The Ten-day Winter

Like most of North America, December and the early part of January were ridiculously mild.

Often thawing, humidity as high as 99%, but precipitation was virtually nil. The shortest day: sun setting to the far left of Finger Peak.

At least our Christmas was white – just. Unlike the eastern part of the Chilcotin where the Alexis Creek webcam showed bare ground. Mild winter weather usually produces extreme gloom.

Most winters I fire up the generator 4 or 5 times to boost my batteries. This year I lost count after 9 times. The mild weather was most of the culprit, but some of the drain on power could be a result of Starlink, which I set up last spring.

Hooking up to the satellites takes power. But, as I found out during last summer’s thunderstorms when I disconnected everything, if the sky is heavily overcast it may take the dish several hours to find the satellite again. So I have been keeping it plugged in. Also, the dish itself has a heating element in the cable to keep it snow free. Unfortunately, any kind of heating is not efficient with solar power. However, Starlink is otherwise trouble-free and very easy to use.

A lot of the gloom was ice fog. Sometimes it came to ground level

But mostly it stayed as a low lid covering the sky. At sunrise and sunset, a few gleams of light poked underneath. On this day, the sunset point had already moved close to Finger peak, and as it set it cast a peculiar shadow onto the ice fog.

The warmth was attributed to El Nino but computer models are not always right and the cold spell starting 10th January was an anomaly to their calculations. (Americans can see their antiquated Farenheit temperatures on the inner ring.)

Because the snow cover was so thin, in anticipation of this event I scraped up bags of dust and bark from the woodshed floor and dumped them on top of the snow over a couple of plants that usually winter. As I write in mid February, reports are coming in from grape and cherry growers that their blossoms have been destroyed due to the suddenness and drama of the temperature drop. I won’t know if my plants have survived until April.

But the cold brought SUNSHINE!

And it also brought a bit of snow. The plough had been attached to the ATV since November, but mid January was the first time I got to use it.

Our winter lasted 10 days; during that time, the sun cleared Finger Peak.

Then it was back to thawing and even raining a bit.

On the picture below, the “necklace” of white patches are clear-cuts, but the greyer hills below are the burned forests from the 2017 fire.

Day temperatures now climbed to +10C for 3 days in a row. There was little wind down here, but it must have been blowing higher up.

Then finally the temperatures became more ‘normal.’ Just above or just below freezing in the day, and between -13C and -20C at night. The ploughed areas were now glare ice. So it was with great relief that we had another few centimetres of snow that fell wet and bonded to the ice. The snow cover is still less than half of what we would hope for. Most of it thawed off the trees fairly soon, but for one day we had a real Hallmark landscape.

I could indulge on shadow abstracts along my driveway – but I had to be quick and take them before the dog ran over them.

There were snowshoe hare tracks everywhere.

Old fireweed stalks

Grass leaf,

A lot of people complain about February, but in my experience the weather is usually much sunnier. Sure, it’s a bit cool at the moment – it was -23C this morning – but I’d trade the warmer temperatures for sunshine any day.

Our road

One thought on “The Ten-day Winter”

  1. Hi Chris, its a long time I didn’ t open your website. And its a long time since I joined you the last summer in Nuk Tessli.
    Meanwhile I have 4 grandchildren between 8 months and 5 and a half years. So my time is mostly used to look for them.
    At the moment I am in Golden at my daughters house. 10 days ago I met gaby Klein in SA and went snowshoing with her. She was the one who told me about your adventourous life.
    Your fotos tell me that you still live your interesting life. At home I grapped the book from Ralph Edwards of Lonesome Lake and starting to read it brought back so many great unforgettable memories. I wish you all the best and a wonderful springflower season, verena barrueto from Switzerland

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