Bob Spiwak Monkey MazamaBy Bob Spiwak

Here it is Jan. 20. The inversion continues with morning fog that produces a shimmering layer of hoarfrost on the bare trees. Later, as the temperature increases, the tiny crystals fall like micro snow. And that is the nearest thing to real snow we can expect for the coming week, according to the forecast.

Thursday (Jan. 23), the North Cascades Basecamp will have the regular soup and lecture evening. This week’s speaker will be Alexis Billings, who has been in the valley studying the language of Steller’s jays. Soup line commences at 5:30 p.m. and the lecture at 6 p.m. The soup costs $8 for a single, $15 for two. Billings has been here for a couple of weeks now, among other stops, where she has equipment that creates jay calls as well as recording them.

I won’t belabor this, but my back is still giving fits and it’s difficult to sit in any one place for more than a few minutes before Peter Pain (remember him?) makes himself known. I mention this because I have rarely been to the SLIME gathering for almost a month, during which time a lot of nothing has occurred in Mazama to report on.

Throughout the valley and especially from visitors arriving with powder ski snow in their dreams is the plaintive question: “Where is the snow?” Followed by, “can you remember a year like this with no snow in January?”

I’m glad you asked that question. While on a walking tour of my work environment I came across a small pile of journals, day-at-a-glance type books, that go back beyond the late 1990s. There are also journals where information was kept in a simple lined notebook, but these are hiding. Anyhow, I have endeavored to bring back those thrilling days of yesteryear by doing some research on what things were like during the days ending up to Jan. 20. Temperatures given were at wake-up time, a variable.

• Year 2000: 14 inches of snow fell from Jan. 18-20. Temperatures ranged from minus 2.4 on Jan.19 to 18.7 on Jan. 20. In 1999, 11 inches of snow fell on Jan. 18 and 19.

• 2001: almost a carbon copy of what is happening now — no snow, temperatures in the 20s.

• 2002: 4.5-inch snowfall on Jan. 20. Low of 6.3.

• 2003: 5 below on Jan. 19; 10 inches of snow fell on Jan. 22.

• 2004: No snow, temperatures in the 30s.

• 2005: Minus 15.8 degrees on Jan. 14.

• 2008: No snow, temperature range 12.2 to 14.

• 2009: Half an inch of snow on Jan. 25.

However, don’t give up hope. Sometime soon I’ll examine the February and March numbers, which to my memory have produced the deepest snowfalls.