A week ago, the St. Louis area made the national news for the prodigious amount of rain we had in a 24-hour period. We weren’t really excited about breaking the 24-hour rainfall record by over 2 inches, but it happened. State and federal disaster aid is available to flood victims.

River floods are a result of heavy rain or rapidly melting snow upstream and affect areas along the riverbanks. Rainfall events are different: the rain falls faster than the ground and drainage systems can handle it, forcing it to accumulate in any low-lying area at the bottom of any hill. Unfortunately, we had three heavy rainfalls over short periods of time in fewer than seven days, severely affecting many homes and businesses. The owner of one business said his ground floor was covered by water three times in a week. Countless cars were completely submerged by flood waters. Because of the power of the moving water, rescue teams had to exchange smaller boats for larger ones.

Our rain gauge overflows at 5 inches, but the official reading for our area was 12 inches. Ted and I looked at the TV meteorologist’s map showing contour lines representing rainfall totals on a map of the metro area. We estimated that we fell in the 9-10 inch range. The following two rain events brought lesser amounts–around 2-3 inches each time, according to our rain gauge. After the St. Louis “practice session,” the storms moved into Kentucky and that state had far more flood damage than we did. Ted and I were fortunate. We had nothing worse than a very soggy lawn.

A few days after the last rainfall, Ted and I decided the Katy Trail was probably dry enough to bike. We headed for the Greens Bottom trail head and planned to bike westward to Weldon Spring–about 11 miles one way. We hadn’t thought about the fact that the rail trail on which the Katy is built runs along the Missouri River (low ground) and that it might have flooded, so we were surprised when we entered the trail and saw a sign announcing it was closed for flood damage repair.

The trail looked ok and there was plenty of room to bike past the warning fence, so we decided to try it. If it was washed out or blocked, we could always turn around. The first 2 miles were rough, but the trail rises gently in elevation from its eastern to its western terminus, so all was well after the first two miles.

The trail was badly rutted in several places. Obviously, the water was running from the trail into the creek.

There was a lot of accumulated debris on the upstream side of this bridge. The grader is ready to go.

Our first street crossing required dismounting and walking our bikes across. The ruts were 4-6 inches deep all the way across the trail.

This might have been a huge source of water runoff. The Katy runs along a limestone river bluff at Greens Bottom. The standing water at the bottom of this point of the rock wall led Ted and me to think that the rainfall from the top of the bluff tumbled down these rocks like a giant waterfall, then ran over the trail.

Our assumption about the water running down this bluff was supported by the piles of silt the bobcat piled up when workers cleared the trail. The arrow points to the base of the “waterfall” point in the above photo.

As we biked westward, we noticed a lot of trees that had been washed out by the heavy rain and the powerful flood waters. The Park Service has already been hard at work clearing the trail.

Along the way, we saw a volleyball that apparently floated away from its home and became stuck on a fencepost. Given its beat-up condition and the brand name facing us, we couldn’t help thinking “Castaway” and “Tom Hanks.”

We had to slow our biking speed for the first two miles in order to navigate around the ruts in the road, but the rest of our ride was smooth. It was another good 22-mile ride on the Katy with a flood adventure for added interest.

This spring, it seems like it’s always raining. Fifteen of the 30 days in April included rain, and May isn’t far behind that ratio. The same thing happened last year. Rain, rain, rain until July arrived. Then it seemed like the faucet was turned off until September. Still, I’d rather have too much water than too little like the Southwest is experiencing.

On the light side, severe drought affects certain populations in unusual ways.

We had some exciting weather today. Two waves of severe storms moved through our area–one in the early afternoon and another one a few hours later. The second wave included a tornado warning for us. The storm sirens were wailing, so Ted and I grabbed a few things (car keys, drivers’ licenses, etc.), headed for the basement, and turned on that TV to keep informed.

See the circular storm cell in the upper right TV graphic? That entire cell was rotating. Ted (and the TV weatherman) said it is very unusual for a storm like that to rotate. Usually, strong storms develop in a line, not in a mass. In the large graphic on the left, you can see the white dot and line indicating the NWS radar, just a few miles southwest of our house. The lower right graphic shows the visibility. Or not. We had very heavy rain and winds gusting at about 60 mph. Three EF-0 (winds at 80 mph) tornadoes formed just east of us and there was an EF-1 tornado across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

The metro area had some wind damage (trees down), but the heavy rain was a bigger problem with lots of flooding and water damage. St. Louis County had 3 inches of rain in a little more than an hour. A storm drain on I-55 became clogged, causing the road to flood across all lanes. I-55 was closed for several hours to clear the drain and to allow the water level to drop.

We were lucky. No tornadoes, no roof damage, only small branches and leaves blown off the trees, and only 1.3 inches of rain. Isn’t spring fun in the Midwest?

The high temperature of 85 degrees today broke the old record of 79 degrees. It’s time to get outside and play. First order of business: hit the road on our bikes. We spent an hour on a 14-mile bike ride around the neighboring subdivisions. Yippee!

Second order of business: Sit outside to enjoy the sunshine. Check!

Third order of business: a happy surprise. Ted knows how much I enjoy spring, so every year he buys me a pot of spring bulbs. This year, it was yellow tulips. Happy spring!

