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Gray God Report 5/3/23
Observations of Weather and Wildlife: San Jose 4/27 to Pittsburgh 5/3
© 2023 James LaFond
DEC/22/23
This report will not post until the advent of winter later this year and is hoped will serve as a benchmark for observing early spring 2024.
4/27, 4:30 to 9:30 AM
The Bay Area was cool and moist, not a breeze, a bit warmer than expected based on how cold and wet their winter was. The hills were all green, rather than straw-brown.
12-5 PM
Thru the Sierra Nevada the skies were clear but for a few white cotton clouds. Above 5,000 feet thick snow, still 3 to 5 feet in most places, covered the north facing mountain sides, with peaks and south faces merely dusted and streaked. One could see how wind and snow had taken down many utility poles and snapped many a smaller tree over the winter.
Northwestern Nevada: 5 PM until nightfall
The Truckee River was in full flood, brown barely contained by the banks. Skiers were offloading at Truckee at the eastern base of the Sierras. In Reno, homeless camps have increased despite the tiny house compound, with the tents moved to the north side of the fence and out of the train chute. Bums in tank tops and shorts drink beer under the setting sun on railroad ties. Wild horses are, for the first time in four years, absent east of Reno, which has increased homeless camps. Through the Truckee Canyon and out onto the flats, the north faces of the mountains are still white and the moist ground near the tracks frozen. Yet, the weather forecast is calling for 90 degrees on the 28th!
4/28 AM, Utah
People are bundled up in Salt Lake City. The mountains are still white and the Helper and Green Rivers are in full flood and muddy. Bob texts from a few thousand feet up and informs that Rockport Reservoir, where he was fishing this time last year, is still frozen and that Kamis Valley was being flooded and he was headed out with sand bags. Three inches of snow had fallen the night before to add to the hardest snows in over 200 years. Ruby Canyon is green for the first time in 5 years. But there are no mule deer, where there are usually a few. The cattle and sheep are thriving in the green pasturage.
Colorado Rockies, afternoon to sunset
The Colorado River is brown instead of blue and in full flood. The north faces and heights over 10,000 feet are still white. The cattle ranches are thriving. The mule deer are at 20% of last year and half of a normal spring. Ducks are at normal levels. Rafters are much reduced in numbers, but are neither challenging trophy or meet game. Elk and moose of previous years are absent. Skiers are still coming into Mophet and Foster. The bald eagle pair are still in the top of the ponderosa snag above Glenwood Springs and below Gamby on the north bank. The normal elk heard is found above Golden Colorado entering Denver and the waterfowl are plentiful across the unusually green high plains.
Overnight across Colorado and Nebraska it is cool and moist, with drizzle.
4/29, Idaho and Illinois, 7 AM to 2 PM
Blustery skies and light rain showers usher us from Oleoa, Idaho to Chicongo. It is cold and wet in Chicongo.
Chicongo to Joliet at sunset
High winds, ominous western skies, and rain showers, made the chill cooler than it was in psychologically tropical Chicongo.
5/1, Joliet
Ominous and violent skies, brought a couple hours of sun, various rain showers and mostly overcast skies. It was a cold night for this old bone rack. The heavyweight host and his buxom bride turned on the heat for me and fed me a Fred Flintstone steak.
5/1, Joliet to Chicongo to South Bend, Indiana, 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM
A bitter easterly wind drove the rain under the rail platform roof to soak this old hoodrat in the cold mist. Bums, babes and soy boys in Chicago at the great station were dressed for winter in parkas and coats. It was cold even in the Great Hall.
5/2 Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Midnight to Dusk
Cold and rainy, with rain pattering the train all through the night, as 50 or so of the hundred passengers coughed, sniffled, sneezed and snored. I was down right cold under the concrete and steel train platform as I waited for Punky to pick me up. “Jimmy, can you believe this weather. It is so cold, I’m surprised this isn’t snow! Oh, honey, you look like Santa Clause with that white beard—your face is getting thin—I’ll make you dinner, meatballs and sauce and pasta… Oh please, you’re still eating on my son’s god damned list! Okay, cheese, I have plenty of cheese for you honey. No bread either, still? I bought bread—please don’t tell Ricky.”
When Mister Grey pulled into town at dusk he said, “Normal commute, trucks zooming by on the turnpike in a soaking rain. But what was crazy, coming over the summit, it was snowing, and there was snow on the mountains.” [1]
5/3 Over morning coffee
Mister Gray was coming back inside from his car when he grabbed his espresso and drawled like James Cagney, “Snow flurries mixed with the rain, bro!” Shakes head, “You know what, I hope I get to see snow in August and a year without a summer before I die—fuck these n@#$%^s! Bring on the Ice Age—this Neanderthal is ready!”
Notes
-1. West of Indian Town Gap and east of Braddock, Pennsylvania is one of the lower portions of the Appalachians, which do not reach 3,000 feet and rarely exceed 2,000 feet in elevation.
-2. My friends and family in Baltimore have told me that there has been no snow in two years and that this last winter, despite having unusually cold temperatures in spots, also had 70 degree days. What my gardening friends described in the Mid Atlantic over this winter and early spring is a second year of late planting in May instead of April, despite not having a hard winter, and also, temperature variation over the same day and week more typical of the Rockies than the Chesapeake Basin, with differences of as much as 45 degrees in the same week and 30 in the same day.
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