Sunday, 18 December 2016

What happened to Winter?

Here we are at the end of December 2016 and no sign of any really cold weather, in fact it's not unlike the December of last year, predominantly mild and basically an extended autumn. The only really difference between this December and last December is how dank and gloomy it has been.
The photo below shows the Harty Road (it runs across the marshes to the reserve), in December 2011 and it was the last time that we had snow of any seriousness. To the left is a very deep, near empty ditch that concentrated the mind on not going to fast in the car and sliding off the road. But are winters such as this, now a thing of the past, have four or five autumn months now taken their place?

I had a 4x4 vehicle when I took the photo above and so the challenge of getting along the road wasn't too bad. Since then, after a serious of non-snowy winters, I have reverted to a normal two-wheel drive car again and wouldn't want to risk such conditions in that. Up until ten years or so ago, some snow of varying depths was still guaranteed in most winters but then we still had real winters then, not lengthy autumns. Those were the days when it was not possible to get the car off of the drive and so a lengthy walk through deep snow to the pet shop for bird food supplies and household supplies was necessary, or endured. The splendid effect of those days was the fact that many other people were doing the same and the trudge through the snow became a community thing. A time whereby all of a sudden people from the same road shared experiences rather than simple nods in passing.
With bird food purchased it was then back home, sweep 6 inches of snow off of the bird tables and to sit back in the warmth and watch the birds gratefully accepting the life-lines that you'd given them.

Going back to these last two winters, the other event that has not been happening, is normal amounts of rainfall, as I have regularly mentioned this year. Walking away from my car at the reserve barn, this is the sight that I would have seen in many January/February's up until a couple of years ago. Wall to wall flooding that created an arduous walk round for me in wellington boots that were sometimes not high enough and a lot of swimming for my two dogs, but boy, did it attract in many thousands of birds. Ducks, geese, plovers and waders were in such large flocks that it was difficult to count them at times and the wildfowlers waiting on the other side of the sea wall were regularly spoilt for choice when it came to shooting. This morning, and last December, that same view is of unbroken green grass, just some geese and a few ducks, etc. and the ditch water level to the left and right of that gate is three feet below the track.


13 comments:

  1. Yesterday in Vienna, Austria I saw a ladybird creeping along the pavement.
    On the fashionable ski slopes like Kitzb├╝hel the only snow is what has been transported by convoys of trucks or the artificial snow which is made by an army of energy consuming snow cannons. In the Alps there's a blossoming new industry which is called "Snow Farming." They store snow in huge insulated wharehouses and then they sell it.

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  2. Derek, here in Surrey we often missed the snow that north Kent received, but even in the suburban edge of London still had our fair share of iced up pavements and roads, patrolling gritters and frozen water bodies. These things all seem like a fading memory...

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  3. Gwil, that is amazing, "Snow Farming" seems unreal.

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    1. We have barely an inch of snow and they forecasting a possible 15 C 'heat wave' on the way.

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    2. Now it's thawing faster than melting cheese. I was lucky enough to get a few snaps of the frost this morning.

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  4. Steve, yes harsh winters really do seem a thing of the past, thankfully to be honest, I'm not a lover of the cold.

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  5. The snow that fell for a few hours yesterday morning turned to rain as the air warmed. By early afternoon, our city sidewalks were an unattractive mix of patches of slippery slush, nicely cleared and even dry patches and murky pools of liquids at the intersections. It was difficult to tell just how deep those pools were without testing them with your toes.
    Fog this morning with temp q5 45 F...that will change during the day with tonight's temp predicted to be about 25 F. Very strange swerves.

    Best wishes.

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  6. Very strange swerves indeed Francis and not enjoyable.

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  7. Do hope that you have not tempted fate with your suggestions that the weather will probably not be snowy Derek. It seems so long since we had a really bad winter doesn't it

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  8. That did cross my mind Pat but I feel confident that hard winters here in the South at least, are now a thing of Christmas cards and older memories.

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  9. It's very mild and damp where I am and I've noticed far more mould and moss on peoples garden walls than usual. A cold snap would be most welcome to kill off the bugs and germs (I love a good snow day!).

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  10. Derek your description of everyone trekking out in the snow put me in mind of this photo from the late 1970s of Halfway Road:

    https://secure2.pbase.com/luckytrev/image/81809342

    I shouldn't think that Co-op / whatever it is now hasn't ever been as busy since.

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  11. I remember it well Ian, made for great photos if nothing else.

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