Dire forecasts for February 2, Groundhog Day, and February 3 included huge (for our area) amounts of snow ranging from 6-13 inches, sleet up to 3 inches, and ice up to 0.2 inches, depending on where the freezing line fell. As we listened to the forecasts, it was a sunny 62 degrees and it seemed impossible that a major storm was brewing.

We, and apparently everyone else, chose to believe the forecasts. On January 31, the warm, sunny day, we went grocery shopping (packed store, empty shelves), we filled the cars’ gas tanks, gassed up the snowblower and started it to make sure it was working, and moved the chairs off the patio and into the pool area to make clearing snow from the patio easier. Schools announced cancellations of in-person classes in advance for February 2-3; businesses announced closings in advance; and grocery stores announced greatly reduced hours of operation for those two days. Forget the “Neither snow nor rain, . . .” adage. We haven’t had (junk) mail delivery for three days.

The forecasts were spot-on, so kudos to the NWS team and the TV meteorologists. The rain started after midnight on February 2, temperatures dropped far enough to produce a little ice, the ice changed to sleet overnight, and then the system dumped 4 inches of snow on us.

Ted and I both had doctor’s appointments on February 2. His doctor called on February 1 to say they would be closed and he needed to re-schedule. My doctor said he’d be open, so I hit the road. With so many things closed and the weather so bad, traffic was very light. Surprisingly, there was one bicyclist pedaling uphill on a snow-covered road. Only one traffic lane was usable, and the ice beneath the snow made driving tricky. I had to stay between 10-15 mph to avoid skidding, but I had no problems.

The Groundhog Day snow ended around 3:00 p.m., but another, larger accumulation was forecast for overnight into February 3, so Ted and I decided to go outside and clear the driveway, patio, and sidewalks. It’s easier to clear 4 inches than 8-12 inches. Then we made soup for dinner, lit a fire in the fireplace, and settled in for a cozy night with a movie.

February 3 brought more snow, lower temperatures, and 35 mph wind gusts. Thanks to the wind and drifting, when the snow finally ended around 4:00 p.m., I couldn’t see the snowbanks created by the snowblower the day before. Finding the edges of the concrete would be a challenge again. Can you find the driveway? It’s somewhere in the middle of that big, blank area.

At least the snowbanks around the patio showed me where the edges of the concrete were. See the icicles from the freezing rain? We only had about 0.1 inches of ice, but around an inch of sleet.

Finding the curves of the two front sidewalks (again) won’t be easy.

Before firing up the snowblower, I measured the snowfall. I measured a few hard, flat areas and they all showed 4 inches on Groundhog Day and 5 more inches on Groundhog Day 2. This spot on the pool deck shows that we had 8 inches total, but you can see that the snow dips toward the light in this area. With the wind, there was a lot of drifting, so some places were 5 inches deep and others were over a foot, depending on how sheltered they were. Isn’t the peaked snow cap on the solar light cute? The lawn chairs against the house look well padded.

Here’s a look at our patio chairs and some of the bushes. Also more solar lights with peaked snow caps.

It’s time to get to work. Again. I like using the snowblower, so I usually clear the large areas and Ted uses a shovel to clean up the corners the snowblower can’t get into. When I finished my snowblower work, Ted used it to clear two neighbors’ driveways for them.

It took an hour to clear the first 4 inches of snow, but nearly two hours to clear the next 5 inches the following day because of the drifting. Here, along the sidewalk beside the house, the snow was 13 inches deep–a real challenge for our small snowblower.

We have a layer of sleet on our back doorstep. Imagine sleet like this under the snow on the roads. MoDOT is short 400 drivers statewide, so the plows have been focusing on the highways. They just started plowing subdivision streets today. Roads could not be treated for ice in advance because of the rain that preceded the freezing temperatures, so driving is hazardous.

The snow didn’t end until about 4:00 p.m. on February 3. By the time we finished clearing it around 6:00 p.m., it was too dark for pictures. Today, the storm has moved eastward and we’re enjoying blue skies, bright sunshine, and a single-digit wind chill, with temperatures expected to drop to around 0 degrees tonight.

Here’s a picture of the pool. The weight of the snow is really stretching the pool cover springs! The ridges in the snow that cross the pool are the straps that hold the cover in place. We can’t identify the inner ridge going around the inside of the pool. The straps are anchored to the pool deck and only extend 12-18 inches beyond the outer edge of the pool, so that ridge is not the edge of the pool. You can see the lowered winter water level where the cover dipped below it, so it’s not frozen edges of the water either. Maybe we’ll find out when it warms up. Supposedly, the pool cover is strong enough for an elephant to walk across it. This isn’t an elephant, but wet snow is definitely heavy.

There’s the driveway! I found the edges.

See the white car camouflaged by the snow in front of our house? Ted asked the driver if she needed help and she said she couldn’t make it up the steep hill of the road beside our house, so she was going to walk home. Ted suggested that she turn around, go the opposite direction from where she’s parked (this upward slope is far less steep), and go around the loop to come down the hill to her house. She said no, she lives halfway up the hill. Huh? So she can only get to the middle by going up???

