Monday, February 26, 2007

Web Poll Feb 26

Cool, rainy and possibly snowy during the coming week. This morning, though, we are enjoying partly sunny skies (In the winter, I much prefer that phrase to "partly cloudy skies").

(Picture from our house in Hood River looking at Underwood Mt across the River in WA)

A new web poll this week regarding political leanings, suggested by Rick H. I myself am sitting on the fence at "neutral". In fiscal areas I am pretty conservative, and in social areas and foreign affairs more liberal. Currently it sort of balances out to neutral. Unfortunately, both major political parties aren't all that different anymore and neither of them are particularly fiscally responsible or seemingly even capable of dealing with long term issues that don't appear to require urgent immediate action but actually really do. Like climate change, energy policies, budget deficits, health care reform, social security and medicare funding...

I think it's human nature to allow big, slowly developing problems to just kinda sort themselves out, especially if the immediate choices are painful, difficult, or involve sacrifices. It's easier to put them off. Unfortunately, we might not be very happy with the future results of putting things off.

Regarding past web site polls, I am somewhat relieved that 88% of site viewers are either happy with the HR Weather Site layout, or have no opinion. I do plan on creating a more state of the art site design at some point. "After retirement" sounds like a reasonable plan. (See? It's only human nature, or least mine, to procrastinate...)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Snow In Town

It's been snowing at the mid and upper valley elevations off and on for a couple of days now, but this morning it's snowing all the way down to Hood River city levels. Nice big fat wet flakes, since the temperature is a little above freezing (33 degrees at 9 am).

2 inches on the ground so far at our house, about 1 mile south of Wal-Mart.

It's predicted to turn to rain later today, but forecasts for the Hood River area often underestimate snow events and amounts.

Feel free to post your snowfall amounts in comments below.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mountain Locator Units

This week's poll question asks whether Mt Hood climbers should be required to carry Mountain Locator Units (MLU). The Oregon legislature is considering a law requiring that climbers planning on going over 10,000 feet be required to carry a MLU. Mt Hood is 11,249 feet high, give or take.

My personal opinion? I think MLU's should be required. They can be rented, and are inexpensive. I understand that some climbers feel that an MLU takes the thrill out of the climb, but a mountain rescue (or body recovery) takes a lot of the thrill out of the climb also. Not to mention the cost of the rescue effort and the risks to the rescuers.

Any comments on this issue?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Temp Record Part 2

We broke not one, but two "high low" temperature records in the past 2 days. On Feb 16, the old record was 47, and we set a new "warmest low" record of 48 degrees. Yesterday, Feb 17, the old record was 45, and we broke that record with a low of 46.

And to top off this warm spell, yesterday the high temp tied the record of 62 for the date.

I should note that the most official station of Hood River climate data and records is the OSU Mid-Columbia Ag Research and Extension Center. However, their published data is usually about a week behind. I'm not sure why. It's always struck me as odd that Hood River doesn't have an official NWS reporting station. For now, for up to date information, your choices are the Hood River Weather site, or the IPM site (only the Agrimet sites there are current).

Our station is located about 4 miles from the MCAREC station, so we probably don't differ by all that much.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Temp Record Part 1

For the most part, we know when local daily high or low temperature records have been broken, and new records set. It's either extremely hot or extremely cold at the time, and it usually makes the news or newspaper. However, there are a couple of other daily temperature records that get very little recognition.

Those are the Low Maximums and the High Minimums, or, as I like to call them, the low highs and the high lows.

For yesterday's date, Feb 15, the record high low temperature is 45. We had a low of 44, one degree away from matching the record. Today, Feb 16, the record high low is 47, and so far this morning the temp has only dropped to 48. So, assuming the temperature for the rest of the day stays above 47, we've set a new high low record for this date. Cool stuff. No, make that "warm" stuff... anyway, this is quite a contrast to what the folks in the Northeast are dealing with currently.

Many thanks to Gary Boggs, local soaring enthusiast and instructor, for pointing out these lesser known temperature records.

So... high low, high low, it's off to work we... sorry, never mind.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Surf's Up

The westerly winds returned in force this afternoon. The high gust at our weather station so far today has been 28 mph, but I would estimate winds on the Columbia River to be closer to 40. Driving home from work in The Dalles, the whitecaps in the Rowena Corridor stretch were awesome, looking to be about 3 feet high. A preview of winds to come.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Nice Day

A very nice day indeed. Sunny and 57 degrees, only 4 degrees away from the record high of 61 degrees in 1971. I had the day off from work, so I spent some time outside working on house and garden things. Spring is coming. Life is good.

