02 December 2007

Flurries where winds blow on shore...and White Juan remembered

AS I intimated in my last post, to celebrate December’s arrival, the weather here yesterday had a little test run of what meteorologists are saying is going to be the coldest winter in at least a decade. First, the wind got the bit in its teeth, and got down to blowing in earnest.

Then to add to the several inches that fell sometime overnight, we started having “flurries where winds blow onshore.” Winds blowing up the Bay of Fundy whip up a frenzy of flurries, and dump them across the top of the North Mountain. One minute, you can see down the bay to Isle aux Hautes (the one in the upper Bay, not the one off Maine). Next minute, you can scarcely see across the road. Or anywhere else.

Being the intrepid gardener, writer and photographer that I am, I got togged up in some winter warmies and ventured forth into the elements. And man…the elements were COLD! The wind has definitely got its December bite, or as my longsuffering spouse calls it, it’s a lazy wind; it goes right through, rather than around, a person.

Now, I don’t mind snow; once I get the Blizzacks on my Yaris, I can deal with driving; if it’s real snotty and I have to get out, I take our Tacoma 4x4. Snow is lovely to look at with all the shapes and shadows that can be photographed. It insulates the sleeping gardening, and when it melts, it adds water to the soil. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, when one has cold soggy clay, but we manage to deal with it.

Winters here have been erratic of late, with a lot of temperature fluctuations, sometimes lots of snow and other times none, although we can almost always guarantee we’ll have a few inches of those ‘flurries’ piled up around the yard from Jan-March (and sometimes into April, which is why my exasperation with hellebores continues. )

The most impressive snow we’ve had come down all at once (in recenhttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gift years, anyway) was White Juan, which came in February, 2004. Parts of our province had endured the wrath of Hurricane Juan in late September of 2003, (I was at sea with the Coast Guard) and so some meteorological wag dubbed the big snowstorm “white Juan”. Here’s a little info about that event, from Environment Canada:

"White Juan" - February 18 - 19th, 2004
With the experience of Hurricane Juan still fresh in people's minds, Nova Scotians endured yet another exceptional storm on February 18th and 19th, 2004 - a storm that many dubbed "White Juan". On February 18th, a low pressure system developed off the eastern seaboard of the United States and intensified rapidly as it tracked northeastward. By the morning of February 19th, with the storm located south of the Maritimes, heavy snow and strong winds had spread to all areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and southeast New Brunswick.

A province-wide State of Emergency was declared in Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality imposed traffic curfews as the massive snowfall paralyzed the region. Businesses and schools were forced to close as many roads would not be cleared for days. Some flooding was also reported in parts of Prince Edward Island and southeast New Brunswick as very strong northerly winds produced a significant storm surge. By February 20th, the storm had left behind a large swath of snowfall accumulations in the range of 50 to 70 cm, with a few pockets of 80 cm or more. Canadian Forces Base Shearwater recorded a whopping 95 cm of snow during this event. Winds during the height of the storm were generally in the 60 to 80 km/h range with gusts near 120 km/h in exposed areas. The wind and heavy snow combined to produce near zero visibilities and caused huge snow drifts. "White Juan" was a storm that will not soon be forgotten.

Up here on the mountain, where ‘flurries where winds blow onshore” can easily and quickly accumulate to a foot or more of the white stuff, we didn’t think much of White Juan at first. Except that it started on Thursday morning, and by mid-afternoon, I knew I wouldn’t be going to Toronto the next day! It was an impressive snowstorm, mostly because it all came down so fast, in a matter of hours. Of course, those of us who are rural dwellers know how to deal with cranky weather and are prepared for it. In Halifax, the whining was incessant for days because snow wasn't instantly cleared away...I was surprised that the mayor of the city didn't call in the troops like the Toronto mayor did one time after a snowfall. It's winter, it's Atlantic Canada. We just need to suck it up and deal with it. Which we did.

Friday dawned clear and lovely, and we assessed the situation. The power never went out during all this wind and snow, (kudos to Nova Scotia Power on that) but the road had been impassable since early evening the night before, when Highways pulled the plows off the road. However, they punched a lane down through our road around noon on Friday, and farmers and others with plows or tractors were doing ‘plowing triage’ around the area, cleaning up driveways, roads, streets…it was an interesting weekend.

So this little blow is nothing,merely a whisper of what might come over the next few months. A few good weather tantrums are actually quite enjoyable, if we're prepared for them. A warm woodstove, batteries and propane lanterns in case of power outages, good books and hot chocolate...and garden dreaming, of course!

Yesterday, not surprisingly Leggo was quite content to stay in his condo-stall (he has a BIG stall in the barn) and peek out at me, though he had half-closed his window. Even Mungus, the classic escape cat, wanted to come in after about five minutes romping around the yard. A gust of wind flattened his ears to his head and he began wailing, wanting me to come rescue him. He managed to console himself for the rest of the afternoon by watching bird television out the window, making speeches to the birds that sound like Jimmy Durante (a cha cha cha cha!)

After the snits of yesterday, today we have sunlight (and wind, of course) and while it's cold with the threat of more snow, tings are bright and clean looking and it's all okay with me. Of course, the question remains, WHEN will I get the rest of my bulbs into the ground??? We should make a lottery of it!


  1. Wow...Winter! I'm cold just looking at these shots! I hope you had a hot cup of chocolate during that storm and a good book of course! We're in for a bit of the white stuff tonight but time will tell!

  2. You have captured some wonderful shots of the storm. We are getting a storm today and it will move down your way tomorrow.

  3. Beautiful shots as always! I am so jealous you were getting snow yesterday and my daughter was playing in her bathing suit in outdoor fountains at the zoo to beat the heat yesterday! I don't guess I'll ever have a WHITE Christmas (or any other day for that matter!). BAH HUMBUG!

