Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It was a lot of snow but nowhere near a record

After the freezing rain, I had to scrape our deck window just to see out.

Top one-day snowfalls in Rochester:

1. March 18, 2005, 19.8 inches - see this blog post and this one

This was the event that got me started on blogging. I was at home all day and played around with starting a blog. I blogged the above post about the storm and was amazed to find that an editor who had his own blog at the Post Bulletin commented on my blog that same day. It was eye-opening to me to think that you could communicate whatever you wanted and the world could see it immediately.

2. January 22, 1982, 15.4 inches - We can't remember this one. Amy wasn't born yet. We lived in the apartment in N Rochester at the time

3. April 26, 1988, 13 inches - I was in Ft Lauderdale for an IV evangelism project when this happened. Nancy remembered walking on big drifts and thinks she shoveled it herself (pre-shoulder problems). I remember calling home in 90° weather and wishing I could help her out.

4. March 10, 1956. 10.8 inches

5. Nov. 25, 1952, 10.6 inches

6. (tie) Nov. 10, 2006, 10.5 inches - see this blog post

6. March 13, 1997, 10.5 inches - We don't remember this one either.

8. Dec. 25, 1955, 10.3 inches

9. March 22, 1952, 10.2 inches

10. Nov. 18, 1957, 9.7 inches

It was a lot of snow but nowhere near a record

2/28/2007 8:36:44 AM

By Mike Klein

The Post-Bulletin

The 12.8 inches of snow Rochester received this weekend was a back-breaker for those who had to shovel their driveways and sidewalks.

But it wasn't nearly a record. The 7.6 inches on Sunday and 3.4 inches on Saturday didn't even come close to breaking into the highest one-day snowfall for the area.

The highest one-day snowfall amount was just about two years ago, with 19.8 inches on March 18, 2005, which was a Friday.

The second highest was 15.4 inches on Jan. 22, 1982, and it made quite a mark on the area.

That hellacious Friday storm brought the area to a stop. Nearly all businesses closed Friday, including Mayo Clinic and IBM. Even the city postal carriers stopped delivering.

Snowfall alternated with freezing rain all day Friday, making the roads extremely slippery. It turned into snowfall in the evening, and just kept falling until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Winds gusted from 25 to 40 mph on Saturday, so that blowing and drifting snow reduced visibility to zero.

The previous two winters, snowfall was far short of normal, but the storm more than made up for it. In the days after the 1982 storm, many hardware stores sold out of snow shovels.

The huge amount of snow caused problems the rest of the winter, narrowing some four-lane streets to two lanes and some two-lane streets to a single lane. A few weeks later, the city's Public Services Department reported it was receiving about 15 calls a day complaining about narrow streets.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An interesting bird, feeder and bird food

Last Friday, just before the snowstorm, I went over to a friends house in Rochester. He has had an interesting bird all year. Carolina Wren are typically found from southern Iowa on south. Warm winters have brought a few around our area from time to time. He played a tape, it responded with its very loud call and it flew in. What was interesting was the feeder on his deck. As you can see from the photos, it is a box with plexiglass on both sides and a hole on each end. Also interesting is that he feeds them (and any other bird that can fit through the hole) live mealworms. The feeder keeps out the squirrels and larger species of birds. The Carolina Wrens (he has 2 of them) will sit in there for a long time snarfing down the bird candy!

Monday, February 26, 2007

My NW MN Birding trip

I am only now getting to write about my bird trip to NW MN last weekend. I went with what turned out to be 14 others from the Rochester area (a couple were from near Mankato and one from Prior Lake). We left Saturday morning (Feb 17th) arriving at Roseau by 9 PM. We birded (yes it is a verb) from the car or short walks into areas near the roads that day. I saw many northern specialty birds I hadn't seen for years: 100's of Common Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak, Common Ravens, Northern Hawk Owls, Short-eared Owls, Ruffed Grouse and Snow Buntings. That first day I also my first life bird for the trip: a Boreal Chickadee (kind of like a scruffy, brownish cousin of a Black-capped). Two other birds I saw that day were new for me in Minnesota: Sharp-tailed Grouse (seen in ND), and Black-billed Magpie (seen in Colorado).

On Sunday, it was -15° in the morning but it warmed to +17° by mid-afternoon. In the morning I actually saw a Robin in Warroad along with a rare Varied Thrush and a dozen White-winged Crossbills. Most of the rest of the morning and afternoon was spent in a very remote part of the area. We hiked in the Beltrami Island State Forest to a small logger's cabin. In the winter, we could drive to within 1 1/2 miles of it because the loggers build temporary roads through the frozen bogs. (In the summer it would be a 4 mile hike through thick spruce forest to get there). We hiked into a place called Gustafson's Camp SNA and then through some more very remote areas inhabited by wolves (only saw signs of them). The cabin was a small one room building with a stove. While here we ate our bag lunches, warmed up and hiked around the woods. I saw a few more northern specialties here including more Boreal Chickadees, Black-backed Woodpeckers, Rough-legged Hawks, many more Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks and very tame Gray Jays. At one point, I had one feeding out of my hand. The owner of the cabin was with us. He is a retired man from IL who loves this area comes back often.

Later, after we hiked back out, we did a little more birding around Baudette and I saw my second life bird of the trip: a Hoary Redpoll. This is an arctic bird that is very rare in MN. That evening we headed back stay overnight in Bemidji. On the way, we found 2 Snowy Owls hunting out in open country and a Great Gray Owl as night was falling.

Monday, we woke up at 5:30 AM to 24°, a heat wave! We tried for a rare bird called Spruce Grouse without success. However, we were successful at finding another rare bird that was my third lifer for the trip: an American Three-toed Woodpecker. This bird is usually only found in deep spruce tamarack bogs and is usually only seen in areas where a lot of trees are dying. We were lucky to find one just a couple hundred yards away from a road. Other new birds seen on Monday were: Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Trumpeter Swan (in open water near Bemidji) and Bohemian Waxwings.

On our way home, we stopped south of the Twin Cities, near Coates to see a rare arctic Gyrfalcon that has been hunting the thousand of ducks. Check out these videos of this bird.

Gyrfalcon hunting
Gyrfalcon perched
American Three-toed Woodpecker
MOU Video Page

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pictures from a visit last weekend

Our friends (Jingbo, Zheng, Aaron, Ellen) from New York came to visit us last weekend. Jingbo was interviewing for a doctor position and a possible move back to Minnesota in the next year. They had their daughter, Ellen, baptized on Saturday night at St. Michael's. It was so much fun to see all of them again and, for many of us, to meet Ellen for the first time. Here are some pictures from the weekend.