Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Phenology: February 21, 2011

Posted by Kirk
Monday, February 21, 2011

What a wild week. We started with a warm up last weekend that stretched all the way through Thursday. There were six days above freezing and it reached an incredible 52° F in the twin cities on Wednesday. The heat put a considerable dent in the snow pack. Officially, we went from 14 inches on Feb 1st to just two inches on Friday. That means we lost a foot of snow. We lost an incredible 5 inches Monday which seems odd as it wasn't the warmest day. Remember how windy it was? The wind kept the warm air mixing with the cool layer of air that usually sits on top of the snow and this facilitated especially rapid melting. Keep in mid though that these are the official numbers and the actual snow pack varies greatly. Deep in the woods at work we still had a foot or more of snow pack on Saturday.

The sunshine and heat felt marvelous but the chill that set in at the end of the week made it seem like a cruel joke. By the end of the day Thursday there was a real bite in the air and talk of another snowmageddon or perhaps a snowpocalypse. Seriously people, we're Minnesotans. It shouldn't even be a big deal unless we're talking snow in the two foot range. Even then. we all need to calm down. We should expect snow.

The snow failed to show up at midnight on Saturday/Sunday and I was beginning to regret canceling our public snowshoe on Sunday. It didn't seem to really start to snow until around 4:00 on Sunday but when it came it really piled up fast. This morning (monday) there was fresh snow on the ground and it continued to fall throughout the day. The reason this report is going out this evening instead of this morning was that I was waiting for some snow totals. It looks like depending on where you are in the metro we received anywhere from 9 to 20 inches of snow. Here in St. Paul we had 13+ inches of snow. I added the plus in there because I think it will end up being a little higher by the end of the night. Minneapolis declared the eighth snow emergency of the year which sets a new record. We're currently at the 11th snowiest winter on record and we have half of February and all of March to go.

Today, sunrise in the Twin Cities was at 7:04 AM and sunset was at 5:49 PM. I didn't see sunrise as I was blissfully asleep enjoying the holiday. I can personally attest to the sunset time as I was out snow blowing all evening. The snow the snowplow threw up onto the sidewalk was the hardest snow I have ever tried to move in my life. As of tomorrow, Tuesday, we will have gained a full extra hour of sunlight since the first of the month. That means we're getting more heat energy each day and the sun is also at a much more intense angle so when we get a warm-up on Wednesday it will be interesting to see what it does to this snow.

Watch for increasingly visible yellow on male American Goldfinches this week. It is really becoming noticeable. I've seen more reports of horned larks in southern Minnesota. My records show that they showed up in northern Washington county on Feb 22nd last year so we'll see if that holds true. I thought I caught a glimpse of one on Saturday but didn't get a good enough look. I filled my feeders before the storm and there was a pair of Northern Cardinals as well as ten house sparrows keeping themselves busy gorging on the seeds as the snow began to fall. Great Horned Owls are mating this week and people have reported hearing Northern Saw-whet Owls calling as well.