Thursday, December 13, 2007

Brighter Days Ahead With Snowbows & Shooting Stars!

What a difference a little sunshine makes! I have never been so excited to see the sunshine after a very dark December thus far. So I quickly snapped the picture above of a strange object in the sky being reflected off our back table that has been covered in puddles, snow, and ice almost the entire month. The sun really perked up my weatherwatchers today. I felt like I was back in International Falls giving the weather after a long, cold winter. Folks up in northern Minnesota usually get giddy come May when the first signs of Spring pop up. They are wonderful people up there, don't get me wrong, but everybody becomes best friends in the North Country after surviving a Minnesota winter. There after all are only two seasons in Minnesota and that is the 4th of July (it actually snowed in Ely one year) and winter!

Even though we have not officially begun winter yet, it seemed like we had an early Spring thaw as temperatures soared to their warmest levels of the month in Frankfort with a high of 42. I am very lucky to have local weatherwatchers to help me every day and today it was nice getting much brighter reports. The excitement was certainly contagious and this break in the precipitation could not come soon enough. It has been so wet that we have caught up on our yearly rainfall deficit and then some. In the year most folks will remember as dry, it will actually go down as wetter than normal even if we don't get any more rain or snow the rest of the year. We are closing in on 40" of precipitation and we only average 37.26" per year. This is a remarkable turnaround in the year of the blizzard.

The sunshine not only helps brighten all of our moods, but it has real health benefits. Our body takes that ultraviolet radiation that soaks into our skin and it produces vitamin D. This sunshine vitamin is not only known for reducing cancer rates but is useful in treatment. Those that actually get too little sun may be at an even higher cancer risk as those that get too much sun. I know we always tell folks to put on the sunscreen so this can be confusing. But just remember moderation is the key to life with just about everything. Today we can exercise some of that moderation by taking a walk in some afternoon sunshine.

We also have a bright future because tonight we will have the most brilliant of all meteor showers called the Geminids. These shooting stars are even possible to see just after the sun sets tonight at 5:21 p.m. Look for earth-grazers which are long, bright shooting stars that streak overhead from a point near the horizon. Under ideal conditions we will be able to see 1 to 2 shooting stars per minute tonight. Viewing conditions should be fair to good with mostly clear skies.

Now our bright forecast will continue into the weekend thanks to nature putting down a nice new shiny snowpack. The question is how much snow is on the way. Well first off I do think we will see snow develop Saturday into Sunday and the models that I look are coming into better agreement but nothing is set in stone. Here is what the synoptic map should look like on Saturday. Based on the latest storm track the heaviest snow should fall across south-central Indiana and southeast of Indianapolis. But here in Lafayette I think we will still be in a 2 to 4 inch snow band. It is still early and it could change. This is just an early estimate or "guesstimate".

Now if you are wondering why this is far from set in stone just take a look at all the different opinions on snow amounts from my top 6 models.

Model #1 (3") Model #4 (less than 1")
Model #2 (3") Model #5 ( 4")
Model #3 (1" ) Model #6 ( 3")

This is why I have a few more gray hairs than I used to. These conflicting numbers are a meteorologist's nightmare. I am a stickler for detail and these numbers will likely change between now and Saturday as many factors are taken into consideration. But it comes with the territory. So for now you know why this is only an estimate or my first "guesstimate" on this weekend's snowfall. Many things could still change.

But I do think we can enjoy snowbows! What are snowbows and do they really exist? I will have your answer here on the blog later today and even show you a local picture of one from where you live. See you soon and have a great day. I will keep updating the weekend storm as new information becomes available.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since snowflakes don't have such a rounded surface and you're not able to pass light through them and reflect off the back curved surface, they don't refract the light the same way."

And the result is no such thing as snowbows. But there are such things as snow halos that look like rainbows only you see them when facing the sun.