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            The Blizzard of ‘96: In Retrospect 25 Years Later – The Blizzard of ‘96: In Retrospect 25 Years Later – National Weather Service Heritage – Virtual Lab

            The Blizzard of ‘96: In Retrospect 25 Years Later

            The Blizzard of ‘96: In Retrospect 25 Years Later

            By Chris Stachelski (christopher.stachelski@noaa.gov)

            It was the marquee meteorological event of one of the more epic winters ever — a storm that, if you experienced it, still stands out in your memory to this date. You might not remember just how much snow fell, but that there was a lot of it. That it stranded you in place for a time. And then you had to dig on out. And in some places, the storm laid the foundation for another significant weather event in the subsequent weeks. It was the Blizzard of ‘96. Even though many areas have been impacted by it have seen bigger snowfalls in years since (February 2003 from the President’s Day II Storm, the Blizzards of February 2010, the Boxing Day Storm of December 2010, the snowstorms of February 2015 or more recently in January 2016), this storm is widely viewed as the Big One in the modern history of East Coast snowstorms of the last 25 years. It digs up memories akin to those from the Cleveland Superbomb in January 1978, the Blizzard of ‘78 in New England and metro New York City, the Megapolitan Storm of February 1983 and the Superstorm of March 1993 – storms that people still can recall decades later to extreme detail in some cases.

            Storm Overview Infrared satellite image of the Blizzard of ‘96 as shown on January 7, 1996.

            The storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico on the morning of January 6th. It reached the Georgia Coast by the morning of the 7th then moved northeast toward Cape Hatteras, NC by the evening of the 7th before reaching the waters off of Southern New England the evening of the 8th. The heavy snowfall was largely due to a combination of sufficient moisture aided by cold air pushed south from an Arctic high pressure located north of the storm that generated highly effective liquid precipitation to snow ratios and a highly favorable storm track. Significant and in many cases record breaking snow for either a 24 hour period or single snowstorm occurred with this event from the Ohio Valley to southwestern Virginia to the Washington, D.C. to southern New England urban corridor.

            Why Was This Storm So Significant?

            At the time it occurred, the Blizzard of ‘96 was said to be the greatest snowstorm in terms of the amount of snow that fell seen by so many people largely because it produced heavy and in many cases record-breaking snowfall in the highly populated Boston to Washington, D.C. corridor in addition to areas in southwest Virginia, eastern West Virginia, and the Ohio Valley. In 2004, the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS) that ranks Northeast snowstorms was developed. NESIS ranks the second most severe Northeast snowstorm on record behind the March 1993 Superstorm or “Storm of the Century” as it was commonly called then. However, the March 1993 was more of a significant snowstorm for the spine of the Appalachians with lesser amounts toward the more heavily populated urban corridor of the Northeast. It is exceedingly tough to have a snowstorm produce over a foot of snow from Washington, D.C. to Boston due the storm needing a favorable track. Often, snowstorms that are significant events in the Washington, D.C. area tend to be lesser events in southern New England such as in February 2010 or in the case of February 2015, significant in southern New England but not in the Washington, D.C. area. 

            Was It Really A Blizzard?

            For many, technically no. Officially, a blizzard means that the following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of 3 hours or longer – sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater and considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e., reducing visibility frequently to less than ¼ mile). This event often failed to have the wind reach the criteria long enough in most areas. But, given the Blizzard Warnings issued for the event, the common usage of the name “Blizzard of ‘96” before, during, and after the event has stuck since, even in the meteorological community despite it not being technically correct in most locations. In today’s National Weather Service, issuing Blizzard Warnings based on the impact of the snow rather than the meteorology would be seen as an example of impact-based forecasting and warnings versus the old legacy strictly criteria based issuance as was often common in the 1990s.

            What Was Forecasting and Data Collection Like Back Then?

            Forecasting was much different in the mid-1990s versus today. The National Weather Service was in the middle of a nationwide modernization, moving offices to new facilities, closing some older, smaller offices and bringing into the operational world much of the newer generation of technology used today such as Doppler Radar and the Automated Surface Observing System or ASOS. However, graphical capabilities at offices were more limited with AFOS used as the primary system for composing products and reviewing meteorological data. Products were all hand typed. Model data was more limited in terms of models, parameters and visual display capabilities. The internet was in its infancy on a mainstream use using dial-up connectivity on a desktop computer, if available. Phone calls from storm spotters and the public and government officials, along with radio and television news, were the primary source of on-the-ground reports in real time, with hard copy newspapers used as follow up after the fact. Smartphones and social media were unknown. There were fewer reports, less visual evidence from the area, and a lot more interpolation of data, especially on overnight shifts.  

            Impacts of the Storm

            Snow flurries even fell as far south from this system as Florida – stretching from Tallahassee to just north of Tampa in New Port Richey sending a touch of winter to a place many go to escape it. But the bigger snows the storm was noted for fell much further north, reaching as much as 48 inches in Snowshoe, West Virginia. In the most severely impacted areas, transportation was crippled for days, municipalities struggled to clear the snow and find places to put it, mail service was briefly halted from Atlantic City, NJ to Albany, NY, numerous roofs caved in from the weight of the snow damaging structures, schools and businesses closed for days, and newspaper delivery — along with other supply delivery — was halted. Many people were stuck at roadside rest stops. Along the coast, flooding occurred and the onshore flow resulted in the bizarre site at Atlantic City, NJ of hundreds of clam shells washing ashore into mounds on the beach. The snowpack in many areas reached over 2 feet and, with additional snows and cold following the storm, laid on the ground until a warm up later in January with a heavy rainfall that took place and resulted in major river flooding.

            Some Selected Snowfall Totals

            Boston, MA

            18.2 inches

            Providence, RI

            24.0 inches

            Hartford, CT

            15.8 inches

            New York City (Central Park), NY

            20.2 inches

            Islip, NY

            17.0 inches

            Newark, NJ

            27.8 inches

            Philadelphia, PA

            30.7 inches

            Harrisburg, PA

            22.2 inches

            Avoca (Scranton), PA

            21.0 inches

            Wilmington, DE

            22.0 inches

            Baltimore, MD

            22.5 inches

            Washington, D.C. (National)

            17.1 inches

            Dulles Airport, VA

            24.6 inches

            Roanoke, VA

            24.9 inches

            Charleston, WV

            23.3 inches

            Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, OH 

            14.4 inches

            As always, the story of the Blizzard of ‘96 is best told by those who experienced it firsthand, either as an aspiring meteorologist or National Weather Service employee. The Blizzard of ‘96 had a profound impact on the lives of those in the meteorology community even beyond the forecast operations desk. As noted in the Service Assessment conducted by the National Weather Service following this event:

            “The storm had a major impact on NWS employees and demonstrated the dedication and commitment of our workforce. Field and NCEP personnel worked around-the-clock with little relief. People brought extra food and sleeping bags to their respective offices and remained at these offices or in nearby hotels for 48 hours or longer. Sixteen-hour shifts and three hour commutes were common. People took extraordinary efforts to get to the office. In some cases, four wheel drive vehicles were used to ferry people to their offices while at least one employee cross-country skied to work. All this occurred during a Federal Government shutdown when most Federal employees were furloughed. Nonetheless, NWS employees continued to serve and ensure public safety around-the-clock without the assurance of paychecks. This conscientious ‘can do’ attitude of NWS employees likely contributed to the amazingly low death toll for an event of this magnitude.”Cooperative observer Bonnie Phillips measures snow at the Charlotteburg Reservoir, NJ
            cooperative site.

