Monday, December 22, 2008

Earth and Sun say: "Winter is Here"

If the intense winter weather of the last couple weeks wasn't enough to convince you, yesterday the winter solstice officially passed. Thanks to a delightful 23.5 degree tilt to the Earth's axis, we experience these changes in season each year as we round the sun.

For those of us in the Bay Area, the onset of winter means brutally cold temperatures in the 40's, and light to moderate rains. Though our winter looks like spring or fall in many other places, just a few hours east of here, in the beloved Sierra Nevada, we are often blessed with a thick, stable snowpack in all but the driest of years. That means skiing and snowshoeing for us here at D&D!

Wet and rainy winter weather in the Bay Area means.....

That means that every time it has rained since late November, I get giddy with joy at the prospect some of that moisture might be punching through to the mountains and blanketing them in snow. I've been checking forecasts and satellites religiously. I regularly scope out the Sugar Bowl and Yosemite webcams just to get a little taste. I'm busy these weekends leading up to the holidays, but after that, it's on!

Image Credit: MODIS AQUA "Daily Afternoon" December 22, 2008 -- NASA
...a delightful dusting of snow in the Sierra

What a great place to live where you almost never have to deal with freezing weather, except when you choose to. In Dallas we would have winter storms a couple times a year, yet we were infinitely far from winter recreation; what a tease! Here, we can enjoy skiing and snowshoeing from November or December until late spring, sometimes early summer in the right places.

This winter we plan to:
  • Take Amber downhill skiing for the first time
  • Try snow camping for the first time
  • Become more confident on cross-country skis
  • Learn more about winter weather, snow conditions, & avalanches
  • Make safe snowshoe ascents of some moderate peaks

Time to get out and enjoy the snow again!

So whatever you believe the reason for the season is, don't underestimate the influence of that 23.5 degree tilt, on the seasons Earth creates as we circle the Sun. As we gather with friends and family, we celebrate that the days once again grow longer. As we enjoy winters splendor in the out-of-doors, be thankful the days don't grow longer too fast, and be grateful winter is only really beginning. I hope everyone finds some way to enjoy this season, no matter where you live.

(note: Southern Hemisphere excluded... it is NOT winter there!)

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