My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, February 8, 2013

SkyWatch Friday: January's snowy sayonara

After several days of spring-like weather, the last week of January brought a winter storm that lasted five days and gave us a little bit of everything wintery: big fluffy snowflakes, little bitty snow pellets, freezing rain and sleet, wind, fog, and a lot of cozy days for baking and reading/dozing/movie-watching by the fire. On the final night of both January and the storm, temperatures warmed quickly from single digits into the upper thirties, so that by the time the snow stopped last Friday morning, between the drifting and the melting it was hard to guess how much snow had fallen. We had drifts three feet deep, and one nearby rural neighborhood measured 18" of snow. But we think we got 8-10" here, much of which has since melted and left a slushy mess.

I took these photos from an upstairs window last Friday afternoon as the sun finally returned and the last tatters of the storm moved south over the Big Horn Mountains....

I lived in southern coastal Maine during the northeast's Blizzard of '78 (and have been through a few epic blizzards here in Wyoming) and send my heartfelt wishes for the warmth and safety of all beings in the path of Winter Storm Nemo. Please be careful, and may your skies clear soon.


  1. We are not even going to attempt to go outside ( fear pigeons will be fed ,as will the outside critters)until the snow has stopped.
    Jane x

  2. Great sky shots, the cloud pattern is amazing.

  3. Wow!What a heavy storm,i'm glad it's over and happy sky watching.

  4. that's a huge cloud...keep warm!

  5. You sound like a pro when it comes to surviving blizzards. Being from Michigan I can relate to your survivals. Actually if I was warm and safe I enjoyed blizzards. But if I was on the road -- no.. But today we know well in advance to hole up and stay put if we are smart.-- barbara

  6. Wow! magnificent shots! Beautiful!

    We are getting the snow in New England now, tonight and Sat ~ lots of snow!

    Carol of: (A Creative Harbor)

  7. Spectacular clouds you have captured in these clear shots.

  8. Such pretty clouds! I love looking at them when they're in such awesome formations. We don't get much of that here during the winter- mostly just cloudy, gloomy days if the sky isn't clear.

    We thankfully missed the big storm, although we did get several inches. I hope the storm isn't as bad for everyone as they're saying it'll be!

  9. Very erie-looking. Clouds are a beautiful thing....most of the time anyway ;-). Nice job!

  10. Amazing and beautiful clouds!

  11. Beatiuful and impressive clouds. Great captures for SWF :)

  12. Thank you, everyone - as always, I appreciate your visits and comments! Glad you enjoyed "my" big snowstorm cloud!

    Jane ~ Good plan. I remember our having to go down the hill to our barn twice a day in some of the most ferocious winter weather to feed Mocha. It was usually snug enough once we reached his stall, but the slog down and especially back - into the wind and uphill - was dreadful. Often we had to do it in whiteout conditions, in wind so strong (wind gusts over 50mph were not uncommon up there, and we even experienced one that was 128mph, as measured by a neighbor's anemometer), that we could hardly stand up in it. You'd just have to hunker down and wait for the gust to taper off. We really should have had a rope or something between house and barn to guide us and give us something to hang onto!

  13. Barbara ~ I couldn't agree more! My mom grew up on the northern Montana prairie, and so I grew up with lots of family stories of blizzards, including one where my grandparents lost a rancher friend who perished in a sudden ground blizzard on the way to his mailbox. And since we often lived in northern states (including Montana) while I grew up, blizzard cautionary tales were as frequent as "look both ways" and "don't talk to strangers!"

    In spite of it all, I still had to learn from two of my own scary experiences. One happened our first winter in Wyoming while BW was in USAFR training in Texas, and we had a three-day snowstorm (one of those that unexpectedly stalls out over you and so was not predicted to dump as much snow as it did). We got 3' of snow and I was completely trapped in our rental on 30 acres 5 miles from town, with no power during some of it and not enough food. I very nearly ran out of dog food before the highway was plowed enough for my boss (the town mayor, of all things) to bring me dog food and some staples. I had to slog through all that snow uphill to the highway (about 1/4 -1/3 mile) with my toboggan to meet him and haul it home. That experience turned me into a bit of a food hoarder! Even living in town now, I still keep plenty of dog food and canned goods on hand!

