Tom Clyde: The hornets are polarized
November 7, 2017
We switch back to standard time this weekend. I love the long summer evenings. I also like having it get light earlier this time of year. But I don't like the adjustment. If they really wanted to address the darkness issue, they would find a way to take an hour of actual sunlight from June and plug it into December and January. Fussing with the clocks really isn't getting the job done.
If we're back on standard time, it's a sure sign that winter is here even if the weather doesn't look like it. There is a little streak of snow down Treasure Hollow at Park City Mountain, so the snow making system is up and running, just waiting for it to stay cold enough in the afternoons to avoid melting off what they can make at night. Opening day is only three weeks away. That leads to the search for winter weather forecasts.
There's stuff out there. The National Weather Service, which relies on thousands of calculations, statistics, and actual science, puts out a three month forecast. It's got an accuracy rate about equal to my grandmother's bunion. Grandmother is long gone, so we are left with science. They claim that the next few months have a greater than 40 percent chance of being warmer than normal, and a greater than 33 percent chance of being wetter than normal. That doesn't mean 33 percent more snow. It means the odds are better than 33 percent that there will be more snow than normal. They aren't saying how much more. Half an inch more than normal and they can claim success. That seems like a low bar.
It all hinges on what "normal" is. I've lived here long enough to know that there's no such thing as a "normal" winter. I've seen a whole winter's worth of snow come in a week. I've seen years with almost no snow at 7,000 feet, rain in January, blizzards in May, and a few of those golden years when the snow comes in healthy doses, evenly spaced. Until somebody can define a "normal winter" there's little value in long range forecasting.
If we’re going to have winter, I’d much prefer that it stays winter, and the storms come as that light Utah powder instead of rain.
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Science aside, I've found the hornet nest theory to be about as good. The theory is that when the hornets build nests high in the trees, there will be a lot of snow, and when they build near the ground, it will be a light winter. Now that the leaves are off the trees, I've been looking for predictive hornet nests all around the ranch. Despite a lot of looking, I have only found two of the big football-sized nests. One is as high up in a cottonwood tree as they could build. The other is practically sitting on the ground. The hornets are as polarized as the rest of the country. The wind storm a couple of weeks ago seems to have shredded the rest of them. The surviving hornets have split into extreme camps that provide inconsistent predictions. I suspect there is Russian meddling in our hornet nests. Fake hornets.
Last winter was a challenge, and I'm not all that happy with forecasts calling for a repeat performance. Up on the mountain, there was plenty of snow and aside from the rain in January, skiing was very good. At home, the snow just kept coming, and each storm was big enough that I had to plow things out whether I needed access to the barns or not. Another storm on top would have been more than my equipment would move. We shoveled off roofs all winter long and still had structural damage on some outbuildings. It rained too often, making the snow very difficult to move. The waterlogged snow was very hard on the machinery.
So I could do without the 40 percent chance of warmer than normal. If we're going to have winter, I'd much prefer that it stays winter, and the storms come as that light Utah powder instead of rain. Melting off in March doesn't do anybody any good. The 7,000 foot level seems to be the new dividing line between rain and snow a lot of the time. It never used to rain in January. The people running the global warming hoax are doing a very convincing job of it.
There is a guy who watches a buoy out in the Pacific somewhere. He claims that when this one buoy does whatever buoys do, it is a good predictor of a storm in Utah 10 days later. He's got a website called "Powder Buoy" that has a calendar showing when he thinks it will storm here. He calls specific storms, not the overall winter pattern, but is supposed to be more accurate than hornets, the Weather Service, or Grandma's bunion.
The only thing I know for sure is that these 60 degree afternoons aren't going to last.