Winter Weather Predictions

December 19, 2011 by  

By Nick Simonson

“Guys, where are we,” this initial inquiry by Dominic Monaghan’s character, Charlie, summed up the question that I and ten million other viewers tried to figure out for six seasons on the TV show Lost. The J. J. Abrams sci-fi series focused on a group of plane crash survivors marooned on a mystical island, which – spoiler alert – turned out to be just one man’s purgatory, but the opening interrogatory hung on until we figured it out in the final episode.
This weekend, I realized what Charlie must have felt like on his first day on the island as I cruised down the dirt path in the state park, jumping over roots, boinging off rocks and rumbling my way with my wife, Angie, and my dog Gunnar, toward the wooden bridge and the gravel parking lot across the half-frozen river. Wrapping up a short Sunday trail run in record time, and in record high temperatures, which saw the external readout on our car briefly reach 60 degrees, we had to wonder exactly where we were – and what month it was.
I ice fished in a fleece pullover on Friday afternoon, bird hunted in a sweatshirt on Saturday morning, and ran two-and-a-half miles up and down the river valley in a t-shirt on Sunday; enjoying the intermittent warmth of the afternoon sun, and on the dips to the stream edge, the cool breeze that wafted off of the surface ice of the flow. The sensations and situations were odd to say the least, as strange weather patterns brought a breath of late autumn (or is that early spring?) over the landscape. Even more bizarre was the lack of snow. Last year at this time, there were over 20 inches on the ground, on our way to nearly 90 inches for the season. But now, only the still-frozen spring-fed trickles leading to the river below gave any hint that we were on the edge of the winter solstice. It’s always hard to make accurate winter weather predictions, but this year has been an even bigger surprise.
It’s been said that if you don’t like the weather in this part of the world, just wait 10 minutes and it will change…and then you’ll hate it. But there are those rare occasions where you actually might like what comes in on the southwestern breezes and this weekend was one of them. Except for the anglers on Lake of the Woods near Springsteel where the ice broke up in a popular fishing location on Sunday, this season’s mild weather has been a welcome gift which has extended hunting seasons, lawn care practices and winterizing opportunities for outboard motors. But just as we do with the worst of what winter throws at us, we make the best of the good times we’re given and get out there and do what we love to do – fish, hunt, run, hike, walk and more. And we probably do it better when it’s above freezing.
Sure, a white Christmas always looks nicer, except for maybe when you’re trying to drive through it in order to get home for the holidays, a beige one isn’t so bad. This is especially true when we can all get together safely for a hospitable hunt or some comfortable early ice fishing with friends and family over the holidays. Consider an extra two weeks, or a month, or however long this slow start to winter lasts, as an early Christmas gift to make up for the lumps of coal we got last year. So enjoy it. The ice will get thicker, the days will get colder, and somewhere down the line you’ll be remembering this stretch of time and wonder just exactly where you were too; hopefully it was somewhere enjoyable…in our outdoors.


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