The perils of microclimates.

Dan StaleyJanuary 30, 2011

So by now we all know that Arctic air is plunging from Canada and has its sights set on points further south.

I was out in the yard making sure all was secure for the coming cold and looked down in a couple spots that are easily one zone higher than the rest of the yard and danged if there weren't crocuses coming up. I wished them luck and encouraged them to turn around and snuggle in for a while...

Dan

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Oh, Dan! My snow crocus on the one side of the yard were already showing above the mulch by the beginning of December! I wish it were possible for them to turn around and snuggle for a while, but it looks like that ain't gonna happen! They're now TWO INCHES above the mulch! I worried about them at first, but there's really nothing I can do but watch---so I'm watching! No buds yet that I can find, and that's kind of interesting, because "normally" the flowers are usually starting to open as the foliage is starting to appear! I'm assuming they're still gonna bloom--at some point--but all bets seem to be off this year.

Within the last couple weeks the snow crocus on the opposite side of the yard have put in an appearance, AND I now have daffodils above the mulch, at varying heights up to 2", on both sides of the yard. And if I push back the mulch a little bit, the hyacinths are even up already! A couple of them are just thru the mulch, but I pushed a little bit more over them. Oh, and I just discovered that my "regular" crocus are barely pushing thru the top of the mulch too! Don't have tulips, so that's pretty much all of my spring bulbs! Spring bulbs can take a lot of really, really cold temps, so I'm not too worried about the foliage, but who knows when they might try to bloom this year! And I really am starting to wonder if the snow crocus will bloom at all this year since they're sending up so much foliage without buds---not that I'd want them to bloom now with the 0 temps we're supposed to be getting.

I've been kind of trying to figure out myself how much of what is and is not coming up is being affected by my microclimates, but, by now, I have so many things coming up in so many places that I think it may be more the effect of our Hot Winter this year! I even have buds above the mulch on my Aruncus, goat's beard, and if I dig just below the surface on a couple of my hostas, the new shoots are right there! Those things are right against the back side/north side of my house, and that is definitely NOT a warm microclimate! No sun at all at this time of the year! Even with the extreme cold temps we're expecting in the next few days, I'm not worried about them at the stage they're in right now, but if we get more extended warm spells and they start to actually leaf out, then it's gonna be a big time problem! Hosta, of all things!

The next couple months are gonna be interesting,
Skybird

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 1:47PM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

No tulips or daffs up yet here, but the crocus and grape hyacinths are up above the leaf mulch. I think we're going to have a lot of damage when/if we get our big March and April snows.
I'm most worried about my apple and cherry trees. They are still dormant but this weather may prompt an early bloom. I'll have to get over it, there's nothing I can do about it if the blossoms freeze. It's just that I finally got a decent apple crop last year and have my first living cherry trees after several tries.
That's a worry for a few months from now.
Lets hope the coming cold is a sign of a few months of winter.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 6:15PM
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Dan Staley

I was at the Denver Zoo yesterday and both me and the BH were concerned at how many trees had swollen buds. And driving home from quaffing a couple brews with gjcore, I noticed several new pines undergoing drought stress. This oughta push them over. Hopefully it'll kill a few MPB down here too.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 7:46PM
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Dan Staley

Just saw this on the Denver CWA Forecast discussion (all caps not mine): FXUS65 KBOU 302208
AFDBOU

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DENVER/BOULDER CO
308 PM MST SUN JAN 30 2011

...

