Snowfall as a Way of Finding Microclimates

Snowfall as a Way of Finding Microclimates

In classic Tennessee fashion, in 24 hours our weather changed from 73 degrees and remarkably windy to torrential downpours that then turned into a heavy, wet snow in the early morning. At our homestead, we had around three inches. I took time to appreciate the beauty of it, then pursued the hassle of clearing it off the solar panels (note to self, cover the array with a tarp next time) and de-icing all of the vehicle doors.

As I walked around surveying the various animal tracks and appreciating the snow’s dampening effect of road noise, I realized how much snowfall and it’s melting pattern revealed various microclimates.

There’s a long, south sloping hillside that is abutted by about 40 feet of treeline. That area remained covered with snow even while other areas had begun to melt off. Even being south facing, those trees kept the area significantly cooler.

The north facing slopes that were fully exposed began to melt quickly and also had a lighter dusting of snow.

Any area that didn’t have grass (or the dozens of plants around here that we collectively call grass) melted immediately. Even the short blades of plants lifting those few inches of snow acts as an air gap.

I could see how the wind had been moving by the way the snow had drifted and collected on the tree trunks.

I’m sure I overlooked plenty. What I described above was just from a ten minute walk. To plenty of folks, these things are noted without much thought, but when it comes to designing systems, they’re significant. At any rate, it’s yet another way of learning the land.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the mid 40s and I’ll have a chance to observe the melt patterns, including which way the water wants to run. I could have done this yesterday during the blustery torrent of precipitation, but that just wasn’t my idea of a good time.

Learning to understand the land is an ongoing process and can be pursued through all seasons.
I aim to find the appeal on even the dreariest of days.

Until next time, be well.