City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

January 24, 2017

January 24th

Filed under: Seasons, Weather — canopus56 @ 10:21 pm

Out of the Refrigerator

5:00 p.m. In the valley, temperatures have risen to the mid thirties during the day and to the mid-to-low twenties at night. The entire canyon remains frosted with wonderful beauty of blasted snow, and although in the canyon, temperatures are lower, deep winter no longer has its grip. It is also warmer here, and the character of newly fallen snow has changed from a light powder to dense, wet mix. This wet snow will dominate during storms from now until spring melts the snow pack. Clearly a vertical line in the snow bank with my foot, this seasonal division appears as layers in the sound. The early sugary snow is a lower layer. Last week after some severe cold, this layer had condensed to where in some places, I could walk on the snow’s surface without breaking through. Then the snow made a crunching noises. Now, this lower layer is covered by a second layer of recent dense wet deposition which separates as noiseless slush. We are out of the “Refrigerator”, the coldest portion of the year (Dec. 28th) where temperatures stay in the low twenties during the day and drops into the single digits overnight.

This change in seasonal climate corresponds to the change in the length of the day. At the winter solstice, there were 9 hours and 15 minutes between civil sunrise to civil sunset, but now the length of daylight has quickly risen to 9 hours and 54 minutes. At this time of year, speed of the advance of the length of day is near its greatest and although this advance will continue, its rate of change will slow. The result is entry into the next February phase of winter. It features overcast weeks of light cold punctuated by days of bright sunshine with crisp air. Even with this change, psychologically, winter weighs heavily on the spirit. People in the City are exhausted from traversing the Refrigerator, and even with the increased daylight, they react more strongly to the cold and overcast light and have long faces.

Being in the canyon each day connects me more to this new slight trend that leads back to spring. But I have been jogging closer to twilight, and as a result, I see fewer people and birds are not active. The now silvery night canyon is nearly empty, and there is a deep healing silence where silence has a sound. I feel it is time to return to jogging during mid-day, when birds and wildlife are out, and the sun warms body and soul.

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on January January 24th, 1858, he sees water skimmers active in the cold weather. On January 24th, 1858, he finds a caterpillar that is two-thirds frozen, but alive and moving in the remaining one-third.

On January 24th, 1979, a man was hospitalized after becoming lost overnight while on a snow-shoe hike from City Creek to Bountiful (Davis Clipper). He survived by building a snow cave (id). On January 24th, 1918, the City Creek night watchman was approached by a naked man, who then disappeared into the darkness (Salt Lake Herald).

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