Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘winter rain

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.

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Brutal Weather

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Have I mentioned how much I detest rain in winter? Yes. Yes, I have mentioned it. Yesterday, we got everything the weather forecast promised. Starting with a freezing drizzle that was barely perceptible, beyond the fact the handles of my tools were developing a slippery coating. That transitioned into plain old sleet which then magically turned into a brief spurt of rainfall. Just enough rain to make a mess of everything.

Might as well top that off with some heavy snow, eh? You know, that 1-2 inch-per-hour rate stuff. Luckily, we caught a break as the system spun and our region only received a short amount of that snow before we were graced with a few hours in the eye of the storm, void of any precipitation.

If you were a horse in this kind of weather, what would you do?

After a few days without blankets, I covered the horses back up on Monday while they were dry to give them some protection from the wetness that arrived yesterday. Now, just because they have blankets on, that is no reason to become heedless of the elements.

Apparently, the chestnuts, Light, and Mia, figured they would be protected beneath the bare branches of the dying willow tree in the small paddock.

I have no idea if they noticed it wasn’t doing much toward keeping them dry.

I don’t know what Mix was thinking.

So close. Maybe, once she got her head out of the falling ice/flakes/raindrops, she figured that was good enough.

If I were a horse, I hope I would choose the option Swings smartly relies upon for comfort and well-being.

Dry as can be, which is quite a feat in the kind of weather giving us the business yesterday. The kind of winter weather that conjures up the word brutal in my mind.

Plowing and shoveling was a bitch. It’s heart-attack snow. It’s hurt your back shoveling kind of snow. It is “slip while trying to shovel” conditions. It’s just. Plain. Brutal.

How many days till spring?

Not that I’m counting, or anything. When I was younger, winter was my favorite season.

When I was younger, it didn’t rain in the winter.

When I was younger, brutal just meant a LOT of snow, maybe a little drifting wind. Sometimes really cold. Since I wasn’t responsible for plowing or shoveling as a kid, winter storms were all fun with occasional cold wrists in the gap between my mittens and the sleeves of my snowsuit.

Getting old can be brutal.

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2023 at 7:00 am

Battening Hatches

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In the shadow of the storm that ravaged the middle of the U.S. last week, the prediction for our area this evening is a little intimidating. High winds and December thunderstorms after record warmth in the afternoon have us more on edge than usual.

Any time it rains here in the winter I wince. Everything about it is wrong. It will likely be a night to bring the horses inside the barn to protect them from getting soaking wet ahead of the drop in temperatures to below freezing.

The insolating properties of their winter coats don’t work so well when wet.

How come penguins don’t have that problem? Polar bears? Whatever.

If we had hatches, we would be battening them down today.

Last night’s sky at sunset was just dramatic enough to feel like a hint of what lies ahead. I will be very happy to find out our concerns were unnecessary if nothing significant materializes.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

Feeling Humble

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Rain in winter is proving to be our new normal in the region of Minnesota and Wisconsin where I grew up. All we can do is react to the conditions presented, but it’s an unfamiliar winter landscape to me to have water raining down onto our snowscape. It’s such a mess.

I wonder what the furry animals of the northern forest do to cope with these conditions. It must be hard not being able to burrow into the powdery snow for insulation from the cold. From my experience, dampness in temperatures that hover around the freezing point feels much worse than dry cold temperatures well below freezing.

Delilah and I discovered evidence in our hayfield that looked like a coyote may have uncovered a rabbit nest.

The wet snow is revealing a wide variety of tracks. The surface keeps changing between being very soft when the temperature is above freezing and crusty enough that Delilah doesn’t break through when it refreezes.

It is humbling to find evidence of how many creatures are wandering our trails just before or shortly after we have walked them. There were footprints on our north trail that were so large I tried to get Delilah to step into one for comparison. It didn’t work, but trust me, in real life, these are unmistakably and rather impressively bigger than Delilah’s.

