Frozen water vapour, we call it snow

FTLComm - Tisdale - Sunday, November 24, 2002
After all this is a Saskatchewan publication and few if any conversations begin or end here without a direct and detailed reference to the weather. It is what we are about, Saskatchewan people are weather hostages and as such feel the need to discuss the boot that is attached to the heel that seems to be grinding into each resident's thumb.
Friday night a major cold air mass worked its way down from the North and in the mixing zone there was some precipitation particularly in the North West part of the province but the road from La Ronge to Prince Albert had more than its share of snow on Friday night.
But Friday night in the northern grain belt was something quite different. The clash of a strong high pressure area and a low created high winds from the US border to just South of Prince Albert. Then during the night the velocity picked up as the howl of moving air did little to lull us all to sleep.
There was the odd snow flake Friday night and early Saturday morning but mostly it was just wind. However, the two warm days that had preceed the gale had pretty well removed the snow from most fields in the area and at 10:30 Friday night two combines were working their way around a field owned by Phillip's Seeds just West of town.
Saturday in Tisdale was just plain and simply ugly with -15ºC temperatures and a steady 12 to 15 knot wind whistled under the darks sky for the morning but by mid day the sun came out and here and there combines moved into fields. Out at Weekes one farm which has only a small amount left un-harvested were out finishing things up Saturday afternoon.
Late Saturday afternoon there were some more snow flakes wrestling their way out of the clouds and drifting on the wind toward the ground. I have seen that process up close as snow flakes almost pop like popcorn when the water vapour and temperature at just right. The crystals form in the fragile patterns. I was skimming below the bottom of a cloud formation at this time of the year over Lessor Slave Lake in Alberta and I could see the sparkle of crystals, not many but they appeared to be growing in the air around me. Flashing the landing light of the aircraft on and off made the dazzling reflective crystals jump out of the gray above me and the black water two thousand feet below.
This morning these very rare and fluffy crystals sat on the upper surfaces of our car and you can see them in the pictures at the top of the page. With this morning's temperature at -20ºC the crystals did not melt together but were sitting propped up against one another just as they had fallen.
You might find it interesting to check on the daily weather log and it shows you what it was like in the slice of time each day that I make the observation and record it in the log. It is clear that from now until mid December you can expect just about any kind of weather. The examples of past years indicate a high degree of variablity at this time of the year so we can see warm, very cold, very snowy, very dry, clear and foggy almost one day after another as the line that crosses the province and divides the air masses shuffles its way North and South across the province until December 18 or so when it should settle down and the depth of winter should proceed.
The very warm years of this era are likely to continue through the rest of the winter and with them very little precipitation. Spring should be similar to last spring which was long, cold, ugly and dry.
But, being here in Saskatchewan you can expect to see pictures and more pictures of the weather we have this link with each other. "Cold enough for yeah?"

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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