Ineffective Sunshine

As I walked around a suburban lake in Greater Cincinnati this morning, bright sunshine bathed the valley.  Unfortunately, what little warmth is offered by the November sun was wicked away by a strong, cold east wind.

Mallards, domestic ducks and their hybrid offspring dabbled in the shallows where thin ice had developed along the shoreline.  Joining them was a stoic great blue heron and a noisy flock of Canada geese.  Out on the open waters, a large squadron of ring-billed gulls soared and swooped above the lake or rested on its shimmering surface.

Less than a month from the winter solstice, the sun angle is too low to provide much heat, its radiation passing through a broad swath of the Earth's atmosphere.  For the next few months, warm days will only develop when southerly winds bring up mild air from the Gulf Coast or Desert Southwest.  Of course, these southerly winds are generally short lived, developing ahead of Pacific storm systems or Canadian Clippers; in their wake, snowstorms and/or cold, dry air sweep into the Midwest.