Monday, November 12, 2007

Weather predicting

Right now, it's raining. Typical November weather. But I can also hear rumbles of thunder in the distance. Not as usual for this time of year. We've already had one good snow fall of about six inches. Even with all the rain, there is still snow in the long grass and in the ditches. Up closer to Erie where the real lake effect snow set in, they have quite a bit of snow on the ground.

Lake effect snow, for people not familiar with it, is practically unreal. There are only a few places in the US that get lake effect, generally downwind of the Great Lakes. When the lakes are unfrozen, in early winter, late winter, or in some mild winters when the lakes don't get cold enough to freeze over, we see lake effect snow. The cold winds from Canada come in from the west and north and gather water vapor off the open water on the lakes. When all that wet air gets back on land, downwind of the lakes, there can be really heavy precipitation. Usually right by the lake is okay, but as soon as there gets to be a little elevation and distance from the lake, snow starts falling.

The lake effect show sets up in "bands" that follow geographical features. Right by the lake or even a few miles away, it can be a sunny day with no snow and a nice breeze. If you are driving on a lake effect day, you can see the bands as you approach them like a wall of white. In the bands, you can be getting so much snow, it's as dark as night, at rates of many inches of snow per hour.

People like to exaggerate about snow, but there are lots of great lake effect snow stories without even needing to make them up. I was in Fredonia, New York once and we got thigh-high to waist deep snow in an afternoon, and it got even deeper farther away from the lake. I have been in lake effect storms as far as sixty miles inland. The bands shift and drift with the wind and don't follow regular rules because they aren't really fronts or systems, more like freak accidents.

Anyway, even though we had snow, the thunder this evening reminds me of some weather things, we always say in our family. The real common thing is the wooly caterpillars. The more black on these common little orange and black guys, the worse the winter will be.

My dad always says: Thunder in fall, no winter at all.

Also, the height of the hives. If you find wasps and hornets nests built up high in the trees, then it will be a bad winter. I've seen two high hives this year. Last year I only had one low one. We had a mild winter, but a cold spring.

When I went to the feed store the other day, I got a free calandar with an almanac for weather predicting for each month, also. I'd like to see how accurate it is, but I need to wait until January for when the calandar starts.

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