An Observation: Levels of Southern Winter Precipitation

Please take a moment to review these standard units of measurement for winter precipitation in the South with your family before submitting reports to neighbors, relatives, and friends. Expert advice for each situation is listed.

Snowing:

  • 1 to 15 snow flurries per hour
  • Temperatures hovering around 32-33 degrees
  • Call your local television station. Things just got serious.

Snowing Hard:

  • 50-100 snowflakes per hour
  • Sticks to grass for a maximum duration of thirty seconds
  • Take no less than twenty photos and one video for Instagram. Demand that local schools close early.

Blizzard:

  • A dusting/up to one inch of accumulation
  • Bigger snowflakes, but still able to be individually counted with reasonable ease
  • Stay home. Your off-road, heavy-duty, four-wheel-drive pickup truck is useless.

Whiteout/Apocalypse:

  • Accumulation in excess of one inch
  • Snowflakes too numerous to count
  • Call Northern relatives for survival advice, if your phone still works.

Sleeting:

  • 1 to 15 ice pellets per hour
  • Sound against windows resembles bacon frying in small skillet
  • Put glass outside to collect ice. Sonic will be closed soon.

Heavy Sleet:

  • Melted residue on car windshield (see also: cold water)
  • Sound against windows interferes with normal conversation
  • Advise your family that it could be worse. It could be freezing rain.

Freezing Rain:

  • Shiny glaze on all elevated objects
  • Power outages, broken tree limbs, all brick-and-mortar establishments closed
  • Give up and set yourself on fire for warmth—you’re in this one for the long haul.

A Slump: The Never-Ending Winter

It seems that every time we think warmer weather is on its way this year, we have ourselves a few tornadoes and then go right back into the deep freeze.

Snowfall in April was a dead giveaway that winter likes it here and doesn’t really want to leave, despite the fact that most of us have made it quite clear that it has overstayed its welcome and it should just look for other places to hang out because we would like to move forward into the next season that will give us at least a brief period of time to enjoy outdoor activities between the “freezing-to-death” months and the “I’m-melting-melting” months. (Whew. I should try to punctuate more often.)

April 7, 2018 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Ugh.

To top it all off, I’m all about some nature photography. I really, really, REALLY like to capture each of the four seasons that Arkansas supposedly gets to experience annually. Every time I think I’ll have a spare Saturday to go forth and look for pretty spring trees, I end up at home…under a blanket…looking at the clouds outside and expecting the poor little flowers to wither any day now. Or, I’m huddled in a closet as the tornado sirens scream at the neighborhood. But, I’m still trying to find photography opportunities.

I’m too scared to chase the storms while they’re heading towards me, so I get in the car afterwards and follow them. Yep, I’m a chicken.

We have had some short windows of time when the conditions were good for springy, flowery photography, however.

Yes, black and white can work for spring photography. (This print is now for sale in my Etsy shop, MeticulousObserver.)
See?
These little guys are trying to make spring happen.
Okay, so…I cheated and went south and out of the state for this one. You do what you have to do to look for good spring photography opportunities.

Any suggestions on where I should go for upcoming photography excursions? (By the way, I don’t limit myself to Arkansas at all. However, if you suggest Hawaii, I suggest that you might need to help out with those expenses…)

An Observation: Nice Ice

I believe I’ve made my feelings about winter very apparent.

In case you missed it, here’s a summary:

I HATE WINTER!

winter GIF
I’m pretty sure that guy does, too.

With that being said, you have to look for the silver lining in all situations. Occasionally, our trees quite literally have that silver lining.

No one in northern Arkansas will ever forget the Great Freezing Rain Power Outage Ice Storm of Misery (2009 Edition). Not only were the trees, power lines, elevated surfaces, inanimate objects, cars, grass, leaves, houses, (yeah, you get the picture) and lawn furniture coated with a thick, shiny sheet of ice, the frozen precipitation caused infrastructure chaos that left many, many people without power for several weeks.

Luckily, Winter 2018 hasn’t shown off in that manner…yet. (Let’s hope it doesn’t. Do you hear that, Winter 2018? That’s not a challenge. Just don’t do it.) However, the silver lining has been quite attractive for photographers like myself. (Well, to the extent that photographers like me can stand to be out in the cold long enough to capture the images.)

Pretty scenery…I was able to stop my teeth from chattering long enough to hold the camera still.

I call this phenomenon “Nice Ice.” It’s the kind of ice that doesn’t stick around long enough to do any actual damage. It stays off the roads and only accumulates enough in the trees to produce good photography.

The only problem was the wind. I had to find the light and take the photos quickly before the branches moved, and, more importantly, before my fingers froze solid.

“Nice Ice” is rare around here, but it can make winter slightly more tolerable by providing something to look at other than bare branches and gray.

Oh…and photography.

Lots of photography.

Sometimes, they even throw in a nice sunset for you.

Here’s one.
Here’s another one.

Nice.

An Observation: Winter Isn’t My Favorite

I’ve tried. I’ve given this winter thing a few decades to show me its redeeming qualities, and I just don’t like it.

Maybe some of it has to do with where I live. In Arkansas, “hot” and “humid” go together like peanut butter and jelly. “Cold” and “icy” aren’t typical words in the local vernacular. However, I live in the northeastern part of the state, where we can generally expect a little more winter than our friends in L.A. (That’s “Lower Arkansas,” for the uninitiated.)

