Friday, January 14, 2011

Atlanta Snow in the New Year

It snowed in Atlanta on Christmas Day 2010. It was the first time since 1882 (see my post here.) By the time we came back from Nashville the snow had almost melted and within another day, it was gone. It snowed again, this time in the New Year 2011, early on Monday 10th of January. It continued snowing a bit. The snow has not melted yet. It was a heavy snowfall for Atlanta – between 4 and 7 inches. It paralyzed the city and the surrounding areas.

Click on pictures to enlarge

We in the Deep South are not prepared for such weather – Atlanta has only 8 snow plows and the small towns around the city have even less. In our county, Cobb County, there are just two road graders and six sand-and-salt trucks for 2,400 miles of road, so our road was not sanded. When it snows we usually wait one day or two until the snow melts. Not this time. On that Monday morning when we woke up the snow was soft and brilliant under a timid sunshine.

I just went outside briefly to take a few photographs.

Click on collage to enlarge, then click on each picture to biggify

The next day, Tuesday, there were some passing snow flurries. All schools and many or most businesses were closed too. The schools stayed closed the whole week. No mail. At Atlanta's airport, the world's busiest, nearly 2,000 flights were canceled for two days and many the next day . The newspaper said that around the metro Atlanta area hundreds of jackknifed tractor trailers littered the highways and hundreds of vehicles had been abandoned on the roads. This created monumental traffic jams. Some truckers were on the Atlanta highways, without moving, from Monday morning till Tuesday night or even later.

(photos courtesy the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Removing the snow cost the state of Georgia $2 million a day – the budget has been exhausted now and we are just starting the New Year. Some ice on the road in front of our house did melt but large patches of road stayed encased with thick, slippery sheets of ice – still there on Friday night.. All the black areas on the pictures below have iced over.

On Tuesday we bundled up in warm clothes (although I could not find a hat or gloves) and walked behind our barn and down the hill to our neighbor’s lake. It was chilly, around 29 F (-1½ C) which is quite cold for us since our average daytime temperature in January is 50 F (10 C.) There was no sun. A sheet of ice covered a large area of the lake.

The little stream though was not frozen and looked pretty with the snow on its banks.

We walked back to the main road and then a few hundred yards down past the two old barns. I took many pictures of these old barns, until my hands were frozen. The following days (on Wednesday and Thursday) we walked again on the same route and I took more pictures of the barns. I have 40 pictures of the barns and it is hard to decide which ones to show. I’ll assemble a small mosaic and you can click on it, then again on each photo to enlarge it.

Click on collage to enlarge, then click on each picture to biggify

Then we walked another 100 yards or so to the farm. It is a couple of houses past ours. Again I took many pictures of the field. The first day the snow was soft and a couple of cows were out. We left when it started to snow again. The snow is visible on the picture below showing Lost Mountain in the background (bottom right.)

We went back home, had a nice cup of tea, then I tried to take some pictures of all the birds coming to our bird feeders. As soon as I came near the window they flew away so I used the telephoto on my Sony camera. The pictures are not very sharp but you can still make out the birds. Apart from the cardinals, blue jays, doves, I am not sure what kind of birds they were.

We placed black tubes on the feeder posts which are supposed to prevent the squirrels from jumping on the feeders, but they still do. They scatter the seeds all over the ground to the delight of the little sparrows. I knocked on the window to scare the squirrel. He looked at me then turned his back to me while his mate was busy picking up the seeds on the ground.

There are a couple of pretty yellow birds coming all the time to our feeders and I finally found out that they are called “Pine Warblers.”

About those pretty birds below – they also come to snack at my bird restaurant every day, do you know their names?

This little bird with a red top on its head is in the garden all year long. I saw a picture of a “Flicker” on the web but its beak was much longer.

There is a large gray woodpecker that comes often; he is as large as a dove. The little fellow below comes also all the time. He has a lovely striped pattern on its back and a bright red head. I wonder if he is a “small” woodpecker.

It’s easier for me to take a picture of our stationary “bird” sitting on the window sill. A little bird came out of the snow to take a look at him.

On Thursday we went to see if the ice on the lake had melted. It had – just a little. The resident ducks were gingerly walking on the ice, sometimes falling in.