            Below are the stories from a number of current and now retired National Weather Service employees who were inspired by or worked during this event and told from their personal perspective. We personally thank each of them for sharing their experiences of this event 25 years later as a way of preserving the significance of this event for years to come. It was a remarkable event for many meteorologists that either inspired their career in this profession, solidified it, or served as a benchmark moment in their career with the agency. 

            • “I was interested in weather well before this event going back to the 1980s due to everything from thunderstorms to flooding to Hurricane Gloria. I lived in northern New Jersey in a town named Wanaque on the western slope of a mountain by East Coast standards around 500 feet in elevation. We had a bunch of big snowstorms in recent years in the 90s – the Nor’Easter of December ‘92, the March 1993 Superstorm and the winter of 1993-1994 which at the time was considered the most severe winter in this area since the late 1970s. The winter of 1995-1996 was different. I recall standing outside of high school in early November one afternoon and seeing a burst of snow flurries – which was a little unusual for that early in the season. The accumulating snows that season started in late November and kept right on going into December. My last true White Christmas I ever experienced was in 1995. Then came January. We had snow going to this event already on the ground. I remember there being a forecast for snow in the days before, and then amounts went up. Saturday my parents and I came home from the store and put the television on to see what the forecast was. Totals had been increased and over a foot was being forecasted. Off to the grocery store they went. The next morning, it was extremely cold. Newark Airport tied a record low at the time that morning, January 7th, which was very unusual to see before a snowstorm in New Jersey. Forecasted snow amounts had increased further and Blizzard Warnings had been issued. We had yet to take down our Christmas decorations outside and went outside to remove them before they became encased in snow for a while. The snow ramped up the night of the 7th and continued into the 8th. By late in the afternoon on the 8th, the snow let up that we ventured into our garage and my parents and I stood in amazement at the snow as seen in the forthcoming photos. It was literally a wall. We were stranded. Shrubs were buried and the street was impassible and could barely be made out. All you saw was snow. My dad remarked “I only recall maybe once seeing this much snow before” which “was when I was a kid we had a lot of snow one year the day after Christmas”. My dad grew up in the Newark, NJ area and looking back at the records he was correct as the longtime snowstorm of record for metropolitan New York City was the storm of December 26-27, 1947. I was impressed that he could recall that nearly 48 years later, but realized that for a child to remember that sort of snow this many years later, it really put this storm as well as that one into perspective and that I witnessed a big snowstorm. It was still snowing into the evening of the 8th. The next day I trekked out with a ruler and attempted to measure how much snow fell. I looked at about a dozen different spots that looked the best and carefully lowered a yardstick down to not punch through all the snow and measured an average of 29.9 inches. The depth on the ground at that point was around 34 to 35 inches in the most representative spots with higher drifts. It was staggering and at that point, the deepest I ever saw. It was in many areas of northern New Jersey the deepest snowpack since February 1961 and a value not exceeded since. I never saw this much snow on the ground until I went to the West Coast years later in the Cascades and Sierra. And it was a good thing we took our Christmas decorations down when we did because many people had them up for weeks until the snow finally melted for good later in January – nearly a month after Santa left for the North Pole. We got more snow that winter and all the way through mid-April. Everyone was ready for summer that year and a number of people actually put their homes up for sale that spring in this area due to the severity of the winter and moved to warmer climates.” —Chris Stachelski, NWS Eastern Region Headquarters   
            • “I had just started working in the State College forecast office in June 1993. This was after working in the Binghamton, NY office for 6.5 years. 1996 was very similar to the first winter here (1993-1994). I was down at the Farm Show in Harrisburg, PA the day before the 1996 blizzard. Upon coming back up over the mountain to State College. The next day I went to church, it was snowing hard and windy. I came to work after the storm ended. Roads were taken care of well. Back then we got a lot of calls with spotters calling in reports. Also I don’t recall seeing many reports of wrecks on area roads. Temperatures were on the cold side, compared to storms of late years. I did not go back to the farm show that Sunday or Monday, but heard they allowed folks to spend the night there. In the last few years, we get less calls from folks. We still get some media calls. This year has seen a large increase in the reports of wrecks, even in good weather. This past storm we just had featured decent clearing of the roads.” — David Martin, NWS WFO State College, PA
            • “I remember it very well. I was working at TDL in Silver Spring, MD at the time, but you may recall that just as this snow storm began we had come out of a two week long Government Shutdown. Then the D.C. area was shut down for 3-4 more days because of this winter storm. My home at the time was in Harpers Ferry, WV, but more properly on the Blue Ridge mountains in a little community right on the WV/VA line called Shannondale, about 10 miles southeast of the actual town of Harpers Ferry. Being that I worked at headquarters, I was off for the Christmas Holidays and made the fortunate decision given the prospect of the snow storm and the government shut down to stay with my parents who lived in McKinney, TX. I was originally scheduled to return to D.C. the day the historic snow storm began. I found out that it was so bad in my home neighborhood back in WV that they had to get the National Guard in there to plow the roads because the developer of the area where I lived had no functioning snow removal equipment. My house there in WV received 42 inches during the first storm with another 6 inches on Friday of that week, which brought 8 inches to D.C. I believe the government was only open on Thursday of that week. So, a total of 48 inches. I returned to my home in WV on Sunday. The roads had been cleared by then, but there were huge mountains of snow everywhere! At the end of the following week temperatures warmed into the 60s, there was steam rising off the piles of snow still remaining all over the area, and rain of 2.5 inches combined with the melting snow to push many rivers into flood including the Potomac and Shenandoah, which is turn shut down the train service from Martinsburg into D.C. (the MARC train which I usually rode to work each day during the 8 1/2 years I lived up there). Then, an Arctic cold front followed and the temperature by the same evening was in the teens and a lot of the water froze in place, in some places 2-4 inches I think between ruts of remnant snow.  What a huge mess! This was one of many big snow storms I recall while I was living there. I was definitely there during the March 1993 blizzard and I was unable to get out of my house for three days! I received 24 inches of snow during that one, 20 inches of which fell in 8 hours. We were under a blizzard warning during that event, March 12-13, 1993. There were many more incidents of this nature, like 6 inches in one hour during a thunder snow storm on March 5, 1995. Fortunately, it is a lot easier to take “AL” when you work at headquarters than when you are in a WFO working operational shifts!  Honestly, I could have written a large diary about my experiences traveling between my home in the WV Panhandle and Silver Spring, MD during my 8.5 years up there in the 90s! The 1995-1996 winter had big snow events all the way from October until April and some snow on the ground pretty much continuously during that period!” — Robert Beasley, NWS WFO Blacksburg, VA