Yesterday, while we were clearing the snow, a different woman got stuck trying to make a left turn at the corner behind our house. I know she doesn’t know how to drive in snow because she kept spinning her wheels on the ice under the snow, trying to go forward instead of simply backing down the hill (there was no traffic) and (1) getting a faster running start to make it up to the corner, or (2) going around the loop like Ted suggested to the lady today and coming down the hill to the corner. Luckily, our neighbor, Super Steve (a carpenter), has a tool for everything, so he got out his towing straps and his pickup truck. Yes, he has real towing straps that he uses with his commercial-size riding lawnmower to bring his jet ski trailer from behind his house to his pickup on the street. He towed the lady around the corner and then preceded her to her house to make sure she had no further problems. Mission accomplished, so Steve continued around the loop, and returned to his house by going down the hill. Apparently, you can get to the middle of the hill from the top as well as from the bottom.

We used to get regular 8-12 inch snowfalls, but for many years, we’ve rarely had more than 4 inches at a time. This 9-inch snowfall was an Event for our area and it’s kind of exciting. As usual, I expect that within a week, the streets will be clear and dry and, except for the snowbanks, the lawns will be bare of snow again. That’s what I like about living here: snow, but not for weeks or months at a time. Now it’s only 45 days until the spring equinox, and we’ll be seeing forsythia and daffodils before that. Think spring!

As Ted and I were coming home from Pilates this evening, we saw a wall cloud in the northwest. These don’t appear too often in the sky. You can have a wall cloud without a tornado, but tornadoes develop in the southwest sector of wall clouds, so you can’t have a tornado without a wall cloud. Notice how dark the sky is beneath the wall cloud. It’s still ninety minutes until sunset, but our house was so dark inside, we needed to turn on some bright lights. After we changed our clothes, we tuned in to the weather report and learned that radar indicated some rotation in this wall cloud. There were no severe storms in the area, but we did get rain, lightning, thunder, and some wind. Bigger storms are moving in after midnight tonight.

Ted and I have lived in the Midwest nearly all of our lives, so it’s a given that we’ve headed for cover in the basement several times when weather radar and warnings indicated a tornado was dangerously close to us. Having said that, Ted and I agreed that the thunderstorm we had this weekend was the worst we’ve ever experienced. The NWS issued a severe thunderstorm warning (no tornado watches or warnings) and we experienced the worst of the storm. The red marker for St. Peters is about two miles from our house. The darkest / most severe section of the storm cell is headed directly toward us.

During the heaviest rainfall, we couldn’t see the houses across the street from us. It looked like dense fog outside our windows. By the time I got my camera, the rain had let up a bit, but it was still heavy. Wind gusts were 70+ mph. It seemed like the wind was blowing rain against the windows from every direction. The wind blew the rain in sheets and small waves down the street. We watched a beach ball blow past our house. Afterward, I asked our neighbors if it was their ball and Karen said no, they’d watched it blow past their house as well. There are three more neighbors with swimming pools uphill from us, and I guess one of them lost a beach ball.

Three of our gutters have underground drains to central areas of the yard; one drains onto a sidewalk. Water was coming out of that gutter like a gusher. Kari said all three of her rain barrels quickly filled. We have a hill behind our house and the street in front of our house slopes as well, so we had a considerable amount of run-off in our back yard. The water in the lower left is moving downhill to the left like a rushing river.

After the storm, neighbors started coming outside to assess damage, to talk about the storm, and to start cleaning up the mess. Everyone looked a little bit shell-shocked at how strong the storm had been.

Our damage was minimal. We have a vertical two-door storage cabinet against the house, tucked into a corner formed by the house and the exterior of the fireplace chimney. We store pool stuff in the cabinet–kickboards, noodles, balls, mats, etc. The wind ripped the padlock off the cabinet door latches, picked up the cabinet, ripped off both doors, turned the cabinet 180 degrees, flipped it over, and threw it into the back yard in a single pile. Except for one kickboard, the pool paraphernalia was still inside the cabinet.

We (and everyone else) also had a lot of tree litter and broken branches in our yard. In some places nearby, the street looked like it was carpeted in green. Ted picked up the bigger branches–the largest had a nearly 3-inch diameter–and I raked up the litter. Then Ted collected my piles in his wheelbarrow and added five loads of tree litter to the branches he’d already thrown on our brush pile. He’s going to have to get out his wood chipper when things dry out.

The neighbors across the street from our driveway weren’t quite as lucky as we were. A mature tree in their yard was broken by the wind and will need to be removed. Fortunately, it fell alongside the house and not into the bedroom windows or onto the roof. Within a half mile of our house in both directions, Ted and I counted 4 mature trees blown down by the wind and 18 homes with major (4″-12″) limbs broken off the trees. Amazingly, none of the trees or large limbs caused visible damage to homes or cars. We apparently have very considerate trees in our neighborhood.

It took Ted and me about two hours to clean up our yard. The next day, we went to Home Depot and bought Ted a Father’s Day gift.

It’s been a cool, wet spring around here. Normal high temperatures should be in the 80s by now–and every now and then we actually get a day in the 80s. I’m such a sucker, I fall for it every time and say, “Spring is probably here for real now,” and then the temperatures drop into the upper 50s and lower 60s for highs, and the rains return. This will be one of those years that we go from winter to summer–suddenly it will be hot every day without the gradual warming of March, April, and May. The April 20 frost finished off all the spring-blooming trees, but the rain we’ve been getting has been good for the summer flowers. Our yard is looking flower-y cheerful these days.

