precipitation and we didn’t want a tiff over territory to force any of them to be left out where they would get soaking wet.

When I returned to the house, I told Cyndie she could revoke my “horse whisperer” credentials. I was entirely unsuccessful in luring any of them to pair up on the far side of the overhang. Frustrated, I left with all the gates open. It would be up to them to work it out when the precipitation got nasty. The afternoon temps have been warm enough that we have chosen to leave their blankets off for the time being. The occasional precipitation like this can complicate things and we end up second-guessing our decision at times.

They didn’t want to cooperate with my plan last night so I’m going to trust they knew better than I did about how to deal with a little wet overnight snow.



Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2023 at 7:00 am

Subscription Confirmation

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What did I click on without realizing it? I have no doubt that possibly happened. I also would not be surprised to learn that this company which I’m not going to bother naming chose to subtly opt me in without informing me.

I received an email with the subject line: “Subscription Confirmation.”

“You’ve accepted the following offer”

“Your subscription automatically renews until canceled.”

Huh? Wasn’t me. Cyndie assures me that she didn’t subscribe to anything. Ten bucks a month if we didn’t notice and cancel.

I will take great comfort in whatever struggle is involved in asserting my intention to get this subscription canceled.

More pressing things are on my mind as we pack up to drive home this afternoon. Mother Nature is keeping me occupied by delivering messy precipitation before I finished clearing all the snow that fell last Thursday. In our haste to drive to the lake on Friday, I left the deep snow around the hay shed and in front of the barn unplowed. I also didn’t finish clearing snow off the pavement in front of the shop.

As we were leaving Friday with our eyes on yesterday’s American Birkebeiner ski race adventures and a weekend with our friends, the Williams family, I felt it was well worth skipping out on snow-clearing chores at home.

UMD student Ella skied the big 50K race in pretty decent winter conditions. I thought the wind was a little brisk for spectating, but that would be a rather petty complaint to make in the face of the many hours-long efforts the skiers exert.

This morning my phone alerted me to a storm warning for tonight and tomorrow at home that will start with rain and turn to snow. I really dread dealing with that on top of the areas of snow I have yet to clear.

I didn’t sign up for that. In fact, I’d like to cancel any subscriptions that involve rain during our winter months.

Thank goodness the ski race in Hayward happened in good snow conditions. Just moments ago, while I was writing this in the sunroom overlooking the frozen lake where several deer had run across toward the island, one of the local eagles flew into the large pine tree just beyond our deck.

It did some wiggling with wings flailing on the far side of the trunk and Cyndie wondered if the eagle was eating something. Then the powerful bird took flight with a good-sized branch it had broken from the tree and headed for its nest over our tennis court on the far side of the fateful footbridge over the lagoon.

I would rather sign up for more of this than tomorrow’s weather adventures expected to occur at home.

But heck, either way… ADVENTURE!



Written by johnwhays

February 26, 2023 at 10:25 am

Snow Expected

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They tell us to expect fresh snow this week after a prolonged span of February days without frozen precipitation piling up. I have been enjoying the freedom from needing to plow and shovel, but I get a sense that I haven’t enjoyed it as much as I should. Now that this freedom is coming to an end, it feels like I have taken the pause for granted.

I’ve always felt a fondness for the look of one thing fading into another. Especially, gradual gradients. Yesterday, I took pictures of the old snow where it was melting back to reveal the ground below.

It has a bit of a yin and yang feeling to it.

I’m also fascinated by the way leaves melt into the snow.

Looks like there was a fish beside it. Notice the hint of a yin and yang curve in those two, as well.

If the forecast is correct, it will all be covered in white again before the week is over. The cosmic duality of opposing forces of winter precipitation covering the dark earth.



Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2023 at 7:00 am

Warmed Winter

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So, this is what it’s going to be like on a warmer planet then. January at latitude 44°47’04.1″N will offer periods of rain that will convert any snowpack previously existing into a slushy mash that resembles wet cement in many ways. It’s ugly, annoying, problematic, and just plain no fun to deal with.

For all the times I have grumbled about it being too cold or having too much snow fall all at once, I offer my apologies. The wet slop that has become our current reality is what I really mean to be grumbling about. I am NOT looking forward to the possibility of 5-8″ of heavy, wet snow falling on top of the existing mess tonight and tomorrow, which is what the current National Weather Service “weather watch” alert is threatening.

In protest of the lousy “winter” conditions outside yesterday, I decided to spend the afternoon indoors on a frivolous pursuit that celebrates the freedom of retirement by binging a docu-series in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

Cyndie and I finally started watching “Welcome to Wrexham” and have quickly learned more about the country of Wales than I’ve ever known before. Despite this show being a confusing echo to the fictional series, “Ted Lasso,” which we enjoy so much, we are finding it fascinating in a different way because it is a real story.

There are many fans represented thus far in the series who describe how much the football club means to them and to the surrounding community as a whole. Descriptions of being born into a world immersed in the Wrexham football club trigger my memories of the influence on my early life of my parent’s passion for the NFL Minnesota Vikings football team.

The Vikings just lost a game that knocked them out of this season’s playoffs (like so many times before) and local media is already going on about what needs to happen over the off-season to bring success next year. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I, as a fan, had to face the stress of possible relegation out of the NFL if the team finished at the bottom of the standings.

Watching the quality of the documentary “Welcome to Wrexham” has me feeling swiftly connected to the fans, players, and club staff presented on screen. I feel invested in their concerns, making it hard to interrupt the binge-watching for our own lives.

One reason that is quite all right with me is: It had me forgetting about the rotten weather outside for a few hours in the afternoon.

I hope the warming planet is providing Wrexham with pleasant weather for watching football matches at the world’s oldest international football stadium, The Racecourse Ground.