            • “I lived through it in Central NJ and it served as the impetus for my interest in meteorology. My decision to pursue it as a career was solidified after Tropical Storm Floyd in 1999. I was only 7 years old at the time the Blizzard of ‘96 occurred but I remember the cars in my driveway were completely buried and I only saw two large hills in their normal spots. I was really confused wondering where the cars went. Everything looked different and I was in awe at how much my normal backyard and neighborhood completely changed because of the 22 inches of snow that fell. Also, our normal lives were placed on hold for the few days afterwards as we all dug ourselves out of the snow. I was fascinated that Mother Nature could be responsible for completely changing our daily routine and could place everyone’s life on hold. Because of this storm, I wanted to learn more about how Mother Nature can be responsible for such drastic changes to our normal everyday lives. The Blizzard of 1996 is still well remembered by many people in NJ and across the Northeast even 25 years later. Not many storms (outside of hurricanes) trigger that sort of memory. Even when I was at Rutgers, my professors ranked the Blizzard of 1996 as one of the most historic snow events ever to impact the I-95 corridor and it was discussed when we learned about nor’easters. Many of my classmates also said it sparked their interest in meteorology as well.” — Christina Speciale, NWS WFO Albany, NY
            • “At the time of the 1996 blizzard I was early in my career (started September 1994), serving as an intern within the DTB of what was then HPC (now WPC). At that time we were in the World Weather Building (WWB) at Camp Springs, MD. My main functions included assisting the SDM with raob/aircraft QC, producing the Daily Weather Map, and entering products that our forecasters prepared into the computer system that would send them out. I’m originally from central Ohio and was in either Ohio or Indiana (two years at Purdue) my entire life before coming to the DC area in 1994, and before 1996 the heaviest snowfall I had experienced was a 10-12″ event in late February 1984. I remember that the 1996 storm was in the middle of working night shifts, with the snow starting maybe around 9:30 P.M. Saturday night. There was a lull around midday/afternoon Sunday when precip became lighter and mixed in type. Then I think it was in the early-mid evening when the snow resumed and the wind strengthened. The snow finally tapered off by Monday morning or midday. The combination of my work schedule and duration of the storm ultimately led me to being onsite at the WWB from starting my Saturday night shift until departing from work early Tuesday morning. I was young and excited about experiencing by far the biggest snow event of my life up to that time, so I don’t think I could have had a lot of sleep even if I had tried, and survived through that pretty well as I recall. Interestingly my memory was so focused on the event that I don’t remember what activities if any I may have helped out with beyond my regular shift duties.  One of the other memories from just after the event was how difficult of a time the DC area had in properly clearing the roads, as I recall various places where a lane would be plowed and at some point just cut out with a pile of snow. That’s something I wasn’t ready for from my lighter snowfall experiences in the Ohio Valley. Also I found a small number of pictures I still have from the event and they are attached.  Two are from in front of the WWB after the storm ended, and another that I think was during the Sunday afternoon lull–happy that I had the foresight to park my car out in the open so that the snow would blow around it instead of drifting onto it.” — Marty Rausch, NOAA/NWS/Weather Prediction Center
            • “This was the largest snow I had ever seen from one storm in my life…then Dec 16-17th, 2020 just happened and beat it by 10 inches. Awesome to see my kids to now have a memorable storm, like the one in ‘96 that I had told them about many times. When I woke up Thursday morning, I was also shocked to tell them that this was bigger than the ‘96 Blizzard for me. I lived in Northern Dutchess County, NY. My most memorable part of ‘96 was that the one side of my house where the drift formed was buried in snow right to the roof (9 feet high). I remember going on the roof and jumping into that drift and being buried…took me 5 minutes to get out from it. I was only 16 years old at the time and was already interested in Meteorology before this thanks to many other epic storms (Snow leaf 1987, Superstorm, the whole 1994 winter, and this storm).” Michael Patrick Kistner, NWS WFO Binghamton, NY
            • “I was a Met Intern at NWS New York for this storm. Thankfully Brookhaven Labs still had its Army barracks for the staff to sleep at, as roads had about a foot of snow and visibility near zero. Lead Forecaster Bob Stalker and I barely made it to the barracks from the office, which is less than a mile away!Launching the weather balloon at the office during the storm was a top memory of it.  Snowfall was so intense and visibility near zero along with strong northeast winds, meteorologist Tom Mazza and I had to walk backwards to the upper air shelter.  We then had to launch the balloon from a nearby hill, given the strong northeast winds the balloon would not have cleared the tree line if we launched from the upper air building.  Pretty cool, the first launch attempt was successful.  We were so proud of ourselves given our rookie status as Met Interns. The ETA model did an excellent job simulating storm intensity, track and forecasted precipitation days in advance. It was a big win for the ETA!”Frank Nocera, NWS WFO Boston/Norton, MA
            • “There are three things that I remember most from the Blizzard of ’96. It’s amazing how much weather forecasting has improved over the last quarter century.  Even though there were some hints that something big might happen on Sunday the 7th, I don’t think that we really began to mention the potential for snow in our forecast until Wednesday the 3rd. With the models not being as sophisticated as they are now, there was a tendency to be a bit more conservative with our forecasts at that time. While I was involved in the forecast process during the lead-up to the storm, I was actually scheduled off on Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th. I was supposed to return for a day shift on Monday the 8th but I was unable to get my car out of the parking lot of the apartment complex where I lived. It was too far to walk, about 6 miles.  It was the only time in my 35 years with the National Weather Service that I was unable to make my way into work due to the weather. Before this year, it was the only other time that I can remember the supply chain failing.  We were unable to get some necessities such as bread and milk for several days after the storm.” — Dean Iovino, NWS WFO Mount Holly, NJ
            • “The 1996 storm is the favorite weather event of my NWS career (46 years). Snowstorms have always been at the top of my favorite weather event list. 3 storms are etched in my memory. All of them because I ended up in the office for much longer than a regular shift. In the 1979 storm I was in the office for 24 hours straight. In the 1983 storm it was 25 hours. For both of those storms, our office was located on Arch Street in Philadelphia. But my favorite snowstorm of all time was the January 1996 one. Whenever I did one of my school presentations (I was the Education Outreach Program Director for many years), I always spoke about the 1996 snowstorm when winter weather was involved. Our office moved to its present location in Mt. Holly, NJ in 1993. Since I lived (and currently still reside) in Lindenwold, Camden County, it took me about 30 minutes to drive to the office. On the morning of Sunday January 7, 1996, I was scheduled to be in the office for the beginning of my shift at 7 A.M. But with the computer models showing a start time of 4 to 5 A.M., I decided that I would get in a little early. I arrived at the office at 5 A.M., just as the first flakes began to fall. If I recall correctly, temperatures at that time were around 30 degrees. To make a long story a little shorter, the storm intensified rapidly as it moved up the coast. We had heavy snow throughout the day Sunday and into Sunday night. Temperatures dropped through the 20s and down to 15 degrees at the height of the storm. Winds gusted to around 40 mph at the office dropping the visibility to near zero at times and blew the snow into drifts 5 to 7 feet high. The snow mixed with sleet at times Sunday night as warm air aloft moved in but surface temperatures remained in the upper teens. As the storm began to move away Monday morning, wrap around snow gave the region another few inches. The storm dropped 30.7 inches at Philadelphia International Airport. Most of our forecast area received 2 to 3 feet of snow. I ended up working 35 hours straight. Something I will never forget. The Governor declared a State of Emergency on Monday. So when I left to go home at 4 P.M., I was the only car on the roads. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Snow piled high everywhere. It felt really weird driving on I-295 and being the only car. Well, not the only car — I first saw headlights and then a car in my rearview mirror. That turned out to be a State Trooper who pulled me over to ask why I was driving. After I explained, we enjoyed a few pleasantries and he sent
