Archives for posts with tag: National Weather Service

Late yesterday afternoon, the National Weather Service posted a frost advisory for our area.  I didn’t see this until I checked the forecast at about 9:00 pm.  The advisory did not seem to make sense—the expected overnight temperature was warmer than 40 degrees—but just to be on the safe side, I covered the garden with a sheet of black plastic.  The effects of micro-climate should not be underestimated.

The temperature did drop into the 30s (but only just, at 39 degrees) so there was no real danger of frost.  Still, I imagine that the peas, carrots, turnips, radishes and beets appreciated the protection.  They have spent their entire (if short) lives out in the cold and probably envy their cousins (the tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers and basil) who have yet to venture outdoors.

Now that we are into the month of May, the risk of further frosty nights is rapidly diminishing.  It’s tempting to think that the threat has vanished but statistics don’t work that way.  No, there is still a non-zero chance of freezing temperatures but the probability has dropped below ten percent.

Only a week after Hurricane Sandy, the northeast was visited last night by Winter Storm Athena (are all weather systems going to get named from now on?).  The storm brought strong, cold winds and dumped several inches of wet, sloppy snow on many people who were still without power (or had only had it restored shortly beforehand).  Rachel’s parents, for instance, who were without electricity until Sunday, were again plunged into darkness after the storm brought down power lines that had only recently been repaired.  (Fortunately, they were not in the dark for very long this time.)

For some, the storm seemed to add insult to injury.  Clearly, Mother Nature is very unhappy with us.  What must we do to appease her?  And, perhaps more pertinently, what must we stop doing?

It’s Election Day!  Finally, an end to the relentless campaigning that has filled every day since the spring (remember the interminable Republican primaries and debates?).  We voted early this morning and even though this is my eleventh presidential election—and who knows how many other state, local and school votes there have been—it never gets less thrilling.

It was very cold over night—temperatures dropped into the low 20s—and we awoke to a frigid and frosty morning.  Now that Halloween has passed, the National Weather Service no longer issues warnings (cold weather can now be expected every night, I guess) but I check the forecast every day and was prepared.  I brought in the last garden hose last night and shut off the faucet from inside the basement.

But I decided not to cover the radishes.  They have not been making much progress and it is unlikely that they would ever reach full maturity, especially the French Breakfast variety whose roots have not even started to enlarge.  Although the leaves were covered with a fine lace of frost, they fared better than I expected.  When the ice melted (by mid-morning), only a few of the leaves had the deflated look typical of cold-weather damage.

Nonetheless, I pulled them all up.  About half of the Pink Beauty radishes were near ripe (if small) but the other half and almost all of the French Breakfast radishes had not developed at all.  This crop is mostly leaves and in keeping with the season, we’ll sauté them (instead of throwing them into a salad).

The middle of last week, 90 percent of the computer simulations reported by the Weather Channel predicted that Hurricane Sandy would drift off into the Atlantic after wreaking havoc on Cuba, the Bahamas and Bermuda.  Only one or two models indicated a trajectory over the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States.

By the weekend, all of that changed.  Apparently, a region of high pressure in the north Atlantic was blocking the normal eastward path of the hurricane.  To make matters worse, a mass of cold air descending from Canada and the Ohio Valley was threatening to combine with Sandy to create a storm—a la Groundhog Day—of epic proportions.  The pressure systems were bumpers and Hurricane Sandy a steel pinball in the giant arcade game that is the earth’s atmosphere.

Consequently, the National Weather Service is now predicting the end of the world.  Well, not quite but the forecast is very dire.  The expected storm could be like last year’s Hurricane Irene and October snowstorm combined, a rainy, snowy, windy mess.  The pressure at the center of the storm is extraordinarily low and when combined with tonight’s full moon, will result in record-setting tidal surges along the coastline.  We’ve been warned to prepare for the worst Mother Nature has to offer.

So now we are waiting for Sandy to arrive, with an emphasis on the waiting.  This storm is moving slowly—only about 15 miles per hour—leaving us to agonize in anticipation of its potentially dire impacts.

The forecast held up and the temperature did, in fact, drop below freezing over night.  When I looked this morning—the sun having already risen—the thermometer was reading about 31 degrees.  The Weather Channel reported a low of 27 degrees so it may have been sub-freezing for much of the night.

However long it was, it was long enough.  Almost all of the plants that we left unprotected—the string beans, tomatoes, bell pepper and eggplant—were affected by the cold and subsequent warming; their leaves are hanging limp and lifeless.  Freezing and thawing has also cast a literal pall over the garden:  the greens are tinted with black, as if the garden is now permanently in shadow.

The radishes, toasty-warm beneath their tarp, weathered the frost well.  When I uncovered them, they looked as fresh as on any other morning.  It remains to be seen, however, whether there is enough sun left in the season to develop them to maturity.  At the moment, they are still nothing more than sprouts.

Although left out in the cold, the parsley and other herbs also fared well (they don’t need no stinkin’ tarps).  I was not surprised by this.  Last year, most of the herbs survived the late-October snowstorm that left them covered by a foot of snow.

I appreciate having gotten two day’s warning of the freeze—thank you National Weather Service—and am very glad that we were able to successfully harvest our remaining viable produce before it could be damaged.