Monday, January 29, 2007

Inversion Aversion

It's baaaaack.... We've been lucky for a week or so, with mostly clear skies or broken clouds overhead. The typical winter inversion fog layer that settles in when high pressure forms over the Pacific NW has been mercifully slow to develop this time around.

Unfortunately, the inversion layer is quite well developed today, and the majority of computer models indicate little change for at least a week and perhaps longer. It's a good time to head west (the Oregon Coast is usually sunny during inversions here), or up in elevation (Mt Hood skiing is above the fog and sunny), or anywhere tropical.

If you can't get away, you can take some comfort that the days are getting longer and Spring is less than 2 months away. Also, the inversion events typically stop occurring by mid February.

Up until this high pressure ridge set in, this had been an unusually wet and stormy winter for an El Nino pattern. Usually El Nino brings our area decreased rain (and increased media talk of impending drought). This year, due to record rains in November and occasional storms in December and early January, we are well above our average yearly precipitation (measured from Oct 1). In addition, mountain snow packs are plentiful, so we shouldn't be hearing about drought anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Astronomy

Since the weather has settled into a uneventful series of beautifully sunny but cool days, I thought I would post another astronomy picture that is rather stunning.

The newly released picture is from the Cassini mission now orbiting Saturn, and is taken from behind Saturn, looking back towards the Sun. The Sun is blocked (eclipsed) by Saturn, and the rings and colors are astounding, even surreal:

Even more astounding is the small white dot next to one of the outer rings in the left center of the picture (click on the picture for a larger version). That's Earth in the far distance, about 750 million miles from Saturn. A very small speck in the bigger scheme of things.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Comet McNaught

It's not very much of a leap (at least for me) from an interest in weather to an interest in astronomy. Both involve looking up at the sky, and being often amazed and awestruck at what's out there. Here's one of the better views of Comet McNaught, the brightest and most spectacular comet that most of us will ever be able to experience in our lifetime:

And here's more recent pictures taken by the person who first discovered the comet (who, oddly enough, has the same last name as the comet! What are the odds!?)

The comet has swung around the sun and is starting its trip back to the outer regions of our solar system. It is now visible only from the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, the viewing opportunities here in Hood River were few, due to clouds. There were, however, a couple of clear evenings a week ago. Did anyone see the comet?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

News Readers

We are slowly warming out of the deep freeze (the high temp Wednesday reached 32!). Pretty slippery stuff outside as we get daytime melting and re-freezing of surfaces at night.

No one's asked, but if they had, here's how to subscribe to this (or any other) blog or news feed. For those of you familiar with RSS and news readers, you already know this stuff. For others, here's how it works:

Most of us have favorite web sites which we visit on a regular basis, to see if new content has been added. This can be quite time consuming. Now, using free "news feed readers", this search can be automated, and new content on web sites or blogs can be delivered to the user in a condensed form, either through email services (such as FeedBlitz), or web based services such as Google Reader.

The latest versions of web browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox make it easy to add a web site to the list of sites you would like to monitor. If you are using Firefox, look for this icon in the address bar of the site you are on. If it's there, just click on it, choose the reader that you want to use, and you're subscribed.

In Internet Explorer 7, look for the same icon in the toolbars.

Sometimes sites will have the RSS or XML symbol
within the web page, and it works the same way.

There are dozens of reader programs; the choices can be confusing. I have tried several and have settled in on the free Google Reader. Your mileage may vary. Check here for a list of other news readers. Choose a reader, spend a little time figuring out how it works, and I think you'll like the result.

And now, back to the weather. It's still winter, and it's still cold.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Single Digits

Our low temperature this morning was 9 degrees. This was only 3 degrees above the record low for this date set in 1947. Not sure when this arctic air will moderate; looking at the computer models, there's no clear end in sight.

But the good news is: this cold snap should kill off a lot of insect pests. The bad news is: this cold snap is probably a selective force for the survivors.... the stronger, hardier bugs... the ones they make science fiction movies about.... Stay tuned.

Winters in Hood River for the past 15 -20 years have been, on average, warmer than historical averages. For more official Hood River historical weather data, check out Oregon Climate Service data listings for Zone 6, specifically Hood River Experimental Station.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Never Mind

I take back everything I said in the previous post. It's a beautiful day in Hood River (and a weekend day at that!), a little cold, but sunny. Enjoy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Beyond Moderately Cold

OK, so I was a bit optimistic in my previous post to call this a "moderately cold" air mass that was about to settle in over us. This is cold. Very cold. Not as cold as, say, Alaska, but still, quite cold.

This is, however, nowhere near the all time (at least since 1928) record low temp; that was -21 degrees on Feb 3, 1950. And it's not too unusual for a winter here to have a couple of cold snaps down into the single digits. Usually the arctic blast lasts less than a week before moderating.

It's nice to not have the typical fog inversion layer over us currently. The inversion happens here in the winter whenever a ridge of high pressure sets in over the Pacific Northwest. Years ago, they didn't occur all that often, but in recent years they have been noticeably more frequent.

Or perhaps it just seems that way as I get older and more easily bored and sometimes even irritated by DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY of gloomy dark gray depressing skies where the temperature is cold and hardly changes a couple of degrees in 24 hours and we have to hear about how sunny and beautiful it is in Portland and up on Mt Hood above the fog and the whole thing absolutely sucks. But maybe that's just me.

Enjoy the non-inversion days while they last (until the east wind kicks in, probably).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Speaking of Snow

Snow returns today to the Mid-Columbia region, followed by moderately cold arctic air for the next week or so. Feel free to post your local observations here...

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Record Snowfall In 1980

Frank L. reminded me yesterday that this is the 27th anniversary of one of the biggest snowfalls in Hood River's recorded history. In 1980, a massive snowstorm hit the area, setting records in town with 6.5 inches on Jan 8, 47 inches on Jan 9, and 18 inches on Jan 10. Totals were considerably deeper at higher elevations. I was living in Odell at the time and drifts were easily up to 7 feet deep.

If you were here at the time, what were your experiences?

Welcome to the Hood River Weather Blog

Up until a few months ago, I had pretty much dismissed web logs as a glorified form of talking to oneself, since the majority of blogs probably have a readership of 1 (maybe 2) people. Kind of a slightly egotistic (and maybe voyeuristic?) online diary. But a couple of things have changed my mind lately:

First, I'm on the internet often, both at home and at work. Even before the internet, I was a news and information junkie. I get a definite buzz from learning things. The internet has fed and expanded that craving, but how to handle the data overload? How does one sort through all the crap and noise and find the information that one is most interested in? For me, the answer lately has been RSS (or XML). Specifically, RSS Readers, such as Google Reader, that gather information from sites that the user defines (news sites, blogs, etc), and present it in a condensed version daily (or whenever).

Second, I created the Hood River Weather web site as a hobby and a public service 9 years ago, and it has been almost exclusively a one-way conversation. I put content on the site, and viewers look at it. Maybe they find it interesting or useful, maybe they don't. If they return, maybe they come to the site daily, once a week, or less often. Maybe the site contents work ok in their particular browser, maybe not. Other than the occasional email from viewers, I've been working blind. Other than knowing that the site gets 1000 to 2000 hits a day, I've had precious little feedback.

So... I've concluded it's now time for a blog to go along with the web site. Bring on the feedback. Bring on the site suggestions. Bring on the local weather observations at your house. I'll try my best not to babble on endlessly, but no guarantees. As with the web site, I hope you find this useful or at least interesting.