Working with Weird Winter Weather

Normally we work around whatever the planet throws at us in winter, whether it’s gale force winds and subzero temperatures or deep piles of snow with a crust of freezing rain on top. But this winter promises to be another one for the records. It’s January, we have no snow, and temperatures have yet to get below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. We are often seeing days above freezing, which has been death to the local snow cover. Overall we have averaged temperatures well above normal with little or no precipitation for the past 3 months. While we are not complaining, still, it seems a bit weird!

So how have we dealt with it? For one thing we can do a lot more cooking with extra sunshine than usual. Where we would normally cook on the woodstove in the late afternoon, preparing meals for suppertime and the following morning’s breakfast (usually oat groats and apples, finished in the “hot-box” cooker), we now find that more food can be cooked using the Zomeworks Sunflash parabolic cooker (outdoors no less) and either the 12-volt electric oven or the Rival, AC-powered, 900-watt electric stovetop. And with January’s extra minutes of sunshine, and its normally clear skies, we often spend entire days using up PV power as we get it.

For instance, a couple of days ago we put breakfast out in the “Flash” cooker, switched the PV divert loads to automatically use extra amps for heating bath water and running the refrigerator, did e-mails and web stuff all morning, listened to the radio and watched TV during the daytime, then cooked buckwheat dough to make wraps for supper, cooked falafel dough (that had been soaked overnight) into patties, and skillet-cooked the rolled-out buckwheat wraps. We also ran PV power to the electric tractor and used its on-board inverter to run the chainsaw that bucked up a big stack of elm and boxelder logs. Still, the house batteries ended the day full of energy, ready to burn power using lights and TV at night.

And since the weather is so nice it has meant more outdoor walks rather than indoor workouts on the machines in our porch. Seeing some scenery sure beats standing in place! As I write this Larisa is getting a head start on pruning the fruit trees for next year. Normally this would not happen until February or March, slipping and sliding around on snow and ice. It’s much safer setting up a ladder when it doesn’t travel beneath you!

We recently discovered a website that gives weather forecasts for specific locations a year in advance. Yes, you read correctly.  You sign up using your postal code, city, or latitude and longitude. The site forecasts high and low temperature trends (along with sunrise times, sunsets, moonrises, and moonsets) on monthly graphs for the following year. And it gives 10-day forecasts on precipitation, dew point, winds, etc. That’s a lot of data for free! And it really helps with planning an upcoming event. If you pay them money you can do what many organizations do; use the service to get a reported 76% accurate weather forecast for any day in the upcoming year. What has it shown us? We may not see any subzero temperatures at all this winter. Very odd indeed!

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