“Oh, but I’d rather be cold than hot. You can always put on more layers.”

Every time I hear that argument, I want to scream.

A Christmas Story GIF
More layers. Right. Good idea.

Most of the time, when I add layers, I end up sweating while at least one of my extremities is still numb.

I will admit that the first day the weatherman mentions the word “snow,” I get a little bit excited. (That’s “SNOW.” NOT “flurries.” When I hear the word “flurries,” I get about as excited as I do when he says the word “sprinkles.” You only need to mention “sprinkles” if you’re bringing me a cake. Otherwise, it’s insignificant to my outdoor plans.)

In Arkansas, though, it’s the reaction of the masses that gets amusing. See, I was always taught that you’d want non-perishable items around the kitchen if you were facing a disaster of epic proportions (see also: 12 whole hours of being snowed in…with “snowed in” defined as .025 inches of slush). When the disaster is looming, though, it’s the bread and milk aisles that are wiped clean before everyone settles in to hold down the fort. Because you know you’re not going anywhere for at least three or four days. Because snow is slick.

“Y’all just don’t know how to drive on that stuff.”

Image result for driving on snot and ice
Uhh…yeah, well, I guess that’s a valuable lesson, too.

True. But…most of the time we don’t get actual “snow.” We almost always get some kind of mix, usually starting out with a glaze of freezing rain. Sometimes, it’s exclusively freezing rain, which is a total mess. If we get a layer of snow on top, at least it’s prettier to look at while we’re sitting inside waiting for the power to come back on.

(I’ll admit…it’s good for a laugh sometimes. Our friends to the north definitely have a sense of humor about it.)

And, on occasion, when we’re not iced or snowed in, you can find a few little gems here and there.

I wasn’t going to go through an entire post about winter without at least one original photograph. A little bluebird. (Awwwwwww.)

Most of the time, though, we look at bare branches and gray skies for a couple of months.

Typical winter view. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, if I had to rank my favorite seasons in order, it would probably look like this:

1. Spring, Summer, Fall

 

 

4. Winter.

Sorry, winter. You had your chance. Be sure to pick up all of your icicles when you leave.

An Observation: As I Was Saying…

In February, I said that Arkansas was in the middle of an alternative winter.

In March, Arkansas finally experienced winter-winter.

It’s a similar pattern that we’ve been following for a few years now. Last year was the exception; however, in general, we have begun to expect winter to give us one final show just as the trees really start to bloom.

When I saw the forecast, I knew it would be an interesting time for photography.

After all, I’d been walking around in mid-February carrying my jacket over one arm. The daffodils have come and gone in some places over the past two weeks or so. (I suppose you could say they are already pushing up daisies. Okay, I know…that little joke was bad. I can do better than that. I promise I’ll try harder next time.)

So, naturally, the tornado warnings earlier in the week and the impending Daylight Savings Time switch had to be surefire signs that a couple of inches of snow would be on the ground by Saturday night.

It’s Arkansas physics.

Having lost an hour already on Sunday morning, I still decided it was in my best interest to wake up a little earlier than normal to take photographs of the snowfall before it melted.

It turned out to be a very good decision. By mid-afternoon, most of the snow was gone, but I had a successful morning of photography…numb fingers and all.

The fog that had settled over the water combined with the snow falling from the trees created some outstanding photo opportunities.
The fog that settled over the water in combination with the snow falling from the trees created some outstanding photo opportunities.
I made a new friend, too.
I don’t typically shoot in black and white during March, but the snowy landscape was all dressed up for the occasion. (Friendly reminder…all original photographs are the property of Sara Garland. Please do not reprint or distribute without permission.)

I hope this was winter’s last big show for the year, because it’ll be hard to top that.

An Observation: Alternative Winter

This February in Arkansas has been quite sweaty. The trees have been confused enough to go ahead and bring out their spring wardrobes.

Umm...wait. Please...don't wear that yet. It's February. (Hot Springs, Arkansas on February 17, 2017. Yes, FEBRUARY 17.)
Umm…wait. Please…don’t wear that yet. It’s February. (Hot Springs, Arkansas on February 17, 2017. Yes, FEBRUARY 17.)

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate mosquitoes. I’ve been concerned, because if the daffodils and whatnot were already making their appearances in MID-FEBRUARY, exactly how big are the vicious, blood-sucking monster mosquitoes going to be this summer?

Or…is it a non-issue? Let’s say the upward trend in daytime highs continues and the temperature decides to average out at a toasty 350 degrees this August. Mosquitoes (and human beings) probably can’t survive at oven-room-temperature. (It’s good for that cake I’ve been meaning to make, though.) We could ask our friends on Venus for advice since they stay a tad warmer than that, but–wait, we have no friends on Venus. It’s uninhabitable thanks to a few factors…temperature being but one of them.

So…would someone please turn on the air conditioning?

I woke up today to typical February temperatures, but it was a bit odd feeling that chilly and looking out the window at the blooms. I get the impression that I’m going to be knitting blankets for the tulip trees soon. Because, as we all know, some of the worst winter storms can still occur in Arkansas in March. I don’t want that to be the case, but the past several years have taught us a few lessons.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this alternative winter. I just hope the mosquitoes aren’t the size of pickup trucks by June.