Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Take long walks in stormy weather....

Women at Puffer's Pond, Amherst MA
Photo by Joshua Wolfsun
This is also the featured February photo,
2016 Head in the Clouds Amherst wall calendar

"Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary." 
Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, February 7, 2016

More snow - right here!

Just came out of watching the Oscar nominated animated shorts (courtesy of Amherst Cinema), only to find that everything we had been told – and I passed along – about the upcoming storm has changed! Ah, New England, always keeping us on our toes.

Turns out this coastal system will NOT be a no-nothing for Western Massachusetts after all. With the storm track now closer to Southern New England, we are now looking at blizzard conditions in Southeast coastal Massachusetts and higher snowfall totals region wide, including right here in Amherst!  A Winter Weather Advisory is now in effect from 4 AM Monday morning to 7 AM Tuesday morning for our area for 3-6" of snow and wind gusts to 25 MPH.

Good news for snow lovers. And now the question lingers . . . will there be closings? All in due time.

More snow - somewhere else

Puffer's Pond Dam, Amherst MA
Photo by S. Vardatira, 2-6-2016
There’s another winter storm in the offing, with back-to-back lows coming through on Monday and Tuesday. However, just as with the past two storms to hit Southern New England, this one will be mostly a coastal event, with a sharp cut off on the western edge. Forecasters are all but certain that another round of moderate to heavy snow, strong winds and the potential for coastal flooding will be impacting Southeast New England starting tomorrow morning through Tuesday morning. Predictions are for 6-12” of snow from Boston to Providence, with higher amounts across Plymouth County, Cape Cod, and the Islands, where a coastal flood watch is also in effect.  At this point, the models are diverging slightly on where that western edge cutoff will be, but the general consensus is for the Hartford/Springfield area and the Connecticut River Valley to get, at most, 2-3 inches of snow. As we are on the northern and western part of that area, we are likely to see the lower end of those snowfall amounts, if any. There’s a chance of snow showers (with minimal accumulation) mid-week into Thursday, and cold air pours in on Friday-Saturday.  No bonanza snowstorms for us for at least the next week. Hope you snow lovers got your fill the last two days, as that’s going to have to hold you for now.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sunset on thin ice

Stunning photo of sunset at Puffer's Pond yesterday, taken by friend of Head in the Clouds Amherst and one of our 2016 calendar photographers, Meg Rosa. Does it get any more beautiful? Thank you for sharing, Meg!

Sunset at Puffer's Pond, 2/4/2016
Photo by Meg Rosa, Amherst MA

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Did someone say snow?

Days like today can be extremely humbling for those of us in the habit of talking about the weather. I started off this morning reassuring all my coworkers that there would be no snow around here. "It's all to the southeast," I said. "Nothing to worry about."

So now let it be known that a Winter Weather Advisory has just been posted for the Amherst area from 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday - it will all start off as rain about 30 minutes from now. And by the time it wraps up, expect 3 - 5 inches of snow (though probably more like 3 inches around here). Heavy, wet snow at that, which will freeze into block ice tomorrow evening.

Hey, when I'm wrong I say I'm wrong. No one puts Baby in a corner. (Extra points if you know what movie I'm borrowing from there.)

Stay safe out there, everyone. And if you're traveling east, south, or southeast, expect more like 4 to 8 inches of that heavy wet stuff and lots of delays, along with possible power outages. Apparently winter isn't quite done yet. Or maybe it's just getting started.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Black Bear and a Deer in Headlights

Black Bear, Western Massachusetts
Photo by Brendan Trainor
No, we have no snow. And no cute videos of a zoo polar bear rolling around in feet of snow. But we do have black bears and deer (in the wild, no less!). To prove that point, we submit these two photos, taken by friend of Head in the Clouds Amherst, Brendan Trainor, who tells me he has many more, featuring all kinds of fauna. Just to be clear, the deer wasn't actually in headlights (that's just the camera flash reflecting off his eyes) - but if you want a literal "deer in headlights" look, that's got to be it.

Thanks, Brendan - we look forward to seeing lots more! Anything to entertain us during this essentially snow-less winter (so far anyway).

Deer in Headlights, Western Massachusetts
Photo by Brendan Trainor

Friday, January 22, 2016

Milk and bread. And coffee.

Store shelves in Stafford, Virginia this morning, 1/22/2016
A colleague of mine who lives in D.C. realized this morning that she had no food at all at home, “not even milk or coffee,” she exclaimed in surprise. You have to smile at that. Isn’t “milk and bread” the gold standard? I mean, I’m pretty sure you can live without coffee. Upon grasping the full extent of her coffee-less existence, she jumped on the subway (Metro) to go to the nearest supermarket to stock up, only to find herself in a scrum of humanity, scrambling for the last loaves on the shelf. Actually, bread had long gone. I think she was relegated to cereal and canned sardines. And forget about flashlights and batteries. Once she got back home (and keep in mind the transit system was shutting down at noon), I gave her an earful about being so utterly unprepared for inclement weather. It didn't matter. Although I was dishing out one of my best, holier-than-thou, New Englanders-know-better lectures, it soon became clear I’d lost her attention. Snow was already falling, and even over the phone I could tell she was mesmerized at the sight.

What will this weekend bring around here? Regardless of all the hype (about points well south of Amherst), it seems likely we won’t see much snow – if any - around here. Still, it’s worth mentioning that this storm has got everyone guessing. The storm track margin of error (as of a few hours ago) was +/- 100 miles! And a difference of just 30-50 miles can make all the difference between heavier snow and stronger winds further north versus a much lighter snowfall and strong to damaging winds remaining in Southeast New England. Right now, it looks like in Southern New England, South Coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island stand the greatest risk of highest snowfall totals with areas south of the Mass Pike still at risk for some accumulating snow. A Winter Storm Watch is now in effect from Saturday Morning through Sunday Morning for South Coastal Massachusetts and Rhode Island including Cape Cod and the Islands for 4-7" of snow and strong winds of 20-30 MPH with gusts to 55 MPH.