I’m pretty sure Delilah peed her scent all over any other markers left on that trail.

Trespassers return at their own risk.

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Written by johnwhays

December 29, 2019 at 10:39 am

Patch Worked

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On Sunday, I just happened to stumble upon the fact that the snow-melt flowing down our drainage swale from beneath the driveway wasn’t coming out of the culvert.

“What the…!?”

I hustled to the other side of the driveway, and sure enough, the rushing water was disappearing beneath the mouth of the culvert. Nice.

I tell ya, property ownership is a trip.

I tried an on-the-fly patch in attempt to plug the opening enough to coerce the water to flow through the culvert, not beneath it. I dumped in sand and hay, plus tried stomping some of the residual snow to fill the void, but the water was moving with such momentum that my plug didn’t stop the flow.

I needed something impermeable. Old empty bags of feed came to mind, especially as they were also closest at hand. I cut open a bag and tried laying it as a sheet over the opening in hope the water pressure would push it in place to fill the opening beneath the mouth of the culvert.

The bag was more inclined to float.

dscn5848eI struggled to hurriedly push it below the freezing-cold water where I could cover it with hay and sand to redirect flow into the culvert. It started to work a little bit, so I worked harder to get the edges down to where water wouldn’t flow beneath it. Soon, it became obvious I needed to do something just upstream from there, so I added a second bag and placed a shovel on it to hold that one in place.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing, so I left it at that, fully expecting to find one or both of the bags out of place and wreaking havoc on desired flow sometime later.

Then yesterday’s rain storms arrived. Driving home, I noticed the ditches were filled with standing water and the creeks were running at full capacity with runoff. This time of year, rain water can’t soak into the soil because the ground is mostly frozen. I held little hope for the hastily placed feed bags at the mouth of our culvert.

Draining rain water was running at full tilt through the culvert under the road at the south border of our property when I arrived home. I stopped the car when I reached the problem culvert under our driveway and stepped out into the rain. First, I walked to the outlet side and was pleased to see heavy flow coming out of the culvert.

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Crossing to the other side, I was amazed to find both bags still positioned where I had placed them. The one funneling water into the culvert had flopped over sideways a bit, but it seemed to be holding in place down below. I pulled it back again to catch as much water as possible and deemed it a success.

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A more permanent fix will wait until there’s no water flowing, but for now, that crazy patch is certainly performing beyond my expectations. With the weather we are experiencing this winter, there is no telling when that opportunity for a permanent fix will arrive.

It will be no surprise to me if I find one or both of those bags down stream before their services are no longer needed. Stay tuned for further developments.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2017 at 7:00 am

Weathering Out

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Does it seem like I am always writing about the weather? It just keeps weathering outside. What can I say?

I should have had an inkling, after the spectacular red sky the morning offered.

Last night when Delilah and I stepped out for her last walk of the day, we were met by this:

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Earlier, I had checked the radar and felt like we had a chance of the mixed precipitation missing us. Shortly before our walk, I flipped on the outside light and found the deck bone-dry. I’d forgotten my concern by the time I opened the door with Delilah, so then it came as a surprise. Silly, how quickly I moved from anticipating it, to being taken by surprise.

It felt and looked like rain, but a large percentage of it was the little ice balls. The ground was becoming a frozen glaze. I knew the horses deserved to come inside before they got soaked and chilled by it, so Delilah’s walk was delayed a bit, while I tended to horse chores.

Not only was her walk delayed, it was abbreviated, poor girl. I didn’t want to be out in freezing rain and sleet for any longer than absolute necessity.

I heard from another poor girl last night that the weather in Florida has continued wet and cold, with flooding rains. Cyndie’s “vacation” sounds like anything but. I warned her that she will be returning on a day when we might be getting bombarded by a significant winter snowfall on Tuesday.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with her, but it could give a person a complex.

Regardless, it just keeps weathering out there, …and I find myself writing about it.

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Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2016 at 8:14 am