On Friday we managed to get the car down the driveway even though it was very slippery. We drove to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, not far from our home. We tried to walk on the road going to the top of the mountain but it was treacherous – ski poles were helpful for walking as this intrepid hiker demonstrates.

A heavy glaze of ice had hardened on the surface of the snow – it was ¼ to ½ inch thick. You could walk on top of it, it was just like an ice skating rink – your footstep would not even dent it.

We just walked a few hundred yards to the monument and turned back.

The snow looked very shiny, just like whipped cream with a heavy ice glaze on top. The footsteps made earlier in the soft snow were still there but even my husband in his big boots could not now pierce the surface of this snow.

I had never seen snow frosted with a glassy coating like this before. I tried to take photos to show this glossy effect – trees and shadows glistening on the snow. The Inuit people from the Arctic have at least 67 words to describe “snow.” I wished we had a dozen or so as this snow was not your plain everyday snow – certainly not in the Deep South.

This New Year snow gave us a week of beauty. The snow blanketing our landscape was enchanting and peaceful. For people who live with snow most of the winter this might not be such an event, but for us in Georgia, it was a fairy land.


With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

W. S. Merwin, American Poet born in 1927
2010 United States Poet Laureate


Pondside said...

What beautiful shots you have here. I love the bits of red against the snow - the barns and birds are so vivid. I can't help you with the birds - there is something flicker-like about one of them, but it is smaller than our Great Northern Flickers.

claude said...

Hello Vagabonde !
Ta troisième photo ferait une belle carte de Noël.
Je repasse ce tantôt pour tout voir et tout lire.

marciamayo said...

Thanks for reminding the beauty of it all. I am, however, so happy to have my car keys in hand once again.

Lonicera said...

A lovely selection of pictures, I so enjoyed looking at them. Of the panel with the sheds in the woods - I love that sort of situation when you're presented with a view and you can't make up your mind what works best, so you try everything. Composition wise I think the two on the bottom row work best - the middle one and the one on the right. Also colour wise, because you have a splash of blue in one and the monochrome with the other.
Your unusual weather patterns are resonating all over the world I think - the UK too has had crazy snowfalls with people stuck in their cars, then the floods in Australia and Brazil... What are we doing to the planet?

Jojo said...

Yesterday someone at work told me that there's an old wives tale that says "when the snow stays on the ground for more than 3 days, there's more to come." It has been so beautiful but I can't help thinking of all the working folks who don't get paid when they don't work and it makes me sad for them. My husband used to own a small cafe and it was so hard on us when snow days same along. I guess we were a bit like the little bird looking for food and water. . . .

Angie said...

The black/rust/white bird is a Towhee. Lucky girl!! My sister has a pair of Towhees that feed in her yard. the one precious little bird with the longer beak and his tail stuck up in the air on the suet feeder is a Carolina Wren. They are adorable. You have some of the smaller woodpeckers in there too, but when it comes to the Red-bellied, Downey, Hairy, etc. I get them confused. :) Do you have a bird book?

I'm amazed at the snow and ice. You captured that 'glaze' perfectly! I'm just slightly northeast of Knoxville, and I watched the snow falling on Atlanta on the TV.

Hope you are beginning to thaw out today. Our road has been impassable until yesterday and still has patches of ice.

Take care. Angie

DJan said...

The little black and white bird with a bit of red on the top is, I believe, a downy woodpecker, and the big-as-a-dove guy is definitely a flicker of some sort. I love the collection of bird pictures, VB, and I just am amazed at that much snow in Georgia, and for such a long time. Thank you so much for taking the time to gather your pictures in your usual elegant fashion and share them, now I can understand why the airport was closed: what a lot of snow in the Deep South!

sweffling said...

Again, a lovely post. I left a late comment for you at the bottom of your Christmas (again) post about photos of the Armenian Church in Paris which I visited in December.
Unfortunately I cannot help you with most US birds but I am so pleased to see someone else who goes to the trouble of feeding the birds when the weather is so tough on them. We had this kind of ice cover on our snow last winter and then it snowed again on top, so walking either on the glaze or the new snow was impossible since your foot went through to the ice underneath. Grown men were having to cross roads on their hands and knees. It was indeed no joke and many of us were housebound and went stir crazy. But it looks absolutely spell-binding of course!! The hospitals were full of broken bones including their own staff who tried to get in to work.

