WINTER 2006 - part 2: From snow to ice to air to fire to water - An Elementals Special!


New! Fine Art Prints & digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click

Following on from the northerly outbreak of early March came an Easterly, bringing more snow and atrocious conditions on the 11th and 12th, especially over high ground, where big drifts developed. A slow thaw then set in but with slightly milder air coming in over cold ground surfaces, the inevitable happened - sheet ice. A dryer but still chilly spell followed with some nice sunsets - and brush fires - before the Atlantic finally broke through and a major dumping of rain brought flooding to some areas. The final day of March saw my first attempt to photograph the Severn Bore, hampered somewhat by the floodwater, but still quite a sight! So, without further ado.....

Sunday March 12th on the Machynlleth-Llanidloes mountain road. Still very overcast with snow blown from fields and accumulating in any depressions available....

I didn't get much further than this as above the conditions rapidly deteriorated! Snow has blown off the fields straight into the road.... pretty serious quantities in places!

Nice sculptings on this drift!
On the way back down I met a snow-plough and thinking things might therefore be better the following day I resolved to return...

Next day - looks like new snow or something has fallen high up. It turned out to be "or something"!!!.

This is just below the Wynford Vaughan Thomas pulpit at about 470m. The car ahead of me was trying to turn round and I could see it was having problems. Losing traction myself, I backed into a gateway and got out of the jeep. The guy behind me wound down his window to ask what it was like, when a gust of wind caught me and I fell flat on my backside. The ground was covered in a clear layer of water-ice about 2cm thick. He took one look, turned around and fled! Meanwhile I thought to get some images so I struggled across the road, wishing I had crampons to hand....

Drizzle or light rain had obviously been falling onto frozen surfaces and building up ice on everything. I liked the effect on this fence - however standing on sheet-ice in a freezing and gusty force 8-9 wind doesn't make photography easy!

Here's a zoom-in! I was determined to get a better still image so I grabbed a section of ice that had fallen off a fence, fixed it behind my spare wheel and headed carefully home. Once there, I stuck it in the deep-freeze whilst the computer and scanner fired up....

Result! Beats grovelling around on frozen tarmac freezing half to death!

The snow was slow to thaw inland despite milder conditions moving in. This was taken during geological fieldwork at Llangynog on the 14th. Where are the rocks - they're all buried! Made for an entertaining day!

The thaw continued so that by Sunday 19th of March only the larger remnant drifts remained. This was taken close to where I had parked on the icy day - looking across the Dyfi valley to Tarrenhendre late in the afternoon, on my return from the TORRO spring conference, where I'd been reporting on recent extreme rainfalls and flash-floods, neither of which had been obvious features of 2006 so far!

Telephoto a little later - very soft hazy light makes for a pleasant effect!

Very flat landscapes, however, are often found to be the case during easterlies - until right on sunset. This is just above Aberdyfi looking across the estuary towards Borth. I've had better ones from here in the past - but during clear Westerlies!

As the afternoon in question wore on the light improved dramatically as indeed expected. This was taken at Tywyn, from the prom...

...while this one later again, with a weak sun-pillar, was taken from the Tywyn-Aberdyfi road. While taking this image a smell of burning was noticed. Behind me a brownish pall of smoke hung in the air - a brush-fire was ongoing somewhere upwind. I set off to investigate...

...passing a returning fire-engine near Aberdyfi. By the time I found the source for the smoke above Abertafol, it was almost dark but I managed to get this image of the fire burning itself out. During anticyclonic setups in late winter, where dry winds can occur for several days in a row, a controlled burn can easily become an uncontrollable one, although whether that happened here is unknown.

By the end of March very mild conditions and Atlantic fronts had spread eastwards to cover the UK and finally give welcome rain everywhere. Fieldwork in the Llangynog area was resumed despite the at times foul weather. This was taken north of Llanrhaiadr-ym-Mochnant, on the way back from Glyn Ceiriog. I liked the sudden lighting-up of the road after a passing shower....

...while the 240-ft Pistyll Rhaiadr, the highest waterfall in Wales, more than merited the 4-mile detour with the river in spate!

Closer zoom-in to the natural arch through which the river broke many centuries ago. The noise this thing makes is deafening and you need to be careful with your camera due to the clouds of billowing spray!


The following morning I set off at 0430 to do some work at the National Museum, Cardiff - via a Severn Bore intercept! This was my first and the rainy skies as I left, plus the knowledge that the Severn was full of floodwater, did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm!

The very early start was not really necessary as it worked out. I arrived at the Strand at Westbury upon Severn at 0730, nearly 2 hours before the bore was due! While having a sandwiches-and-coffee breakfast, various surfers, from equally various parts of the world, arrived so I had a chat with them and learnt a bit about what's involved.

By 0830 they started getting in the water and, paddling by hand, set off downstream amid whoops and cheers. Obviously part of the "experience", I thought to myself.... Soon, they were mere dots in the water a good mile or so away. Meanwhile fellow enthusiasts Bren Jones and Laura Gilchrist turned up - they were chasing the bore from start to finish!

The Bore duly appeared around the corner, visible in the distance as the thin white streak across the estuary......


.... and slowly approached, as did a faint but growing sound - the roaring of many hundreds of tonnes of water! The surfers were out-of-frame to the R, staying on the outside of the bend where the wave was highest....


...and in a moment it was upon us, sweeping noisily past in several waves. Not bad given how flooded the estuary was! By now the surfers were lesser in number, with various bods hauling themselves up onto the bank...


Quick telephoto of it going past. So many things to try and photograph and so little time! I think this demands several visits to just work out the best strategy for photography.


And so it continued its relentless way up the estuary towards the higher reaches where trees overhang the grassy riverbanks and spectators frequently get a soaking from waves breaking over the banks. In fact, the day before, several cars had to be rescued from a location on the opposite shore upstream from here. After the Bore has passed, the water continues to rise rapidly for a while, and upstream this can mean deep flooding occurs quickly. One to beware of!

So a bit of everything in March 2006 - except for decent convective weather of course!



New! Fine Art Prints & digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click