Thursday, January 7, 2010

Needles, graupel, ice flowers and "Woodette" Woodpecker

Well, we finally got some snow, but it has been a bit of a disappointment. I was really looking forward to the 1" - 3" that had been predicted, but all we have so far is just a piddly dusting and the local radar shows the snow band moving out very soon. :( It started around 1:00 PM while I was having lunch with a friend. When she and I left the restaurant the snow was coming down in little needles. This means the cloud temperatures were between 21 - 25 degrees F. Some of the snow was in little icy clumps called graupel.
Around 3:00 PM I went out again and saw that the snow had changed into very grainy flakes, kind of like "sugar-frosted snowflakes". They had the general shape of the dendrite flakes, but they had tiny pieces of ice all over them. So, this shows that not all snowflakes are created equally!

Yesterday my friend and co-worker, Renee, told me about some "ice flowers" that were in a powerline cut across the road from her house. I drove over to see them and ended up parking in her neighbor's driveway by mistake. She came out to see who I was and what I was doing; I have to talk my way out of a lot of odd situations! Ice flowers are actually frozen sap from the roots of White Crownbeard, a very common fall wildflower. When the temperatures stay consistently cold, the sap oozes from the roots and freezes into some interesting shapes. These were the biggest I'd ever seen. They were very fragile, I had to be careful if I tried to move any dead plants or stems out of the way. I still ended up breaking a few. So, if you see something white that looks like a lot of trash that has been dropped on the side of the road, look more closely, it may be a lot of ice flowers!

Just as I was about to leave to meet Theresa at the restaurant, I looked out the back window and saw not one, but two Pileated Woodpeckers on the tree! The female was eating suet and the male was hopping around on the tree. Unfortunately, in my excitement, I forgot to chance the settings on the camera from taking snowflake photos and it was stopped down -2.7, so the photos I took of him came out really dark! He had a red streak on his face, which helped differentiate him from his mate. These woodpeckers were the model for the Woody Woodpecker cartoon series that I watched as a kid. I'm glad the real ones aren't as mean and conniving as he was! :) I got a kick out of seeing "Woodette" when she finished eating and hopped up the tree, she raised her crest and looked like she had a mohawk!

I hope we will have some more chances for snow in the next couple of months. It seems like it always hits all around us, but we get little or nothing. We are due a good one this winter! I want to get some nice snow photos.

1 comment:

meeks said...

Hello Kris! When I saw the ice flowers for the first time, I didn't know it was ice. I really thought someone trashed toilet papers all over the town that day. They were all over in Clinton! I didn't realize it until I talked to someone at work. Ha ha ha.