January Thaw

January 11, 2016

For me yesterday felt like climate change in action. That said, I’d be the first to admit that there is a local term for the sort of weather we have seen these past two days with a warm storm gusting in from the southeast dumping two and a half inches of rainfall on the snow cover and lake ice, sending temperatures spiking into the fifties Fahrenheit, and melting everything in sight. It’s called January thaw, a not quite, but almost, annual event long dreaded by all sorts of people from snowmobilers to ice fishers who like to get outdoors in the winter in the Northeast. January thaws have been around for a long time as a recognized weather phenomenon.

They are generally speaking bad news, hard on people in the winter sports business, and also on many of the overwintering plants and animals. But this morning was beautiful, with the storm gone, temperatures still mild, and the air softened by the smell of wet earth. The rising sun plated the newly open water on the lake with silver. A raft of goldeneye ducks—normally seen in November–showed up. Chickadees were foraging everywhere, making up for a slow day yesterday.

Snow cover lost, but
who wouldn’t love this morning?
Dark ducks dive through light


I didn’t manage a photo of the goldeneye, but here are two before and after shots of the same stretch of lake shore.

January 9

January ice  med


January 11

January thaw med


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