The roses have been blooming for a few days, but I had to wait for the rain to stop to take pictures. The knockout roses are looking good.

The carpet roses are bushier than usual–maybe thanks to the rain.

This group of roses was gorgeous about five days ago but, again, I had to wait for the rain to stop to get a decent picture.

The poolside dahlias are becoming bushy.

The day lilies will bloom all summer, but the first blooming always has the most flowers at one time.

My favorites are the hibiscus tree and the marigolds. I love seeing these while I’m working at the kitchen sink.

The snapdragons will provide a variety of color in front of the hydrangea bush, which will bloom in two or three weeks.

Maybe it takes winter to make the spring and summer colors look so good. I’m loving it.

Check out today’s seven-day forecast for our area.

The record low for tonight (Tuesday) is 32 degrees, set in 1904. We’re probably going to break that record with a low in the mid- to upper 20s. We spent today in the 30s and, just for fun, we had a late season snowfall.

The ground is above freezing, so the snow will disappear quickly. The temperatures will stay cold for another day and night, probably dropping below freezing again tomorrow night. The normal high and low temperatures for today are 68 and 48, so this cold weather is definitely unusual.

Did you notice that the high for next Tuesday is expected to be around 80 degrees? It’s quite a ride, going from a record low in the 20s to a warm 80 degrees six days later.

Spring: the least predictable season.

March: In like a lion, out like a lamb, right? Well, early March was cold. (Lion?) Then the weather started warming up in mid-March, and late March was beautiful. (Lamb.) In fact, we had so many warm days in the 60s, 70s, and even a few 80s, that spring flowers, shrubs, and trees burst into bloom. Our magnolia tree is as eager for spring each year as I am. As a result, it usually loses its blooms to a late frost. This year, it reached full bloom and held it for several days. I dared to hope that spring was really, truly here.

Here’s my favorite tree–the magnolia that loves to bloom ASAP every spring.

When we had our maple tree cut down, we also had the tree-cutting crew shape a smaller magnolia to grow more evenly out of the shadow of the maple tree. The tree-cutter said the little magnolia wouldn’t bloom this spring, but it will by next year. No, sir! These trees can’t wait to bloom! Here’s the little tree, blooming like crazy in spite of last summer’s pruning.

Our cherry tree in the back yard gets noticeably taller and blooms more fully each year.

The daffodils around the pool are in full bloom. I love them!

And then, . . . And then, . . . And then, . . . Hah! April Fool! In the early morning hours of April 1, our temperature dropped to 26 degrees. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in the early morning hours of April 2, it dropped to 25 degrees! And that was the end of the beautiful magnolia blossoms.

The cherry tree blossoms, the daffodils, and the not-yet blooming different variety of magnolia trees in the back yard all look fine. I think it might be that our back yard is more protected with houses and a hill behind us and didn’t get hit as hard by the frost. The two magnolia trees in the front yard are more exposed because of the wide street and the open space between houses across the street.

The temperature got back into the mid-70s today and is forecast to stay in the 70s and maybe even low 80s the rest of this week. We had spring, then a hard hit of frost, and we’re right back to spring. The Midwest is a great place for variety in the weather in March and April. I could do without the mid-spring frost, but I love all the things that bloom, making spring my favorite season every year.

Author’s note: Ted and I are optimists. We’re scheduled to open our pool in nine days.

It’s spring in the Midwest, so severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings are not unusual. We had a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch a few days ago. Our area experienced thunderstorms; the tornado hit east of us, just across the Mississippi River.

There was a wicked-looking dark sky.

And then the wind and hail hit. We only had pea-sized hail, but just a few miles away, two-inch hail was reported. The temperature dropped from 83 degrees to 67 degrees in 12 minutes!

Today, more storm watches were issued by the NWS. We only had rain with a little thunder, but tornadoes were reported about 15 miles north of us. They were small tornadoes resulting in nothing worse than property damage and fallen tree limbs.

You have to keep tuned to the weather in the spring if you live in the Midwest.

Here’s our winter doormat. Be careful what you wish for.

When our kids were little, it was normal for our area to have 6-8 snowfalls of 4-6 inches, as well as one or two snowfalls of 12-14 inches in a season. After 30 years of climate change, however, it has become more typical for us to have several snowfalls of 1-2 inches and maybe one or two snowfalls of 3-4 inches in a season. More snow than that in a single event is becoming unusual and, therefore, remarkable.

This winter has been a snowy one for a change. After a relatively warm November and December (we took our last bike ride on December 29), we had a few light snowfalls of an inch or less in January. Then the pattern changed. At one point last week, 46 states had snow cover on the ground. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Hawai’i were the exceptions.

January 27. We had four inches of snow. Whoopee! I love using my snowblower and this was enough snow to make a snowblower worthwhile. It wasn’t too cold, so I had a good time. Then Ted took a turn and used the snowblower to clear Jim’s driveway. Jim and his wife are 90 years old and they appreciate the help.