              me on my way. Of course, when I got home, my children were feverishly shoveling my driveway. They had about a third of it done. Just enough for me to pull the car off the street. It was a storm that I will never forget.”
              Bob Wanton, retired general forecaster, NWS WFO Mount Holly, NJ
            • Waxing Poetic About The Blizzard Of ’96: I had the fortunate(?) opportunity to work forecast shifts (including the start of it that Sunday morning) leading up to the blizzard and also a story for the day after on January 8th. From a climate and forecast perspective the city of Philadelphia had only one double digit snow storm between the February 1983 storm and this blizzard: The Storm Of The Century in March of 1993. A storm of this magnitude was not a common occurrence and if anything, they fizzled or became rainier closer to occurrence time.  During the Storm Of The Century, I was working at the WFO in New York City and recalled all the models had that pegged 4 to 5 days in advance with very little variation in strength or track, a forecasting marvel for that time. I went in 12 hours early for my midnight shift because I was not going to make it if I waited until that evening. Fast forward to this blizzard and the modeling consensus was not there. I’d say this storm put the ECMWF model on the map as the “go to” model. In the late 90s there was the “EE” rule: if the ECMWF and ETA had it, run with it and leave the GFS & NGM behind. Back then the ECMWF ran only once a day (00z run on midnight shifts) and very little information about it made it into AFOS. I do not recall exactly, but when it did arrive, it probably was close to the time that products had to be issued. We hand typed all products back then. This was a forecast case of where the ECMWF had more of a northwest track than the other models. Meanwhile the GFS Model (labeled the MRF I think for the medium range part) was much farther southeast. A dance that has been repeated numerous times ever since: the closer we came to the event, the more northwest the GFS trended with the low. What looked like a Delmarva crush job, became a Delmarva/SE New Jersey crush job and eventually that morning of the blizzard an I-95 crush job. It is hard to put in perspective how lead time watches and warnings with this event differed from other lesser events: PHL had some 6-10” events in the city, so it is not as if it never snowed between 1983 and 1996, but not on the magnitude of this event outside of March 1993. I issued a winter storm watch the early morning of January 6th. Meteorologist Art Kraus who worked the day shift that Saturday issued winter storm warnings and I upgraded most of those warnings to Blizzard Warnings on Sunday morning January 7th . Pretty much as the snow was starting. My sense was if there was better modeling agreement, these watches and warnings would have been issued earlier. Poor Meteorologist-In-Charge Chet Henricksen had only one operational shift that month and it so happened to be that Sunday morning. He was covering I think for Art Kraus who wanted to go to the PA Farm Show. I don’t know how he made it home to Chester County Pennsylvania that afternoon.  All the other meteorologists were stuck at the office. Which brings us to Monday January 8th. I was called about Noon that day and was asked to please come into the office (It is about a 15-minute drive from our house to the office) because everyone was there for over 24 hours and they were exhausted. I said sure. I had a Chevy Blazer. After The Storm Of The Century In March 1993, I had no problem driving that Blazer through 2 feet of snow to get to our home in Yorktown Heights, NY. The drive in would be a piece of cake.  Little did I know about the wonders of NJ jughandles, until then. Instead of making an illegal left hand turn onto County Route 541, I decided to go the goody two shoes route and make the right hand turn into the jughandle and then make a left turn onto CR 541 at the end of it. Well that jughandle is huge and because of its eastern exposure that was very helpful in having the snow drifts get higher and higher the deeper I went into the jughandle. Yes, it happened, the snow became so deep.I became stuck. The Blazer literally was sitting on top of the snow drift and the wheels were not even in contact with the ground. Thankfully this was New Jersey and not Montana in this instance. There was a gas station that was open (no cell phones back then) and I called the office to tell them my predicament. Here my memory gets foggy (must have been the freezing cold). I do not remember if someone from the office drove over to pick me up or the tow truck operator pulled me out of the snowbank and I drove to work.  I was fortunate I almost made it to the end of the jughandle. Either way I made it in that afternoon. I arrived at the office. I recall one of the greatest acts of unsolicited kindness ever done for me by a fellow employee. Matt Lorentson (then an intern) made a cup of hot tea for me and found a blanket to put on my shoulders to help me stop shivering. I will never forget this and he is symbolic of the people who work for the National Weather Service.  We are one big family who help each other in times of need. I was glad I did get there, because my co-workers who were stuck sounded pretty incoherent. Going about 36 hours without any sleep will do that to you.”– Tony Gigi, retired Lead Forecaster, NWS WFO Mount Holly, NJ
            • “I was living in Glen Cove, on the North Shore of Long Island in Nassau County. I remember the times leading up to the storm like the back of my hand. I was a senior at Saint Mary’s High School, in my last semester prior to graduating and moving on to SUNY Stony Brook. A nor’easter fanatic from a young age, with what little we had back in the mid 90s to track weather, I was keen on watching every newscast I could find. At first it was only an outside chance of impact for the New York City metro area, most guidance showing a glancing impact or slider to the south and east. As time got closer, it appeared more likely we would receive warning level snow and my excitement grew large. There was something about it, it felt like a bigger event was unfolding. Prior to leaving for a friends’ birthday party, forecasters increased the snow amounts to 8 to 14 inches and my excitement shot through the roof, carrying me through the night during the party. After arriving home, the forecast increased to 15 to 20 inches on January 5th, all the way to 20 to 30 inches after the onset. The snow fell, the winds blew, and conditions deteriorated rapidly. Snow fell at two inches per hour for many hours, the snow piled up, and the winds blew drifts to 6 feet. We dry slotted for a period which allowed me to join a few friends on a drive to the South Shore. We witnessed huge battering waves, beach erosion, coastal flooding, and winds easily gusting 50 to 60 mph. For a 17 year old kid fascinated with weather, it was epic. We ended up with 21 inches in Glen Cove though it was difficult to find the right spot to measure due to the drifts. Snow ended more than 24 hours after it began, the weather remained cold for a couple days then a warm up ensued. I ended up working for WFO OKX during my tenure at SUNY Stony Brook then went on to a now 20+ year career with the National Weather Service, spanning 7 positions in 4 states. It’s been a great journey. Hurricane Gloria sparked my weather interest in 1985, the Nor’easter of 92 kept the journey going, and the Blizzard of ‘96 was the icing on the cake, propelling me to become a Meteorologist for life.” — Ken Widelski, NOAA Liaison to FEMA, National IMAT White
               

