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Posts Tagged ‘Ice’

1. Backyard

There’s a high pressure system sitting and spinning in Canada that’s dragging down bitter cold air and one snowstorm after another, sometimes as many as three in a single week. With nothing but cold weather between the storms the snow doesn’t melt but instead just builds up. I tried taking a photo of the trees in my backyard during one storm. Judging by the blurry spot on the right one of the flakes landed on my lens, but I didn’t see it until just now. I never have great luck taking photos when it’s snowing but I wanted to try to show you what it was like.

2. Snow Depth

I didn’t realize I had cropped this photo so the yardstick said “the finest pain” but it fit so I left it that way. Actually, I don’t know if I could call the pains I have from shoveling my roof “the finest,” but they’re right up there in the top five. If I have to shovel it once more they might make it to number one.

The snow had settled some when I took this shot in my back yard and the spot was in a hemlock shadow, so it’s not entirely accurate.  I think 24 inches is closer to reality, but I was too worn out to wade through anymore knee deep snow that day.

3. Evergreens

Evergreens always look nice when they’ve been frosted by show, especially when they’re not in my yard and I don’t have to shovel the frosting.

 4. Bent Birches

It’s been so cold that the snow has been very light, dry and powdery, but the heavy wet snow that we had in November on Thanksgiving eve bent many of the birches. Though most of them stood right back up again there are some that didn’t, and I’m curious to see what will become of them. I wonder if they’ll just grow on in their bent state or if they’ll die.  I’m guessing that they won’t last long.

5. Beech and Oak Leaves

The beech and oak leaves add such beautiful colors to the winter woods, especially when the sun breaks through the clouds.

6. Ashuelot

You know it’s cold when you see the Ashuelot River frozen from bank to bank in this spot in Swanzey. I’ve only seen it happen twice; last year and this year. Both winters had extended periods of zero degrees F or below at night.

7. River View

You would think that the farther north you went the more likely a river would be to freeze over but the strength of the current plays a part in it as well. In this spot north of Keene, I’ve never seen it freeze over completely so I’m guessing that the current must be quite strong.

8. Roadside Icicles

There’s no problem with water freezing on the ledges along the side of this highway. I’m guessing that it must be close to 100 feet from the top of the hill, so these are some of the longest icicles that I’ve seen.

9. Roadside Icicles

They’re bigger than tree trunks and have a blueish tint. I don’t want to be anywhere near them when the temperature starts rising.

10. Ice Fishing Hut

The bright sunshine can be deceiving. It was bitter cold here this day with the wind coming hard across the pond so I took a couple of quick shots and jumped back into my truck. The ice fishermen were all huddled in their huts and I didn’t blame them.

11. Dim Sun

There are a few photos of sunny days in this post but most of our days have looked more like this, with the sun trying but not quite able to burn through.  There was actually snow falling when I took this, in spite of what the sun was doing.

12. Monadnock

I went to get a closer look at Mount Monadnock on one sunny day because, though it’s easily seen from Keene, I don’t get to see it up close that often. I grew up in the shadow of this mountain and it’s good to know that, no matter where you are in this part of the state, all you have to do is look over your shoulder and there it is, like an old friend.

13. Monadnock

I’ll never forget climbing up there in mid-April one year through waist deep snow. It must be shoulder deep right now so I think I’ll just stay down here and admire it. The snow might make it harder to climb but it also makes it more beautiful to see.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” ~A.A. Milne

Thanks for coming by.

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1. Snow Depth

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the blizzard of 2015. While it’s true that a small piece of New Hampshire coastline did see blizzard conditions, in my yard I had trouble finding snow that was 6 inches deep. That might not be entirely accurate though because the real story was the gale force wind that blew the powdery snow every which way and made you feel as if you were in a snow globe.

2. Sculpted Snow

So how do you tell the story of wind on a blog? Showing wind sculpted snow is one way.

3. Snow Curl

The wind can do some fantastic things with snow, including sculpting snow waves.

4. Snow Curl

Here is the snow wave in the previous photo, shot from a different angle. It seemed odd that a 4 foot deep snow drift would form in the middle of an open field, but that’s what happened here.