.LONG TERM...NORTHEAST AND NORTH CENTRAL COLORADO FULLY UNDER THE
INFLUENCE OF A DEEP BITTERLY COLD ARCTIC AIRMASS BY MONDAY EVENING.
700MB TEMP AOA -20C OVER THE DENVER METRO AREA EARLY MONDAY EVENING
WILL CONTINUE ITS DOWNWARD SLIDE OVERNIGHT WITH MODELS INDICATING
700 TEMPS RANGING FROM -25C TO -29C OVER THE I-25 URBAN CORRIDOR BY
TUESDAY MORNING.
HAVEN/T SEEN TEMPERATURES THIS COLD IN SOME TIME. MATTER OF FACT THE LAST TIME WE SAW A MAX TEMP BELOW ZERO AT DENVER WAS BACK IN JANUARY OF 1997 WHEN WE DROPPED TO 1 BELOW. FORECASTING A MAX TEMP OF 2 BELOW ON TUESDAY. THIS IS ALSO 4 DEGS F BELOW THE RECORD LOW MAX FOR THE DATE. TEMPS BOTH SFC AND ALOFT PROGGED TO BOTTOM OUT TUESDAY NIGHT WITH A 700MB TEMP DOWN AROUND -30C. RECORD LOW TEMP OF 18 BELOW AT DENVER TUESDAY NIGHT IN DANGER OF FALLING. NOW THAT/S COLD ANY WAY YOU CUT IT!

Surely our friends up north are laughing at us, but that's cold for here.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 7:55PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Wow, what a drastic temperature change! You guys on the front range will actually be colder than us for the first time all winter. Our low is only supposed to get down to - 7ú, and our highs will make it above zero.

Instead of 50's and 60's, like you guys have had, our temps have been pretty consistently in the 30's for highs and teens for lows, but even that is warmer than what we usually have for January. This has been the driest, mildest winter since I moved to this side of the state.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 10:55PM
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digit(ID/WA)

Posted by dan_staley . . .

Surely our friends up north are laughing at us, but that's cold for here.

No, that looks dang cold to me . . . from this far north. But, maybe it is WY you are thinking of, Dan.

I am laughing a little - out of relief. The Weather Service has already changed our forecast for tomorrow morning. It won't be terribly cold and the lowest it is supposed to go is 4F, Tuesday morning. Two mornings of single digitS' doesn't seem too bad.

But, there is very little snow left in my yard -- It would sure have been nice to see it all go (sniff).

Our subzero weather was mostly back in November.

Steve

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 11:30PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

"NOW THAT/S COLD ANY WAY YOU CUT IT!"

That's the most "conversational" report I ever remember reading on NOAA! I wasn't sure if you were paraphrasing or not, Dan, until I went and read it myself! LOL!

So on Friday it was 75 in my yard, and I was gardening with shorts on! Somehow I suspect it's gonna be a while before that happens again! I hope they're right about the few inches of snow tomorrow, before the SEVERE COLD hits. At least it'll protect the plants from the worst of it---especially the weirded out ones that are coming up a few months too early!

For this end of Denver, they're saying 0 for the high on Tuesday and -16 for the low on Tuesday nite! Brrrrrr!

But everything's relative, and methinks that's not TOO cold! One time, back in the 70's, when I was back home, northwest of Chicago, for a week, it didn't get above 10 BELOW the whole time I was there! The (little) dog was trying to keep all four feet off of the ground when he was let out!!!

Skybird

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 1:27AM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Dan Staley said "I was at the Denver Zoo yesterday and both me and the BH were concerned at how many trees had swollen buds". I've noticed that big time this year. I suppose most trees will survive okay. Maybe someone more experienced than myself can explain the downside of that.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 2:33AM
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mtny(SW MT zn 3)

Winter came and stayed this year in SW Montana no real relief ...yes last week was up in the upper 30's...but not for long. I was out Ice Skating on the missouri river yesterday as the temps began to drop steadily through the afternoon below zeroF by dinner, -8F at present todays high supposed to be -6F tonight forecast says -26F..but the cold isnt forecast to linger....we could use more snow!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 11:10AM
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billie_ladybug(5b)

I'm a little bummed about the cold weather coming in. I have gotten so much accomplished in the last 3 months its unreal, but then again, I suppose I could use the break. Of course, I was not as brave as Skybird, shorts, really?? But I was outside working all day Saturday and got a bunch more off my list. Of course when the list is ever growing, it really does not seem like much of an accomplishment.

