Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Moisture and motorcycles - a new reality

It's late January in eastern Idaho - the heart of winter.  Historically this meant snow, ice, and COLD.  My first experience with Idaho winters was in January 1977 when I rolled into Rexburg Idaho to attend Ricks College (since renamed BYU-Idaho).  I got off the bus and started the 6-block hike up the hill to campus.  The roads were literally sheet ice.  I remember this because when my suitcases got too heavy to carry I just leaned down and slid them along the ice all the way to campus (this was in the days before suitcases with wheels - what a great invention!).  Roads and sidewalks around here were usually snow/ice covered from after Thanksgiving through March.  There was so much snow in fact that some of the more adventurous (i.e., crazy/stupid) guys in the dorm would jump from the second floor landing into the deep snow below.  My roommates and I also used to get together at the end of the day and share the ice-related wipe-outs we saw during the day, and they happened every day on campus.

There is, however, a new climate reality.

There are of course still times when streets and sidewalks are snow/ice covered, but for the most part the streets and sidewalks are now mainly dry and bare for most of the winter.  This is even in a year where we are currently over 130% of our annual precipitation to date.  So, if the climate was as cold as it used to be we should have mountains of snow, but we don't.  Sure you can see snow around, but it's nothing extreme at all.  The reason we don't have much on the ground is that it keeps melting off.

I was surprised yesterday afternoon (1/26/2015) when I noticed someone zip by on a motorcycle.  I saw another person on a motorcycle this morning.  Motorcycles in January in Rexburg, Idaho!?  In days past you'd take a motorcycle out in January only if you had some kind of death wish.  Now, however, the roads are bare so if you bundle up it's completely doable.  I was doubly surprised yesterday when I saw that the weather forecast for today is RAIN (!!!???).  We are slated to reach temps in the low 40sF today and it may not even reach freezing overnight.  Now THAT'S CRAZY!

Welcome to the new reality.

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