Saturday, April 23, 2016

Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Today

More minor geomagnetic storm activity is predicted for today due to effects from a positive polarity coronal hole high speed stream. Which means greater potential for aurora borealis (northern lights) at higher latitudes, to our north, and even possibly northern parts of Western MA over the next few nights.

Watch the video to learn more, but disregard the bizarre accompanying music - in fact I advise turning the sound off entirely. For those of you who cannot access the video from this page, click here

Friday, April 22, 2016

April Rain Song

Rain drops on window, Amherst MA
Photo by S. Vardatira, 4/22/2016
Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain. 

- April Rain Song, by Langston Hughes

Oh, I should probably mention that it's going to be a stormy afternoon and evening, as a cold front moves through Western Massachusetts, bringing much needed rain along with thunder and lightning, and occasional hail.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Snow in the Woods (in April, not January!)

Spring stream in snow, April 5, 2016
Photo by Laura Eve-Cowles, S. Deerfield MA
  You may be cursing the darkness, or rather the "whiteness" if you will, but moments like these don't last. Try to enjoy this late spring snow. It's beautiful out there! Fortunately, friend of Head in the Clouds Amherst, Laura Eve-Cowles, graced us with more beautiful photos of the woods in snow. The bottom photo on this page is the same vernal pool she photographed on Sunday (posted by us yesterday), only this time with even more snow. The sun is out now, and by Thursday this will all be fast melting away.

Snowy April Sunrise, April 4, 2016
Photo by Laura Eve-Cowles
S. Deerfield MA

Vernal Pool in Snow, April 4, 2016
Photo by Laura Eve-Cowles
S. Deerfield MA

Monday, April 4, 2016

Not exactly spring peeper weather...

Vernal pool in snow, South Deerfield MA - 4/3/2016
Photo by Laura Eve-Cowles
Hang on peepers, spring really is here - it's just gone into hiding at the moment. I wonder if peepers are stressed by this strange (early then absent) spring we've been experiencing?

Thanks to friend of Head in the Clouds Amherst, Laura Eve-Cowles, for this photo from yesterday - we love it when social media lights up with photos of unusual weather. Enjoy today's continuing snow, everyone, along with this unexpected snow day! (Yup, Amherst-Pelham schools are closed today.)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Winter Weather Advisory (yes, you heard that right)

Spring night sky with snow
What fun - snow in April.... !

Yes, indeed, a Winter Weather Advisory has just been posted for 3 am to 11 am Sunday (that would be overnight today into tomorrow). Areas to be impacted include all of Southern New England except for the South Coast, Cape and Islands. We are likely to experience 1-3 hours of heavy snow during that period, strong winds, and near whiteout conditions. Accumulation will probably be between 1-3 inches around here, all the way up to 5-6 inches at the higher elevations. 

Along the way, we’ll be treated to a whole range of weather phenomena (thank you, New England), starting out with high winds and maybe a rumble of thunder (isolated power outages possible), followed by rain spreading over the region, probably in the wee hours of Sunday morning around here. Snow will quickly come to an end by late Sunday morning.  NWS is calling this a potentially “high impact” but “short duration” event. So all you Saturday night revelers might want to head home early or plan to stay the night wherever you might be.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Happy Spring - now prepare for snow!

Daffodils felled by snow - North Amherst, MA
Photo by S. Vardatira, April 16, 2014
Happy first day of Spring, everyone - now prepare for snow!!

On the upside (if you don't want winter in earnest), we are only looking at 1-4 inches around here, probably more like 1-2 inches in Amherst. Most of it will fall between midnight and rush hour Monday morning, although flakes may start to fly as early as 8 pm tonight. Eastern Hampshire and Hampden counties will likely see the higher end of that range, with snowfall amounts decreasing as you head west (Eastern MA and Rhode Island will feel the brunt of this storm).

As for daffodils felled by snow, our own home-grown daffodils haven't even budded yet, so this scene seems unlikely. But it could be in our future - this photograph was taken two years ago on April 16, so don't assume tonight's event is winter's last gasp. Although, given the odd earliness of the season, it could well be.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"Models are struggling..."

Models (of a different sort) were struggling here!
Photo of photographer setting up wedding attire
fashion shot for Celia Grace, a fair trade wedding
dress business headquartered in Amherst.
(Model's coat came off for the real shots)
ON Puffer's Pond, 1/26/2013
"Models are struggling . . ."

No, not the start of a comedic sketch, or a battle of memes, or photo caption for a fashion shoot on a frozen Puffer's Pond (above), or a dark exploration of the underbelly of the fashion industry. Just another day in New England weather forecasting, as noted in this morning's missive from NOAA's Skywarn office: "[Computer] models are struggling with the different waves of energy and their expected track. Model runs through the day today should get a better handle on the storm situation for Sunday late Afternoon into Monday Morning."

