Waiting for snow…


What a winter.

By this time last year, we had piled up some impressive stats:

  • at least 7 snow emergencies
  • about 70 inches of snow
  • the biggest collection of curses anywhere, which we flung at the windows each morning when we woke up and it was ($%*) snowing (!^&) again!

Last year’s Great Heap of Snow morphed into a Great Heap of Snowmelt and the Mississippi River thundered over St. Anthony Falls, cresting not once, but twice. At its peak on April 12, 2011, here’s how the river looked from the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis:

St. Anthony Falls, April 2011

This year we’ve had:

  • 0 snow emergencies
  • less than 20 inches of snow
  • very few chances to use our enormous collection of curses

To be sure, we’re piling up stats, but this time it’s for warm temps and drought. Here’s how the river looked yesterday in the late afternoon sun:

St. Anthony Falls, February 27, 2012

A year ago, the river was flowing at about 8,000 cubic feet per second. This year, much less. Yesterday, it dipped mysteriously and suddenly below 2,000 cubic feet per second, but rose again to about 3,000.

Not a lot of water for a river whose name appears on spelling tests around the country, if not the world.

However, low water levels reveal things not usually seen, such as river bottom,

Nameless shallow spot, now an island, downstream from the Stone Arch Bridge

and slightly less natural things as well. This bit of river detritus, captured by an enterprising photographer,

Underwater bicycle (Photo by Antonio Rodriguez)

begs several questions:

  • What on earth?
  • Was the bicycle rider sober?
  • Was the bicycle rider testing some new bicycle-boat physics?
  • Does the bicycle mark the spot? Is there buried treasure beneath the bike?

As I write these words, I’m listening to the blues on KFAI and waiting forlornly for the six or so inches of snow that was predicted for today. It’s sort of raining right now, but maybe we’ll wake up tomorrow to several inches of the real thing.