English Rider said...

Snow was well worth documenting. Great photos. I loved all the birds. The glossy snow looks like beaten egg whites with sugar for meringue making.

Ruth said...

You know how I love winter, but it is a very different thing in Michigan. We are prepared. Eight snowplows in all of Atlanta! That is astonishing, to have to face such a monumental task of clearing the snow. I so appreciate your documentation of this. The abandoned cars! That alone is just awful. There is something so special about a red barn in snow. The photos with the glossy ice are perfect to capture that. I used to love it when this happened when I was little. Once my three brothers and I (they are older) made an ice fort with ice like this. We used the tips of our mittened fingers to carve out ice "stones" and we piled them into an igloo fortress. We put a plank on the top for a ceiling, and then we added more ice bricks on top. It was wonderful for a child's day of play.

I like that you have included W.S. Merwin's beautiful poem. And it makes me smile that he lives in Hawaii. :) Both because he doubtless has no snow, and because of another reason that you know ...

Kay Dennison said...

Wow!!! Your photos, as always, are magnificent. My thought, as an Ohioan, was how in the heck did people who aren't used to winter driving manage? I'm used to it but I still avoid it like the plague.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so glad that you are enjoying the snow. I have had enough. It has been on the ground here since early December, and is not likely to leave any time soon. You are living like a true northerner. We rarely wear hats or gloves, or even boots, no matter how much snow or cold there is.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Your pictures reflect the Fairland quality of this Atlanta Snow....NEAUTIFUL, in every way, yet, I would not want to be in it or the cold that comes with it! But it sure looks Beautiful in all of your pictures!

OldLady Of The Hills said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vicki Lane said...

Beautiful snow pictures! About your birds: i is a male Rufous-sided towhee (the female would be brown where he is black), 2 is a Carolina wren, 3 is a nuthatch, 4 is a Tufted titmouse. The smaller redcapped bird is either a downy or a hairy woodpecker and I think the larger might be a red-bellied woodpecker.

Jeanie said...

Last week I went to Nashville for a conference, and many of the people scheduled to attend couldn't (or arrived late) because so many planes go through Atlanta and of course the flight situation was dreadful. I can see why -- but what a miraculous gift of beauty you discovered! Here in the north, we're used to snow. When I was in Nashville, I saw so many "snowpeople" -- and creative ones, too. It is as though we are blase about it -- but in the south it is truly a treat. So savor it while you can! Your photos -- especially the birds -- are stunning.

✿France✿ said...

KIKOU oui moi toi tu as de superbes oiseaux. QUEL plaisir que de regarder tes photos. Elles sont magnifiques BRAVO. >Tu sais plus trop de soleil ici mais j'en ai assez profité
J'adore tes oiseaux tu sais.

Reader Wil said...

Merci de cette belle promenade dans la neige . J'aime la neige! Vos photos sont excellentes!
Il faut faire une course de traineau.

Ginnie said...

Do I dare say that I hate missing this winter in Atlanta! (sigh) There actually was one year when Atlanta had a huge blizzard...1993?...and I really remember that. But nothing else like what you and daughter Amy have described. You've lived there long enough to know. 25 years for me. It really is unbelievable. I'm so glad I have all these images from you to 'prove' it!

Darlene said...

You should publish a book of your fantastic photography. You have a good eye, good subjects and a good camera(s). Kudos !!

We had a similar snow storm in Tucson on Christmas Day the year my daughter was married. That was about 23 years ago. It can snow in the most unexpected places.

We have never had a snow like that since and I can imagine how surprising it must have been for those living in Atlanta.

It's beautiful until it turns to slush, but I hope we never have another snow storm in Tucson. I am a sun worshiper.

PeterParis said...

Wouldn't it be nice if the snow could just fall on the forests and fields ... and avoid the cities and the highways! You prove it by your pictures! :-)

Margaret said...

Just want to let you know that I have been trying to carve out time to read your blog post (I always need at least 10 minutes because I like to enjoy and savor it) but I am in the middle of Vickie Lane's 3rd book and I couldn't put it down last night! I will get to it tonight... I love, love the last photo- I'd love to paint it. Soft earth tones - with a bit of rust. Would you mind?