            https://vlab.ncep.noaa.gov/web/nws-heritage/-/the-blizzard-of-96-in-retrospect-25-years-later

            Amazing Nature . . . Ice eggs

            Purplerays

              Ice eggs are a rare phenomenon that occurs when ice is rolled over by wind and water.
              Location: Hailuoto Island, Finland
              Photo: Risto Mattila

                      Text and image source: Soul Alchemy https://www.facebook.com/186012608273340/posts/1493265280881393/

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                      Don’t mess with mother nature on sea or land 🌀

                      Lenticular Clouds

                      Only in Saudi Arabia would you have a sand fall

                      Nature never ceases to amaze

                      Meeting of the waters

                      Two Powerful Forces

                      Mother Nature making a bubble freeze

                      Nature at her best

                      Massive 3,000-year-old Maya ceremonial complex discovered in ‘plain sight’

                      An enormous pyramid-topped platform, unnoticed until detected with the help of lasers, is the oldest and largest structure in the Maya region.

                      By Tim Vernimmen PUBLISHED June 3, 2020

                      A 3D image of the monumental platform at Aguada Fénix (in dark brown). The structure, built some 3,000 years ago, was detected by an airborne laser tool known as LiDAR.Photograph by Takeshi Inomata

                      An enormous 3,000-year-old earthen platform topped with a series of structures, including a 13-foot-high pyramid, has been identified as the oldest and largest monumental construction discovered in the Maya region, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature. It’s the latest discovery to support the emerging view that some of the earliest structures built in the Maya region were significantly larger than those built more than a millennium later during the Classic Maya period (250-900 A.D.), when the empire was at its peak.

                      The discovery took place in Mexico’s Tabasco State at the site of Aguada Fénix, about 850 miles east of Mexico City. It is in a region known as the Maya lowlands, from which the Maya civilization began to emerge.

                      In 2017, researchers conducted a LiDAR survey that detected the platform and at least nine causeways leading up to it. The groundbreaking laser technology typically is used from aircraft to “see” structures beneath dense tree canopy below, but in this case it revealed a stunning discovery sitting unnoticed in plain sight in Tabasco’s semi-forested ranch lands for centuries, if not millennia.

                      An aerial view of Aguada Fénix without LiDAR shows how the monument “hides” in semi-forested ranch land.Photograph by Takeshi Inomata

                      So why was such a big monument at Aguada Fénix not identified earlier?

                      “It’s fairly hard to explain, but when you walk on the site, you don’t quite realize the enormity of the structure,” says archaeologist Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona, the lead author of the paper. “It’s over 30 feet high, but the horizontal dimensions are so large that you don’t realize the height.”

                      “Rituals we can only imagine”

                      The initial construction of the platform is believed to have began around 1,000 B.C. based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal inside the complex.

                      But the absence of any known earlier buildings at Aguada Fénix suggests that at least up until that period, the people living in the region—likely the precursors of the Classic Maya—moved between temporary camps to hunt and gather food. That has researchers speculating over how and why they suddenly decided to build such a massive, permanent structure.

                      Inomata estimates that the total volume of the platform and the buildings on top is at least 130 million cubic feet, meaning it is bigger even than the largest Egyptian pyramid. He also calculated that it would have taken 5,000 people more than six years of full-time work to build.

                      “We think this was a ceremonial center,” Inomata says. “[It’s] a place of gathering, possibly involving processions and other rituals we can only imagine.”

                      No residential buildings have been found on or around the structure, so it is unclear how many people may have lived nearby. But the large size of the platform leads Inomata to think that the builders of Aguada Fénix gradually were leaving their hunter-gatherer lifestyle behind, likely aided by the cultivation of corn—evidence of which also has been found at the site.

                      “The sheer size is astonishing,” says Jon Lohse, an archaeologist with Terracon Consultants Inc.who studies the early history of the area and was not involved in the report. He does not think, however, that the structure itself is evidence of a settled lifestyle. “Monumental constructions by pre-sedentary people are not uncommon globally.”

                      What it does unmistakably show, Lohse adds, is an advanced ability for people to collaborate, probably in the strongly egalitarian fashion that he believes was typical of early societies in the Maya region. Inomata agrees, and thinks the platform was built by a community without a strong social hierarchy.

                      As potential evidence, Inomata points to the even older ceremonial site of San Lorenzo, 240 miles to the west in a region that was settled at the time by the Olmec people. Built at least 400 years earlier than Aguada Fénix, San Lorenzo features an artificial terraced hill that may have had a similar function. But it also has colossal human statues that may indicate that some people held higher status in society than others.

                      It may seem likely that the people who built Aguada Fénix were inspired by San Lorenzo, but archaeologist Ann Cyphers of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, who has worked at San Lorenzo, considers the sites “quite distinct,” adding that the pottery found there is also very different from that found at Aguada Fénix.

                      A checkerboard of colored soil

                      So what might have been the purpose for undertaking such a massive communal building project? Study coauthor Verónica Vázquez López of the University of Calgary believes that it might have been a statement of intent: a formal collaboration designed to bring different groups of people together over the course of several generations.

                      Some features at Aguada Fénix could suggest this collaboration, such as a cache of precious jade axes that may have symbolized the end of the collaborative construction project. Archaeologists also have noted that some of the layers of soil used to build the platform were laid down in a checkerboard pattern of different soil colors, which may have symbolized the contribution of different groups.

                      “Even today, people who live in different quarters of some Mexican towns each clean their part of the central church plaza,” Vázquez López observes.

                      By 750 B.C., the monumental structure at Aguada Fénix was abandoned, and by the Classic Maya period more than 1,000 years later, people in the region were building higher pyramids that became accessible only to the elite atop much smaller platforms with less space for broader communities to gather.

                      “In the early period, people got very excited,” Inomata says. “Later on, they became a bit less enthusiastic.”

                      https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/history/2020/06/massive-ancient-maya-ceremonial-complex-discovered-hiding-plain-sight?__twitter_impression=true

                      The late-April snowstorm of 1928 | WTAJ – www.wearecentralpa.com

                      snowstorm

                      WTAJ – www.wearecentralpa.com

                      Joe Murgo 4 days ago

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                      Snow happens in April, we’ve even had some snowflakes in May, but there is one late-season snowstorm that ranks way above the rest. The major storm that fell from April 27-29 in 1928 with the bulk of the snowfall coming on the 28th. There was widespread snow between a 1.5 to over 3 feet of snow. This storm helped Somerset to achieve the highest April total snowfall in the state of 38.5″.

                      What makes this storm so special and damaging was not just because it was one of the heaviest snowfalls ever for the region, but it fell when there were leaves on the trees. This combined with the snow being heavy in weight brought down a tremendous amount of trees, limbs, roofs and entire buildings.

                      The storm started to form as an area of low pressure was shifting from Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is warm at this time of the year and there was a chilly air mass sinking from Canada into the Central United States.

                      The storm’s pressure was falling rapidly on the morning of the 27th as it started to turn northward over the Southeast. Thunderstorms raked south of this storm but a windswept rain and snow was spreading northward along the Appalachian Mountains.

                      The storm bombed (a word for rapidly dropping pressure that is now being nicknamed as bomb cyclones) as it moved to the Mid-Atlantic coastline by the morning of the 28th. This is when the heaviest snow was falling across Central Pennsylvania. A perfect track that hit us while places like Pittbsurgh and to the west got little to no snowfall.