5. Ashuelot on 1-29-15

Another part of the story is the cold. For the last two winters January has seemed a very cold month indeed, but at least this year the Ashuelot River hasn’t frozen over at my favorite viewing spot in Swanzey. The only remarkable thing about this photo is what it doesn’t show; there have always been Canada geese in this spot but last year when the river froze from bank to bank they left and haven’t come back.

6. Stone in Ashuelot

The rocks in the river show a layer cake like history of winter’s ice and snow storms.

7. Ashuelot Ice Shelf

Ice shelves are forming along the river banks. I saw that people had been walking on them in a couple of places, which is a very dangerous thing to do. I know there are young people who read this blog so I’ll speak directly to them for a moment: Please stay off the ice on rivers and streams! I was walking down the middle of the frozen Ashuelot River one winter when I was about ten years old and all of the sudden the ice started cracking all around me. I’ll never forget the rifle shot sounds of the cracking ice echoing in my ears as I ran for my life to the river bank. As I clung to a tree I saw the dark cold water come bubbling up through the cracks where I had been walking just a moment before. I was more scared then than I’ve ever been and it took a while before I could stop shaking long enough to peel myself off that tree trunk and scramble up the river bank. You never know how thick the ice that has formed over moving water will be so it’s best to be safe and just stay off it.

8. Snow Cornice

Up in the mountains snow cornices can be dangerous but here they don’t seem to do any real harm. A snow cornice is “an overhanging edge of snow on a ridge or the crest of a mountain and along the sides of gullies. They form by wind blowing snow over sharp terrain breaks.”  People walk out on them, not realizing that there is just a thin layer of snow beneath them, and when the cornice suddenly crumbles away they find themselves trapped in an avalanche. A rabbit or squirrel might have trouble with the one in the photo but otherwise I think it’s pretty safe.

9. Pudding Hill Road

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation says that it cost 2 million dollars to clear the snow from this one storm, and that doesn’t include what the individual towns spent. The snowbanks along Pudding Hill Road in Winchester were about waist high. I’d say that was average for this time of year.

10. Window Frost

So what do you do when the night temperatures fall to ten below zero (F) and only rise to twenty above zero during the day with a gale force wind thrown in for good measure? You stay inside and take photos of the frost feathers growing on your windows, of course. They’re beautiful things to behold.

11. Frozen Puddle

All in all the blizzard of 2015 was a non-event here. Yes it was windy and cold but it could have been much worse and I’m thankful that it wasn’t an ice storm. Speaking of ice, the woods are full of it. A couple of weeks ago 2 inches of rain fell and puddled up in the low spots. It froze almost immediately and will be there until the ground thaws. Seeing these puddles slowly seep into the soil will be a good sign that spring is happening.

12. Winter Sky

Though there have been photos of blue skies and sunny days in this post most days throughout December and January have looked more like the above photo. Despite the cold, cloudy, snowy weather spring really is right around the corner. Maple sap usually starts flowing in February and the skunk cabbages will be poking up through the snow soon. Male black capped chickadees are already singing their sad fee bee mating calls, the sun is rising higher in the sky, and daylight lasts a little longer each day. Before we know it the Boston Red Sox will start spring training, tree buds will begin to swell, alder catkins will be heavy with golden pollen and winter will be fading into memory. Any time now that itch called spring fever is sure to come upon us.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. ~ Anne Bradstreet

Thanks for stopping in.

 

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1. Dim Sun

The old saying says that you should make lemonade when life gives you lemons, so when life gives me cold I take photos of the ice. The one above shows what a little glimpse of sun on a cold, cloudy winter day looks like. There seems to be little real heat coming from it but I suppose if it wasn’t there we’d know what cold was really all about. We’ve seen the temperature fall to as low as -12 °F (-24 °C) so far, and there’s a lot of January left.

2. Window Frost

In the old house I grew up in the curtains would blow in the breeze even when the windows were closed and frost grew on the windows all winter long, so I grew up admiring all of the different shapes that can be seen in ice. They can be very beautiful and I still admire them.

3. Window Frost

Ferns, flowers, trees; window frost can take on almost any shape and I’ve always wondered what made them grow in the shapes that they do. I finally found the answer at Snow Crystals.com: “Window frost forms when a pane of glass is exposed to below-freezing temperatures on the outside and moist air on the inside.  Water vapor from the air condenses as frost on the inside surface of the window. Scratches, residual soap streaks, etc., can all change the way the crystals nucleate and grow.”

