Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Weather Outside is Delightful

Not hardly. We don't get freezing rain often in East Tennessee so this week is looking towards the unusual. The storm that racked the northern half of the US rained over the southern Cresent states but we're kind of in the middle.

Ice and rain are in the forecast for Thursday. We are just about to get rid of the snow from the weekend. It's been cold. Very cold. Not above 32 degrees for several days. Cabin fever sets in rather quickly.

East Tennessee State University, which was closed on Monday (this is Wednesday night) and extended finals until Friday, has announced it will start late on Thursday. (My final in Astronomy is 1:20, Thursday.) This is very strange because for years school was never canceled in the Fall semester. At the risk of repeating myself, the only time in recent history before about 2004 that we were closed in the Fall semester was 9/11 and 9/12. Since 2004, we have closed I think once or twice in the Fall. The Spring semesters have always been a problem with weather. We catch humid air up this side (west) of the southern Appalachians, produced by a high off the Georgia coast, with the still cold air coming down from the midwest, a low climbing up the Ohio River, and the result is a wet, heavy dump of snow. It doesn't last long. The air temperature will warm quickly, if not overnight. But the snow is deep and the ground cold so it takes a day or two of intense warmth to melt the snow cover. (Because snow is reflective sunshine isn't much help in itself. Warm concrete goes a long ways.) Sometimes it's not freezing at ground level. But, it sure screws up the school systems for a day.

All this means that bird watching is sometimes very dependent upon the weather. We're scheduled for the winter count on Saturday, Dec. 18, and the Roan Mountain count on Sunday. With enough rain, the birds hide and we'll have a time of it to get them to come out and play. If the weather is bad enough this weekend, it won't be the first time the counts have been delayed. There's a week or two window leeway.


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