In other words, no one is totally sure (at this moment) what the storm will do tomorrow. That being said, all indicators right now point to "our" winter storm actually being "their" winter storm (meaning down east, Cape and Islands). The models continue to show the storm tracking to our east. So it looks to be another coastal event, with us getting very little.

Sigh. I wouldn't mind just one big snowstorm before winter officially departs.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Peepers at Puffer's (and some geese)

Dusk at Puffer's Pond in the spring sets off a dependable (and very loud) chorus of peepers. This is my recording of about 60 seconds of tonight's concert, right before nightfall. Listen for the honking of geese flying overhead starting at about 0:15. Our very own symphony of sound. (And trust me, it was a lot louder in person.) 

If the video does not open for you here, just click on this link to see it on YouTube.

Getting lost in Ireland

Getting lost in Ireland -
Somewhere after descending from Healey Pass on the Beara Peninsula
Photo by S. Vardatira (2007) 
There's nothing quite like getting lost in Ireland - always with your head in the clouds - to absolutely make your day. Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. Erin go Bragh!

Connemara Pony - Connemara, Ireland - Photo by S. Vardatira

Flowers by doorway - Connemara, Ireland
Photo by S. Vardatira

Castle ruins - Kerry, Ireland
Photo by S. Vardatira

Weathered fencepost - somewhere in Ireland
Photo by S. Vardatira

Healey Pass, Ireland - Photo by S.Vardatira

Rainbow over the Beara Peninsula - Ireland
Photo by S. Vardatira

Friday, March 11, 2016

Global warming on an early spring day

Cushman Brook by Puffer's Pond - Amherst, MA
Photo by S. Vardatira
Global warming may be the last thing you want to think about on these deliciously warm and springlike days. But at the same time, I'm guessing it's been in the back of your mind all along. Tell me you haven't had some variation of this conversation about a dozen times this past week:

     "What a beautiful day!"

     "Oh, I know, gorgeous."

     "Weirdly early, right?"

     "Yeah, SO early."

     "That can't be good."

     "Yeah, but I'm not complaining."

     "You've got that right."

     "I'll take this any day."


If you haven't already left for a walk outside, you may want to read this:

Monday, March 7, 2016

The last sap run has (probably) begun

Snow-less maple sugaring season - North Amherst MA
Photo by S. Vardatira, February 21, 2016
Although the sap run of the past several weeks has been excellent in Western Massachusetts, with near perfect conditions (above-freezing days and below-freezing nights), we may well be coming to the end of the maple sugaring season. With the temperature soaring into the 70s by Wednesday and no below-freezing nights for the foreseeable future, this is probably it for the year. Contrast this to last year's run, which only started in the second week of March and continued through the end of March/early April. Yet another indicator that this winter has been anything but typical.

Sugar houses will continue boiling for at least the next week or so - and serving up breakfasts through March (or later - check their schedules), even after the last of the sap has been boiled down. Spring is knocking on our door in earnest now.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Above freezing days, below freezing nights

Just in case you have been hearing rumors of something coming this way tomorrow afternoon/ evening, don't give it a second thought. A coastal storm is moving up the coast, but it's tracking even further off shore than previously predicted, so even the Cape and Islands will only see 2-4" of snow. And around here we probably won't see any snow. Winds may pick up slightly overnight Friday into Saturday, with temps on Saturday in the 40s. After that, temps will climb slightly each day, reaching a high in the 60s on Tuesday! Lows drop below freezing at night, however, setting up another spate of awesome maple sugaring weather. (It's been a boom season to date!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March coming in like a lion (winter weather advisory)

Winter weather advisory in effect for our area from 8 p.m. tonight to 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. Expect snow, sleet, and a trace to one to two tenths of an inch of freezing rain / ice accretion. Higher amounts of icing especially likely at higher elevations and in the hill towns. Do I need remind you that these conditions can make for hazardous travel? Stay safe out there.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

If a woodpecker lives in the forest, and no one is around to hear it ...

Pileated woodpecked tree - South Deerfield, MA
Photo by Laura Eve-Cowles, 2/27/2016
Pileated Woodpecker
(Audubon Society,
John McKean/VIREO)
We seem to be on an animal jag here (think "the intersection of weather and animal life"), and it's been fascinating. This photo was just offered up by friend of Head in the Clouds Amherst, Laura Eve-Cowles. 

And the cause of all that damage? No, not some errant maple tapping operation. All credit goes to the pileated woodpecker, who excavates deep into rotten wood and dead trees to get at the nests of carpenter ants.

According to Laura, there were two, "the size of pterodactyls," at work on this tree. And she should know - the Eve-Cowles family was named the 2015 Massachusetts Tree Farmers of the Year for sustainable forest management, which creates better habitat for many wildlife species, particularly birds (her forest/farm is in Deerfield and Conway). Thanks for this awesomely bizarre photo, Laura!