06 January 2011

Weather, cold and especially wet

We are finally having a real thaw in Saint-Aignan, after about 6 weeks of freezing temperatures and off-and-on snow. December 2010 was the coldest month we've had in the last 8 years, and it was also the wettest month we've had since we starting keeping rain and temperature records at our house in 2004.

The low temperature this morning was in the mid-40s F (8ºC) and the highs over the next few days are supposed to go as high as 12ºC (mid-50s). It's a big change, and we're glad for it. The price for this "tropical heat wave" is rain, which started last night. There's quite a bit of wind too.

The stretch of bad weather started during the last week of November. We had snow then, and it continued for about three weeks, off and on. In December we recorded 13 mornings with temperatures below freezing (as low as –5ºC, which is in the low 20s F), and we had only 9 days when the temperature got up higher than 5ºC (41ºF).

About the only dry place Bertie can find to sit outdoors
these days is on top of a car parked out back.

We have a very temperate climate here in the Loire Valley, but you wouldn't know it if you lived through our December 2010. It was the rainiest month we've ever experienced here in Saint-Aignan. We recorded a total of 133 mm (more than 5 inches) of water in our rain gauge. A lot of days, we had to bring in a rain gauge full of snow and wait for it to melt to see how much precipitation we really got.

Our average monthly precipitation is about 60 mm. In 2010, we more than doubled that in December, and we nearly doubled it in July 2010 too, with 110 mm. (An inch of rain is about 25 mm.) Our drought is over, for sure. The only other months that have ever come close in amount of precipitation were June 2007 and November 2009, both with just 100 mm. In no other month since we started keeping track have we exceeded 100 mm of precipitation.

The ground out in the garden is very squishy, and even the gravel road out through the vineyard feels spongy when you walk on it — unless it's frozen solid, of course, which it was earlier this week. The pond out back has been overflowing for weeks now. The water runs down what is normally a tractor path just out behind our back hedge. It's cutting quite a gully, so that track will need some maintenance next spring.

Or maybe that tractor path will just revert to being a natural watercourse. It depends on the weather.


  1. I feel as though the unusual weather may continue for some years now. (Of course, I could be wrong.) But I think our talents for adapting, and being happy whatever the weather is doing are going to be expanded.

  2. I am always happy when it rains because we need it here in SoCal. I am glad it will be the end of the drought for you.

  3. I remember squishiness like you described growing up in KY. It is quite annoying- I wore rubber boots "wellies" a lot. My poor dad struggled to get his garden out because the soil was too packed.

    On top of that I had a horse for a while and I had to ride her through our back yard which tore up the grass and made for more mud everywhere. We spent a lot of time cleaning our boots off. At least you have that nice area for cleaning yourselves and Callie off before coming upstairs.

    Maybe the weather will improve soon, I hope so!

  4. At the moment there seems to be too much rain everywhere. It is pleasing to hear that the temperature is rising for you. Our daughter was unable to make it home overnight due to floodwaters here in Australia.

  5. The weather here is warming up, too (49 F. expected today) and after the lows earlier this week of 24 F. I'm ready for it.
    Maybe I will even feel like washing my car; it is pretty dirty.

    At least Bertie is out and has found a high spot to relax in and still have a good vantage point!

  6. Hello Ken, We are keeping in touch with your weather conditions and feel a little guilty while sitting in our backyard here in Melbourne enjoying the sunshine. Sue and I know that spring and then summer will visit you again and you'll be in your garden sipping the local wines with friends.
    As Anne says, our Aussie neighbours up north have too much rain.

  7. Even here in Western Australia, after the hottest and driest year ever on record, we have had a few drops of rain. Cause for celebration!


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