Not my spring, yet

I get these nice postcards, including a poem, from Theo Nelson every quarter, and I thought I’d share this one because it’s an interesting contrast.

I wish my region looked something like that right now. Instead, it was -16°C yesterday, and my yard is fenced in with 1.5 meters of accumulated snow. There is no color but black, shades of gray, and blinding white. Spring ain’t springing yet.


  1. René says

    If it’s any consolation: I imagine you live in a sparsely populated state so you probably can see the Milky Way at night. I haven’t seen it since I was a little boy of eight or so. I live in Europe’s most light-polluted country, Holland. I have lived in Indonesia for some years too. But Indonesia is littered with TL lighting beyond belief.

  2. robro says

    Well as the message says, “The grip of Winter has lessened for some, for others, not even noticed.” I think you fall into that later category.

    Winter continues to bring rain to the California coast, and even more snow to the mountains. From what I’ve read, 1.5 meters is nothing. As of two weeks ago, Donner Pass was over 13 meters and Yosemite 15 meters. We’ve had at least two more storms pass through the region since then, and a San Jose Mercury News story from 8 days ago puts Tahoe at 16.5 meters…that’s 52 feet.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Well, it’s a sweltering 5.6 C outside here. There’s also a very bright roundish object blazing in the sky, can’t rightly recall its name, it’s been so long.

    @robro, if only all of that could make it to the aquifer!

  4. birgerjohansson says

    We have 99cm snow in my county in northern Sweden, but I expect the snow to melt rapidly as we had + 2°C today and will get similar weather the rest of the week.
    I have no car, so I cannot get far from the town to watch the milky way. As a substitute I watch the intense glare of Venus in the evening sky.
    Further inland, the bears may wake up soon.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    You might be just far north enough to hear the boreal owl start its mating call, now in the late winter.

  6. says

    @2 robro, are you some kind of commie pinko californian?? Using the metric system is against the laws of god Ronnie the Raygun! /Super Sarcasm
    We all are seeing much greater randomness and extremes in weather. What used to be climate patterns are now drastic events keeping PZ hostage to a white-out world.
    @3 wzrd1: Yes! I agree! if only all that precip. would be effectively used to recharge the devastated aquifers everywhere. I just hope that we all don’t see that the foolish practice of sending all the rain and snow directly out to sea through the rivers leaves us with a blistering, fire ravaged landscape.
    PZ, shoveling snow is good exercise. With all that piled up, please, just don’t work yourself into a heart attack shoveling it. Leave the heavy shoveling to the politicians and creationists (but, they are shoveling bovine feces, not snow)

  7. René says


    The spring equinox is today.

    I noticed yesterday had longer daylight than 12h. I vaguely seem to remember that that may not coincide with the start of spring, because a wobble in earth’s movements.

  8. says

    @9 René, even in the sun scorched wasteland that is Scarizona, many of us also suffer from S.A.D. Not to demean your remark in any way, but, I look around and am sad in another way. I am sad that we are besieged by the violent rtwingnut Xtian terrorists everywhere.

  9. René says

    shermanj, the Dutch have a saying Breek me de bek niet open. Duckduckgo has a rather lame translation don’t break my mouth open. In short “Don’t get me started.” I have completely given up on humanity — we won’t make it till 2050. I’m happy I won’t be around to witness.

  10. Robbo says


    with Kelvin, you drop the ° symbol and just say, for instance, “255 kelvin.”

    today my city started about 267 K, and the temp is climbing. I hear fantastic stories of ice and snow phase changing into something called “water.”
    yeah, right!

  11. says

    But typing ALT 0176 to get the ° makes me feel all smart and stuff.
    Thanks, though.
    Just be careful–if you put the K before the number, you’re referring to a Mozart composition.

  12. robro says

    shermanj @ #7 — In all honesty I was following PZs precedent, and the cadre here that obviously speak some funny foreigner measuring system. Thank god for the Converter app or I would not have a clue.

    wzrd1 @ 2 & shermanj —Some will go to the aquifer, of course, but some will go to the reservoirs and some will just evaporate. The reservoirs were quite low…dangerously low in some cases…but are now at capacity with reserve space for the pending snow melt which might be a lot of water this year. That’s the water that goes to people and crops. We’re in good shape water-wise this year…and there’s more on tap for tomorrow, then a break and more again next week…if the weather soothsayers are correct. (Something to do with chicken bowls and radar imagery…I’m not sure what.) Actually, some of the crop lands are too soaked to work in and the plants may be damaged. Specifically the strawberry crop might not be great this year…which gives me a sad.

