Weather Whiplash

Thursday, May 19, 2022: The temperature climbs to 89 degrees F (31.6⁰ C), tying a previous record-high.

A comparatively cool Friday follows with highs in the low 50s (10-12⁰ C), bringing much-needed and much-appreciated moisture falling as drizzle out of the sky most of the day, helping to mitigate our drought conditions, if only temporarily.

When I get up on Saturday, May 21, the above is the view of our back yard that presents itself from the deck—about 1 foot (30 cm) of wet, heavy snow. One foot of snow covering the iris and columbine and lupines in full bloom only yesterday. Varying amounts of snow coating all horizontal and even vertical surfaces, enveloping the power lines, weighing down every single plant.

As I’m stomping through the yard in my Sorel boots to put out the feeders for the birds, who are as freaked out by the weather as I am and are practicing compensatory hyperphagia (if they can, insectivores are in real trouble during these days-spanning cold spells), I hear branches snapping off neighborhood trees, a sound that repeats itself throughout the day, across the entire city. Countless trees, weakened by decades of drought and a spring of infernal winds are not equipped to withstand the weight of a frozen sleeve of water topped by ponderous piles of snow and lose limbs, if not their lives.

The mountain ash in in our yard, laboriously planted 10 years ago and lovingly tended in the interim has its crown snapped like a matchstick after looking healthy and strong only the day before (how I wish I had taken a photo then). We are sad but cautiously hopeful that it will be able to repair itself and continue to grow. Compared to the damage I have since observed all over town, which is littered with twigs, branches, and trunks, I’m grateful that we didn’t lose more plants—or power, like thousands of Colorado Springs residents.

While late snowstorms in this region aren’t unheard of, similarly extreme and destructive weather events are predicted to occur more often and in more locations all across our spinning globe. My head is spinning, too, after this wild and worrisome whiplash. Maybe it has never been different, but it seems that everything these days is two-edged, and that there are only mixed blessings.

71 thoughts on “Weather Whiplash

  1. Oh Tanja! the weather really is all over the place. The tree in the 2nd-to-last photo looks heavily weighed down with snow. What a load. I can’t get over how wintry everything looks in your photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, Liz, it’s really quite disconcerting. A month ago this snow would have been great, but with everything leafed out and/or blooming, it was a difficult blow for plants and animals to deal with. But despite it all, we are grateful for the moisture.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds ghastly. I hope your plants survive, and the birds and animals too. I’m always amazed by – but not at all envious of – the “big weather” that you experience in the US. We Brits never stop talking about the weather, but what we have to put up with is trivial when compared with what you guys have to endure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think people talk about the weather all the time everywhere, Mr. P. The meteorologists get 3 segments during a 30-minute news cycle and during events, such as this recent one, even more. When the weather is “normal,” there is no need to talk about it much. I’m worried for the East Coast as the hurricane season is predicted to be severe this year. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • Crazy is right, Dwight. I’m glad you and we had all this moisture, and I’m relieved that the High Park fire in Teller County is now 100% contained, but I’m sad about the loss of so many trees, or parts of trees. We need all those leaves to absorb CO2 and release O2!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, seeing the amount of snow you got near the end of May, I will stop complaining about the cool and rainy weather we experienced here in the north. Weather extremes have become the norm for our troubled planet. I hope your snow will disappear soon without another heatwave, Tanja.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Christa. Compared to some of the more serious damage I have seen, we were lucky. The moisture in the snow was a boon at least. It only took 2 days for all that snow to disappear!

      Like

  4. While not unheard of, always a bummer when it happens. I remember getting a foot on Mother’s Day in MA many years ago and the resultant damage… never good to see. Hope your plants and birds recover.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oww I feel your pain. We have had exactly the same with flowers crushed under snow and branches heavy with leaf snapped under the weight of snow. All I can say is this too will pass and many things will still flower and grow when the snow is gone xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh no what a shock to all the spring growth and the baby birds and animals too. Not the way to obtain moisture that one would choose. I should think the birds really need the bird feeders now and it must be particularly tough on the insectivorous birds as you say. Whatever next! So sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As you well know, we don’t get any say in how our moisture is delivered, Carol. We somehow have to learn to live with these ups and downs. I’m sorry for all the earth’s denizens who suffer from these freaky fluctuations.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You have found poetry in the snapping of the snow-heavy branches, Tanja. Well spotted and brrr/illiantly recalled!

