February 2014 was my first experience with the weather pattern called the Pineapple Express. So when the recent heavy precipitation in California was attributed to the Pineapple Express, I began to pay attention. I knew from that previous experience that the weather pattern included lots of moisture, wind, and incorrect forecasts for our area. The weather we had certainly lived up to expectations.
One relatively pleasant characteristic of the Pineapple Express is its warm (for winter) temperatures. Since it originates in the Hawaiian Islands, it carries some of the tropical air along with it. That warmth, though, is what enables it to carry lots of moisture. Our forecast was for a little more than eight inches. We got fifteen new inches at least. And while this snow is slightly heavier than our normal mountain powder, it is still lighter than the snow we got in the previous incarnation of the Pineapple Express earlier this year.
The increased moisture content of the snow means it collects differently on the ponies’ coats than our typical mountain powder. Usually the ponies have a coating of snow they can shake off. Pineapple snow, though, melts and then freezes in their coats, leaving them with short icicles hanging on their sides. It’s amazing to me how just a few inches below those icicles, their coats are dry, warm, and soft to the touch.
It sounds like we’re not done with the Pineapple Express yet. The Sierra Nevadas of California are supposed to get another foot, and that storm system is due here in a few days. The ponies are well equipped with good coats for winter. Nonetheless, I enjoy checking on them and letting them express their opinions about the weather!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014
If you enjoy stories like this one, you might also enjoy the books A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies and What an Honor: A Dozen Years with Fell Ponies, available internationally by clicking here.