Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful

Photograph by Thomas Bresson.

It’s Weather Day at First Draft, y’all. This morning our Fearless Leader wrote about Wednesday’s tornadic outbreak in Louisiana, and last night and today I’m dealing with the northern part of that storm:  its winter weather sector.

No matter how I feel about winter weather later in the season, I always welcome the first winter storm. It adds syncopation to the regular rhythm of the week. My husband is lucky enough to have a telework option, so he doesn’t need to worry about the drive to work. Because I can’t go out and run errands, I usually come up with a baking project because I have the time to dedicate to something intentional (and good baking is always intentional, I think).

The outside world is almost silenced, and it’s noticeable even on my quiet street. The normal outside sounds are muffled by the snow’s insulation, and traffic lightens up. All the golfers disappear from the adjacent course, their noise replaced by the sounds of our male cat, Finn, skulking from window to window, growling at the flakes, and of his sister, bug-obsessed Rey, incessantly chattering about the white bugs outside.

Unfortunately not every winter storm is a snowstorm. Today we’re dealing with a winding down ice storm which was mostly freezing rain. If you’re not familiar with it, freezing rain is literally rain that falls onto sub-32F degree surfaces and slowly accretes. It and high winds are most useless forms of weather. Thick accretions of freezing rain bring down tree branches and power lines, and even light accretions make roads, sidewalks, and driveways dangerously slippery.

But my favorite winter weather phenomenon is sleet—the tiny ice pellets that musically ping off your windows. During snowstorms sleet cuts down on snow totals but I don’t care. I love the rare instances of heavy sleet, the harmonic racket the downpours create, and the sight of the pellets bouncing everywhere.

We don’t usually get large quantities of sleet because the atmosphere has to be in a sweet spot for it to sleet for a prolonged period of time but about 15 years ago we were waiting for a crippling ice storm to begin except it never got warm enough at the surface and we ended up with 4-5 inches of sleet that then froze into solid ice piles. It was really cool. Alas, it’s not in the cards for this storm and we got a few tenths of an inch of freezing rain. It’s really pretty though:

2022 ice storm 2

It’d be even prettier if the sun would come out:

2022 ice storm 3

As I’ve gotten older, I have started to think about winter as the time to give yourself permission to slow down. The late sunsets of summer keep me moving around, watering flowers and vegetables, weeding, needing to use the precious daylight, but you can’t do that in the winter. Instead, it’s a time for rest, for reflection, and for gathering the strength to start a new season and a new year.

It’s not a coincidence that the days start to get longer just as winter officially begins–after all, growth requires light. In the meantime, we have the darkness to rest in for a few more weeks. Joy be with you all.

I’m an Episcopalian and we are approaching the end of our observance of the preparatory season of Advent in anticipation of the great feast of Christmas. Here’s one of my favorite Advent hymns to close this out:

5 thoughts on “Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful

  1. “my favorite winter weather phenomenon is sleet” You’re the fist person I ever heard say that.

    1. i used to choose snow, but sleet storms have become so rare in our either/or climate that they have crept to the top of my list over the years.

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