                      This storm made headlines. For it’s destruction.

                      Roofs were collapsed and keep in mind that with the leaves on the trees, there was that much more area for the snow to cling to and bring down more debris. It was a time before snowplows and modern technology. The area was crippled but fortunately, in late April the snow does not stick around too long.

                      Here is a list of snowfall totals for our region: LocationSnowfall (Inches)Somerset31.5Cresson27Altoona23Ebensburg20State College17.3Lock Haven8Huntingdon6.5Clearfield3

                      image-4

                      This storm was one that became a topic of meteorological studies. Categories: Local News, Weather, Weather Headlines, Weather Stories Loading …

                      WTAJ – http://www.wearecentralpa.com

                      “Earth Day 2020- Message from Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan”

                      Mother Nature

                      Now this is feeding the birds! 🦅

                      The Magic of Nature 🌈

                      This is familiar territory for photographer Jannicle Wiik-Nielsen. Her portraits of insects, parasites, bacteria, and other exceptionally small life… Follow the link over to National Geographic and get a up close look at creepy crawlies 🐛

                      Winter solstice 2019: A short day that’s long on ancient traditions

                      151221171513-winter-solstice-live-video

                       

                      fox43.com
                      CNN Wire
                      8-11 minutes

                      For six months now, the days have grown shorter and the nights have grown longer in the Northern Hemisphere — but that’s about to reverse itself.

                      Winter solstice, the shortest day of 2019, will be Saturday, December 21. Or it will be Sunday, December 22. Which day is it for you? It all depends on your time zone.

                      CNN meteorologists Dave Hennen, Judson Jones and Brandon Miller help us understand the science and timing behind the solstice. And then we’ll discover some traditions and celebrations around the world that could inspire a travel adventure.
                      The science and timing behind a winter solstice

                      The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun appears at its most southerly position, directly overhead at the faraway Tropic of Capricorn.

                      It’s the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere. There, it marks the longest day of the year — and the beginning of summer in places such as Argentina, Namibia and New Zealand.

                      When exactly does it occur?

                      The solstice usually takes place on December 21. The time that the solstice occurs and the day itself shifts because the solar year (the time it takes for the sun to reappear in the same spot as seen from Earth) doesn’t exactly match up to our calendar year.

                      If you want to be super-precise in your observations, the exact time of the 2019 winter solstice will be 4:19 Universal Time on Sunday. Here are some examples of when that will be for local times around the world:

                      — Tokyo: 1:19 p.m. Sunday

                      — Dubai: 8:19 a.m. Sunday

                      — Rome: 5:19 a.m. Sunday

                      — Dakar, Senegal: 4:19 a.m. (same as Universal Time)

                      — Philadelphia: 11:19 p.m. Saturday

                      — Seattle: 8:19 p.m. Saturday

                      — Honolulu: 6:15 p.m. Saturday

                      If you don’t live in one of these time zones above, the website EarthSky has a handy conversion table for your time zone. You might also try the conversion tools at Timezoneconverter.com or WorldTimeServer.com.

                      What causes the winter solstice to even happen?

                      Because the Earth is tilted on its rotational axis, we experience seasons here on Earth. As the Earth moves around the sun, each hemisphere experiences winter when it’s tilted away from the sun and summer when it’s tilted toward the sun.

                      Wait. Why is the Earth tilted?

                      Scientists are not entirely sure how this occurred, but they think that billions of years ago, as the solar system was taking shape, the Earth was subject to violent collisions that caused the axis to tilt.

                      What other seasonal transitions do we mark?

                      The equinoxes, both spring and fall, occur when the sun’s rays are directly over the equator. On those two days, everyone has an equal length of day and night. The summer solstice is when the sun’s rays are farthest north over the Tropic of Cancer, giving us our longest day and summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
                      Winter solstice traditions and celebrations

                      It’s no surprise many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday — whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of longer days.

                      Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, a shedding of bad habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.

                      Many of the ancient symbols and ceremonies of the winter solstice live on today.

                      Here are five extraordinary destinations where you can experience something magical during winter’s relentlessly long night:

                      UNITED KINGDOM: Cornwall and Stonehenge

                      Better known for pirates than the solstice, the town of Penzance on the southwest coast of England has revived a delightful array of Cornish solstice events leading up to winter solstice. The Montol Festival is a fun mix of pagan customs and more recent Christmas traditions that were once common throughout Cornwall.

                      Early in the week, join in caroling and other events. On the solstice, referred to here as Montol Eve, get your dancing card ready for the Guise, a community dance in which people dress in masks and other “topsy-turvy” disguises based on a 19th-century tradition of the rich dressing in rags while poorer citizens effected a “mock posh” look.

                      You can also don your finery for torchlit processions. The merrymaking only continues when the revelers disperse to pubs around town.

                      With some planning, it’s also possible to incorporate a trip to Stonehenge, the UK’s most famous site for solstice celebrations. On the winter solstice, visitors have the rare opportunity to enter the towering, mysterious stone circle for a sunrise ceremony run by local pagan and druid groups.

                      The trip from Penzance to Stonehenge takes less than four hours by car, making it entirely feasible to spend the night in Salisbury, the nearest town to Stonehenge, and rise before dawn for the ceremony among the stones.

                      SWEDEN: Santa Lucia, yule and aurora borealis

                      Sweden is rich with solstice traditions. Elements of the yule, Northern Europe’s ancient winter solstice celebration, are also incorporated into modern festivities, including gathering around bonfires, feasting, drinking and telling stories.

                      A great place to experience all of these traditions is at Skansen, an open-air, living history museum that represents life in Sweden before the Industrial Revolution and features characters dressed in period costumes.

                      You can marvel at this seasonal interplay of light and darkness by heading for the Arctic Circle to see aurora borealis, the Northern Lights, in the Swedish Lapland. The Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park is an ideal place to catch the show.

                      Another good spot is the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi, where you can stay at the Icehotel, which provides local guides to help you spot the lights. Bundle up and take a dog sled or snowmobile tour, then hibernate in front of a roaring fire with a steaming cup of glögg.

                      Icehotel, Marknadsvägen 63, 981 91 Jukkasjärvi, Sweden; +46 980 668 00

                      MEXICO: Land of the Maya

                      In Mexico, consider visiting Chichen Itza, the spectacular ancient city of temples, columns and pyramids that was once a great center of science and astronomy. The Temple of Kukulkan, with its 365 steps (one for every day of the year), is just one stunning example of the impressive engineering and astronomical feats of the Maya. No wonder this is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

                      Chichen Itza is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cancun. If you’re planning to take a guided tour, choose tour operators who work with local Maya communities and use expert guides.

                      Private tours are another option. Although pricier, they can offer a more comprehensive experience and are often led by experts. Sacred Earth Journeys is one recommended company that offers private tours to the site.

                      INDIA: Makar Sankranti and kite festivals

                      Unlike people in other places in the Northern Hemisphere that mark the solstice in December, Hindus in India celebrate Makar Sankranti, one of the most important festivals of the year, in January. In 2020, that will fall on Wednesday, January 15, in most places in India (Gujarat state will celebrate a day earlier).

