Wednesday January 23 2015
A snot-dripping, eye-watering wind hurls down from a tablecloth cloud hanging over the white Owyhee mountains. I'm leaning into the howling gale as it batters me off the ridge trail I'm hiking. The 'breeze' is 20 to 30 miles an hour, gusting to 40. Those little blasts are knocking me sideways. The wind chill is below 20*. But it's always fun braving the Owyhee winter wind on a hike (not a ride!).
The horses have been huddled behind the hay feeder all day as a windbreak, eating hay to stay warm.
I had just refused to believe the projected El Niño predictions of southwest Idaho being drier and warmer than normal. Not fair! It just had to snow and get cold this winter! And my denial has paid off: unexpectedly, the Owyhee mountains are currently at 140% of normal snowfall already. That's great news to a years-long drought that has parched the land in the summer, dried up cricks, and lowered the water table, among other less obvious things.
The latest winter storm we're in the middle of (lasting several days) dumped a load of wet stuff from the Pacific: big wet gloppy snowflakes in just-at-freezing temperatures. Much of it melted, then turned to sleet then rain which melted the snow into gloppy mud, then more wet snow. It's unlike the dry fluffy snow that comes with arctic blasts from the north that evaporates without contributing anything to the earth. This wet stuff means more groundwater soaking in. Not so great for horses standing in mud, but you take what you can get, when you can get it, in the desert.
I'll be gone down south at least a month, but I hope the cold and snow continues up here. But I also hope it saves some more cold, wet action for me for when I get back!
that's Stormy, wearing a snow blanket!