The web poll this week is regarding the Hood River Weather site, and your thoughts on the layout. I've thought for a while that it is perhaps becoming a little stale, outdated, and definitely not "Web 2.0" style. But, on the other hand, so what. I still like the concept of having all the weather info on one page. Scrolling is good exercise (or so I rationalize).

I've also considered having two sites, one the current style, one a more up to date style. Viewers could choose between the two. But, that would involve some time and work on my part, not to mention venturing into web site design areas that I am clueless about. So, I'm curious as to what you like about the site, and what you don't.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Rain, Finally

Rain has returned after a month's hiatus. Not much (less than 1/2 inch in the past 3 days), but a nice change. Computer models are predicting occasional light showers over the next week. Or maybe not. There doesn't seem to be any big rain events in the near future. A typical El Nino pattern continues, superimposed on whatever other natural climate cycles are happening. And don't get me started again about global warming...

Monday, February 5, 2007

Web Site Poll

No rain yet, but the computer models are leaning more and more towards a rainy pattern starting sometime this week. We need some precipitation. The big rain year surplus built up by November's record rains has been steadily eroded by the scarcity of rain since early January.

I've been doing this blog for about a month. I wasn't sure about a blog initially, but I've found that writing one is strangely enjoyable. I'm now wondering if anybody else finds this blog the least bit enjoyable, interesting, or useful. To help find out, this week's poll question at the Hood River Weather site asks if you have visited this blog and whether you will visit it in the future.

The polls have been fun to do, and I appreciate all the suggestions viewers have sent. One drawback of the polls is the limited scope of the answer choices. One potential advantage of this blog is that you can elaborate here on your poll answers if you so desire. So, feel free to comment here on this or any other poll. Comments don't necessary have to relate to any particular post that I make.

In addition, if anyone would like to be able to create actual posts here in addition to commenting, let me know. I'm open to multiple authors as long as posts are at least vaguely related to Hood River or weather. Or perhaps other stuff. How's that for open?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

It Used to Be Colder

Westerly winds this morning! We haven't had west winds for over a week. Luckily, there hasn't been much of an fog inversion layer for the past couple of days, and it has been mostly sunny and cool.

Speaking of cool, today marks the 57th anniversary of the coldest temperature in Hood River's official records. On Feb 3rd 1950, the low temp dropped to -21 degrees. Granted, the temperature has almost certainly been colder than that, since official records only go back to 1928. It was probably colder, say, in the last ice age, perhaps around the time of the Missoula Floods, which did a lot towards carving out the Columbia River Gorge as we know it today. There was an excellent PBS special a while back on the subject. Awesome stuff.

And speaking of awesome stuff, the IPCC's report on upcoming climate change has been released. There is now official international scientific agreement that:

  • Increased levels of greenhouse gases in a planet's atmosphere tend to increase temperatures (duh).
  • By rapidly releasing the geologic store of carbon (fossil fuels that took millions of years to accumulate) into the atmosphere over a relatively short time period (100 years or so now), humans have been directly responsible for most of the increase in greenhouse gases.
  • If we want to do anything about this, we best be taking global action pretty soon.

My personal opinion is that, given human nature (and my own skeptical nature):
  • Our species has a poor record of working together on issues of global magnitude.
  • Our global economy (and our spectacular growth in population, infrastructure, and technology over the past 100 years) has been possible mostly due to the era of inexpensive fossil fuels, which is now drawing to a close.
  • Since the biggest step in reducing fossil fuel use is to actually use less of it, and since that could severely impact the global economy's "need to continually grow", it seems unlikely that meaningful change is going to happen in a timely fashion. Such change is more likely to happen if fossil fuel prices stay high or go higher, but then again... the economy...
But I could be wrong. Maybe mankind will undertake substantial changes rapidly enough. And even though the science is pretty clear on the warming effect of increasing greenhouse gases, we don't know for sure the impact of all the positive and negative feedback mechanisms in the biosphere, and probably won't know until they happen. Not to mention climate tipping points.

In any event, if it were me (which it is), I wouldn't own or buy land less than 50 feet above sea level, and I would try my best to think globally and act locally. For better or worse, we are all in this together. We are indeed living in very interesting times.