Monday, January 28, 2013

When Snow Comes

 Snowy Nandina, 2013
(Click on images to see larger)

We don’t get a lot of snow here in coastal Virginia. It definitely doesn’t take much to bring things to a standstill. Even the threat of snow closes schools, empties grocers’ shelves, cancel events and leads employers to tell everyone to leave early, come in late or stay at home.
I don’t remember there being much snow here when I was young. It certainly didn’t happen often, nor did it stick around long. You might get a day or two before it became slush and the disappeared altogether. We had snow sleds, but they almost never wore off their brand new shininess.
When I went off to college barely a hundred miles inland from the coast, winter was much different. There was more snow and ice and it frequently went on for days and stayed on the ground for a week or more.
Part of the reason we’ve traditionally had so little snow here along the coast is close proximity to the Gulf Stream, a river of warm water that flows northward along the Atlantic coast, warming coastal ocean waters and having a big influence on weather patterns. Forty miles inland they might get pummeled with snow, while out here by the beach we get a little snow, and often just rain instead of snow.
In recent decades, winter weather patterns have changed, as least so far as snow is concerned. We’ve have had more snowstorms, more snow accumulation and the snow has stuck around longer. Whether this is the result of climate change or some other factors doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s happening. 

Snowy Contrast, 2013

Just to prove me wrong, though, our current winter is shaping up to be an exception. There’s been the usual snow to our west, but until that past Friday afternoon there’d been nothing more than a light dusting of snow here at the coast.
In almost predictable fashion, Friday’s snowfall snarled traffic and canceled event. Schools closed early and employers sent workers home early. The bridges, tunnels and roadways were littered with accidents. Afternoon commutes that usually take minutes lasted hours.
On Saturday morning, though, all was peaceful. We’d had just a few inches of snow, enough to cover everything lightly. The dog and I went out early to take in the sights.

Nature's Margarita, 2013
Snow is a mixed blessing for photographers because cameras want to make snow look gray rather than white. Snow is great, though, for high contrast black-and-white images. So that’s what I concentrated on.
When snow comes we get out quickly with our cameras because you never know how long it might last. 

Hydrangea Remains, 2013

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