Thursday, March 27, 2014

Out like a...


Relentless winter?
Flckr

Slush season or new ice age?


March is a blustery month full of chilly gusto and empty bravado; all huffing and puffing and generally making a mess of things. It is a shifting thing born between the sharp winds of winter and the bursting sun of spring. Cumulous clouds sometimes peak out upon the horizon now where all winter was seen only banks of dull, shapeless grey or sinewy wisps of clouded atmosphere.

Suddenly roadways and sidewalks make appearances again, and though they're surrounded by high heaps of snow on all sides and at all times, can sometimes still channel enough sunlight to melt the frosty world for a few inches around them.

Some years it even gets warm enough that we can call it slush season. Water running in the streets and flooding the storm sewers creates estuaries and muddy deposits in low places; the landscape is changing right before our eyes.

This year it’s not so much so, not yet anyway. We’re still locked up in ice and snow pretty well in these parts. March came in like a yeti, I think, and is leaving…like…a yeti. It’s cold outside! The wind howls night and day like a hungry wolf sitting outside on the doorstep. Random snow flurries fling fistfuls of fluffy stuff at our windows like a troop of psyched baboons. Forget roaring like a lion, March this year is a stampede of half-frozen wooly mammoths, brought crusading out of the depths of ancient glacier locks lost and forgotten under leagues worth of earthen graves...

The Great Lakes are lost to us. What more will it take for them to freeze all the way through, rise from their resting beds, and plow this whole region back into the ground for the start a new ice age? Maybe that’s what we deserve for living here - some catastrophic event like a flash ice age.

I’m not kidding. According to reports by NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Great Lakes ice coverage for 2014 has reached a 35-year high as of March 6. At that time, ice coverage for all the Great Lakes combined was at 92.2 percent, leaving only February of 1979 with more ice coverage (94.7 percent).

Measured by satellite readings, NOAA deduced the greatest of all freshwater lakes, Lake Superior, ol’ Gitche Gumee herself, was 94 percent covered with ice on March 6. Lake Michigan, even, was almost 92 percent covered.

So you tell me, is it so far fetched to call this winter a glacial period? Maybe in the history of the Earth we are, after all, less than a blink, and all of human experience rolled into one will count for naught when the glaciers return. This winter has been mild then, and the whole animal analogy bit in the first half was a waste of time and space because the true master here is the earth and the atmosphere. Oh wait I guess that’s been the case all along.

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

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