It's officially winter, where's the cold and snow

Bil Bowden
sunburst tonemapped 1

Why is it, do you think, that the Christmas/New Year's holidays automatically signal winter?  The official start is only December 21, just four days before the opening of gifts, meeting with friends and eating pumpkin pie.

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But somehow, on that day, we expect temperatures to fall like a rock, snow to drift and winds to scream. Not here in York. Not so much.

Now, in the western U.S., and some places in the east, snow starts long before winter's arrival. How can anyone forget 90 inches of snow (yes, 7.5 feet) that suffocated Buffalo last year in November. It was still autumn-- you've gotta love lake effect snow.

It's winter, but it doesn't happen overnight, although some folks--including me-- have come to expect just that. Kind of like crossing the Colorado state line and expecting to run smack into mile-high snow-covered mountains, or Santa finding just the perfect gift. Sometimes, it's not quite what was expected.

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The Pennsylvania State Farm Show begins Friday and folk lore has it that "Farm Show weather" (read-- snowy, frigid, windy) will accompany visitors to the Harrisburg show. Every year. Well, not so much. Again. But it is, after all, January-- cold and/or snowy.

You don't hear anyone griping about awful summer heat on July Fourth. "It's July Fourth weather!" No, it's July and it's supposed to be hot.

It's been a long while-- 10 years-- since the Farm Show was shut down because of snow, although it's had its share of cold. Temperatures sank to six degrees just last year, and zero a year earlier. On nights like this, the cows and horses are thrilled to be inside the farm show, no matter of how many city kids pull on their tails. A farmer friend of mine explains that "Farm Show Weather" doesn't hit often, but when it does, the myth grows another head. As a farmer, he's accustomed to working in weather that would nearly destroy some of us. But he admits he doesn't much care for temperatures in triple digits or single (or below).

January is actually York's coldest month, with average low temperatures hitting 21, and February's 23.

You can see that winter's going to happen. Ice fishermen will get their day. Skaters will carve designs in Pinchot Park's ice. Skiers will wind down the Roundtop Resort hills, all the time cussing out the snowboarders who are scraping snow off the hills. And on the Susquehanna River, kayakers have been known to dip into the chilly water to play along the rocks right up until it's no longer navigable (frozen).

Having fallen into this winter-snow-cold mindset, I wandered down to Lock 12 and Holtwood Dam to see what's still moving.  No boaters, a few seagulls, plenty of water over the dam and down the creeks. No ice. No snow.

C'mon, it's winter! Let's get to it.