Friday, March 7, 2014

It's a tad bleak today; I'm trying to keep a positive outlook



Thanks to multiple incursions of the polar vortex, it’s been a cold and snowy winter. Even now entering the second week of March we have snow cover, temperatures in the 30’s, and a forecast for freezing drizzle. Like all gardeners, I obsess over the weather. Last year I responded to a NOAA survey regarding their web resources. One of the questions, multiple choice, asked how often do you access their site. For me that’s probably between 5 and 20 times a day, occasionally higher. I was off their charts and I know I’m not alone. That doesn’t include my hits on Accuweather, The Weather Channel, or the Capital Weather Gang…
In the spring and fall I obsess similarly over http://www.timeanddate.com/, a wonderful site that provides a wealth of astronomical data. Today the sun will be up 11 hours, 35 minutes, and 27 seconds. We will add 2 minutes and 31 seconds! The angle of the sun at noon will be 46 degrees and because we’re adding about a third of a degree a day now it’s rapidly getting higher in the sky. Back in December on the Solstice, the angle was only 27.7 degrees and the daily change was incremental. Plus the sun was up less than 9 ½ hours. Two fewer hours of sun makes a difference but the real difference is the angle of the sun. 27 degrees is a glancing blow at best: it warms south-facing walls and slopes pretty well for a short time. Unfortunately much of the surface of the earth is for all intents and purposes horizontal  or not south-facing so rendering the sun pretty impotent for most of winter. This is a great part of the year; we’re in the home stretch: on the steep part of curve of increasing day length and sun angle.
The mythology feels right this year: the imagery of Helios and Boreas fighting it out. The North wind clearly won the first three rounds but every day it becomes more difficult for Boreas to keep the ground frozen. Every day Helios drives the sun higher and for longer periods warming the earth more and more. Boreas may essay one more onslaught but it is clear now that Helios will win and warmth will prevail.

2 comments:

Scott Berndt said...

Where are these columns located - Looks like greece.

ChrisU said...

US National Arboretum