Edging Toward Winter
It's the second full week of December and so far Old Man Winter remains in an overall hibernative state. Brief bouts of frosty nights and pond ice aside, the only true winter conditions our little corner of Appalachia faced occurred in late October courtesy of Hurricane Sandy.
But that was 6 weeks ago when 5 to 10 inches of wet snow fell in hilly Kanawha County and the high ground around towns like Huntington (Museum of Art), Logan (Reservoir Hill), Williamson (Mingo Central High) and Madison (Whitesville). For the record, downtown Huntington and Charleston had only a slushy inch or so on grass.
That heavy wet sopping snow caused widespread power outs in those rugged hills and blizzard conditions with 2 feet of snow in mountainous West Virginia including Webster and Nicholas Counties.
Sandy was also responsible for some slushy Bluegrass and Buckeye snow that same day. In Kentucky, my weather spotters in Inez, Pikeville and Paintsville reported a messy, water-logged coat that melted away almost as fast as it stuck to the warm ground. Ohio missed out save for a sloppy inch on grass in Ohio River bordering counties.
So forgive me for saying “for most fellow snow lovers, the season is off to a slow start” with this past weekend sporting 3 more December days with highs in the 60s. This December has now the the warmest start since 1998. Since that winter was a bust for snow, talk of a repeat of last winter’s slim snow pickings is generating its own steam.
Even the ski lodges are hurting with only Snowshoe and Timberline open and frankly just barely at that. Late this Monday evening, the temperature at Canaan Valley is 46 degrees with rain and fog eating away at the little machine made snow that lingers from the last stretch of cold nights
This Monday Snowshoe and Timberline are reporting 15 trails open with “granular” conditions. To a skier, granular means slushy when the temperature is as warm as it has been. No surprise, rain has fallen off and on the past 3 days even in the high country.
The better news is that colder air and a few inches of wet snow will likely fall in the tallest mountains of WV late Monday night and Tuesday. That along with good snow making weather will allow the snow groomers to turn the slopes into ski-able and tube-able terrain for the second half of this week.
Still the cold will be fleeting so when the next storm arrives this weekend, it will be rain not snow for all as highs head back into the 50s for Ohio, Kanawha and Big Sandy Valleys with 40s common in ski country.
In my last blog I reported how the snow pack in Canada and Siberia were ripe for the picking of bitter cold air masses into the USA. That snow pack has grown now that one of those cold snaps has produced a foot of powder in Minnesota with subzero temperatures in places.
Here's a look at the latest and "growing" snow cover in North America! White is snow, yellow is arctic sea ice.
Since the cold is still building over the Canadian and Northern Eurasian snow cover, I remain confident that we will have our share of snow and cold in the second half of December.
As I told Ms. Spraudlin’s 5th graders at McKell Elementary in South Shore Ky last week. I see a snow/ice day before Christmas Holidays.
And that will be my message at the University of Rio Grande on Tuesday as I speak with the Southern Ohio Safety Council; namely, be prepared for a few plowable snow/ice storms in the days around Christmas.
BTW, winter officially begins on December 21 around 7am. Odds favor cold and snow close by that day!