  13. says

    @12 René
    Yes, human society is a story of a some triumphs and too many failures. I know it’s tempting, but, please don’t throw out the good just because of the bad.
    O.T. but to lighten things up, here is a fun Video on ‘hightech’ books vs scrolls. Isn’t this Dutch? It’s very clever.

  14. drsteve says

    @Rene 8: The wobble may be a factor, but isn’t necessary to explain that observation. Just consider that by any reasonable definition, ‘daylight’ begins before, and ends after, the center of the sun appears to cross the horizon at sunrise and sunset, respectively.

  15. Robbo says

    @feralboy12 ALT 0197 is my favorite ALT code!

    I’ll be careful to not make Mozart composition references!

  16. René says

    @16 shermanj: Yes that’s quite funny, but my guess is that it’s Bokmål or Nynorsk. It is not singing enough to be Swedish or ‘cracking’ enough to be Danish. (As a side note to feralboy, just type a close approximation into wikipedia and there you have the proper symbols for you to copypaste.)
    drsteve: my app to check the weather also informs me of sun up and sun down. I have no doubts about their use of the proper meteorological data — that you hinted at.

  17. drsteve says

    @19 Rene That raises at least two followup questions: 1) on what possible grounds could you have no doubts about this or any other app? and 2) do sunup and sunrise have unambiguous technical definitions that match your assumed interpretation?

    (IANAM so I don’t know the answer to the second question any more than I do the first, and it’s easier to ask here than to look it up.)

  18. drsteve says

    Oh and I also forgot that you’d need to take into account atmospheric refraction even after resolving the definitions of when daylight begins and ends to seconds of precisions or better.

  19. StevoR says

    @5. birgerjohansson : “BTW The spring equinox is today.”

    Only in the northern hemisphere. here in the Southern & specifically in South Australia given timezones that’s the 23rd September.

    Also we tend to measure seasons in 3 month blocks eg Auturmn starts on the 1st March and goes till the 31st May (ie march, April May = Autumn, June, July, August = Winter, etc ..) so anyhow. Note too that despite the name & popular wrong belief, the equinox doesnt necessarily have equal length of day and night since that is actually the Equilux instead see :

    Astronomical pedantry aside :

    Happy March Equinox everyone!

    Our Daytime Star has crossed the Celestial Equator now.

    (See : & )

  20. birgerjohansson says

    “Medieval tech support” is definitely norwegian- if it was danish I would find it much harder to understand due to a language quirk I think arrived to Denmark 500 years ago. The danish are the navaho code talkers of the neighbourhood.

  21. Rich Woods says

    @birgerjohannson #24:

    Danish contains too much coughing and sneezing. I think it’s caused by the wind coming off the North Sea. Perhaps it would clear up if the Danes built a couple more hills to act as windbreaks.

  22. magistramarla says

    robro et al,
    Here on the Monterey Peninsula, the water rights were bought up by a company out of New Jersey, called American Water.
    They are gouging us with a miserably high cost for our water, and they are demanding that the local taxpayers pay the cost of a desalination plant that the community does not want.
    We have a local group, Monterey Water One, that is trying hard to come up with alternatives to refill aquifers.
    They have proposed a water reclamation and treatment plant and ways to capture rainfall that could have provided enough water for the peninsula for the next 30 years. California American has blocked every idea.
    Thus, much of this beautiful rainfall has flowed into the ocean through the Carmel, Salinas and Pajaro rivers.
    Many of the towns on the peninsula have also suffered through week-long power outages, many caused by trees falling on the wires. A huge pine fell on the home of a friend of ours in Pebble Beach, splitting the house in half. PG&E hasn’t bothered to underground the wires in those forested towns, but has had plenty of money to pay their stockholders.
    We’ve avoided power outages at our house, since we have solar panels and a battery. We also don’t live in a forested area.
    I really, really hate large corporations!