  4. You made me laugh with your description of Mungus with his ears being flattened by the wind and also his Jimmy Durante impersonation. And just and I was laughing out loud to what I was reading, my own little escape artist came up and meowed in my face. Perfect timing! Your horse photo is just lovely, by the way! And I'm going to be emailing this blog post on to Hubby because he's a weatherbug in a major way and will enjoy reading it! Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  5. Way over on the other coast, we've got a taste of winter as well -- mucky wet snow which won't have much chance to look pretty, I suspect. Wind and rain forecast for tomorrow, but at least I get a snow day tomorrow -- wood stove's ready, candles located, if power goes out, I'm ready, and I've got a stack of books, my favourite tea, woo-hoo!

  6. I've been told that as a native North Alabamian I would never survive or love a "true winter" such as you describe. Yet, I suspect I should like to try just once to be within one, while tucked amid blankets and wood fires and kitties all 'round. To me, this sounds lovely though I know it can be dangerous. Stay safe and warm.

  7. Incredible photos. Winter has such a fierce beauty. Hope the season isn't as bad as you predict though.

  8. you know those bulbs would be ok in pots, and I'd be in the barn with the horse keeping warm there!

  9. You brought back memories of both winter storms and cats who watch bird television. One of our long-gone cats used to chirp at the birds.

    Thank you for putting on the snowclothes and going out to take the photos, Jodi.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  10. Jodi - I wish that Leggo and my girls, Silk and Siete, could blog back and forth like you and I do. Does he like to eat snow? Yesterday, Siete was licking it off all the fence posts in her corral. She also enjoys kicking into the drifts and then dancing through the snow as it flies up in the air.
    PS - I didn't get all my bulbs in either.

  11. Oh! Wow! It looks so cold! I bet that wind is brutal. Since I'm nice and warm inside I can enjoy the beauty from a safe distance. I hope we'll be able to avoid the heavy snowfalls this year. Some years it isn't too bad here in Indiana and some years we have way too much snow for this southern girl.

  12. Great photo shoot ... keep the 'long johns' handy! Just returned home from a weekend checking our northern Michigan cottage where we woke Sunday to a foot of snow ... a fairyland but 'hellish' drive home. Though miminal snow here down state, winds howled and whipped scarf and hair around my 'still trapped in summer' head. Loved the photo of the lone tree ...

  13. We got our 1st Winter storm on the 1st, too. I so agree with you about the importance of snow in protecting the garden. I don't have to worry about Spring sogginess because my soil is so well drained. (I have to find positives about my soil, otherwise I get too discouraged.) Your memories of "White Juan" reminded me of the Blizzard of '79 in Chicagoland. Truly when Weather Made History. Mike Bilandic & Jane Byrne will never forgot how that storm shut the city down. I can't forget how there was so much snow that it was piled above car height on rural roads, so that it was like driving in a tunnel. (I'm a little too young to remember the Chicago Blizzard of the Century in 1967.) Although I'm not yet accustomed to the cold, I think I'm ready for winter.

  14. Didn't Mungus glare at you when he found out how nasty it was outside? That's what many members of the Bliss team do when it's cold and wet outside. They blame me because aren't I she-who-turns-darkness-into-light and she-who-makes-water-appear from-the-thingy-in-the-kitchen? If I can do that, it's only natural to suppose that I can turn cold into warm and wet into dry. ;-)

    I like snow but we hardly ever have any and when we do, it usually disappears within a few hours. The heaviest snowfall I can remember left us with 15 centimeters of snow or thereabouts. Nothing like what you get during the winter season.

    Great pics Jodi!

  15. Welcome all; not only is Blogger Behaving Badly towards non-Blogger posters, it managed to eat MY earlier comment back to you all....so I'll try again.

    Layanee, hot chocolate and a good book are always a great idea in my world! Hope you didn't get too much snow. (I like the ice you got since this posting.)

    Crafty, are you shoveled out yet?

    Queen Annie, I'll send along photos of a White Christmas if we have one this year...you just never know in Nova Scotia.

    Cindy, Mungus is the original hamcat, as we've discussed before. Currently he's laying on clean, warm laundry behind my laptop (I'm at the kitchen table), sound asleep but if I move...he'll be with me. Hope hubby enjoyed the weather report.

    Debi, you just never know...you might like a true winter once you tried it...

    Princess Haiku, it's hard to say what any of us will have for winter this year...it's already being quite impressive, and it's still autumn.

    Claire, I may put some of those bulbs into large pots in the greenhouse. It gets a lot colder here than in Scotland so they have to be very cold-resistant pots, but i have lots of big ones so if the snow doesn't soon melt off...I'll just do that.

    Annie, we could send down some snow to you....

    Victoria, Leggo does eat snow too. Donkey, on the other hand, just stands there looking for hay!

    Robin's Nesting Place, here's hoping that Indiana gets a gentle winter.

    Joey, glad you got home safely! My hubby hasn't gotten out his long johns for working in the woods yet....

    MMD, that 79 storm sounds impressive! There have been storms like that in the past here too, in fact White Juan was pretty bad in areas where the wind blows a lot and forms drifts. We had a snow bomb in 94, I think it was, where we had four storms within a week, the worst being the last one; I forget how much it dumped on us, but it all came down in just a few hours.

    Yolanda, you've got it exactly; the kitty glare is so funny. "It's YOUR fault I went outside and got cold/wet/smelly feet" (I caught him in the manure pile. Charming bad boojums. )

  16. You are indeed intrepid to brave the first of winter's cold, but your pictures are so worth it!
    You capture a certain something in each of them!


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