                      Fundamentally, it is a celebration of the sun’s journey toward the Northern Hemisphere, bringing longer days and the end of winter, which will make possible a good harvest. But Makar Sankranti is also associated with many other themes, including strong family relationships and a renewed opportunity to rid oneself of negativity and embrace a better way of living.

                      Different regions have various names for the festival and celebrate in a diversity of ways, usually involving bonfire pyres, feasting, singing and prayer. It’s a day when pilgrims make their way to the holy river Ganges for a spiritual cleansing.

                      Another popular event associated with Makar Sankranti are kite festivals, now held in cities across India.

                      Jaipur, Mumbai and Ahmedabad host some of the most well-known kite festivals. Kite-makers sell their wares in public markets in the days leading up to the festival, and soon the sky is filled with colorful, elaborate kites flown from balconies, stadiums, parks and beaches.

                      CANADA: Lantern festival in Vancouver

                      Vancouver’s Winter Solstice Lantern Festival is a sparkling celebration of solstice traditions from around the world. The Secret Lantern Society assembles a wide array of music, dance, food and spectacular lantern-lit processions.

                      Staging areas for the main events include the neighborhoods of Granville Island, Yaletown and Strathcona.

                      Here’s one of the best parts: Before the solstice, neighborhoods throughout Vancouver host lantern-making workshops.

                      For a relatively small price, you can construct and decorate your own lantern to participate in one of several processions throughout the city that lead to the indoor venues for music, dance and art making.

                      https://fox43.com/2019/12/21/winter-solstice-2019-a-short-day-thats-long-on-ancient-traditions/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

                      Do Not Disturb 🐝

                      🦋Hope you have a magical day ☀️ enjoying the last day of summer 🦋

                      The snow leopard has been hiding in plain site

                       

                      IMG_20190510_145247

                       

                      Mass Migration of Painted Lady Butterflies Entrances Californians

                      Image
                      Painted lady butterflies landing on a cherry tree as they migrated north through Encinitas, Calif.CreditCreditMike Blake/Reuters

                      Swarms of any other insect might provoke fears of a coming apocalypse, but clouds of butterflies migrating through Southern California are captivating onlookers who are relishing the otherworldly spectacle.

                      The orange butterflies, called painted ladies, are known to travel annually from the deserts of Southern California to the Pacific Northwest. This month, people are taking notice because of the sheer size of the migration: Scientists estimate the teeming painted ladies number in the millions.

                      Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexican border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the unusually large swarms. The rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food to fuel their transformation, said Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

                      To human observers, the painted ladies move with speed and intention, as if they have somewhere to be. They can fly as fast as 25 miles per hour.

                      “The striking thing is they’re moving very rapidly and directionally,” said Professor Shapiro, who has studied butterfly migrations in California for more than 40 years. “So it’s almost like being in a hail of bullets.”

                      They tend not to veer from oncoming cars, which can prove troublesome in Los Angeles traffic. When the painted ladies smash into a windshield, the result is a glob of yellow, butter-like ooze. That’s the result of the butterfly’s stored fat, used to make the long journey north, Professor Shapiro said.

                      Monika Moore, a butterfly enthusiast who lives in Fullerton, Calif., said she noticed that the mass moves in a strange way. The butterflies will fly low to the ground in an open field or yard, but when they encounter a tall building, they will fly over it — creating a “funky” up-and-down dipping pattern, said Ms. Moore, who has a Facebook page called California Butterfly Lady.

                      “They’re in a hurry, like the rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” she said. “They have a very important date.”

                      This year, the painted lady migration in California appears to have veered off its customary course. Professor Shapiro said that if the painted ladies were following their annual pattern, they should have arrived in Northern California about a week ago, yet they appear to be staying in Southern California.

                      One possible explanation, Professor Shapiro said, is that there has been such abundant rain and plant growth in Southern California that the butterflies have settled down and reproduced there.

                      Professor Shapiro reported on Sunday evening that he had seen nine painted ladies near where he lives in the Northern California.

                      “Presumably these are the vanguard,” he wrote in an email. “We’re off and running.”

                      The explosion of plant growth in Southern California that has fueled this migration of butterflies is in itself a spectacle. The growth of colorful wildflowers, called a super bloom, has attracted a steady stream of tourists. In 2017, wildflower blooms in Southern California were so dense that they were visible from space.

                      [One of our reporters visited Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a site of the super bloom.]

                      Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexico border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, has fueled this year’s unusually large swarms.CreditJohn Francis Peters for The New York Times

                      Image
                      Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexico border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, has fueled this year’s unusually large swarms.CreditJohn Francis Peters for The New York Times

                      Although this year’s butterfly migration is significant, it pales in comparison with the swarms of 2005. That year, scientists estimated more than a billion butterflies traveled across California. Cars on California highways looked as if they had been splattered with raw eggs.

                      As the painted ladies linger in the southern part of the state, Californians are getting a prolonged look at the clouds of flapping orange wings.

                      On an overcast day last week, Jessica McGhee biked to the waterfront in Redondo Beach to collect plastics to use to make art. Ms. McGhee said she saw a couple of butterflies flit by, then a few more. Soon they flew by in the dozens, and then in the hundreds.

                      “I felt like I was in a Disney movie”

                      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/17/us/migrating-painted-lady-butterflies.html#click=https://t.co/M2DBSnEFPM

                      Jellyfish: Scary, Squishy, Brainless, Beautiful

                      Moon Jellies, which are found in Shallow Bays around the world, look like small, not entirely friendly ghosts. They have translucent bells fringed with pale tentacles, and as they pulse along, it almost seems as if the water itself has come alive.

                      More photos…

                      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/10/jellyfish-species-reproduction-feeding-ocean/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=sunstills_20181014::rid=13280708075

                      Watch a Sausage-Size Insect Transform From Larva to Beetle

                      https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/public/amp/2018/05/animals-beetles-insects-larvae?__twitter_impression=true

                      An atheist was walking through the woods admiring the nature around him. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals,” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river,…

                      An atheist was walking through the woods admiring the nature around him. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals,” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look, and suddenly saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him! He ran up the path as fast as he could. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was gaining on him. He looked over his shoulder again, and now the bear was even closer. In his haste, the man tripped on a root and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him. At that instant the atheist cried out, “Oh my God!” Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. “You deny my existence for all these years, teach others that I don’t exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?” The atheist looked directly into the light and said, “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?” “Very well,” said the voice. The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head and spoke, “Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

                      When to Expect Hummingbirds in Your Yard This Spring

                      audubon.org
                      When to Expect Hummingbirds in Your Yard This Spring
                      By Geoffrey S. LeBaron
                      5-6 minutes

                      As warmer weather approaches, multitudes of migrant birds are on track for arrival in North America. Among them are those favorite avian gems, hummingbirds. The spring arrival—or year-round presence—of hummingbirds in yards varies across the country, but current studies point out some new potential challenges to migrating hummingbirds, such as changing bloom times of nectar plants and an earlier arrival of spring on their wintering and breeding grounds. Here we’ve gathered general guidelines to current hummingbird migration patterns for various sections of the country, as well some tips on the different feeding strategies you can use to attract them to your yard. Additionally, you can also learn more about how to help hummingbirds below.
                      Eastern United States

                      Over most of the eastern two-thirds of North America, from central Canada southward, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird reigns supreme. Predominantly a neotropical migrant, it winters from southern Mexico to Costa Rica. Each spring, this species arrives in numbers along the Gulf Coast by early March, filtering northward over the next two months until arriving in northern states and southern provinces by late April or early May. Migrating males usually arrive a week or so before females at any given location. Climate change is affecting the migration of Ruby-throats, though. As conditions warm on the wintering grounds, data indicate that they leave their winter homes earlier on their way to the Gulf Coast. Interestingly, it also appears that hummingbirds then hang around in the Gulf Coast for longer than normal, perhaps to recuperate from their trip across the Gulf of Mexico.

