Winter weather awareness? Thanks, but no thanks

A press release that came in last week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration alerted me that this week, Oct. 5-9, had been designated “Winter Weather Awareness Week in Montana.”

The second sentence of the press release read:

“Each year, winter storms claim lives and cause millions of dollars in damage nationwide,” said Tom Frieders, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Billings NWS office. “Winter Weather Awarness Week is that annual reminder that now is the time to prepare yourself, your home and your vehicle for the winter ahead.”

It went to describe how deaths and injuries often resulted from cold-weather exposure and auto accidents, and how livestock were smitten by the hand of winter. There were warnings about avalanches, carbon monoxide poisoning and structures collapsing under burdens of heavy snow.

Meanwhile, we were still enjoying one of the finest streaks of early-fall weather in the history of Montana, a frostless stretch of unusually warm weather and even some ridiculously hot weather. But no one complains about the heat this time of year. We just soak it in and hope it will last.

So my inclination was not merely to not publish the press release, but to proclaim “Appreciation of the Exceptionally Clement Fall Weather Week,” and to banish all thoughts of winter as long as possible.

To encourage that mindset, I took a camera with me everywhere I went for a few days, trying to capture the beauty of our extended summery autumn.

I was still gathering photos when events showed that the weather guys were on the right track. There were snowstorms near Butte last weekend and a couple of very rainy days elsewhere in Montana. But then it turned glorious again and I got a few more photos, and I’m still inclined not to surrender to gloomy thoughts of winter just yet, however advisable that may be.

So I hope the photos above will help you appreciate how blessed we’ve been, and help you remember this magnificent fall when winter unmistakably arrives.

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