Archive for March, 2014

The Hummers are Coming!

Rubythroat
Every year the folks at hummingbirds.net track first sightings of the ruby-throated hummingbirds as they migrate north. The most ubiquitous of all hummingbirds, they travel northward across the entire eastern half of the country into Canada. I love watching the map as the sighting points on it move northward, helping me believe that, yes, spring will come again this year and so will those delightful creatures. It also helps me know when to expect our visitors and get the hummingbird feeder ready for them. Up here in the Northland, we won’t see them until late April or early May, but our lucky southern brethren already have them visiting their feeders.

Here’s last year’s first-reported sighting dates:2013 HB sightings

Distance

I follow a lovely blog of photography and poetry called “leaf and twig”.  I loved this post.

Distance.

 

Winter Respite

We’ve been having enough warm weather that, although there’s still plenty of snow on lawns and along the sides of roads, the streets are clear and driving is no longer so stressful. I snapped a record of the decks clear of snow. Also visible in the background is our birch tree back to vertical from its earlier distortions.
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image

Tomorrow everything will be white again, and the white-knuckle driving will probably return.

Update 9:30 am: it’s already started to snow. This is a day earlier than forecast.

The Lion and the Lamb

We all know the reputation March has for being a big transitional weather month, although this far north it’s often April that has the turmoil. This year, however, March has outdone herself. Earlier this month we hit -13°F on my home thermometer, and yesterday, about 10 days later, we were at 58°F. That’s a pretty big swing, even for March. I tried to find some information on monthly temperature variations, but only could find averages. For southern Minnesota the average March low is 24 and the high is 41. The state records are far beyond those values and well over 100 years old (-50°F in 1897 and 88°F in 1910). Just based on personal observations, this is a pretty dramatic month so far. And, if the predictions are even close, it’s not over yet. Tomorrow’s low is projected to be 1°F. I think I’m getting whiplash.

Daylight Growing Time

I always greet Daylight Savings Time with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I love having light at 7 pm, but oh, waking up in the dark again for a while is so gloomy after having had some time awakening to daylight. At 7 am this morning I noticed it was still pretty dark. I tried to take a picture but it was so dark it wasn’t worth saving. By 7:15, however, it was fairly light. It won’t be too long before I’m arising to daylight again.

I just recently learned that we gain 90 minutes of daylight in March at 45°N latitude. In grade school science, when we learned about why the days get longer and shorter, we never got down to the details of the rate of change of the daylight hours. Although I hadn’t given it a great deal of thought, I always assumed it was linear and every day increased or decreased by the same amount. I did a little research and found the following graph of the daylight hours in St. Paul, MN. The blue line shows the number of daylight hours based on time of year, and it’s clearly not linear. I’ve marked off in green the segment of the year we’re in now, and it’s definitely the steepest part of the slope, indicating the fastest rate of change. How exciting! It’s just a few more days to the equinox.

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Note: if I had visualized the change as a graph I would never have assumed linearity. If it was linear, the graph would be a straight line to the solstice, then immediately turn and be a straight line downward to the next solstice, which would be ridiculous. I’m also conveniently ignoring the fact that this part of the year is the steepest upward slope. There is, sadly, an equally steep downward slope in the fall.

Reference: http://ptaff.ca/soleil/?l1pays=USA&l1etat=Minnesota&l1ville=St.+Paul&l2pays=&l2etat=&l1cityname=St.+Paul%2C+Minnesota%2C+USA&l1ltd=44&l1ltm=57&l1lts=19&l1ltx=N&l1lgd=93&l1lgm=6&l1lgs=6&l1lgx=W&l1tz=-6.0&l1dst=US&l2cityname=&l2ltd=&l2ltm=&l2lts=&l2ltx=N&l2lgd=&l2lgm=&l2lgs=&l2lgx=E&l2tz=0&l2dst=&year=2014&month=03&day=12&lang=en_CA&go=Show+the+graph%21

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