March 1, 2004

The Ground Is Back!

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After a weekend of temperatures ranging from upper 40s to low 50s, the ground outside my apartment has regained its ugly brownish cement color, as snow and ice have disappeared. Not only that, but I even got a chance to wear my sandals and make believe Ithaca was completely rid of winter. The grim reality of the matter became clear when I stepped in a big pile of snow, and my feet quickly froze to the sandals. Like when the Groundhog saw his shadow, my frozen feet reminded me that winter in Ithaca doesn’t end until late March or into April. As we go through this week, we’ll see just how real that forecast is. We’ll start out immaculate today, with highs reaching way up into the 50s under beautiful blue skies. Our lows tonight, under clear skies, will be above freezing for the first time in months. And although our temperatures will remain quite warm tomorrow, near 60, rain will threaten and a front will be passing through. To make a long story short, our highs on Thursday aren’t projected to pass 45, and snow is back in the forecast for later in the week. So in conclusion, this weather is just a taste of what is to come in a few weeks. Enjoy it for now, but definitely expect more snow in the near future!

Weather Words

Heliotropic Plants

Some plants exhibit a character known as heliotropism, taken from the Latin root words “helio” for “sun” and “tropos” meaning “to turn.” The daily orientation of these plants actually changes with the position of the sun in the sky. For this reason these plants are called “sun trackers.” Agronomic crops like sunflowers and some species of cotton are heliotropic, facing east to greet the sun in the morning, and west to say goodbye to the setting sun in the evening. It has been estimated that the sunflower receives up to 40 percent more sunlight on its leaves than it would if it were in a fixed orientation all day. Some desert plants exhibit heliotropic behavior but only during the winter months when the daylength is shorter and the sun’s elevation angle is lower.


Archived article by Adam Daum