Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Second Winter Of The Year

10 days to go.

I wasn't sure what sort of weather to expect in May - it can be pretty variable. As I mentioned before, we have seen 11 degrees and 36 degrees - on consecutive days! But I did not expect, as I did this morning while walking the 18 kms from Quillan to Puivert, to be wishing I had brought my gloves with me. It was 4 degrees, but with a very strong wind and its accompanying chill factor

It snowed heavily all day yesterday, and lay thick upon the ground. On the Sault Plateau, only a few kilometres away but much higher, the conditions must have been much worse, which is probably why our electricity was off for 7 hours. This morning in Quillan we saw snowploughs fuelling up to head that way again.

Here, fortunately, it rained during the night and washed much of the snow away. But my walk this morning, down familiar tracks, was a bit of an eye-opener. I have never seen the tracks so wet. They resembled what they call in New Zealand "braided rivers". At one ford I cross regularly, over an intermittent stream, where I have never seen more than a trickle, there was a raging torrent. I had to grit my teeth and wade across, knowing that my shoes and socks would be sodden for the rest of the walk.

The local papers this morning are full of stories about the weather and the "return to winter". Record low temperatures for May were recorded in Carcassonne. also in Carcassonne this is the first time in 50 years that there has been snow in May, although I suspect that here, much closer to the huge Pyrenees mountain chain, there has been May snow much more recently than that.

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