Sunday, March 3, 2019

Winter returns

Here in Kimball County the first half of winter was rather mild, but that all changed shortly after February arrived.

Winter began on December 21, and while there was some occasional snow and cold through the end of January, conditions were generally sunny and relatively warm, with temperatures averaging about 4 degrees above the long-term average going back to 1893.

While much of the nation to the east of us shivered as Arctic air flowed down from Canada, we enjoyed sunshine and relative warmth. The mercury topped 60 degrees on the first three days of February, in fact.

But winter returned with an icy grip beginning on February 4. Since then the daytime high has averaged 32.1 degrees, the daily low 7.5 degrees, and the 24-hour daily average 19.83 degrees. To put those numbers in context, since 1895 Kimball’s February daytime averages 43 degrees, the low 15.7 degrees, and the 24-hour daily average 29.4 degrees. Simple subtraction reveals that Kimball has been about 10.5 degrees colder than average since February 4, and the near-term forecast suggests that there are plenty more below average temperatures in store.

Night before last (March 1) we had snow. About two inches. At 7 a.m. the snow had stopped and I was out scooping. The forecast called for more snow, but who am I to turn my nose up at a good workout? As usual I did the neighbor's sidewalk and driveway too, as well as the sidewalk in front of a storage building down the block. I'm not trying to be a nice guy, you understand, I'm only in it for the workout. Out at the ranch I scooped the sidewalk and driveway and deck and porch. By the time I finished I'd had 1:15 of nice exertion and could survey the results of a job well done.

Then it started snowing again, just as promised. We had another 5 inches by 7 a.m. this morning. It was also very cold. Minus 13 degrees cold. But the sky was clear and blue and the sun was bright and warm, so I repeated my snow clearing workout. The air temperature stayed cold -- I think we had a high of 3 degrees today -- but with little or no wind it was a brilliant and beautiful day.

Nature gave a brilliant demonstration of the power of the sun. While the air temperature remained very cold, the sun was busy melting snow and making puddles of liquid water. By early afternoon a fog of water vapor was evaporating from every puddle. Everywhere you looked you could see water in all three material phases -- gas, liquid, and solid. Gorgeous.

This morning at the ranch my Dad's dog Jeter had managed to become hypothermic. He's an outside dog and refuses to take shelter inside regardless of the weather or temperature. He was very definitely chilled this morning though and I think he would have perished had I not taken him inside. He warmed up and dried off throughout the day but as of this evening he's still pretty droopy. Hypothermia can really drag energy reserves down, and it often takes more time than you'd expect to recover. He'll stay inside tonight, and we'll see how he's looking in the morning.

Speaking of cold, as the sun set this evening the temperature went from +3 to -10 in 2 hours. As I write this the mercury continues to tumble and the forecast is for a low of -16.

No one likes the cold. I certainly don't. But there's beauty in the cold, and in the contrast between the cold we've got today and the gentle warmth of spring which will arrive in short order.

As for other stuff, Dad continues to hang in there. He has good days and bad days. He's slowly losing the battle but he's still in there swinging.

I've had two mild injuries recently which have forced me to modify my exercise routine. I gave myself a stupid a/c injury in a sophomoric push-up contest with a young whippersnapper police officer. I won by miles but at a stiff cost in pain and stifling restrictions on arm resistance training for a month or so.

The other morning I was running and stepped wrong in a shallow depression, straining a hip flexor and aggravating a chronic hammy problem. I can still walk and run steps but regular running is out until the old body does its healing magic. I'd whine about the unfairness of it all but compared to so many people I know I'm in insanely good health and shape, so while I do grumble to myself a bit I'm trying very hard to be grateful for incredibly good fortune.

Here's a video some of you might enjoy. This Penrice fellow sure talks funny for a Tomcat pilot.


  1. Looks mighty cold. Kudos for keeping on with your workouts!
    Coldest I've ever been was a horseback in the back of beyond push'n cows in a freezing rain. Never want to do that again.
    Prayers up for your dad.

    1. Cold and wet is miserable. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the prayers.

  2. I needed to do some sanding today, so I set some saw horses up on the deck, put the portable work top on them, placed the belt sander on it, and went to town. I had neglected just how stiff the breeze was. It took hours to feel like a human again! Warm up, Jeter! Badgers can sympathize!

    1. It can be hard to catch up once you get chilled. It takes a great deal of energy to maintain our body heat. Thanks for stopping by Scott, and stay warm!

  3. Looks like winter out there! It lingers here as well, we've had more snow in the past week than the rest of the winter combined. But we haven't had all that much, that big body of water to the south and east of us keeps our weather mild. (Well, until a nor'easter blows in!)

    Four to six inches of heavy wet white stuff this morning, can't tell exactly as the stuff is half melted as it falls. Pretty slushy out there.

    Sucks getting old doesn't it? DAMHIK

    Your Dad sounds like a fighter, seems some of that rubbed off on you. Good men, the both of you.

    1. Nature just doesn't seem to care about our yearning for spring, does she? Fortunately for me, this snow was dry and light and easy to move.

      The getting old stuff is getting old. That said, I still have to marvel at the way my old body self repairs. A bit of pain is a small price to pay for that.

      Dad's awful tough.

      Thanks for stopping by Sarge.

  4. Dadgumit, I check your blog day after day, then let a few days go by and find you have posted when my back was turned. My best thoughts for your Dad, and Mom too. Take care of yourself too.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Thanks Paul. I keep trying to get back on posting track but sometimes my professional laziness intervenes. It's go a mind of its own, I tell ya...

  5. I can verify that it was really COLD!!!! there on Sunday. Drove past on I-80 (and waved) but not a lot of people out and about.
    I did not see a lot of cattle out, or newborn calves. We saw a lot of calves in Utah, but maybe the breed them earlier there.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Thanks for stopping by the blog, and for driving by an waving!

      There are quite a few calves out and about already. Around here some producers calve beginning in January, and others do so later. Depends a lot on what the producers are trying to accomplish. A lot of guys are primarily farmers and need to be in the field during the growing season so they calve early, before spring arrives.