A grey start to the year

I don’t believe in omens.  The fact that the new year continues grey, wet and windy may be a sign, but if it is, it’s a sign of global climate change and of shifting ocean currents and the jet stream which mean ‘local’ weather patterns are increasingly different from past decades.

As I write this there are 330 flood warnings or flood alerts in England and Wales affecting every region and another 97 have only been withdrawn in the last 24 hours.  Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast again for overnight and tomorrow.

Climate scientists seem agreed that more extreme weather and more frequent occurrences of it are likely to be the consequence of climate change which some countries, including the global giants, driven by economic rather than environmental imperatives, continue to ignore and fail to act on effectively.

From the macro to the micro.  The effect on me is that as I try to get out in the mountains to regain some of the fitness I had when I returned from Greece in October before I head for Canada in just over a week, the conditions are not the best.  New Year’s Day was the wettest I can remember with standing water where I haven’t seen it before, small streams turned into gushing torrents and footpaths become stream beds.

Sunday and I went up Garn Wen again.  Once more it was grey, wet and windy though it wasn’t raining as heavily and the stream at Coed Ithel was fordable.  Nevertheless I had a good soaking and by the time I returned to the ford the water level was rising..

But perhaps the most noticeable difference was the greyness.  On New Year’s Day the cloud base was about 300 metres rising through the day so that by the end of the afternoon the 425 metre top of Garn Wen was out of the clag*.  On Sunday the cloud base was below 200 metres and didn’t lift at all.  Before I got back down to civilisation it was dark and I was walking by Braille.

Lost in the cloud, a lone tree at about 250 metres

Lost in the cloud, a lone tree at about 250 metres

Standing water everywhere, here on the last section of path onto the open mountain

Standing water everywhere, here on the last section of path onto the open mountain

The top of Garn Wen at 425 metres, no view even of the immediate surrounding area.

The top of Garn Wen at 425 metres, no view even of the immediate surrounding area.

No sign of proper winter weather in prospect around here.   The snow on the tops of the mountains has long gone. Ten day forecast for South East Wales – continuing cloud, rain and temperatures well above freezing.  Long range forecast for Banff – by the time I get there it will be cloudless blue sky with temperatures consistently below freezing.  There is over a metre snow at Lake Louise, around 3 metres at Sunshine.  Now that’s a proper winter!


*NOTE: I use ‘clag’ in the sense of thick, low cloud or mist, not in its alternative meaning of sticky mud.

This entry was posted in Canada, Grey Britain, Hiking, Landscape, Mountains, Pontypool, Wales, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A grey start to the year

  1. phillippa lee says:

    Hi Barry, Happy new year to you. This time last year I was getting ready to go to Calgary. I had been invited to do some courses around food. The weather was cold, but so dry – totally different from home. The last 2 days we were treated to a stay at the posh hotel in Banff – the drive there was adventurous to say the least; driving snow, icy roads and manic drivers. We got there safely and I was taken aback by the sense I was in a Scottish highland scene from a movie. I loved being there and one day would love to do the train journey from Banff to Victoria.In the meantime I have just won a competition to visit the area around Fort William – so will make do with that instead! Happy traveling to you.

  2. BarryH says:

    Hi Phillippa I was in Banff for two weeks last year second half of January before moving on to Whistler. We may well have been there at the same time. Have a good time in Fort William. I passed through many years ago en route for Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Are you likely to go back to Symi and the Dodecanese this year? Best wishes

    • phillippa lee says:

      Hi Barry,
      yes I have booked for 2 weeks from September 10th. I am so looking forward to walking, painting and being in warmish water. I may well be alone so it will be really interesting and good for me just to be… Im thinking of it as a kind of nature retreat.

  3. sarahsquall says:

    I hate that under-the_bed_fluff grey. You’re inspiring for getting out in it….or maybe just mad? Bon voyage for next week. Take care.

  4. BarryH says:

    You might have something there, Sarah. The thought has been crossing my mind that maybe I’m certifiable. Problem is that I can’t just sit in the house, I need to get out into the mountains

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