Sunday, February 14, 2021

Endless Winter

The San Francisco Peaks above Observatory Mesa.


This is the time of year when I get sick of the snow, but we must admit it can be beautiful. In Flagstaff, snow tends to not persist on paved surfaces as long as it does in more humid climates. I'm grateful for that. Having grown up in north central Indiana, I had to deal with long winters with grey, overcast skies for weeks on end, and persistent ice and snow on roads for weeks after a storm. We also got frigid blasts of sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures from northern Canada. I was once out in 24 below when I was in college. Once you get to about 10 below, any exposed skin feels immediate pain. I can't recommend it.

Flagstaff isn't like that. Here we have lower latitude, which means more direct sunlight, and higher altitude, which means a thinner atmosphere with lower barometric pressure. We are also surrounded by desert, so even when we get heavy snow, very dry air moves in behind the storm and the snow just transpires away, or melts and then evaporates. This doesn't work as well between the winter solstice and the end of January, but by the time you get well into February, the days get longer and the sunlight more direct, and snow quickly disappears from the roads and trails, though it remains longer under the trees.

Snowpack off McAllister Ranch Road.


And that means I can get out and jog again, and on warmer days, bicycle. So I hope to get out there within the next week or two. I just need to get past this next storm on Tuesday . . .

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