Weather Change

In theory, weather changes should not come as a surprise any more. We have far more reporting stations, we mostly understand how fronts move across the globe even if we can’t always predict precisely when and where they will arrive and with what ferocity. Those of us who live in rural and some suburban areas can watch insects and wildlife as well as the sky. However, depending on where and in what season, weather shifts may be subtle, quiet as Carl Sandberg’s fog, creeping in on “little cat feet.”

And sometimes…

A cold front races south.

The wind shift line was half a mile north of the playa, as I discovered about three minutes after I snapped this photo.

Soon to be movin’ on.

This is one of the butterflies that are trying to rip the butterfly bush out of the ground as take-out. The last wave of cold air brought a torrent, and we are now in the midst of a monarch-viceroy-queen-frittalery-swallowtail storm.

How many can you find?

The swarm of red-winged blackbirds has moved on. Doves have returned to the power lines in that stretch of road, although today I noticed one dove sitting away from the others. It had a longer, straighter tail, a shorter neck, and a speckled tan breast. And a hooked beak. A harrier was pretending to blend in with the doves.

This front is not a “blue norther,” for all that the northern sky did take on a different color as the bulk of the cooler air approached. I’ve had the displeasure of encountering a true storm of that kind when I was younger. Fifth grade, in fact, the year we moved to Amarillo from Nebraska. Since we lived two blocks from my school, and the high the day before had topped out at almost 90 F, I wore slacks and an Oxford shirt to class. that was at 0745. At 1530, the temperature had plunged to 45 F with a wind chill of 28 F. A very miserable Alma schlepped herself  and Sib home two long, miserable, painfully cold blocks. At least the sneet had let up for a while, so we didn’t get drenched with ice. No, the babysitter would not have let us walk in rain, even two blocks, without jackets, but it was a very rude introduction to Texas weather.

As I sit and type this, the leading edge of the front is an hour to the south. The north wind coming in the windows feels cool but not to cold, and is much stronger than the southerly breeze was at 1115. There’s no dust on the wind, but I can smell a faint hint of smoke, suggesting that a grass fire is in progress, or perhaps a controlled burn north-to-south into a previously burned area. The wind should gust to 40 MPH before tapering off in time for football.

Autumn washes in on the north wind. The days warm to the 80s and upper 70s, but crisp nights remind people and other critters that the year is turning. The trees have begun exchanging green for yellow, brown, and a little crimson. The hawthorn haws reached peak orange this week. A flock of something migratory chirped and fluttered past the school this AM, and I would not be surprised to begin hearing the high, gurgling calls of sandhill cranes soon.

11 thoughts on “Weather Change

  1. We have far more reporting stations

    Hehe, about that….

    There’s a “personal” weather station I use to check the temps in one of the areas we go to a lot, and it’s sited on a school that’s getting some upgrades. I think the reason the school put it in is to see if the kids can play safely in the recess area.

    They DID NOT take care, while school was out, to keep it properly located for that purpose. So the temp was off the charts (literally, the site tops out at 120) and no a drop of rain fell all summer, ignore what actually rained.

    School comes back in, and after about two weeks the temps go more normal…during the day. And the humidity is wonky.

    Took me a few days to notice the pattern, but I wish I could go look– my bet is they put some sort of a sun-cover over it, which blocks the sun from about 9 to 3, which is when they care.

  2. Ah, yes. I remember a spring day way back when. I was outside doing yard work. It was sunny and warm, with temperatures in the mid-80’s, and nary a cooling breeze to be found. I glanced up, and saw a dark line of clouds beyond the treetops.

    30 minutes later I couldn’t see the garage from the house through the blowing snow.

    • The most lethal-on-record Norther is still the Armistice Day storm that coincided with the opening of waterfowl hunting seasons. So a large number of hunters went out dressed for the 70s and 80s, and it turned into 20s and ice.

  3. How lucky to get downhill cranes! We here in SW Missouri get ducks, lots of geese and the occasional swan, but no cranes.

    • Some of them overwinter just south and west of here, more move south. We even get a few whooping cranes, but they tend to head for the coast.

  4. My favorite recent weather-front incident in the Denver metro area was a few years ago.
    Early November, and I was heading southeast toward Parker. Nice, warm mid-morning, mid-50s…
    I had the radio on KOA, and they said it was Minus-something in Cheyenne, Wyoming (70 miles to the north).
    I was to blow out a friend’s sprinkler system– it started as a windy 53 or so, and finished in the 30s…!

  5. The first pic reminded me of encountering T-storms on test ranges. Looked up at one test from some connections and saw that type of hazy mess and NOT end of the range (4km). Radioed the rest of the crew to finish, cover and back now! Made it about 30 before the rain.

    Another time, my call was GET DOWN NOW! COVER! That day it was the pre-strike electric field raising the hair on my neck. Temperature dropped about 12 degrees afterward.

    • Racing thunderstorms happens pretty often. The “fun” ones are cold-front squall-lines that turn into derechos and clobber a 60-100 mile N-S swath as they go. Sky goes from blue to blinding white to black-green to blue again, then you venture outside to see what blew in-away-down.

      • That stuff never happens here. Even if a storm is moving fast, you can feel the fronts coming.

        (Those of us with sinus problems, which is at least half of us in Dayton, can feel the weather far more than we desire.)

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