February 15. There’s a forecast for a major snowfall in our area. A big snowstorm always sounds exciting to me. There’s something magical about snow, and a heavy snowfall makes everything quiet and peaceful. It started snowing early in the day, but the flakes were tiny and didn’t accumulate much. By late afternoon, it started looking like serious snow. Our normal temperature at this time of year is in the mid-40s, but today we set a record for the lowest high temperature on February 15: 4 degrees. The previous record was 19 degrees in 1905. We didn’t just break that record–we smashed it! The wind chills were a vicious 25-30 degrees below zero. There went our dream of sitting in the hot tub while snowflakes romantically fell on us. It wasn’t a good day to go outside, but it was fun to watch the snow fall and to watch a movie with a fire blazing in our fireplace in the evening.

February 16. The snowfall ended, the sun came out, and we set another record low high temperature. This time, we made it to 5 degrees, probably because of the sunshine. The previous record was again set in 1905. Wind chills were still well below zero. It was so cold, the mailman didn’t even walk our package all the way to the door; he only went far enough to throw it to the porch. Luckily, it was a book and it didn’t break.

I bundled up in three layers of clothes and a sturdy pair of boots and headed outdoors, feeling like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story.” My first task was to stick our trusty NWS “Snow? How much?” ruler into the snow to see how deep it was. Wow! Seven inches!

The weight of the snow made our pool cover sag, so pool water seeped through it and froze on the cover.

I took a few more pictures outside, but I could hear my snowblower calling my name, so I got to work. I always go up the middle of the driveway first so I can throw half of the snow to each side instead of having it all pile up ahead of my path on one side.

The sidewalks were a challenge. Because it was so cold and windy, the snow was light and the wind blew it across the lawn, making it impossible for me to see where the sidewalk ended and the grass began. The curves in our sidewalks added to the challenge of finding my way through the virgin snow.

The second pass was a little easier, but our snowblower is designed to work with a foot of snow or less, so 7 inches kept me going slowly to give my little machine a chance to blow a path for itself.

While I was using the snowblower, Ted was using a shovel to clear the places the snowblower can’t go–the back step, the front porch, and the corners. Two-and-a-half hours later, we had all of our concrete clear. Then we cleared Claudia’s driveway. Claudia’s husband died three weeks ago and we know she doesn’t have a snowblower. That was a lot of snow for her to have to shovel in a double driveway. Another neighbor with a snowblower cleared Jim’s driveway. Although it’s only 5 degrees, the sun is melting the snow residue on the concrete. Even a snowblower is hard work–especially with seven inches of snow to move. I was sweating by the time I went back indoors.

February 17. Guess what. We had another two inches of snow overnight. We got out the snowblower–again–and cleared all of our concrete–again. It was easier this time because (1) there was a lot less snow, and (2) yesterday’s paths were visible. It was still mighty cold, however. We had 14 days in a row with temperatures below freezing, and 10 of those days never got above 20 degrees.

February 18. The skies dropped another inch of snow on us. The temperatures are warming up, however, and with the concrete warmed a little from the sun after we cleared it the last two days, we knew this last bit of snow would melt on its own.

February 23. Talk about extremes!!!! Eight days ago, it was 4 degrees; yesterday we warmed up to 58 degrees and today it was 71 degrees! You could almost literally watch the snow melt. By the end of the day, it was gone, except for a few places where the piles were deep or where there was shade.

February 24. Today, it was 62 degrees–a little cool to put the top down on my car, but warm enough for Ted and me to take our walk in long-sleeved shirts without wearing jackets. With the snow out of the way, I can smell spring in the air. The snow was fun while it lasted, but I like warm weather much better than cold. Think spring!

Author’s note: Ted and I know how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy this major (for our area) snowfall with the luxuries of heat, light, water, and food. We give thanks for our blessings and offer prayers for those who are suffering because of the storms across the country, especially in Texas.

A local TV reporter presented a human interest story about today’s cold weather and heavy snow. In addition to the cold, hard facts (pun intended), the reporter interviewed some local people. The first person said he wished he hadn’t moved here from the Alabama shore. The second person said he’s loving it and “if it has to be cold, it should be painful.” It is. The wind chills are low enough to cause frostbite in less than 30 minutes of exposure.

The reporter told us there was no one sledding on Art Hill today (wind chills are 20-25 degrees below zero) and neither his car nor his cat would start this morning (video of sleeping cat). Local grocery stores closed early.

To amuse himself, the reporter decided to freeze some clothing. After freezing a wet sock flat on its side on the sidewalk, he used it as a boomerang. He also froze his T-shirt and jeans, but topped his flat clothing with a video of a woman’s dress frozen in 3-D (for lack of a better description) and standing on a porch. It looked like a scarecrow without a head.

The reporter closed by informing us that today’s temperature in Dallas is lower than it’s been in Anchorage all winter. Dallas had a high of 13 degrees today; Anchorage had a high of 23 degrees. Our official high temperature of 4 degrees today broke another 116-year-old record high for the second day in a row. The previous record for the day was (again) 19 degrees in (again) 1905. This time, though, we smashed the record by 15 degrees, not a measly 11 degrees like yesterday.

Our area has had temperatures below freezing for 10 consecutive days and there are 4 more days forecast to remain below the freezing mark. If we’re lucky, we’ll get into the mid-30s after that. Our normal high temperature at this time of the year is in the mid-40s and the daffodils and crocus shoots are appearing in flower beds. They’re probably hibernating under the snow this year. Polar vortex, go home!

