January 25, 2023

The snowstorm predicted to arrive yesterday arrived.  Melissa and I had both been slated to go into the office but had opted to work virtually at home.  The storm’s arrival wreaked havoc on both of our work events.  Mine was in the morning and the internet was spotty.  One had problems getting on and another could not hear.  I tried to get the system to work for half of the one hour scheduled meeting, and finally waved goodbye and shut it down.  The on-site workers for Melissa’s meeting all arrived at 8:30 am, but the snow started not long after.  They were all sent home by noon to continue the meeting virtually.  I always loved snow days as a child.  Now as an adult it just means we switch venues, at least if the internet works.  Being at home did give us the opportunity to watch Zena’s first experience with snow.

When I looked online, I found yesterday’s storm was moving in from the south, gathering moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and preparing to turn it into a wet snow over the Ozark and Ouachita ranges of western Arkansas.  Predictions said the rain will turn to snow around 2 pm with accumulations of 1 to 8 inches (2.5 to 20 cm) in the northwest part of the state.  This is the first snowstorm to hit at a time when we were expected to be working on-site and we wondered if we had made the right decision by staying home.  The snowfall was very wet and began to accumulate quickly.  By this morning we had received 10 inches (25 cm) where I work, 8.5 inches (21.5 cm) where Melissa works, and a respectable 5.2 inches (13 cm) at our house.  The odd part was, this was the first snow I remember where the temperature never dropped below freezing (32F or 0C).  

The forecasters had a great time reporting on our first snow of the year, and this was a “sleeves rolled up” event.  One even took a moment to explain my question about how we were getting snow with temperatures above freezing.  Snowfall happens when a cloud forms with enough moisture in an area with temperatures below freezing.  If the air from the cloud to the ground is also below freezing, the snowflakes will stay frozen.  If there is warm air between the clouds and ground, the snowflakes will begin to melt.  Depending on where the warm air is between the cloud and ground, you can get sleet, freezing rain, rain, and even snow with temperatures above freezing.  For snow with ground temperatures above freezing, you need a very thin warm layer just at the surface, so the snowflakes do not have enough time to melt completely.  As the snowflakes start to melt, they also clump together making them appear bigger than usual.  Our forecaster noted the warm air was only about 100 feet (33 m) above the ground.  While this type of snow rarely accumulates, we were the exception.

THOUGHTS:  Zena was very curious about the first white stuff she saw falling from the sky, but when I let her outside, she became apprehensive.  She could not understand why the flakes were sticking to her coat rather than falling off like the rain she loves to play in and immediately came inside.  As the snow blanketed the patio she grew more used to it, and found when she zoomed around the deck she would slide rather than stop.  It is also common for humans to fear the unknown.  When we strike out across the oceans or to the skies we do not know what to expect.  While there are hazards, there is also bliss that comes from being first to make a discovery.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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