It’s Here

Spring has sprung in the Keweenaw. Now, before all of you start envisioning green grass and beautiful flowers, we are in “early spring”. That means we have had several days in a row with above freezing temps. The snows are melting, but we still have more to melt than has melted so far. The sun has been out much more frequently and that has lifted everyone’s mood.

All the roads are bare, even the side roads. Potholes are becoming commonplace and there has even been a few reports of robins in yards. The appearance of robins is a bit early for us, they are going to be hurting for food for a few weeks, as they are not known for chowing down at feeders. They prefer worms and insects. I suppose though, if one is hungry enough, one will eat just about anything!

The snows have also been disappearing off of the roofs up here. Just a few weeks ago, it was due to being shoveled off, but that stopped about a week ago in most cases. For the last week, it has been due mainly to the forces acted upon it via mother nature. For those of us with metal roofs, that means a steady dripping of melted snow off the eaves, combined with a slow creeping of the main body of snow towards the eaves. In our case, is also has meant the creeping of the main snow body beyond the eave, leaving it suspended in mid air. That last shot was taken yesterday and we refrained from using the door to the front porch.

Yesterday around midday, we took a little trip to see if we could get to the beach at White City and when we got back, the snow hanging had broken off. This morning, I took this picture of how things looked after the calving of the snow and ice shelf. About a week ago, we had a similar slide and end result (ice sticking straight up, forming a wall) on the back roof, only the ice was around 10″ thick. This also happened right where the back door to the yard is located and caused the dogs to have to be a little creative in getting around it. I plan to take the chainsaw to that chunk of ice and give them back an easy way to get from the house to the yard.

There also some patches of bare ground showing up. The only ones in our yard are from where I cleared snow all season to keep a path open to the shop and the other in the backyard to allow the dogs to get around in the backyard. In the natural category. I have seen a few spots of bare ground showing in areas where the wind was able to scour the snow away. No pictures of that though.

On the other side of the coin is where the snow is still very deep. In the manmade category, there are piles of snow in Calumet that are 20 feet tall still. The villages of Calumet and Laurium have done all of the side roads with the snowgo, and those roads are canyons carved out of snow that is 6-10 feet deep. They still have a lot of snow to melt in the high country! On the naturally made side of things, there are drifts of snow and the grand daddy of them all is the Laurium Glacier. I have been watching it grow all winter long and because this winter has had an abundant amount of snow and a high number of days with very strong winds, I think the Laurium Glacier is as large as I have ever seen. It’s hard to judge from that picture, but I would estimate it to be 20-25 feet deep. I will be doing the meltdown contest for the Laurium Glacier this year and it will be starting tomorrow at 10 am eastern time on the discussion board in the miscellaneous section.

The final early spring activity I can share with you is something that happens every year at this time. It has to do with the fact that the county puts weight restrictions on some of the country roads up here. This is likely foreign to a lot of you. I know it was for me, coming from a rather urban setting. The reasoning is this: not all roads are built the same and I am not talking about 2 lane vs. 4 lane or limited access vs. open access. I am talking about what lies beneath the surface you are driving on. In some cases, very little is done. They will grade the land surface to make it flat, then will put down some kind of a fairly thin underlayment, like a layer of sand or crushed rock. Depending on how much goes into the time and materials beneath the roads surface, the road will be given a classification. The purpose of the classification primarily revolves around the amount and type of traffic that travel on it and thus how much time and material is used in the building of the road. The more the road gets used, the more time/material that goes into it. In the spring, the ground the road is built on becomes soft due to the melting of the ground and also the input of snowmelt into the ground. The lower classification roads do not have as much built into them to handle this softening and thus will have weight restrictions put on them in the spring to help keep the road from becoming damaged. Any road with weight restrictions gets posted at the entry points, so another term for the closing of roads to heavy vehicles is “posted”. 

So now that you know the whole process of road construction! I can share with you this picture and explain what is going on. Those logs are stacked there because the logging crew is cutting on a road that will be posted soon. They haul the logs out of the logging area and stage them in a place where they will be able to load them back up and haul them to the mill when they want to, not having to wait for the weight restrictions to come down. So there you have it, another free Northwoods living lesson!

Hope you all have a wonderful TWO weeks! I will not be writing next week. The family and I will be heading south to visit my mom. This week will also be the final week of snowfall forecasts and they will likely be done in the form of the graphics and Snow Church only.

Good Night From the Keweenaw..