Yesterday, February 14, St. Louis set a record low high temperature for Valentine’s Day. If you aren’t married to a meteorologist, that means the lowest high temperature on record or, in other words, as warm as it got. Here are the stats:

Previous record low high: 19 degrees, set February 14, 1905.

New record low high: 8 degrees, set February 14, 2021.

We didn’t just break the record; we smashed it! I’ll just mention that the normal high temperature on Valentine’s Day in St. Louis is 45 degrees.

Today’s forecast: 4-8 inches of snow. We’re right on the line for the heavy snow, so we’ll see which way the storm tracks.

The first of a series of predicted winter weather systems brought us freezing rain overnight. Luckily, we had only about 0.2 inches of ice and MoDOT treated the roads in advance, so they were only wet.

Our arborvitae trees felt the weight of the ice. . .

. . . and we had some pretty views from the front porch.

The ice melted before lunch and then the rain showers moved in. Light snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. 2021 wants us to know it’s winter.

Google celebrated the December 21 winter solstice and the 600-year close conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter with a Google doodle. The next not-as-close conjunction of these two planets will be 60 years from now.

Reporters told me to get outside by sunset to see the conjunction because the viewing timeline was brief, so my watch time started with a beautiful sunset in a clear sky, followed by 30 minutes of waiting for the sky to become dark enough for starlight to show. At that point, it was easy to see the conjunction.

The TV weather guy said Saturn and Jupiter are so close to Earth right now that, even with a small telescope, it would be possible to see Saturn’s rings and the the bands of Jupiter. I don’t have a telescope, but I looked through some strong binoculars. I couldn’t distinguish rings on Saturn, but I could see that Saturn’s shape was oval, not round. When I compared my view to the Science Center’s telescopic photo of the conjunction, the oval I saw was in the direction of Saturn’s rings–in kind of a 10 o’clock/4 o’clock line. The binoculars weren’t strong enough for me to see Jupiter’s bands.

I took some pictures with my cell phone zoomed in on the conjunction and it’s possible to see the two planets very close together. Not Science Center quality, but not bad for a cell phone photo.

As Ted and I left for an evening bike ride, we noticed a thundershower (TRW) east of our neighborhood. The anvil cloud was stunning.

Our weather has been very hot and very humid, so we’re experiencing Ted’s favorite (i.e., easiest) forecast. He used to say he could use it nearly every day in July: highs in the upper 90s and lows in the mid-70s, with a chance of afternoon heat-induced thundershowers. Yesterday we had three thunderstorms–around 2:00, 4:00, and 9:00 p.m.–including some strong winds that left a lot of tree litter around the yard.

We saw some very threatening skies three days ago and had a thundershower that night too. The worst of those storms hit southeast of us. Two buildings were hit by lightning and went up in flames and four people were hit by lightning. They were playing soccer. One took a direct hit and is in critical condition; the other three were thrown to the ground by that strike. The following day, TV weathercasters reminded viewers that if you can hear the thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning. We were lucky to have only rain and thunder, but the skies were scary-looking. The clouds were very black and dark–even darker than the most distant cloud in the lower photo–but my camera self-corrected the lighting.

It’s officially summer in St. Louis. We’re having daily temperatures in the upper 90s with lots of humidity. Today, we hit 100 for the first time.

A National Weather Service employee posted a suggestion on his Facebook page.

Yes, twice in one day, we saw double rainbows. This one appeared a half hour before sunset, so it’s not as bright and the double bow is fainter than the earlier rainbow we saw.

Two double rainbows in 90 minutes–it’s almost like being in Hawai’i!

Thirty years ago, on Valentine’s Day of 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back one last time on its way out of the solar system and captured a picture of the Earth as a blurry dot in the darkness of the universe. The picture serves as a visual reminder of humanity’s vulnerability and the need for interdependence to assure our survival.

NASA released this sharper, reprocessed photo to mark the 30th anniversary of the image.

On Thursday, it was a sunny 72 degrees; on Sunday, it was a snowy 34 degrees. This begs the question: Is it spring?

Or not?

Normal humidity in St. Louis at this time of year is about 40-50 percent. Thirty percent would be considered very low humidity. (Information provided by in-house meteorologist.) On Sunday, our humidity was 16 percent at its lowest; 17 percent when I took this screenshot.

So what do you get in this area when the humidity gets that low? A fire weather warning! If it’s not one thing, it’s another. At least it wasn’t a spring tornado.

For 65 hours, Ted and I sailed across the Tasman Sea on our way from Melbourne, Australia to Dunedin, New Zealand. Just so you know, it’s pronounced duh-nee’-din. Dunedin is a Scottish city and its name is a translation of Edinburgh; therefore, the city is named after Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Tasman Sea is situated in latitudes between 40 and 50 degrees south–otherwise known as the “roaring 40s.” Farther south are the howling 50s and the screaming 60s. The seas in these latitudes have high winds and high swells because of (1) the rotation of the earth, and (2) the lack of large land masses to break the winds. As a result, our captain, who gives us an update every day at noon, has been informing us of 30-foot swells and winds of 40-50 knots (gale force).