Vagabonde said...

Margaret Bednar - You are welcome to paint the dove that landed on our bird feeder. If you do, I hope you will show it to me. I know what you mean about Vicki’s books – you can’t put them down - you want to know what happens next and at the same time you wish the book never would never end.

Vagabonde said...

Pondside, marciamayo, Kay Dennison, alwaysinthebackrow, Lady of the Hills, Jeanie and Peter - thank you for your comments. It is always such a joy to read y’all – it makes my posts worthwhile.

Jojo - I hope there will be no more snow for the reason you gave – so many people losing wages, also children having to make up school days instead of getting time off during nicer weather. Thanks for stopping by.

Angie – welcome to my blog. Thanks for the birds ID – I have to make a note of it. We do have bird books, but there are so many birds with almost identical beaks, colors, etc., it is hard to figure out. I saw some pretty birds on your blog too.

Lonicera - You are absolutely right. Those extreme weather patterns are what we mean about climate change, and we are guilty of doing the changing. Thanks for the comment.

DJan – our snow is not as pretty as the snow you see on your mountains, but I was tickled to have it so thick in our yard. I always enjoy your comments.

Sweffling – I did go and look at the Armenian Cathedral in Paris on your blog and enjoyed reading your Paris posts. The weather has been hard on many people, and now the terrible flood in Australia.

English Rider – beaten egg whites for a meringue was the exact term for the snow we had – I wish it would have tasted as good!

Ruth – I can see you in an igloo fortress made of snow bricks – something to remember and you did. Your landscape in Michigan is always so beautiful, summer and winter.

Vicki Lane – you are so knowledgeable – a real woman from the woods – you know your birds, and mine… I’ll print their pictures and write their names so I’ll remember them. Thanks so much for taking the time to teach me, I appreciate it very much.

Ginnie – I remember the blizzard of 1993! I was in Greenville with trainees and had to bring them back to Atlanta. Once there I could not get back home for almost two days. All the hotels were full, many trees down, it was terrible.

Darlene – a snow storm in Tucson! That is certainly unusual. Thank you for you kind words.

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Un p'tit coucou à toi Vagabonde !!!! MERCI POUR TOUTES CES BELLES PHOTOS !!! :o) Bon mardi !!! ***

Miss_Yves said...

Cette quantité de neige -et ces photos sont impressionnantes... très belles, aussi.
A propos d'oiseaux, j'ai vu un très beau film russe où des passereaux jouent un grand rôle, "le dernier voyage de Tanya"

Miss_Yves said...

Merveilleuses , ces mosaïques de photos d'oiseaux

lorilaire said...

Incroyable cette neige brillante et lisse, je n'ai jamais vu ça !
On croirait un glaçage d'éclair ou d'un mille-feuilles !
Chez-nous après un mois de décembre très hivernal, nous avons eu un temps très doux pour un mois de janvier, mais l'hiver n'a pas dit son dernier mot !!
Bisous de Normandie

Mary Bergfeld said...

How very beautiful. You've captured a fairy land to share with us. I can almost here the sirens call of the ice queen. I'm so glad you came to visit today. I hope you stop by often. I'll reserve a spot for you at the table. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Marguerite said...

Wow, that is a lot of snow for Atlanta! Looks like New England, but of course they are prepared for it. For as much of a problem as the snow created, it is beautiful and your photos are spectacular! I love the barn collage and the bird pics and the poem is lovely! Sending you a warm front and hoping that you thaw out soon. Stay warm, cher!

Olga said...

You are so passionate about what you are photographing. I love what you see and how you see it.

bowsprite said...

how beautiful! that glassy snow looks like our mighty river when it is cold and frigid! your birds are so beautiful! happy 2011 chére Vagabonde!

Roger Gauthier said...

OK, that seems to be the real stuff all right, right colour and all... this is a series of impressive photos all right!

Of course, there is not much snow but then this is Atlanta, not Québec city! Here the winter is slowly picking up, a couple of cm of snow each day... not much but then it adds up you know? We're supposed to have a really good one in a couple of days... at last! Because what is a winter without feet and feet of snow, I ask you?

Roger From The Cold

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

This winter has been so unusual. I can't get over how much snow there has been everywhere. You captured it beautifully.

