Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is that a 1953 Buick grille on our deck?

The weather forecast was for maybe a tenth of an inch of ice, at worst.  Then it was two tenths. Then a quarter inch.  What we got, as indicated by this photo of a '53 Buick Roadmaster grill I found on our deck this morning, was 3/4 inch of ice, accompanied by downed trees, billions of ice cubes and frozen grass locked inside translucent cylinders of ice. Herewith:
 Oh, wait, maybe that was a '52 Nash Rambler.  Or a '47 Willys Overland with the flathead four-cylinder?

For sure, the place looks like a picnic area where about 10,000 dedicated beer drinkers emptied their coolers of ice cubes. And ice cylinders and ice chunks.  Crushed ice. Bergy-bits. We've got old sailing friends coming this weekend and I'm going to scoop up some of the ice to show them how we keep the brew cold up here in the hills.  Down in some of the warm spots where we used to sail, a good-sized bag of ice could last up to,k oh, 15 or 20 minutes, on cooler days.

Look like it will be cool around here for a while.  The pictures don't do Nature justice, but you get the idea.

A cold seat

Buford's Woods

Twisted laurel

We didn't exactly expect this result.  Kein Myatt, the weather guru at the Roanoke Times, was explaining in print just the other day how the terrain up here complicates weather forecasting, and why we sometimes get long-lasting ice when others not far from us get a good breeze and a melted malt:

" If you’ve lived in Southwest Virginia for several years, you know by now that the high terrain of Floyd and Carroll counties, often extending into the Bent Mountain area of extreme southern Roanoke County, is very often the bullseye for ice storms. As recently as Dec. 26, much of this area was suffering power outages and was iced in for days when most of the rest of Southwest Virginia experienced what was mainly just a nuisance mixed precipitation event. The Blue Ridge widens into more of a plateau in that region, rather than a sharp ridgeline, so it can be harder to sweep cold air away as it clings to the rolling and raised terrain, somewhat protected from southerly winds by even higher mountains to the south and southwest. It’s also susceptible to the easterly upslope winds lifting additional moisture, providing cooling with the lift even when the winds are blowing out of a “warm” southeast angle, and trapping cold air against the east side of the Blue Ridge even when it begins to be scoured out around it. It’s also just south enough to experience thicker moisture earlier in most events than locations farther north, which may have more time to warm above freezing before the bulk of the precipitation arrives. For these reasons, Floyd and Carroll counties have been placed under a winter storm warning for heavy ice, though even at that, it appears to be a low-end warning with a quarter-inch of ice accretion – the bottom boundary for an ice-inspired winter storm warning – expected in some spots."

We're in Patrick County, but in the Blue Ridge part, where our climate is closer to Floyd and Carroll than to the Piedmont climate of Woolwine and Stuart.   We look at four different weather forecasts -- NOAA, Accuweather, Weather Channel and WeatherUnderground, and I'm unhappy to say that none of them has figured out how to get our neighborhood -- about 1,500 feet from the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment -- reasonably correct.  Our best sources of information, as always, have been the window and the thermometer.

Thank goodness for Generac and the Stihl Chain Saw Co. 

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