Monday, March 8, 2010
Patience – Spring Will Come Some Day
Snow and ice continues to melt and break up in the lower elevations leading up to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountains themselves remain locked in winter’s icy grasp with melting involved in a much slower process. The higher elevations where temperatures are significantly lower, received more snow than below in the valleys. That snow was then pushed and sculpted by high winds to produce drifts that stood in excess of seven feet in depth at many locations. Limited daily radiant sunlight then started to melt on the surface of the drifts on those few clear days that allowed the rays to peak through. That melting then refroze turning the snow drifts into ice bergs blocking roads.
These conditions will take longer to disappear as spring approaches. The now rock solid ice cannot be plowed with equipment. As a park ranger I remember using a heavy sledge hammer in attempts to break ice that had formed across the road surfaces from water seeping from springs and melting snows. This was ineffective and normally resulted in the road remaining impassable and my back being sore.
The slopes and aspect of mountain sides and road cuts also contribute to the slowing of thawing and melting. That legendary location “where the sun don’t shine” can be found all along the Blue Ridge Parkway. These constantly shaded areas are always the last to warm up enough to melt.
So even if you have a beautiful day at your house, do not be surprised if you visit the Blue Ridge Parkway and find sections still closed to traffic. The road may not be safe for vehicle travel until there are several days of warm rain that will help break up the stubborn ice.
The reward for our patience promises to be a delayed but spectacular spring. Trees, shrubs, and wildflowers of the Southern Appalachians are being well watered by the slow melting of natures white carpet.