A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wild Weather Day

We experienced a sudden warm-up here in central New York earlier this week.  Temperatures were warmest late on Wednesday afternoon, topping out at nearly 60 degrees.  It stayed warm through the evening and well into Wednesday night, until the arrival of the cold front sent temperatures plummeting between and 3:00 and 4:00 am.  At the Ithaca airport, a few miles from my house, the mercury dropped from 53 to 43 in an hour (or less), and the drop was even more dramatic at Cornell's weather station, from 53 to 40 within the same hour.

The rain moved in around 8 pm last night, and a light to moderate rain lasted all night and into the morning.  In all, there was 1.35"of rain (and one pine needle) in my rain gauge in the backyard when I checked it this morning.  That's quite a bit more than at the Ithaca airport.  I had made the mistake of not checking it yesterday afternoon before the rains started and I had been out of town for a few days, so it's possible that last night's rain was less than that.

The creek was higher than I've seen it so far.  The dock was submerged by, I'd guess, nearly a foot of water.  The bottom step was submerged by a few inches of water.  The creek was swollen.  Downstream, in an area where the bank is virtually flat, right near the confluence of Virgil Creek and Fall Creek, the water had spilled out of the banks and onto the surrounding grass.  The roads and buildings were far enough away as to be unaffected.

In any event, sometime after 7 am, the rain transitioned to a brief period of granular snow or graupel (see first photo of the post).  There was a light coating on the ground.  We had some flurries over the course of the day, but the winds (and perhaps more accurately stated, the wind shear) seemed to be too strong for sustained lake effect snow. 

The winds picked up early Wednesday in advance of the cold front, but the strongest winds arrived today in its wake.  Around 1:00 this afternoon, the Cornell station recorded a maximum gust of nearly 40 mph, and sustained winds were steady at about 20 mph for most of the afternoon.  I stood outside for about 10 minutes late this afternoon, and that was more than long enough.  With a temperature around 30 and winds of 20 mph, the wind chill was about 17.  It felt pretty bone-chillingly cold, though...much like it did last week when temperatures hovered in the teens.

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