Monday, March 12, 2018

Snow and Sunshine

"There is no bad weather, just bad clothing." 
- Norwegian proverb
Growing up in eastern Montana I was accustomed to winters that settled in around Halloween and finally petered out in March if we were lucky.  (Or this is what is seemed like anyway...)
That is not the case in my adopted southcentral Montana home.  Seriously.  It is a whole different world.  Matt jokes we're in the "banana belt" or the "San Diego" Montana.
The winters here are pretty much perfection, by me.
There is snow and cold, but not too much and there are sunny, blue-skied reprieves between the storms.  I derive much pleasure from the changing seasons.  I don't think I'd been keen to live without this dramatic play of light, temperature, and precipitation.  Each season is its own special jewel.  The first Bleeding Hearts and the baby birds of spring, swimming and eating raspberries right off the bush in summer, the rainbow of leaves and epic vacations in the fall, and the beauty of fresh snow, warm soups, and excessive board game playing in the winter.  And so on.
For much of my life I was pretty down on winter.  It was the "bad" season.  The season that found me bored and cooped up, deprived of being outdoors.  While it is still my least favorite of the four seasons I have realized within the last, oh, decade, that the issue might not be winter itself, but my attitude in regard to it.
So, I made a conscious decisions to embrace winter.  I prepared myself with appropriate winter gear from woolen socks to puffy coat.  I (re)discovered the joy of playing outside--sledding, snowshoeing, snowball fights, and a magical stroll through the neighborhood.  I even started some winter cycling, a few years back.  We recently went winter camping for the first time.  Winter is beautiful.
It is also our slow season and I've totally learned to love and look forward to that.  I breathe a deep sigh as autumn winds down and I know we can relax after the (amazing) hustle and bustle of summer--traveling, tie-dye gigs, gardening and so on.  I look forward to quiet evenings at home as they days grow shorter.  Matt and I play games and drink tea.  I work jigsaw puzzles and read with a cat on my lap.  And then just when I start feeling bored of that Spring comes and it starts all over.
It sure has been a winter wonderland, too.  Record-breakingly so.
Following a wet perfect-for-snowman-building storm in November Winter waited until December to start in earnest.  January was a minor reprieve, but winter's grip just hasn't really let up yet.  This is fairly unusual, in my experience, for our relatively mild wintered city.  This lead me to have a dorky good time looking over some historical local data from the National Weather Service recently.
Snow fell 21 out of 31 days in December with late December bringing two days of record-setting snowfall--2.3 inches on December 27th (previous record 2 inches in 1934) and 8.9 inches on December 29th (previous record 4.1 inches in 2010).  At the height of the storm on December 29th the snow was falling at one inch per hour.
With 25.3 inches of total snowfall December was the 3rd snowiest month in the past 84 years (the record being 30.4 inches in 2016).  This is still well above the December average of 8.2 inches of snow though.
January was a bit milder with only 7 inches of snow (when the average is 8.4 inches) so we caught a little bit of a break there.
The capper though is that is has been colder than normal for the past three months.  Both December and February were a full 3.5 degrees colder than usual.  January was half a degree colder than average.  While 3.5 degrees might not seem like a lot, it really is.
As February wrapped up there had been a total of 76.9 inches of snow since July 1 (the point in time that the National Weather Service uses to differentiate between winter seasons).  That amount broke the previous record from the winter of 1977-78 and put us at 44 inches above the expected norm.
At one point city snow removal employees were working 12-hour shifts around the clock to try to keep on top of it.  I wish I could say that I was surprised to hear so many of my fellow citizens complain about how it still wasn't good enough despite the effort and expense expended.
All in all there would be five days in the short month of February which would either break or tie historical records for daily snowfall and would ultimately rack up 32.4 inches of snow, shattering the monthly average of just 6.2 inches.  That makes it the 2nd snowiest February in 84 years, missing the 2014 record by 4.6 inches. 
We are now at 83.8 inches of snow for this winter as of the first week of March.  The 2017-2018 snow season is still behind the winter of 2013-2014 that got 103.5 inches, the highest season on record.  So, we've got a ways to go before coming close to that record.  I'll enjoy it if it comes, but I also enjoyed how free and clear that Poly bicycle lane was this afternoon as I pedaled to work.
Photos from November 2017 - March 2018.


  1. Beautiful as it is, I am SOOOOOOOO ready for spring - I am tired of layering up every morning to go out and run or walk, roll on summer when all is needed is a tank top and running shorts lol

    1. Ha! You're not alone there, I know for a fact! This is also a great example of how different and similar people can be. I love layers and thick sweaters and scarves and such. But, I do like bare legs under my dresses come summer, too, so...

  2. ...I love winter too...(all the seasons really)...we had a skiff of snow yesterday as well...and that saying is really common in North Dakota as well...(and true)

    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. We might have turned the corner now into spring. Not that we won't get more snow yet. My early garden peas always seem to get snowed on at least once!


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