✿France✿ said...

tu vas bien ?
Je viens juste te dire bonjour et je te souhaite une belle journée.
PSsi tu as trop de neige tu penses à moi

Deborah said...

Vagabonde, even as accustomed to snow as I am, I have never seen anything like the glossy effect you photographed so well. Like ER, I think it looks like unbaked meringue!

We in Canada tend to snicker at reports of relatively minor amounts of snow creating such havoc, but what you had was quite awful in terms of ice. The worst is when the temperature hovers around freezing - just enough to melt a bit during the day and turning to treacherous ice at night.
Without the equipment to handle the snow, you're at the mercy of the weather - and not only is it not fun, it's somtimes deadly. But it's terrific that you went out and explored despite the cold and snow and gave us this lovely post. The bird photo at the very last is particularly good - the perfect way to end things.

Vagabonde said...

Claude, France, Reader Wil, Nancy, Miss Yves et Lorilaire - Je vous remercie bien d’être passées sur mon blog. Et merci aussi pour vos commentaires sympathiques. J’espère que votre temps est au soleil et que vous n’avez pas de neige. Amicalement, VB

Vagabonde said...

Mary, Marguerite, Olga, Bowsprite and My Carolina Kitchen – Thank you for coming by my blog and leaving kind comments. Our snow has melted now and we saw the sun the last two days. I am so glad you enjoyed this post.

Roger Gauthier – thank you for stopping by. Je sais qu’au Canada notre neige ici serait comme de la poudre de riz! J’aime bien lire tes commentaires toujours pleins d’humour.

Deborah – You are right – when people are not used to this type of weather it is indeed deadly. I read about an old man in Atlanta who went outside his house to get his newspaper. He did not see that the snow had turned to ice and fell. He hit his head and died. The snow is so beautiful and can be cruel too. Thanks for stopping by.

Unknown said...

The snow looks really beautiful on the trees but I'm sure glad I wasn't there in Atlanta. :)

Dutchbaby said...

I can't imagine what it would be like if it snowed like that here in Palo Alto. I'm not sure that the Bay Area has even wight snow plows. Your photos are beautiful; I especially like seeing the visitors at your feeders. The only one I could positively identify was the nuthatch, but someone else already told you that. I use the Peterson Guide for Western Birds; I think they make an Eastern version. It's good for beginners because it's so well organized.

I hope the snow's all melted by now and that everything's back to normal now.

Vagabonde said...

Dutchbaby – yes the snow is gone now – but we may get some more. My daughter in Nashville told me there was 2 inches already this evening. Stay warm in Palo Alto.

Tim – welcome to my blog. You say you were happy not to be in Atlanta because of the snow. I see that you live in Pennsylvania. Do you know the last time I saw that much snow? That was when we lived in Ardmore, PA, when my husband was attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I could barely stir the VW bug we had then. Please come back and visit anytime.

Jeruen said...

I heard of that snowfall, since I have a friend who at that time was visiting his family in Huntsville, Alabama, and the weather was pretty much the same. I am freezing here right now in Buffalo, but I am not sure which one is better, living in a city that is paralyzed when snow hits but only every now and then, or living in a city that knows how to deal with snow but it's pretty much a common occurrence.

swenglishexpat said...

I see what you mean about the snow, but in the garden it looks beautiful. Also very interesting to see birds that I know from Europe, but look just that little different, mostly in their colouring. I am also a bird feeder so I understand your fascination with them.

Elaine said...

Beautiful post on your winter storm! I especially like the photos with your ducks walking on the water. Ice and snow can definitely create problems in areas that are not used to them. We have had a mild winter here and the jetstream has carried the arctic weather far to the south.

Barb said...

I can only imagine the excitement of snow in Atlanta! Your photos show its beauty but I know that your area is not prepared for it. In Breckenridge, we have snow about 9-10 months of the year - sometimes even in July and Aug at high altitude. However, I've never been "snowed in." The town and county do a good job with the plows.

✿France✿ said...

je viens te dire bonsoir ici ce soir car j'ai si chaud et un peu de neige me fait du bien elles sont très belles tes photos et il y en avait tant
car ici c'est si rare mais ça tu le sais déjà
Je t'embrasse fort

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