A tornado hit New Orleans yesterday, but for Ulster County all was cloudy and calm.
The temperature this early December 15 morning is a nippy 23° while we wait for the sunrise at 7:18 a.m.
To the east, clouds hang low on the horizon, the sky beneath an angry orange blaze. It is an illusion, of course, but all of Dutchess County appears to be on fire.
The best we can hope for temperature-wise throughout the day is a high of 37°, which drops to 35° after sunset at 4:26 p.m. The county is in a quandary. That’s about when the rain is forecast to fall. A wintry mix in the eastern part of the county will start as of sleet and is expected to turn unto snow. If enough rain pours down before the temperature drops, we find ourselves again on the border of an ice storm, as we did last February 4.
The moon will stay in the sky until setting in the west, matching the low tide at 12:11 p.m., only to rise again in the east at 11:35 p.m. tonight. The next high tide is at 6:06 p.m. and will pull the water three feet and two inches higher.
Now for the snow forecast we go out to Bjorn Jorgensen on Belleayre Mountain.
What can we expect today, Bjorn?
Bjorn: Good morning, Johannes. The mountain is looking to be covered in heavy snow today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Karl agree. In fact, NOAA has issued a winter storm warning from its Albany office for western Ulster County starting at 4 p.m. today and lasting until tomorrow morning. Winds may gust as high as 35 mph, and up to two feet of snow is expected in two separate snow events, with snow falling at one inch per hour for twelve consecutive hours. At the summit, currently the weather is -4° Celsius, well below freezing.
Johannes: That’s very exciting, Bjorn. You’ve been waiting half the month for this.
Bjorn: Yes, that’s right. I forgot to mention it yesterday, thinking of animal bones and Karl, but yesterday there remains 85 days of winter temperatures ahead. This is according to the fur trapper Dionizas, who lives on Mount Tremper.
Johannes: On the say-so of the trapper on Tremper, 85 days of deep winter to go! A lot can happen in 85 days. It really does feel like we’re locked into it now. So then with the snow assured, you will not be required to follow through with Karl’s snow dance.
Bjorn: Well, I don’t believe there is any dancing in his weather spell-making, but as I’ve already gathered everything he required. We might as well give it a whirl.
Bjorn: Well, yes. I’ve collected bird bones and rabbit skulls, stripped the bark from an ash tree, and collected needles from a pine. I’ve gathered cotoneaster berries, maple sap and chimes, three shed antlers and moss from a stone. I’ve just come back with eleven icicles from a frozen snow freshet and three feathers from a rock dove. I already had the honey from a hive. Well, mead, actually.
Johannes: What else, Bjorn? The buzzing of three bees in a bottle? Perhaps you should gather some pine cones as well?
Bjorn: Of course you are making fun of me, but I’ve already gathered the pine cones.
Johannes: I know what this is, Bjorn. It’s greed. The National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agree. A heavy snowfall is coming. It won’t be rain for you up on the mountain, and your snowman won’t melt. It can only be greed for more snow, Bjorn. How much snow is enough?
Bjorn: Well, we will see, Johannes. The weather service says two feet. If Karl says we can tip the scales and make four, why not see if the snowman knows what he’s talking about? He knows about these things.
Johannes: No good can come of this, Bjorn. He’s got you running errands up and down the mountain, but he’s only interested in the working-class revolution. You’ll be servant to a snowman.”
Bjorn: Johannes, this is nonsense. Allegory is the refuge of the uninspired. We’re talking snow, not politics.
Johannes: Good luck with your snowfall then, Bjorn. May it bury the mountain.
Bjorn: I can feel it in my ankle, Johannes, I believe it will.
The wind continues to blow out of the north. Backwater portions of the Rondout Creek have begun to freeze. Trapped ice as large as sheets of glass break free and float. Seagulls watch from the snow-covered docks.