                      Migrating hummingbirds start to visit flowering plants and nectar feeders in March and usually stick around through May. To have resources ready for northward migrants in regions where hummingbirds are absent in the winter, it’s best to put nectar out by early March if you live in the Southeast, and by late April if you live in the Northeast.
                      Southeastern United States

                      The Southeastern coast, from Cape Hatteras southward, in Florida, and especially around the Gulf Coast, is different from the rest of the eastern United States. Here hummingbirds are likely to be present year-round, with both higher diversity and greater numbers of birds present in winter! As such, supplying nectar sources and insect-laded gardens is appropriate year-round in these regions. In coastal Texas and Louisiana, hummingbirds may visit feeders in the late winter and early spring.
                      Mountainous West

                      In the mountainous West, a variety of hummingbirds, including Broad-tailed, Black-chinned, Rufous, and Calliope, arrive in spring as the first flowers bloom. Starting in early March, these species will appear in yards near the Mexican border, and by early to mid-May will be found in the northern Rockies. Rufous Hummingbirds winter primarily in southern Mexico and breed as far north as southeastern Alaska. These hardy little birds can survive sub-freezing temperatures on practically any night of the year, but they can’t go without nectar and small insects, none of which are available in the winter in this region. Climate change and earlier blooming times for wildflowers may be affecting all of these species, as they do not appear to be shifting their arrival times to match the early blossoming times of their favorite food sources. Nectar feeders and selected wildflower plantings in yards can help these species fuel up for their continued migration and upcoming breeding season.
                      Southwest and West Coast

                      In the Southwest and in the West to British Columbia, hummingbirds are present year-round. In southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, many sought-after species, including Blue-throated, Magnificent, Broad-billed, and White-eared hummingbirds, frequent backyard nectar feeders, and even-rarer visitors can also make an appearance.

                      Hummingbird lovers on the West Coast from California to British are also fortunate. Large numbers of hummingbirds, especially Anna’s to the north and Allen’s to the south, are likely to be found in good numbers in hummingbird-friendly yards year-round. Migrant Rufous Hummingbirds also move northward early—as far north as Oregon by the end of February—on their way to their coastal Alaskan breeding grounds.
                      Two Ways to Help Hummingbirds

                      Grow Native Plants: Growing plants that are indigenous to your area is a great way to both attract and help the hummingbirds you love. Native plants provide shelter and food, including a healthy environment for insects, part of the hummingbird diet important during breeding season. Get a list of native plants customized for your area by visiting our handy Plants for Birds database.

                      Become a Community Scientist: You can protect hummingbirds by helping crowdsource invaluable data using Audubon’s free Hummingbirds at Home app or website. You just submit your observations on when hummingbirds feed on nectar-bearing plants in your yard or community. To get started, go to hummingbirdsathome.org

                      http://www.audubon.org/news/when-expect-hummingbirds-your-yard-spring?ms=digital-eng-email-ea-x-20180428_hummingbird_medium&utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20180428_hummingbird&utm_content=medium

                      Hear the Otherworldly Screams of Canada Lynx in Battle

                      Please do not listen with headphones on!!🙃  You’re welcome

                      Weird & WildVideo
                      Hear the Otherworldly Screams of Lynx in Battle
                      Male Canada lynx only have limited opportunity to mate with a female, making their rivalries especially intense.

                      Two Lynx Cats Scream at Each Other—Can You Stand It? WATCH: Lynx are largely solitary animals, but if two males do meet during mating season, a screaming match can result.
                      By Jason Bittel

                      PUBLISHED March 28, 2018

                      When it comes to courtship in the animal kingdom, frogs peep, crickets chirp, and cicadas click.

                      But nothing on Earth compares to the ruckus rendered by a male Canada lynx defending his mate.

                      Amos Wiebe, a photographer in Grande Prairie, Canada, personally experienced this otherworldly racket last week when he stumbled upon a trio of lynx while driving down a remote logging road. (Read about the lynx’s return to Canada.)

                      These Wild Cats Make the Weirdest Sound
                      Out of the Shadows, the Wildcats You’ve Never Seen
                      Which of These Animals is Tougher?

                      Wiebe was searching for northern pygmy owls to photograph when a flurry of movement caught his eye.

                      “All of a sudden, I saw a commotion,” he says. “These two lynx were just flying around up in the trees.”

                      Wiebe managed to park his truck and wade through deep snow to capture the wildcats’ effortless acrobatics on video.

                      “I’ve never seen a lynx do that. It’s like it was just suctioned to the tree,” says Wiebe. “They just climb up like it’s nothing.”
                      A Lynx Love Triangle

                      It may look like a fit of screaming cat chaos, but according to Shannon Crowley, a wildlife ecologist at the John Prince Research Forest in British Columbia, the scene provides a rare glimpse into the predators’ breeding behavior.

                      Based on the cats’ sizes and tufts of facial fur, called ruffs, Crowley says both lynx in the tree are likely males. And while he can’t be sure, the third lynx, which is not shown in the video, is likely female.

                      “To see that kind of aggression, there must be a female somewhere in the near vicinity,” says Crowley. (See photos of some of our favorite felines.)

                      New Video Reveals Lynx Mom and Kittens Frolicking in Snow Watch a lynx mother and her kittens scamper and play on a deck in Anchorage, Alaska.

                      Female lynx are thought to mate with just one male a year, says Crowley, so the bigger—and dominant—male had probably run the other cat up the tree to protect his breeding opportunity.

                      These battle cries are not the only spooky noises lynx make. During the breeding season, Crowley says he’s heard males following females through the trees while making a short, repetitive moan.
                      All Banshee, No Bite

                      Though they put on a fierce show, a fully grown, an adult male Canada lynx usually weighs no more than about 40 pounds, so it’s unlikely Wiebe was ever in any real danger, Crowley notes.

                      “Even when we would document litters at the den site, the female would generally run off,” he says. Though the little-seen cats are not dangerous to people, it’s important to give lynx—and any wildlife—a healthy distance. (Here are seven cats you never knew existed.)

                      Still, the photographer says he felt pretty vulnerable standing hip-deep in snow. At one point, Wiebe even pulled out a canister of bear spray, lest all that yowling were to attract a mountain lion.

                      And those unholy vocalizations didn’t help either.

                      “It certainly is an eerie sound to hear in the forest,” says Crowley.

                      https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/animals-lynx-mating-fighting-conflict/

                      Jason Bittel is a natural history writer and frequent contributor to National Geographic.
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