January Snow in Atlanta

January 9-17, 2011

With a major winter storm moving across the mid section of the country, we saw fine sleet about 7 pm on Sunday, January 9 and went off to watch an hour video. When we looked out after the video, everything was white, and we had 3-4 inches accumulation by the morning of the 10th.

Snow is rare enough in Atlanta that it is always a big event, and we always fine unique things to look at, like the buildup on our birdbath above. The cars were covered, and there were some drifts to more than 6 inches depth.

We spent some time just exploring and poking around in the snow-covered yard and then more-or-less holed up in the house for the rest of the day.

The road was covered, and we had no reason to go out, so we didn't.

It would have taken a good bit of scraping to get the outside cars on the road!

I had filled all the bird feeders in anticipation of this snow, so we pretty well settled in to our warm house and watched the birds. The above is actually a fairly small group of birds at the back feeder compared to what we saw most of the day. I counted 40 birds on all the feeders at one time, which I think was fairly typical. Above there are two cardinals, six northern juncos, a goldfinch and three other house finches. At left a squirrel shares the space with a cardinal and a junco.

There were large flocks, probably 30-40, of the birds at left above, which I take to be Northern Juncoes. At right above may be a Dark-eyed Junco. We only see the juncoes at this time of year.

I liked this fluffed-out goldfinch in a tree outside our window. Goldfinches come in quite a variety, and this one below is not fluffed out as much.

We welcomed back the cardinals in large numbers, and we were pleased because we had not seen them so much lately. Hopefully this put us back on their regular feeding route. They were mostly male, and the females that came stayed on the ground among the seeds.

Our old friends the downy woodpecker, the titmouse and the nuthatch were regular visitors and preferred the suet feeder. The big redhead woodpecker came often, but I never got a good picture of him.

The extreme conditions attracted a flock of sparrows, which we usually don't see at the feeders, and flocks of juncos and finches. The platform feeder worked well for the flocks of small birds and we were pleased to see them.

A few visits from a grosbeak and a handful of doves rounds out our list of bird species for these few days.

Big red paid us a visit on Wednesday.

The titmouse is always one of my favorites for its agility and spirit.

Our winter friends, the juncoes, come in a number of color variations.

We enjoyed the three days at home in the snow without going out, and particularly enjoyed watching all the birds. On the fourth day it was sunny and Rod decided to go to the mailbox in response to a plea to clear your mailbox area for mail delivery. When he got to the downslope of the driveway he realized that he was not going to be able to stand on the wet ice and squatted down, but too late and slipped and slammed his elbow into the concrete, jamming his shoulder. There was no way to stand on the slippery surface, so he just slid the 8 feet or so to the end of the driveway to where the sun had cleared the road so he could stand up.

Rod digging himself across the front yard with the shovel that Brenda had slid to him in the neighbor's driveway.

The dilemma then was that he couldn't get back to the house! The front yard was solid ice with a film of melt on top of it - almost no friction! He climbed halfway up the yard in the steps he had made on Monday, but could get no further since the ice was too hard to break through with his foot. He called Brenda on his cellphone to ask her to throw him a shovel, but the first two attempts hit on sharp edges of the tools and stuck. He sat down and tobogganed back to the road and went around to the neighbor's driveway where Brenda was able to slide him a shovel. He then was able to break through the ice and dig out dinnerplate size chunks to give him places to step, and laboriously stepped himself across the front yard to the front door. Overall, it took almost an hour to get back in the house after this ill-fated trip to the mailbox.

At left is the trail Rod had to dig across the front yard to get back to the house!

One of the interesting things about the slow trip across the frozen front yard was that if he tossed the chunk of ice on the surface with ice down, it immediately began sliding down the yard and he could watch it all the way down to the end of the yard and onto the neighbor's driveway. The speed of the ice chunks going down the slope was surprising - it was like a luge run with no apparent friction.

Day 5

It is extraordinary for snow to last more than two or three days in Atlanta, but the footprint shows that our front yard is still snow-covered. It is also still impassable without my trusty shovel or something to break through the hard ice crust. The temperature has been down in the low 20s at night and for only a couple of brief periods in five days has the temperature risen above freezing.

Day 6

The snow is melting in some places, but not in our front yard! We needed to check on a friend who was having surgery, so we finally gave up waiting for the melt and shoveled our driveway with the assistance of some calcium chloride.

Day 7

As we get ready for church, the outside cars still have snow and the front and back yards are still covered. Fortunately the roads were mostly clear, so we didn't have any trouble driving.

Day 8

Rod finally has to scrape the windshield of the little Toyota since he needs to take it to the shop. Front and back yards still have a lot of snow, but with rain moving in for the afternoon, we finally bid goodbye to the longest snow cover in our recollection in the Atlanta area.



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