I'm here in the Wells Fargo tower, 14th floor, of downtown Colorado Springs. Usually I can see to Ellicott easily, but today I cannot see Union. Heck I'm not sure I can see past Tejon. Anyway, its 10:00 and the snow is not falling here yet. Last report I heard was it would start at 11:00. We will see how close they get it this time.

Billie

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I wasn't actually planning on the shorts when I first went out into the yard that day, Billie! When I first went out I was wearing light weight sweat pants and a flannel shirt over a short sleeve blouse. I lost the flannel shirt about five minutes after I went out, and then I started turning over the last section of the veggie garden that still needed it---in the shade at that time of the day, and a few minutes later I was way too hot and came in for the shorts! If I've ever worn shorts outside for gardening in January before, I sure don't remember when!!!

No shorts today! It's 10 in my backyard right now! I'm still hoping for enough snow cover to provide some protection for the perennials! So far I've had less than an inch, and what's coming down right now is so fine I can hardly see it! No insulation value in what's out there so far!

I have a friend who lives up in Billings, Mtny, so I've been kinda keeping an eye on the weather up there this winter, and from what I've seen on NOAA, looks like it's been a real bear! COLD and LOTS of snow! She has a Harley, and I'm kinda guessin' it hasn't seen the light of day for a while!

My neighbor's silver maple, and the few other deciduous trees I can see from my house are budding already too, Dan. The silver maple, especially, looks like if it were to stay warm for 3 or 4 more weeks, it could start leafing out. With as far along as they are already, I'm wondering if this severe cold is gonna mess with the deciduous trees. Like half the perennials in my yard, they almost look like they're breaking dormancy already---if they ever truly went dormant in the first place this year! I wonder how much tree damage we're gonna see in spring. The only trees I have are two upright junipers and a pine---Austrian pine, I think, maybe, but I don't really know much about trees---have been well watered all winter, so I'm not worried about them.

It's been an interesting winter, as I watch most of the country getting buried under snow, and/or freezing temps---all the way down to Texas and Florida, and we're sitting right here in the middle of it all---WARM! Strange, strange weather this year!

Skybird

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 5:32PM
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Dan Staley

I was counting on more snow falling for insulating the cabbage and spinach hoop. My other one is holding steady at 43F but I'd like some more snow for more insulation...

Unbelieveably, APS cancelled school tomorrow. I was looking forward to walking to school with the kid at -15F and seeing the look on everyone's faces. I'm still going out on the bike.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 6:24PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Dan, I might join you closer to the middle of the day.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 10:54PM
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Dan Staley

I'll dry the clothes Greg.

BTW, OT, but I have peeps in Australia. Surely you have heard about the floods this year in Pakistan (8M homeless, crop failures), Afghanistan (10^5 affected, crop failures), Sri Lanka (1M affected, crop failures), Phillippines (.5 M affected, crop failures) and so on, and besides Pakistan with millions homeless and starving, Australia is next worst affected. A cat 3 storm maybe cat 4 at landfall is bearing down on already-flooded areas:

If you have folks in that part of Australia, keep your eyes open. And this is our future. Teach others how to grow food. That cloud patch in the middle of the continent is the remnants of another cyclone that made landfall a couple days ago. [/fatalist]

Dan

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 11:30PM
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billie_ladybug(5b)

Well, so much for the snow they promised us. I think we might have gotten 1 inch and that is probably overestimating. I know Chicago is getting hammered. I just had a deposition for tomorrow cancel because one of the attorneys is in Chicago and cannot get out.
Otherwise just really cold. They canceled school here too. One of the DJs was talking this morning about how she expected the schools that were older like her kid's, would be closing because they were built in the 60's and the water lines would probably freeze. Our school was built in 1918 and has only had the lines frozen once. What's up with that.
anyway, guess I will be watering this weekend, what a disappointment.

Billie

    Bookmark   February 1, 2011 at 12:46PM
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