Winter Comes To The Desert

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

I’ve been busy taking pictures these last few weeks and I have a lot of wildlife photos to post.  Tonight, however, we’ll take a break from birds and animals to show a few landscapes.

Those of you who don’t live here and who visit only occasionally may have the understandable, if false, impression that the Sonoran Desert doesn’t experience any winter weather.  It’s understandable to think that way because our winters are brief, sometimes lasting only a couple of weeks a year, and sometimes they don’t come at all.  Last winter, for example, we had no freezing temperatures.  This December, however, has been different.  For the last 10 days or so we’ve experienced some rather cold weather by our standards, with nighttime lows getting below freezing, and early yesterday it actually snowed.

At the elevation of our home, about 2500 feet, we received less than an inch.  There was more at higher elevations and the summit of Mt. Lemmon, at 9200 feet, experienced more than a foot of snow.  Snow doesn’t happen very often and when I saw it on the ground early yesterday morning I knew that I had to seize the moment and get out with my camera to photograph it.  I headed over to Sabino Canyon and made a number of photos even as the stuff was rapidly melting and evaporating.  At the canyon I met my friend Ned Harris, and the two of us went out in search of photographs.

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We walked up the Esperero Trail, about a mile from the canyon’s visitors’ center to get this view and the next one.  The higher elevations had a fairly thick covering of snow even as only traces remained on the exposed slopes adjacent to the trail.

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It was cold although not bitterly so.  The air temperature was right at freezing when I took these pictures.

Walking back towards the visitors’ center we noticed this Staghorn Cholla with a light covering of snow.

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Of course, nearly all of the snow at our elevation was gone by mid-morning.  As of this afternoon the higher elevations remain covered with snow.  How long that will remain depends on the weather from here forward.  It’s supposed to remain fairly cold over the next week or so.

Tourists and seasonal residents who come here for warm weather may not be too happy with our brief winter.  Speaking personally, I love it.  It’s the perfect antidote for those 110 degree June days.

Photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 16-35 f4 L IS wide angle with polarizing filter, ISO 200, “M” setting, aperture and shutter speeds varied.

2 responses to “Winter Comes To The Desert”

  1. Sue says :

    I love the lighting in the first, but the third is my favorite-it is otherworldly.

  2. Liesl Kii says :

    Beautiful landscapes!

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