Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

Why I don't particularly hate Winter '07
February 18, 2007

On Feb. 8th I blinked first and had another cord of wood delivered (I heat my house almost exclusively with a wood stove; there's no heat whatsoever upstairs, where my office, bedroom, and shower are located).  The record-breaking unseasonably warm January has passed and we're now into the worst winter month of all -- Fearsome February.

With the "Montreal Express" roaring down from the Arctic Circle, I was quickly running out of wood to burn out on the racks, and the forecast was for things to get worse before they get better.

We can't complain this year about snow.  So far there's been record little -- I have yet to pull out the snowblower.  But cold is another thing.  For the past two weeks the temperature has plummeted to low single digits overnight; the wind's been blowing hard -- 30-40 mph -- creating below-zero wind chill factors.

This week we dodged what was forecast to be a serious snowstorm.  That morning started out with heavy snow but it soon turned to sleet, freezing rain by mid-afternoon.  Then the Arctic "Montreal Express" resumed and overnight turned the slush into concrete ice, where it remains.  When I cleared off "Chip Ahoy" the next day, huge sheets of 4" thick ice had to be removed from its stressed tarp -- loosen up a 20-30 pound slab of ice and jump out of the way when it cleared the lifelines beneath and came crashing down!  It actually took some of the tarp's blue surface with it, no doubt making it less than waterproof now.

Wally Riddle's "skeleton frame" fared much better than mine.

Click thumbnails below for a larger picture



Winter Fog
March 3, 2007

This morning began with a thick blanket of winter fog moving in off the ocean, a strange phenomenon I've since learned is called "hoarfrost" (see links below).  With the temperature below freezing, the fog particles of course froze on contact with everything they touched, creating delicate ice crystals and building upon them.  Soon, everything was coated with what appeared to be a layer of fuzzy, almost hairy frost.  Once the sun rose, the crystallized fog began to thaw and evaporate, leaving everything steaming like smoke as it retreated.

Guide to Frost Hoarfrost Formation

Click thumbnails below for a larger picture


Whoops, starting to hate Winter 'o7 more . . .

The Telegram & Gazette
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Winter gets its bite back
Coldest March weather in decades

By Bill Fortier

Yesterday was a typical mid-January day.

Except it was March 6.

Midafternoon snow squalls on Monday introduced the coldest March weather in decades late Monday night and yesterday.

Winds gusting to 55 mph just before 4 a.m. yesterday helped plunge the mercury to zero at 8 a.m., and at 4 p.m. the temperature at Worcester Regional Airport had struggled to a mere 9 degrees — 30 degrees below the average March 6 high temperature of 39, and 13 degrees below the average low temperature of 22.

Last year on March 6, the high was 40 degrees and low was 22 degrees.

Yesterday was an unusually cold March day, truly one of the coldest on record.

Magaly Torrez spent yesterday working at the drive-through window at Honey Dew Donuts on East Main Street. She knew it was cold when she opened up the window at 7 a.m.

“It’s really, really cold,” she said about 2 p.m. yesterday, as she wrapped her arms around her torso.

Yet some people still got iced coffee, she said.

William Simpson, a meteorologist in Taunton for the National Weather Service, said the high temperature yesterday of 16 degrees was at midnight, breaking the record low maximum temperature of 18 degrees for the date, set in 1972.

The National Weather Service predicted a high of 8 degrees during the day yesterday, which was 2 degrees below the record low maximum temperature of 10 degrees for March, set on March 3, 1950.

“This would be a really cold day in mid-January,” Mr. Simpson said.

As of 2 p.m. yesterday, the only day this winter that was as cold was Jan. 26, when the high hit only 8 degrees. The low that day was 3 below zero.

Some forecasters said that low could be beaten by the time readers dash outside this morning to get today’s newspaper.

The fierce wind added to the day’s harshness.

Mr. Simpson said he was especially impressed by a 2-minute span early yesterday, when the sustained wind at the airport was 37 mph.

“That’s pretty good,” he said.

Jack Nassif, owner of Dudley Getty Motor and Auto Sales, 10 West Main St., Dudley, said he knows what it’s like to pump gas on a day like yesterday.

“That’s why I’m in here, and my hat’s in here,” he said from the station’s office. He watched his attendant, who moved to the area from Brazil two years ago, pump gas as customers rolled down their windows just far enough to hand him their money.

Not everybody disliked yesterday’s conditions.

“I love it,” Jim Rafferty said as he stood in the ineffective sun on Main Street in Webster about 1:30 p.m., drinking a coffee and smoking a cigarette.

“It’s winter. It’s cold,” he said with a shrug.

A man next to him identified himself only as Dave, and said he was born in Webster, with some family members living in Quebec, where he said it was probably “20 or 30 below zero.”

“It’s like summer to me,” he said of yesterday’s cold weather.

Retired letter carrier Paul Bialoncik was walking around the 1,302-foot track on the side of the road to Webster Lake yesterday. He said he usually walks 45 minutes a day, and wasn’t going to let the cold keep him inside.

“I dress for it. I dress in layers,” said Mr. Bialoncik, who retired in 2004 after 30 years as a mailman.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bialoncik said, it felt like the coldest day of the winter.

“It’s nasty,” he said, as a strong gust of wind brought a tear to his left eye.

Mr. Bialoncik said his years as a letter carrier showed him you never get used to days like yesterday.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for a “warm-up” to about 20 today as a small storm system brings some snow to the mid-Atlantic states.

As has been the case most of this winter, no snow is expected here. The National Weather Service issued a public information statement on Monday: 25.8 inches of snow have fallen through the end of February, less than half of what usually falls by then each winter.

Mr. Simpson said the storm will draw more frigid air to southern New England tomorrow and tomorrow night, but it most likely won’t be as uncomfortable as yesterday.

There might be some snow flurries, but probably no snow squalls like Monday’s, he said.

The weekend forecast calls for temperatures to rise to the 40s.

Mr. Simpson said he’s fairly confident it won’t be as cold as yesterday until next winter.

“This is it,” he said.

After all, it is March, and the first day of spring is two weeks away.


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