    ‘a sound that repeats itself throughout the day, across the entire city’

    Liked by 2 people

  8. OMGosh!!! What wild and awful fluctuations you’ve been having. Hoping the little creatures manage to survive these crazy ups and downs. Too much seems to be unraveling these days. Hoping and wishing you stay safe and healthy throughout…. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Here, it’s generally ice that brings down the limbs (or trees, and powerlines), but I well remember the wet snows of my childhood, and the damage they could do. One bit of good news may be our recovery for our extraordinary freeze of last year. Despite the damage, especially to true tropical plants, it’s been amazing to see so much come back and thrive. The gardening gurus said to be patient beyond what seems reasonable, and their advice clearly was well-founded. I noticed just last week that some shrubs which still had been only sticks through all these months are putting on new leaves — after fifteen months!

    I noticed your mention of the predicted ‘severe’ hurricane season. It’s worth remembering that clickbait affects weather reports as well as news stories. Serious meteorologists down here are absolutely furious at the hyping that’s going on. Basic realities, like the existence of the Gulf’s loop current and its tendency to wander, are being used as the basis for unreasonable predictions. It’s not helpful, to say the least. Too much hype can lead to people tuning out all information, and being less prepared than they could be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear that some of the vegetation is recovering from that horrendous 2021 Texas storm. Nature is amazingly resileient–to a point.

      I hadn’t heard that the predictions about hurricane threats were exaggerated and I hope people who live in the potential path of storms won’t tune out, but be as prepared as possible.

      I think it’s very tricky to know how much information the public can digest. But if we are provided with too little and something bad happens, we complain, and if the predictions are too dire, we might resign ourselves to the fact that nothing we do matters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your last paragraph is at the heart of the discussions that go on here throughout the year — not only for hurricanes, but also for flooding. As one of my met friends says, it’s awfully hard to get people to take reasonable care when they begin to feel as though their mother is nagging at them!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, this makes me remember ice storms in the area of Mississippi where I grew up. “…a frozen sleeve of water…’ – such beautiful wording to describe what – to the eyes is so beautiful, yet is also oh-so destructive. Concern for your beloved plant friends – the beautiful flowers, the budding trees, shrubs, — and then the other sensory experience of hearing the snapping of limbs – oh, I am so glad to live where temperatures rarely go below 60 degrees or higher than 90. I also realize that what happens ‘up there’ can easily happen here with just a few years of a not-so-rainy rainy season. We received a few heavy rounds of rain, but I am already worried that we too will be witnessing changes for the worse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A snowstorm in Mississippi will always be more incisive than in Colorado, I suspect.
      I’m very sad about all the damaged vegetation and the birds who didn’t find food for several days in a row. But the moisture made a dent in the drought, so we have to be grateful for it.
      I hope your fears about the future weather in your corner of the globe won’t be realized.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Goodness I hope that your state gets above-average rainfall this year; the flora and fauna and humans will all benefit!

        The weather continues to be strange here; today I wore a turtleneck and scarf and was still cold.. it was more like weather in the lower parts of the Andes. I suppose it’s better to have cooler temps than exta hot.
        The ceibo trees are dropping their ‘kapok’ pods that are about the size of a walnut, where a mature one reaches tennis ball size. It seemed strange to see flowers as well as ‘dropping’ of the green fruits.

        I know that cotton will drop ‘fruits’ when a plant is loaded – so maybe the ceibos are doing that — discarding the weaker ones? Time will tell, but squirrels and birds use the mature ‘kapok’ for nests. This past weekend an oriole was either drinking nectar from some flowers or else inspecting for insects.

        Ah, to be alive in nature and have all of one’s senses! I wonder what observations Thoreau would have had if he were alive today!