4. Streamside Ice

Fingers of ice suspended above the water of a stream revealed how much the water level had dropped since they formed.

5. Riverside Ice

The same drop in water level can be seen along the river, but the ice here shows it in a different way. In rivers and streams ice always seems to start forming on the banks before working its way toward the middle but on lakes and ponds it is just the opposite; it starts forming in the middle and works its way towards shore. I’m sure that the movement of the water in rivers and streams has a lot to do with it, but there must be more to it than that.

Last winter the river rose higher than I’ve ever seen it in this spot due to down river ice jams blocking the flow, and thick ice covered everything that can be seen in this photo. It was like an ice covered wasteland and you couldn’t tell where the land stopped and the water started. Best to stay off that kind of ice.

6. Ice on Rocks

I thought it was strange that all of the larger stones along the river were coated with ice but the smaller stones weren’t. I would have guessed that it would be the reverse, because it seems like the larger stones would absorb and hold more heat from the sun and keep the water from freezing. Could it be that the larger stones take longer than the smaller ones to absorb that heat?  Just another of nature’s mysteries to add to an ever growing list.

 7. Ice Needles on Stream Bank

Along another small stream I saw more ice needles than I’ve ever seen in one place. There were many millions of them growing out of the gravel, all along its banks. Usually I see ice needles that are coated with the soil that they grow out of but these were surprisingly clean because of the gravel.

8. Ice Needles on Stream Bank

They were also the longest ice needles that I’ve seen. Many were 6-8 inches long. When the air temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit right at the soil surface and the soil and groundwater remain thawed, hydrostatic pressure can force the groundwater, sometimes super cooled, out of the soil where it freezes instantly into a “needle.” As more water is forced out of the soil the process is repeated over and over, and each needle grows in length because of more water freezing at its base. From what I’ve seen the needles almost always freeze together and form ribbons like those seen in the above photo.

9. Ice Needles on Leaf

Ice needles are very fragile, as you can imagine. I wanted to move a leaf so I could get a better shot of some needles but when I moved it the needles went with it. You can see how they’ve attached to the underside of the leaf along with some hoar frost that has grown there. I was surprised to find that ice ribbons weigh next to nothing-little more than the dry leaf they were hanging from, so it must take very little water to make them.

 10. Ice Patterns

The whiter the ice, the more air bubbles were trapped in it when it froze. That explains the color, but what explains the long, needle like crystals and the strange pinging noise it makes when it breaks? There might be answers to those questions out there, but I haven’t been able to find them.

 11. Frosted Fern Leaf

Hoarfrost grows whenever it’s cold and there is a source of water vapor nearby. When it is below freezing the water vapor from unfrozen rivers and streams often condenses on the plants all along their banks and covers them in hoarfrost, as this fern leaf shows.

12. Frost on a Leaf

More examples of hoarfrost.  It looks so very delicate that I often have to remind myself to breathe while I’m taking its photo.  One touch of a warm finger, a ray of sunshine, or a warm breath and they’re gone.

13. Ice Patterns

Ice can be very abstract. This streamside example had a lot of large bubbles frozen in place and it showed a surprising amount of depth as well as abstraction and it reminded me of the old black and white Twilight Zone TV episodes from the 60s. I can see an eye and a set of teeth and a flying bird and a fish skeleton and several other things in it so you see, ice can even give us the imagination of a child again, at least for a little while. I can’t think of many gifts greater than that one.

14. Icy Rocks

Ice can also reveal the hidden groundwater that seems to seep out of the soil year round but is nearly impossible to detect until it freezes. Once winter shows us where it is if we can remember to return to the spot in the summer we might find some interesting plants there. Some orchids, certain liverworts, and other fascinating plants like to grow where water constantly seeps. In this spot the liverwort known as greater whipwort (Bazzania trilobata) grows in abundance.

15. Frozen Waterfall

In this photo the ice seems to be letting us see into the future. I can see a couple of large boulders and even a tree or two being toppled by this stream before too long.  Of course because of the way ice expands it might set things to tumbling before it even has a chance to melt.

Ice burns, and it is hard for the warm-skinned to distinguish one sensation, fire, from the other, frost. ~A.S. Byatt,

Thanks for coming by.

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