By Bill Biddle
“The new-born May,
As cradled yet in April’s lap she lay.
Born in yon blaze of orient sky,
Sweet May! Thy radiant form unfold,
Unclose thy blue voluptuous eye,
And wave thy shadowy locks of gold.”
What a panegyric to our Methow May that is before us! Erasmus Darwin of Newark, England, wrote those lines in the late 1700s. Your Weatherwatch observer had never heard of him before this, but he certainly knows how to forecast the month of May. Serviceberry, arrowleaf balsamroot (“sun” flower), and green-gold aspen – the valley explodes with color. The August-like sun and the cool nights make the best use of the moisture from the melted snow. The valley has gone green.
But there was not much green in April in some sections of western North America. Extremes became commonplace. Heavy snow blanketed much of western Montana late in the month. Some locations had 28 inches of snow in 36 hours, a new record for April. In Fairbanks, Alaska, late April had two days with temperatures in the mid-seventies, the warmest ever recorded in April since records began in 1904. Climate change will have many anomalies.
Weatherwatch uses many different sources when it makes its monthly and seasonal weather forecasts. One source that is particularly valuable is Weatherwise, a magazine published six times a year. It is well written, extremely informative, and easily understandable to the layman. The current issue (May/June) has an article entitled “Weather Forecast Uncertainty: The Public’s Perspective.” It is well worth reading, but it is too long to use here. Your observer will encourage the Twisp and Winthrop libraries to subscribe to it. Ask for it when you are there.
The May that we have ahead of us will be a humdinger. Cirrus clouds will frequently give the sunsets and sunrises colors that will dazzle the eye. Cumulus clouds will billow into cauliflower shapes and lend new majesty to snow-capped mountains. Light rain during the first week will be just what the new blooms need. The cool nights will be perfect for cookouts.
Wind, however, will be the bane for much of the month. Daily sun heating of the earth will induce rising air, more air will rush in to displace the rising air – and whoosh! Wind! We will have to live with it.
Light rain during the second week will be welcome, with heavier rain and thunderstorms during the third week.
The fourth week will be an especially windy one, but Sandi Rae at the Fremont Bookstore in Seattle (she reads Weatherwatch regularly) suggested that James Joyce, the Irish poet, would be ideal to lead us out of May.
Winds of May, that dance on the sea,
Dancing a ring-around in glee
From furrow to furrow, while overhead
The foam flies up to be garlanded,
In silvery arches spanning the air,
Saw you my true love anywhere?
For the winds of May!
Love is unhappy when love is away.
June? Stay tuned!