Two Years Ago Today – Damn, It Was Cold!

My images can be similar to a weather diary and our recent unseasonably warm temperatures made me curious about the weather on this date in previous years so I did some image research. Two years ago today (Dec. 9, 2013) was dramatically different from what it is today. Right now as I type at my computer at 4:44 AM the temperature outside is 44 degrees F. (yes, that’s a lot of 4’s…).


temperature 1395 ron dudley

But on this same date two years ago the morning temperature at Farmington Bay WMA was 56 degrees colder than that at 12 below zero. It was a long-john morning for sure (this photo is soft so I must have been shivering…).



northern harrier 6889 ron dudley

1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

There was lots of snow on the ground so this male Northern Harrier was perched at the top of some vegetation to avoid floundering in the white stuff. Many birds, including the normally elusive harriers, become “stickier” when it’s this cold so he allowed me a closer approach than usual as he turned his dark back to the warming sun.



downy woodpecker 6810 ron dudley

1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 640, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4 tc, 2 twigs removed, not baited, set up or called in

This Downy Woodpecker peered down at me from its icy perch and allowed me a few shots.



wilson's snipe 6953 ron dudley

1/3200, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

The pond at the four-way normally has some open areas even in mid-winter but on this morning it was frozen solid and covered with frost flowers. I composed this image vertically in camera to include both the fluffed up Wilson’s Snipe along the shore and the frost flowers on the pond.



rough-legged Hawk 7036 ron dudley

1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

Rough-legged Hawks are a true arctic species so they’re used to weather conditions like these but this one still seemed a little nonplussed by the cold and snow.

A few days ago it was announced that Salt Lake City has had the warmest fall (September, October and November) on record since they began keeping track of such things in 1874 (see Salt Late Tribune article if you’re interested). And this follows our previous winter which was the warmest and least snowy on record. Scary stuff…

But some are predicting that the El Nino brewing in the Pacific could bring us more snow and rain than usual late this winter and early spring. I sure hope they’re right.


BTW, our forecast high temperature for today is 60 degrees F….


25 comments to Two Years Ago Today – Damn, It Was Cold!

  • As always the photos are great. Would like to know more about the frost flowers. Is that a phenomena similar to the frost that forms out of air on branches? I have the frost forming on the beaches called hoar frost.

      • Ron, thanks for the edumacation. 😀

        I was laying in beds sing my iPad with out my glasses typing and missed my typos. Should have been “I heard the frost forming on branches called hoar frost ”
        12 below zero is COLD.
        My first winter surveying in eastern Washington was unusually cold. In Ellensburg it was getting down to 30 below at night. But it would warm up to 20 below during the day. Our boss was one of the macho guys & said our crew goes out regardless. Of course he sat in the truck most of the time. That is where you could knock the frost of of the sage brush & 5 minutes later the frost would start forming right out of the air. It was a beautiful sight.
        Mom nature is grand.

        Keep up the great work. Hope your daughter is continuing to improve.

  • Pam Skaar

    I don’t think we get Chinooks since we’re so far east. Usually we have strong NW winds with snow at this time. It hit 50 today in Madison, WI. The grass is still green but not growing fast enough to need mowing.

    There have been no roughies reported in the area this year but some snowy owls and redpolls are down from the north.

  • Jean

    Burrr…Too cold for me. All of the pics are great, but I favor the Rough-legged Hawk. Sweet face!

  • How I love these images. Refreshing images. Beautiful one and all.
    We have been setting ‘warmth’ records too. Sigh. I really, really dislike the sweaty season. We are too dry as well.
    Fingers, toes and eyes crossed we all get some relief.

  • Patty Chadwick

    I shiver just looking at these icy images…the roughy looks like its on its way to morphing into a mini Bald Eagle, its head and tail turning white…

  • Jane Shipp

    We’re having a Chinook here in Beaverhead County, Montana, also. I enjoy it for a few days, because it will change soon. The only downside is the strong wind, gusts of 30-50 mph. Nothing stays still through the lens with that degree of blowing. 🙂

  • Susan Stone

    Even at 8 AM we’re colder than you were earlier. We’re at 37º right now. Maybe it’s an altitude issue, since we’re at 4,000 feet? This is a beautiful series of photos. I really miss having Downy Woodpeckers around – they’re always fun. But our Ladderbacks are pretty neat birds, too. There is something weird going on with the weather this year. Our rainy season, which should be July and August, lasted well into November, though I don’t know that we got a greater total rainfall. I hope you do get what you need to start refilling the Great Salt Lake.

  • Ed MacKerrow

    Beautiful birds in the crisp air. 44 degrees is nuts. I’ll I can to that is “Chill out Salt Lake City!” (It is 19 deg F here in Nambe NM and I am heading to get some warm breakfast)

    I wish you cold and snowy weather soon

    • Ed, spent some time at Farmington this morning (despite the clouds and crappy light) and at least it was a little cooler there – 36 degrees. Another day or so of these temps and I suspect all the ice will be gone out there.

  • Laura Culley

    Outstanding photos…again! Sometimes I wonder how the birds survive the ultra cold, but they do. Feathers are magical devices, holding in heat far better in their intricacy (and insulating capacity) than anything we humans can create.
    I’ve never experienced temps THAT low, even when I lived in Wyoming. We’re going to enjoy temps in the high 40s today. By the end of the week, they’re forecasting 60s. This time last year, we were socked in with snow, and with below-freezing temps, Jack the Harris’ hawk was grounded for most of the rest of the winter. Despite that I know this is not good overall, I’m enjoying it mightily. We’re going out this afternoon to look for pesky wabbits. Haven’t found any here yet, but we’re searching nearly every day. But voles, mice and shrews BEWARE!

  • Charlotte Norton

    Beautiful shots, in spite of the cold!


  • Judy

    Everything conserving energy when it gets that cold! We’ve had little “winter” so far and it’s 54 this morning in North Central MT. We do need some snowpack for sure! Good pictures and interesting to contrast weather implications. 🙂

    • Wow, Judy – 54 at this time of morning in northern Montana – sounds like a Chinook to me. I remember those Chinooks well from when I lived just east of Glacier Park. And the next day we could get an arctic blast and it might drop to 30 below.

      • Judy

        Yes, always “wind to match” when it’s that warm this time of year. 🙂 Those drops the other way are murder!

  • Zaphir Shamma

    That male Harrier pic…Awesome!!