January 06, 2021

My sister and brother-in-law live just outside of Portland, Maine, and they have been getting rocked by a series of nor’easter’s.  A Nor’easter is a storm along the East Coast of North America, so called because the winds over the coastal area are typically from the northeast.  These storms are most frequent (and violent) between September and April.  Past Nor’easters have been responsible for billions of dollars in damage, severe economic, transportation and human disruption, and in some cases, disastrous coastal flooding.  While the average annual snowfall in Portland is 61 inches, 10”-15” during a single storm are not uncommon.

We got our first snowstorm of the new year over the weekend.  This had 1” diameter flakes that were filled with moisture.  The sky had been overcast all morning and we had some previous rain.  As is often the case where we live, the temperature had warmed to around 38F before it started to snow.  The snow began quickly and ended just as abrupt.  It snowed for less than ten minutes.   There was no accumulation and the sun popped through the clouds as it ended.  If you do not want to ski, it is not a bad way to get snow.

My favorite ski resort when I lived in Utah was Alta.  At the time it had both the best snow and the cheapest prices.  Average snowfall is around 550 inches a winter.  Even better, this is generally powder.  Powder is a lighter (less moisture) snow that is amazing to ski.  The resort measured 626 inches for the 2018/2019 season.  Even though the resorts are open, the crowds are few.  If you do not own the resort, the lack of crowds makes for a great time to ski.  Getting there this year could be tough unless you happen to live in Salt Lake City.  It is always something.

Thoughts:  Generally, precipitation (snow or rain) does not cause problems by itself.  That changes quickly when it combines with winds or becomes freezing rain.  It is also problematic when it comes in large amounts or even smaller amounts that fall quickly.  Global warming does not just mean that the temperature is rising.  It also means the extremes of both heat and cold are heightened, the highs are higher, and the lows are lower, and often at the same time in different parts of the country.  Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human-induced climate change.  We need to make a difference NOW, and not later.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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