        Liked by 1 person

      • We have actually received a few more rainshowers since that wintry interlude in late May and are grateful for the moisture. 🌧

        Your ceibo trees sound fascinating and I hope you will continue to unravel their mysteries little by little.

        I imagine that Thoreau would be appalled at the changes we have wrought to nature and suspect Rachel Carson, whose works I’m currently (re)reading, would feel the same. Some of our destructive behaviors she criticized in the 1940s have only worsened. 😢

        Like

  11. I would like the your text and the photogaphs, but I do not like the reason. Extremes in weather were singularities until now. But the environment needs time to develope new strategies on the climatic change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment. One or two months ago, we would have wholeheartedly embraced this amount of snow, but it would have been far less damaging to the vegetation, as flowers weren’t yet blooming and trees and shrubs hadn’t yet leafed out. It is likely that nature will be able to adjust somehow, but that doesn’t mean that all of earth’s denizens will still be part of that new world–humans included.

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  12. Irre! Ich hörte davon in den Nachrichten und mußte gleich an dich denken Tanja. Mehr Fluch als Segen zu dieser Jahreszeit, aber bei der Trockenheit gibt es wenigstens auch ein bißchen Wasser für die Erde. Insgesamt ist das natürlich ein dramatischer Wettereinbruch. Wow, und dann so viel! Schade für die Pflanzen und schlecht für so manches Tier. Ich nehme an, der Schnee war schnell wieder weg oder ist er länger liegengeblieben? Ich denke, solche Phänomene gab es immer schon, aber in dieser Heftigkeit dürfte es schon ein besonderes Ereignis sein. Leider gibt es immer mehr Extreme. Ich hoffe, daß sich einige deiner Pflanzen erholen konnten oder liegt jetzt alles am Boden? Die Vögel konntest du ja glücklicherweise mit Futter unterstützen. Für die Zukunft wünsche ich euch Regen in normalen Mengen und auch sonst keine so drastischen Ausschläge mehr. Hier regnet es derzeit öfter mal und ich freue mich über jeden Schauer! LG Almuth

    Liked by 1 person

    • Danke daß Du an uns gedacht hast, liebe Almuth, und danke für die guten Wünsche.

      Die Feuchtigkeit hat natürlich ein klein bißchen geholfen, und der Schnee war innerhalb zwei Tagen völlig geschmolzen. Die meisten Blumen und Büsche erholen sich so langsam, doch der Baumschaden ist leider sehr groß, und für die Vögel, die Futterstellen nicht aufsuchen, war dieser Wettereinbruch auch katastrophal.

      Die Wetternachrichten von so vielen Orten machen große Sorgen…

      Auch Dir wünsche ich, daß es weiterhin regelmäßig Regen gibt.

      Lieben Gruß,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

      • Schade um die Bäume! Wenigstens die Insekten werden sich über das tote Holz freuen. Ist für uns natürlich nur ein kleiner Trost. Ja, regelmäßig Regen wäre schön. Mal sehen, jetzt soll es wieder wärmer werden, wie es dann mit dem Regen hier weitergeht. Es war eine Atempause.
        Dir auch alles Gute!
        LG

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I experienced your CO May snowfall, briefly visiting family in the Denver area. For me, an enjoyable “lark;” perhaps not so enjoyable for the lark (songbird).

    I note the quality (e.g. nickreeves) and number of comments to this post and sense that not just those “Brits never stop talking about the weather” as Platypus Man observed, but the world at large. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, Doug–the tendency to talk about the weather seems universal, and who can blame us, since it always seems to offer something noteworthy.

      I imagine that our May snowfall was especially noteworthy for a visitor from NC. I would not have taken issue with the amount of snow 3 to 4 weeks earlier as it would have been far less damaging at that point. But as you so poignantly stated, it wasn’t so enjoyable for the larks, and a host of other songbirds.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I know, Nirmala. If that snow had arrived a month earlier, we would have been dancing with joy. But four weeks at that time of year make a huge difference, and seeing all that destruction and knowing that some animals’ lives were lost was very sad.

      Like

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