Mild Air, Frozen Ground

Heading back to Colorado this morning, I left Columbia under clear, cold skies; the temperature was 26 degrees F.  Before long, I encountered a warm air mass pushing in from the southwest, displacing the Arctic chill that enveloped the Heartland over the past week.

Indeed, by the time I reached Kansas, the temperature had risen into the 40s, eventually peaking near 60 degrees in eastern Colorado.  Though I traveled under clear blue skies and the wind farm turbines whirled in a mild, southwest breeze, the ground remained frozen; with the exception of the Missouri River, which was clogged with ice flows, and a few of the larger lakes, all other rivers, streams and ponds were frozen solid.  Snow banks, coated with dust, lined the north side of the Interstate, from central Kansas into eastern Colorado, seemingly unaffected by the low January sun.  Fortunately, the warm air mass was dry (flowing in from the Desert Southwest) and fog did not form above the cold ground.

Cattle lounged in the hayfields, clearly relishing the mild conditions, and a few wildlife sightings were of special interest on this mild winter day; a bald eagle soared above the icy Missouri, a dozen trumpeter swans joined Canada geese and wintering ducks on an open lake east of Kansas City, a flock of greater white-fronted geese wavered above cropfields near Wakeeney, Kansas, and large herds of pronghorn browsed the grasslands of the Palmer Divide, north of Limon, Colorado.