We haven’t been in danger, but it’s been difficult to walk a straight line on the ship. Last night, my dish of dessert was delivered on a plate and, due to a large swell and the rocking of the ship, nearly slid off the plate as the server reached to put it on the table in front of me. The server caught her balance by putting her hand on our table, thus avoiding falling into my lap. On the other hand, everyone has been commenting on how well we’re sleeping. It’s like being rocked in a cradle.

This photo was taken from Deck 7. The waves look much higher from Deck 2 when they are closer to eye level. The large swell on the right is probably a 30-foot one. When the swells are 6-10 feet high, the water looks calm from Deck 7.

Some of the very large swells are wide and curled on the top. We can often see wind-blown spray at the tops of the swells.

We expected to spend today in Dunedin, but had a surprise early morning announcement from the captain. The safety level for us to enter Port Chalmers (the port for Dunedin) is winds at 35 knots. This morning’s winds were blowing at 40-50 knots–gale force–and there was no indication of a change in the weather. We were unable to safely dock in Port Chalmers and will not be visiting Dunedin after all. The captain made arrangements to berth early in Christchurch, so we’re spending another day at sea and will be arriving in Christchurch this evening.

Ted and I went to the port talk about Dunedin yesterday. Port talks are presented by the cruise director and give us information about the city we’ll be visiting. At 19 degrees (35 percent), Dunedin’s Baldwin Street was the steepest street in the world until 2019, when it lost the title to a street in Wales that has a 37.45 percent slope. Baldwin Street is short (1.8 miles) and straight. Each year, the Cadbury factory in Dunedin sponsors a candy roll of 25,000 Jaffas down Baldwin Street. The candy roll benefits three charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The annual event is called “The Running of the Balls.”

Today’s first thunderstorm hit as we returned from our excursion to Mataram. We had a break for a few hours and then the storms started up again. We’ve sailed past some of them, but they are continuing south of us.

We met two very nice couples at dinner and talked for over two hours with each other until the restaurant closed for the evening. After that, Ted and I sat on our balcony for awhile, watching the lightning and listening to the distant thunder. I took a few pictures of the lightning.

The storms are making the sea a little rough and our ship is rocking slowly back and forth. I’m hoping it will rock me into a good night’s sleep–just like a baby in a moving car.

Like much of the U.S., we had some bad weather yesterday. We were under a tornado watch and a wind advisory. Weather radar indicated circulation in the atmosphere near us, but Ted and I didn’t hear about any tornadoes, so I don’t think the circulation got beyond funnel clouds. That’s good news. The peak wind gust, measured at the airport 10 miles from us, was 64 mph. That caused some minor damage at our house.

We had a few fallen twigs in our yard, . . .

. . . and one of our lawn chairs was blown out of place.

Later in the afternoon, the wind changed direction, and set the lawn chair on its feet again.

Now we’re waiting for the wind to push it back in place against the house.

Jeff also had 60+ mph winds in northwest Montana last night, but his damage was a bit worse than ours. One tree was blown over and managed to take two more with it, blocking Jeff’s driveway. In addition, their area was without electric power for six hours–and Jeff’s house has electric heat.

As I write this, all is well for Jeff, his family, and their Thanksgiving guests. The lights are on again, the heat is running, and they managed to clear the trees that were blocking the driveway, using hand saws and their Honda CR-V.

Oh . . . all is good in our yard too.

In December 1998, Ted set two personal records for his last lawn mowing of the season: (1) He did it in December instead of the usual November; and (2) it was so warm, he wore shorts to do the job.

Today, Ted set another record for the last lawn mowing of the season. He had to mow through snow in the shady areas for the first time ever. Even more noteworthy, the snow has been on the ground for six days in spite of sunshine and above-freezing temperatures all week.

When Ted and I biked on Sunday, the high temperature was 67 degrees. When we biked past the National Weather Service on the MO Research Park of the Busch Greenway, Ted wanted to stop in to see some of his previous co-workers. While we were chatting, one of the forecasters told us they were preparing to issue a winter weather advisory for Monday. And so they did–just a short while after we left to continue our bike ride.

Those NWS forecasters were spot on, including the flash freeze–except we had more snow than expected. Compare our Sunday (high 67) and Monday (13 degrees) temperatures. I took the Monday picture when we went to bed. Overnight, the temperature dropped some more, down to 8 degrees at our house. The official low temperature (at the airport) was 11 degrees–one degree lower than the previous record of 12 degrees set in 1911–108 years ago!

After biking in 67-degree sunshine Sunday, we woke up Monday to falling snow that continued until late afternoon. The previous record for snowfall on November 11 was one inch in 1991; the airport had an official 1.5 inches yesterday, and we had 2 inches at our house. The average date for a St. Louis snowfall of at least one inch is December 21–more than a month later than this.

After the snow stopped, the skies cleared, the moon appeared, the temperature dropped some more, and a meteor streaked across the sky just before 9:00 p.m. Within minutes, people were posting security camera videos of the event.

According to NASA, the meteor was a basketball-size piece of rock that broke off from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before entering Earth’s atmosphere. It passed near St. Louis just 59 miles above the ground and continued for about 70 miles before breaking into pieces when it was about 12 miles above the ground. The meteor traveled at 33,500 mph, creating a sonic boom that was heard for miles.

