Tag Archives: Ozark winters

First Flood Starts New Year

Every year seems to have its own weather characteristics. Last year had no big floods. This year the first flood has already been here.

Usually it takes six inches of rain to trigger a flood. That has changed and this first flood is the new kind that drops its two inches in a short time, faster than ground already soaked with over an inch the day before could absorb.

Previously a flood would last for several days as there was so much more water. These newer floods rise up quickly and drop almost as fast. They do more damage too.

remnants of first flood
The flood hit before dawn filling the flood plain. By mid afternoon the creek was down but snow was lining the banks. Winter seems to be moving into the Ozarks.

This first flood of the new year left lots of debris around as the water went up into the edges of the pastures. Leaves, branches, sand and gravel line the high water mark.

There is a good point about this storm. It was rain. We cleared bridge and culverts and fence as the air got colder.

Snow arrived that afternoon. The ground melted the snow as it landed for a time, but the temperatures kept falling. Big clumps of flakes piled up an inch. There was no wind.

Strangely each January weather patterns seem to change and set the tone for the coming year. The last few years have been very windy. This year might be calmer in the Ozarks.

first snowfall of the new year
Snowfall is really hard to get a picture of. Flakes are too small. This first snowfall began with huge clumps of flakes falling thickly. Such a snowfall is usually of short duration as this one was. The large clumps gave way to small flakes a few minutes after this picture was taken.

Last year there were no floods. The first flood has arrived. How many more will there be this year?

Some patterns seem to be continuing. Rain comes in downpours. Clouds hang around for days. Winters in the Ozarks continue to be warmer.

I’m sure other parts of the country work differently. One dividing line seems to be the Hwy 44 corridor. Weather is colder north of there. Somewhere south of here is the dividing line for the severe thunderstorms.

The Ozarks does get some of that weather, but much of it misses us in recent years. That is one pattern I don’t want to see change.

Promise of Spring

January thaw came a week or so late this year. That’s fine as long as it gets here with its mild days, a respite in winter that all enjoy. It’s a promise of spring.

The first wildflowers are trying to bloom. Dead nettle was blooming in the garden last month. Corn speedwell had a flower or two open today. These are another promise of spring.

melting ice is a promise of spring
The ice fangs and columns have fallen during January thaw. Some would like this to announce spring. I prefer February to finish out as winter and see the season to a close on time.

I went walking as the day was too nice to spend working. But I did have a chore I had forgotten to do.

For years a yellow honeysuckle has grown over the rocks above the creek. It’s the only one I’ve ever found here until last year.

A yellow honeysuckle grew, bloomed and set seed along the road last summer. I collected four seeds to set out on the hill over the creek near where the one lonely plant grows.

This lovely day those seeds finally got out and planted. I don’t know if any will grow, but one promise of spring is that seeds will grow.

armadillos need a promise of spring with abundant grubs to eat
Many people don’t like these ancient animals. I find them interesting. Armadillos are now regular Ozark residents and often bulldoze through the dry leaves on winter days as they do not hibernate and must find food every day.

The acorns have been getting a head start on spring. Last fall was an acorn bonanza. There are still many on the ground and some have sprouted.

Most of the small sprouts dry up and die. I hate to see this, but it is part of how things work. The woods can’t hold that many oak trees. Even among those acorns that do survive, many young trees will die in a few years as the larger trees block the sun and absorb the water.

sprouting acorns are a promise of spring
The acorns are sprouting. Most will perish. A few will become saplings. Fewer will grow to trees. A couple will become large trees. Each acorn is a bundle of hope and a bundle of food for squirrels, turkeys, deer and more.

One of the problems my fictional Carduans must solve is that of food. Looking at all the acorns on the ground, I began wondering about eating them. Right after lunch this thought wasn’t very serious, mostly curiosity. So I found one still intact and dug out some of the interior nut. Very bitter.

Of course the Indians washed the flour with hot water to leach the tannic acid out and make the flour palatable. And they weren’t spoiled with sweetners. Perhaps I will give acorns another chance this fall and wash the acid out. Fresh nuts washed free of acid might make a big difference.

See more pictures of the Ozark springs in “My Ozark Home.”