Around the Pioneer Valley and Amherst, we will be getting a dusting to 1” if the models keep the track on a more southerly course. And possibly a little more than that (maybe 3”?) if the models trend northward.

Now off to the store to pick up some milk and bread. And coffee. Just because.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Big storm or big bust?

Of course, you have all heard by now that a major winter storm is brewing for this weekend. “There will be feet of snow,” exclaimed a friend this morning. And, indeed, *somewhere* there may well be “feet” of snow, but – probably – not here in Amherst. Things could still change, and uncertainty abounds about where exactly the impact will be felt, but right now it’s looking like the greatest risk for potential heavy snow, strong to damaging winds, and coastal flooding is over southeastern portions of southern New England including most of Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts with the Boston area and Hartford Connecticut area on the northern fringe of significant impacts. (And even more snow is predicted for the mid-Atlantic state.) As is typically the case with intense, major winter storms over New England, there will be a sharp cutoff to the north of significant winter weather. Where the cut-off line falls is often the question. Right now, it doesn’t look like the Pioneer Valley will be in the thick of things, but that could still change. Despair not, snow lovers (there's still most of winter ahead of us!). Plus, even now it looks like we fall into the 4-6" range for snow totals, and that's not nothing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

After the snow sky

After the snow sky - Amherst, MA
Photo by S. Vardatira
“It seemed a cloud enclosed us, shining, dense, with polished surface firm that, diamond-bright, was dazzling in the sun's reflected light. We passed within the eternal pearl, as sinks a ray of sunlight in the stream”
[Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, 1320]

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Musings on office snow-closing

Yes, there is snow in the forecast for today - late afternoon/evening through about midnight (estimated accumulation in Amherst of one to two inches). So, of course, people are already wondering about snow closings.

Which brings me to this superlative Dilbert comic strip. A special shout out to everyone trapped at work, wanting to go home and watch the snow fall (when it finally does, that is).  Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Return of the UFO from three years ago?

So, has anyone seen this???? A few days after our blog post about the Amherst UFO sightings three years ago, we received the following reply, about A VERY SIMILAR SIGHTING, this time in Conway, last week. Please share - either we are getting repeat visitations from something extraterrestrial, or there are indeed unmanned fairly sizable drones populating our skies. (Or maybe both!). What do you think is going on?

Here's the posting we got:
"I read this article yesterday (the one by Rebecca Everett) for the first time and my jaw dropped. I am SO happy it was posted!!! I live in Conway, MA, and on 1/5/16, I had an identical experience to what the people saw in Amherst, with a diamond shaped vessel that SLOWLY went over our house, flying VERY low. My husband and I both saw it. I called the Chicopee and Westfield Airforce bases the following morning, which both denied having any unmanned drones. The only reason I called them was because it looked like 2 people could ride in it, or either be an unmanned drone- the size of 2 cars or a small plane. It was around 8:45 at night, and I was watching the fish in our newly set up tank next to our sliding glass doors. My son was sitting in my lap, and I happened to look out the large window of the door and saw lights coming towards our house through the trees. I immediately said "Hey, there's a plane that's about to fly over our house!" I picked up my son (as he loves planes) and opened the door. No sound of a plane. I put him down in the chair, stepped out on our porch, and called my husband over. The thing flew so low, so quietly, right over our garage and mudroom. It had four white lights and was in a diamond shape. It was dark out, but it appeared to have a slightly rounded curve on it's belly that went from one wing to the other from the shadows cast on itself from the lights on it's wings and nose. It happened so slowly, but so fast- I wish I had taken a video or photos of it with my phone! None of my neighbors saw it unfortunately. I had to file a report with the Chief of Police in Conway after discussing the matter with the Air Force base in Chicopee about inquiring with my drone question, which they both denied. My husband thinks they are lying. My neighbors think it's a UFO, and I honestly am just so baffled and obsessed now at finding out what the hell it is/was!"

Friday, January 8, 2016

UFO Sightings Across Amherst Three Years Ago Tonight

Screen Shot from WWLP 22 News
Three years ago tonight, Head in the Clouds Amherst was the first to report news of multiple UFO sightings across Amherst in the early evening. We followed that initial report with several subsequent updates. To this day, those UFO-related reports remain our most popular posts, with some 20,000 viewers having checked them out since 2013. Click here to read our first report on the matter.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cold morning just got colder

Yup, that's about right. 4.6 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside right now!
I thought it was definitely cold this morning. And then I looked at the reading from our outdoor sensor. Single digits, 4.6° F. Now I'm freezing. (And I'm still inside a warm house, just to be clear.)

Bundle up, everyone. It's cold out there. 

On the up side, it gets warmer after today through the end of the week. Then something comes our way this weekend. Too soon to tell what exactly, although rain, freezing rain, and snow are all possibilities. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 28, 2015

First Winter Weather Advisory of the Season

Photo by Matt Holiner

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY is now in effect from 8 PM Monday evening through 7 PM Tuesday evening for Franklin, Hampshire, Northern Worcester, Central and Northern Middlesex and Western Essex Counties of Massachusetts for 2-4" of snow with locally higher amounts, and around one-tenth inch of ice accretion with up to one-quarter inch ice accretion in higher terrain locations.

Keep in mind that snow and ice amounts and precipitation type changeover and timing will fluctuate as future model runs get a better handle on these items. It is possible that a prolonged period of freezing rain could develop in any of the advisory areas, and in particular the higher elevations of Western and Northern Massachusetts and northwest Hartford County in Connecticut.

Plan accordingly, people!