Good day and Happy New Year! I am sorry that I was not able to write last week, but things were busy and by the time they settled down, it was nearly time for my head to hit the pillow.
So it continues to be a challenging winter for us snowlovers in the UP, as well as elsewhere across much of the areas of the US that get snow. About the only places running with an excess right now are the Cascades of the Pacific NW. We did get some nice fresh snow in advance of the New Year. It was great to see the flakes flying and the snow piling up. Almost seemed weird in a way too. I realize that many of you reading this have been suffering from the same snow drought as I have, but consider this: The Keweenaw sees more snow, on average, for the month of December than most areas south of a line from around Des Moines to Chicago to Detroit see in an entire season! So when we go weeks on end with just one snow event, it is very strange.
I do not have the exact count, but I believe in the past 2 weeks, we have seen the sun shine more than snow fall. THAT is extremely rare for this neck of the woods. I, along with many others up here have been taking that as a blessing though. The one thing that I think all of us living in the Keweenaw would like more of in the winter is sunshine. Even the snow lovers! If it isn’t going to be snowing, it may as well be sunny! The other upside to this strange winter so far is the fact that we have been without any real cold air outbreaks. We have had some cold days and a few cold nights, but for the most part, our temperatures have been well above average for the last 45-60 days. That is good for the heating bills and I don’t hear anyone complaining about that either. Lastly, except for Chequamegon Bay at Ashland, Black and Nipigon Bays on the north shore of Lake Superior and a thin strip at Duluth, the entirety of Lake Superior is free from ice. Even Whitefish Bay is ice free and it usually is frozen over by now. Heck, we have had years when the big lake is 50% frozen by now. So when we do get the kind of cold that will produce LES, it will not be held back by any ice on the big lake.
Most of our snows prior to New Years came on the 30th. It snowed all day, sometimes at a pretty good clip. All told, we ended up with around 9-10″ for the day and around 13-14″ for the entire snow event. Some areas picked up more, but surprisingly, some areas that should get more than us when talking lake effect, got less. Here is a shot of the back yard of the shop. Trees nicely flocked, big old flakes filling the air and a nice fresh blanket of snow on the ground. The kind of things that warm a snow lovers heart and fill them with joy! The satellite dish you see is my new Starlink dish. It’s a project from Elon Musk and when completed, will allow anyone in the world to have high speed internet. I signed up for the beta testing and all I can say is WOW! It is around 8 to 9 times faster than my old satellite service and has unlimited data as well. Both of which I was sorely longing for ever since we move from Mohawk. My speeds are actually faster than I had with cable internet! Since the system is still in beta testing, it goes down for a while at times, but I do have my old system still going as a back up. Anyway, sell your stock in Hughes Net and Excede! Those guys will be toast soon!
So, getting back on track, it was fun to watch our local bird population hit the feeders in the “storm”. They actually are all regular feeders regardless of the weather once the natural food sources become scarce during the cold season, but it is just extra satisfying to see the little guys fly up to the feeders, grab something to eat and then head off to the trees to chow down. I’m not sure I will be able to pull it off this season, but with the new internet service we have, I plan to put a live cam on the feeders for folks to watch. Nora and Grace do a great job of keeping them full and there are two main feeding times- morning around an hour or so after sunrise and in the evening, an hour or two before sunset. During those times, we can have as many as a dozen or more birds at the feeder. A lot of Chickadees, Nuthatches and Junkos. However, we have had some other types that are not as plentiful like Pine Grosbeaks and Downey and Nuttall Woodpeckers. There have been a few others that I cannot remember (old age!). I have learned more about birds in the past year than I probably knew in my life prior. I find it cool to know as much as I can about the birds, bees, trees and other natural things where I live. Lots to learn, that’s for sure!
One of the things that kept me too busy to write was a little excursion to the big lake with Nora, Grace and one of Nora’s brothers and his family. They all did it on snowshoe or skies, but I decided to do my work smartly rather than hard! So I fired up the sled for the first time this season and took it! Funny how I have not really snowmobiled in around 20 months, but it was still so familiar to be tooling through the woods to the lake shore. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I parked as close as I could get to the lake without ending up in it and snapped a shot.
I was thinking about selling it this autumn, so started to pull of the Keweenaw Kamo wrap to make it more appealing to a buyer, but then got busy with website stuff and then the used sled market got very tight and expensive and I did not want to fall into the trappings of selling my sled and not being able to find a replacement. I plan to be getting away from the long tracks on the mountain sleds and into more of a crossover sled, as my days of riding the super deep up super steep are over and a crossover will still get me through the super deep along logging roads and other fairly flat bush trails.
Much of the last week was spend in a “Groundhog Day” the movie mode, with daytime highs and overnight lows barely deviating at all. Highs were around 30-34 and lows were around 26-28. Despite some days with above freezing highs, we did not lose too much snow, more settling than anything. Most of the roads have become clear, which is also strange for this time of the year.
As I was driving through downtown Calumet the other afternoon, looking at the bare roads, lack of enormous piles of snow and deeply covered rooftops, I could not help but think that the village looked almost naked. As if it was being forced to stand out in the cold with just it’s skivvies on! No heavy overcoat of snow to cover it up. It looked weird, very weird. Kind of sad too.
The warm temps and sunshine has caused much of the snow to slide off of our metal roofs. I snapped this shot of a slice getting ready to slide off the shop roof.
So except for a sneak-peak comment on the forecast, I think that about covers it for this one. The much advertised change in the pattern across North America and much of the Northern Hemisphere is still in the cards for around Thursday and beyond. The usual differences in the models exist, but in general, the things I have been saying in my forecast text as well as the SnoScoop videos still hold true. Meaning best chances for lots of snow will be in the LES belts of the UP, with lesser amounts, but still decent totals in the LES belts of western lower MI. The rest of the northern 1/2 of the Midwest looks to have their chances for snow as well, but no big storms are seen. Plenty of seasonably cold to even below average temps are seen as well. So it is looking good that winter may finally be arriving in earnest in the Midwest!
Just keep ThinkingSnow!
Good Night from the Keweenaw..