Ted and I didn’t see the meteor first-hand because we weren’t outside in the cold for the few seconds it streaked through the sky, but videos show a bright flash as the meteor streaked by. If we had been outside and seen the flash, we’d have probably looked at each other and asked, “What was that?” and the meteor would already have been out of sight.

The temperature didn’t go up much today, As a result, we also set another 100+ year record for the lowest maximum temperature for today. We made it up to 21 degrees. The previous record low maximum was 22 degrees, also set in 1911. The normal high for today is 58 degrees.

What a day, with record low temperatures, record snowfall, and a falling meteor, all within less than 24 hours.

Today we had our first hard freeze of the fall season and our first snowfall. We didn’t get much snow, but just 15 miles north of us, Troy had about an inch of it. It was definitely cold and blustery today with a low temperature of 30 degrees and a high of 37. The wind chill was in the low 20s. Tomorrow’s forecast: 53 degrees and sunny. Much better.

The only places our snow was visible was on the cold lawn furniture. You can even see a little bit of snow on the table top.

I had some shopping to do in downtown St. Charles today, so I checked out the riverfront. This is our (gasp!) third dry day this week, so the rivers have gone down a little bit. (We had two dry days, then rain, then a dry day today and one more coming tomorrow. After that, the forecast predicts rain for six consecutive days.)

The Missouri River is very wide right now. Beneath the trees and just left of the center of the picture, you can see the top of a park bench above the water. In 1993, the river covered the road and the parking lot, and stopped rising just before it reached the back doors of the shops on Main Street, about thirty feet behind where I stood to take this picture.
The Katy (M-K-T Railroad) Depot is above water now. The brown ground is grass covered with river silt, and marks last week’s high water point.
The bandstand still stands in water. If you look closely, you can see the water used to be three steps higher on the bandstand–almost up to its floor.

What a rainy spring we’re having! At the end of March, the TV weathercaster told us that the St. Louis area was already a full month ahead on rainfall for the year—and it hasn’t stopped. At this time, most river levels in Missouri are at their second-highest—second only to the record flooding we experienced in 1993. Levees are failing because they are so water-logged from standing water. St. Peters was under two tornado warnings two days apart just before we left for Zaque’s graduation in Colorado. Thankfully (for us), the tornado that hit Jefferson City the night before our trip dissipated six miles west of us.

As Ted and I drove through Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa on our way to and from Colorado, we saw standing water everywhere. Kansas has many new wetlands, and that was nothing, compared to Nebraska and Iowa, which can nearly qualify as large lakes! I-29 was under water from Council Bluffs, IA to St. Joseph, MO, so we had to take two-lane roads west of the Missouri River to get home. As we crossed the river at St. Joseph, we received a “tornado emergency” warning on our cell phones because a tornado was sighted west of Kansas City, heading for St. Joseph.

Everyone else was forced to use the secondary roads as well, so traffic was heavy. At times, the rain reduced visibility to less than a quarter-mile.

The day after we got home, we had another severe thunderstorm warning in our area. When it passed, we went out to do some errands, and saw this tree across the road about two miles from our house.

Make it stop! We want to have at least two dry days in a row so we can clean and seal our concrete, but we’re still waiting.

My college roommates and I are planning a get-together for Fall 2019. Our email exchanges have included contact information updates for some of us, mutually agreeable meeting dates, etc. In addition, each of us usually adds a line about what’s going on in our lives at the time. The current conversational thread is spring.

Eileen (Marquette, MI): The last bit of snow melted in our yard yesterday. Hurrah! Happy spring!

Me (St. Louis, MO): We live farther south than you, so have been mowing the lawn for over a month. Happy spring!

Leila (Madison, WI): As for the weather, …

Leila wins!

St. Louis is having a wet spring. One of the TV weathercasters said that, by the end of March, the area was an entire month ahead on rainfall for this year and April was wetter than usual. Now it’s May, and it’s still raining. Last week, we had more than 5.5 inches of rain at our house. The forecast for the coming week includes another 3-4 days of rain (depending on whose forecast you look at). Squish!

All that rain meant the water level in the pool got too high.

Ted is measuring for me. The water is only 1.5 inches below the top of the liner.
Here’s Ted, getting the hose connected to drain some water from the pool.
That’s better. The skimmer is exposed again and can get back to work cleaning the surface of the water.

We’re ready for the next batch of rain that will hopefully produce a more moderate amount of precipitation. At least in the Midwest, we don’t have a water shortage.

It’s spring, so it’s thunderstorm season in the Midwest. USA Today had a video of unusual upside-down lightning. It actually grows upward instead of striking downward. Wow! I wish I had seen that!

Ted and I were up early today and on our way home from Colorado before sunrise. It was a cold, sunny day.

The good thing about getting up early is watching the sun rise.
The snow-covered mountains west of I-25 were spectacular in the early-morning sunlight.
We saw hoarfrost during most of our drive through Colorado.
The trees at the eastern CO rest stop were decorated with hoarfrost.
The cold, snow-covered ground produced heavy fog for more than 50 miles in Kansas.
The high winds and heavy snow two days ago in Kansas gave us some beautiful scenery after the morning fog cleared.

It was a long day’s drive after a wonderful family visit. Tomorrow we’ll take the winter clothes out of our suitcases and replace them with our shorts. We’ll be leaving for Hawai’i–and a big change in climate–early the following morning.