Boston and Fargo Snow Tricks

March 30th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

shovels and crocuses

It’s scant surprise that we humans anthropomorphize Nature. Winter weather alone this season was plenty tricksy.

Here in Boston, our well snowed season (see chart below) fooled us repeatedly. We had some 60-degree, sunny days in a row, and would move the snow shovels to the basement. Zap — a white-out with another 10 inches.

We haven’t been particularly good crocus custodians in recent years, but some naturalized pioneers return as annuals. A couple of days ago, a few yellow and a blue ones seemed to urge us to call it a winter done for the shovels.

Pic click trick: Click an image for a larger view.

2008-9 Boston snow

Meanwhile, as much of the nation, I’ve followed the arbitrary display of power of the flooding Red River, running North/South between North Dakota and Minnesota. Even today as my volunteer flowers peek up around the lawn, the folks around the Red River may get up to 14 inches of snow.

As the weather news has it:

Just as the Red River began retreating from Fargo’s hastily fortified sandbag levees, the city’s tired residents stared down a winter storm Monday expected to bring a half-foot of snow, powerful gusts and wind-whipped waves.

The snowfall itself was not expected to worsen the flooding, but engineers were worried waves could crash against the levees, further weakening them. The snow is more of a concern in the southern part of the state, where some towns could receive up to 14 inches.

“We are looking at a full-blown blizzard,” National Weather Service meteorologist John Paul Martin said.

Our stereotypes would make it easy to ascribe the difference to the extreme snow and harsh winters of Fargo, but they aren’t right. Actually, Boston and Fargo have similar annual snowfalls, but we come out slightly deeper.

We average nearly 41 inches a season and got understandably excited in 1993-4 with nearly 84 inches. Fargo averages around 36 inches, but has a wide range, as in just over 9 inches several years, but over 117 inches in 1996-7.

We with typical small Boston houses and cars on the street are less excited than resigned. I do love my cross-country skiing, but our city’s system of plowing in cars instead of removing the snow means shoveling several times that five-feet plus we got this year, and often shoveling the icy, salty gunk the plows scavenged from down the block. It’s the cars, sidewalks and then repeatedly the heaping gifts from the city to clear.

Still the sneaky, snaking Charles River is scant threat to our house and not even our basement. We laughingly note that we tower above much of Jamaica Plain at the top of our little hill, soaring to 64-feet above sea level. While it looks like global warming could end up giving us beachfront property at some point. Snow runoff is no cause for local panic.

Given the inconvenience and muscle aches from snow shoveling, the North Dakota version makes us relatively grateful. I’ll try to remember that the next time I have to head to the basement to retrieve the shovels when I thought Old Man Winter had returned to the Great Plains to leave us alone.

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