    The other experience was doing the very thing I agree you should never do - drive in those conditions. At the time, we still lived in Buffalo but I worked evenings at the hospital in Sheridan, and had to head home on the Interstate in my little white Honda Civic CX (it had studded snow tires, but nothing else going for it when it came to driving in winter conditions!) When I left it looked like a straightforward snowfall. But that stretch of Interstate was notoriously treacherous, and I drove right into white-out blizzard conditions. Why they hadn't closed the damned thing I have no idea, and I was as furious as I was terrified. Most of the time I could only see a few yards in front of me, and at times I could see nothing but blinding snow and had to completely stop and wait till I could at least see the center line or the shoulder. Since semis continue to barrel down the Interstate in those conditions, I just knew that my little white car, invisible in those conditions, was going to be flattened - and me with it. How I made it home in one piece was a true blue miracle. After that, I always had an overnight bag and survival kit with me, never hesitated to stay with a friend till conditions were safe, found a much longer but much safer alternate route on a back highway that I took a couple of times, and - MOVED TO SHERIDAN! Not kidding, that dangerous commute (which wrecked two of our cars and resulted in injuries for both of us at other times) was a major reason we moved up here. Anyway, I'm just lucky I lived to learn some lessons! And BW is a lot smarter about working in bad conditions since a local FedEx driver died because of winter weather a few years ago.

  14. Carol ~ I've been watching The Weather Channel along with some live web cams in Boston, NH and Portland, ME and I sure hope you haven't lost power and aren't experiencing any damage from those powerful winds, or any flooding like they're predicting! That is one wicked storm.

    Molly ~ I love being able to see them too - don't know why we get so many opportunities to - our altitude? But we almost always get to see the storm systems either coming at us or going away.

    Glad you only experienced the one storm - my understanding of it is that the Northeast was in the path of at least two storm systems and got a classic February Nor'easter, hence the wicked winds and all that snow. I was hoping it wouldn't be as bad as predicted either, but it sure sounds like it was.

    Spud ~ I agree - except for the funnel-shaped ones, which are too scary for me to see as beautiful, and big monster thunderstorm clouds - which ARE beautiful, but only at a safe distance!

  15. Awe inspiring shots! I never saw a cloud formation such as this -- almost reminds me of the start of a mushroom cloud from an A-bomb blast. You should rent out space to photographers on your balcony.

  16. Stan ~ I love how you make comparisons - Debbie's paintings looking "van Goghesque" and this cloud looking like the start of an atomic mushroom cloud (which I'm inexpressibly grateful it wasn't!!) :-) I have a brain that compares things all the time!

    If we had a balcony, we'd rent it out to photographers, but we just have a front porch and a back patio. To get this shot, everyone would have to crowd into our upstairs guest bedroom and hang out the window like I did. :-)

    If you think THIS cloud looks like an A-bomb mushroom, you must check these out from my archives, posted long before I was participating in SkyWatch Friday! Maybe I'll reprise them as SkyWatch posts one day...


    Every Sky has its Beauty

  17. Sounds like the end of January was a doozy! I can't remember when I've been in a 5 day storm. I might get to experience that soon! My biggest snow experience (that I remember) was in 1985 (or 86) and it was a three day storm and the total snow fall was 36". The best part was that they closed K.I. Sawyer AFB and I got my first "snow" day as an adult!! what fun! Jim came in from Harvey on his snowmobile and since the roads were closed, we could ride in the middle of the roads. We had a blast!!

    Since you don't have snowmobiles, the reading/dozing/movie-watching alternative sounds like just as much fun!

  18. Jo ~ I'm not sure if our five days of snow was all from one storm, or from a series of storms that rolled through, since there sometimes gaps of several hours in the snowfall. But I was in a storm exactly like the one you describe, the first winter we lived in Wyoming. It snowed solid for 3 days and we ended up with 3 feet! BW was in Texas and I was completely snowed in. But it was so pretty - there was no wind with it (unusual for these parts) and it lay like a warm blanket on the land and on everything else it settled on. I remember going out to play in it with the dogs on Day #2, and even though it was very cold out, it felt warm - like all that snow was creating some sort of insulation. I'd been in bigger snows before (in Yellowstone as a wee one), but not anywhere I was living. I'll bet it was a blast to get the day off and snowmobile down the middle of the roads! A snow like that can make it feel like there's no one else in the world! (Probably a reason I enjoy them so much!) :-)

    Do you remember the snow day we got at UNH our sophomore year? It was right at Easter - it had been so warm that I'd been sunbathing just a day or two before, but then we got a huge snow, classes were canceled, lots of kids "stole" lunch trays from the dining halls to go sledding! I took a photo of one of my dorm-mates standing knee-deep in snow holding a "Happy Easter" card with a look of utter disgust on her face. :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
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That nature is a commodity.
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There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
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