I took the above pic. at the Alpine Athletic Field, where I went for a two-hour walk on my day off. The sunset comes at 5:26 pm officially in Gr. Rapids. As of today, we have gained 13 min. and 9 sec. of daylight since the Winter Solstice back on Dec. 21.
Looking due north, the sky was clear before sunset. The walking path had footprints and paw prints. But that wasn’t all I saw. There were a couple of snowmobile tracks, one person had come by on cross country skies and I spied the tracks of someone on snowshoes. I also saw rabbit tracks. The snow had melted and refrozen, so it was crunchy. The wind was light northeast, bringing in a little drier air that allowed the clouds to break. The average wind speed from Jan. 2-7 was only 5.9 mph and during those 6 days, the temperature varied by only 8 degrees, from 30° to 38°. With the clear skies, it’s colder this (Fri.) morning.
When the snow was fresher and the temp. close to freezing when the snow is “good packin'”, somebody(s) – maybe kids from nearby Alpine Elementary School – made a snowman. They used (the available, tiny) twiges for eyes nose and arms. The milder temperatures have caused the snowman to tilt a bit. I remember once when I was a little kid, making a snowman in our front yard with my mother, complete with charcoal eyes, a carrot nose and a proper hat.
Here’s another pic. of sunset. There are two layers of clouds – a thin high cirrus layer that the sun could shine through – and a lower layer of status clouds over toward Lake Michigan. You can’t see it in this picture, but in the distance, you could see the steam coming up from the smokestack at the Port Sheldon Power Plant – which was at least 25 miles away. You can also see several jet contrails. Most high altitude planes travel east and west. You can see about 3″ of snow on the ground.
I managed to walk around the 1/2-mile track four times. As I was finishing lap 3, a man came with his dog. The dog seemed very happy to be lose and able to run, frolic and sniff things out.
This is the European model snowfall forecast from now thru next Weds. the 13th (at 11 am). Look at the snow that’s expected to fall in Texas – N. Louisiana – NW Mississippi and up into New York City. Still no snow for the Lower Peninsula (and much of the Upper Peninsula) of Michigan – our next decent chance of snow is about a week away. The NWS reports that through 1/7 – this is the 4th least snowy early winter in Grand Rapids – records go back to 1893.
NWS says: “West Michigan looks to continue its trend of little snow this winter into the middle of next week, but flurries & light drizzle possible Sunday. Appears a change will occur for the end of next week, with a shift to colder temperatures and occasional chances for snow.” Pattern change to colder around the 18th-19th.
Life Without Snow Plows: The History of Snow Removal. Heavy snow in Spain. Cold in the U.K. On this date in 1985 – heavy snow in Nice – on the French Riviera. Snowin’ and blowin’ in North Carolina. Heavy snow in England. Record Low Temperatures in China. Gigantic sea-effect snowfall and very strong, cold winds in Japan. Very cold in France. A rare ice-spike (caused by water shooting up through a tiny hole in the ice. A good deal. Heavy snow in Belgium and Luxembourg. The sun continues to have no sunspots. Snowing in Alabama. The moon “wobbles”. Snow in Arkansas. Rainbow (and helicopter). Red sprites. Winter mammatus. EF1 tornado confirmed in Texas City, Texas. The Blizzard of ’96. Snow in Missouri. Snow in SW Texas.