Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hey... Who Turned The Lights On?

That would be me. 2 years ago, when I started this blog, I figured it would be cool (or at least consistent) to have the same dark background/neon foreground color scheme as the main weather site. The resulting blog color scheme was certainly consistent, but not very cool as far as readability goes.

Lately I've been feeling like I needed a flashlight to read the white text on the black background. I figured if I was having trouble with it, why would anyone else even bother to suffer through it? So this should reduce the suffering somewhat.

Now, all you have suffer through is the content in here...

BTW, the dark background color scheme for the weather site is remaining the same. For now. So keep your flashlights handy.

Record Snow Depths?

Well I guess so... The 2 week arctic air/snow event (that we are still struggling to pull out of) has apparently shattered Hood River historical snow depth records for at least 11 consecutive days.

According to my reckoning (and a yardstick embedded into the snow on the deck), we surpassed the snow depth records starting 12/18, and that continued through 12/28. At our house, the yardstick maxed out at 31 inches on Christmas Day. Note to self: Think twice about wishing for a White Christmas in the future.

By the way, the deepest officially recorded snow depth for Hood River was 47 inches on Jan 9, 1980.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Transitions

Transition: a passage from one steady state to a new steady state, sometimes disruptively.

We are currently experiencing a weather transition in Hood River, and not a moment too soon. After 2 weeks of arctic air sitting over us and producing prodigious amounts of snowfall, we are transitioning to warmer air. This arctic blast has lasted almost twice as long as is typical here, and has resulted in record amounts of snow pack on the ground in Hood River for the second half of December.

Arctic blasts aren't unusual here; most winters we have at least one. This one stands out in its duration, intensity, and amount of snowfall. Not to mention, icicles. Amazing icicles, extending in some cases from roof top to ground. Icicles that reflect and refract light in dancing patterns and colors. Nature's natural lead crystals. Icicles that potentially can pull gutters down to the ground and create ice dams that leak water into houses. Beauty and destruction, all in one neat package.

Traditionally, we usually transition from an arctic blast with sleet and freezing rain. It looks like we might possibly avoid that this time. Fingers are crossed. And, with this much snow on the ground, fingers are especially crossed that flooding can be avoided in the next week.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Excuses

OK, I've neglected this blog long enough. It's just that I've been a little distracted lately. I have no one to blame but myself. No excuses. But here's my excuses anyway:

For years I'd been looking for ways to make the Hood River Weather site more user-interactive. I really wanted to inform visitors of changes or problems with the site, and compare notes and observations on current weather.

So 2 years ago I started this blog (first posting is here). Interactivity at last! But it turns out that not all that many people read blogs, and even fewer people make comments. So it was mostly just me blabbering on about weather, astronomy/cosmology, gardening, web links that were probably only interesting to me, world events that pissed me off, etc. Even though not many comments came in, the blog turned out to be a fun exercise in writing, which I had enjoyed years ago but stopped doing.

Fast forward to Saturday, Dec 13, 2008. Browsing through some of the local blogs I follow, I scroll down through local photographer Blaine Franger's blog, admiring his excellent photos as always. And then: THERE... IT...IS. A chat program that is a quantum leap better than any chat service I had seen previously! I hauled ass over to Cbox, registered, installed chat windows on this blog and on the main weather site, and sat back, expecting a few comments to come trickling in daily.

This was one day before a huge mass of arctic air arrived in the Pacific Northwest, leading to a series of heavy snow/cold weather events that continues to the present time. A weather geek's weather dream come true. Suddenly, I was up to my neck in site interactivity, and have been a tad bit distracted ever since.

But it's all good. The people making comments are (so far) a relatively well-behaved group, and I'm slowly backing off the feeling that as administrator I have to check it every 15 minutes or so. And during slow weather, if there's only a few or no posts, that's cool with me. At least the channels of communication are open.

So, for kicks, I did a poll on the site, asking if people thought adding the chat window was a good idea:

  • 46% thought it was a good idea (and would probably participate)
  • 30% thought it was a good idea (but probably wouldn't participate)
  • 24% thought I had probably made a terrible, terrible mistake.

I suspect the biggest problem is that it's a potential distraction/tripping point for viewers looking for weather information located farther down the site. So I've come up with some future options for the chat window, which you can vote on here. I'm way open to suggestions. Oh, by the way, for those who are turned off by the chat window, I've put up a non-chat version of the site.

Enough already. I gotta go check the chat window. It's been at least 15 minutes...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wecome To The Arctic

Arctic air, that is. This temporary incursion of arctic air presents a tremendous opportunity to experience living in a place that has really cold winters. But only for a week or so! Perfect!

We had 5 inches of snow Sunday (which may be a local record), a cold inversion Monday, and beautifully clear sunny weather today. High temp today 23, low 9, minimum wind chill 0 (zero). Tomorrow, snow moves back in, along with another big storm this weekend as the arctic air starts to moderate. This is interesting weather, and I like interesting weather.

Fortunately, arctic blasts here rarely last longer than a week. They usually end on a very messy precipitation event, but they usually end in a timely fashon.

And this one had a perfect setup, at least for garden plants: There were (and still are) several inches of snow on the ground before the really cold temperatures set in, giving plants and the soil a comfy insulating blanket.

Here's a zoomed in and very fuzzy view of Mt Adams from the deck this evening. I gotta trim those branches (except that they belong to a neighbor a block away):


I'll have another post shortly regarding my thoughts on the Hood River Weather site's new addition: the live chat window.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Earliest Sunset

Today's sunset in Hood River, at 4:21 pm, is the earliest sunset of the year. Actually, the sun sets at 4:21 each day from now until Dec 14, at which time it starts to set later and later.  Hooray!

This isn't quite the shortest day of the year, which occurs on the Winter Solstice (Dec 21, 2008).

And it certainly isn't the latest sunrise, which is 7:46 am from Dec 28 to Jan 8, at which point the sun starts rising earlier and earlier. Hooray again!

Sunrise and sunset times are dependent on latitude, so these times only apply to locations at Hood River's latitude of 45.7 North. For other locations, check this out.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Warm Morning

This morning's low of 46 was warmer than the previous "high low" record of 44 degrees set in 1938. I'm not sure if that will hold, since cooler temperatures will probably follow this weak storm front after it moves out later today.

No snow at the Oregon ski resorts. Long range forecasts indicate the possibility of arctic air moving in next weekend and perhaps precipitation (snow!) after that. I certainly hope so. 'Tis the season, after all.

A couple of notes about the Hood River Weather site. In the true spirit of Christmas, I've added an affiliate Amazon.com gadget showing the "Deal of the Day" and other deals nearly impossible for any sane person to pass up. But, do feel free to pass them up, regardless of your sanity.

The weather site has not yet made me independently wealthy.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Yahoo ad just below the Amazon ad actually brings in about $100 a year. Not enough to quit my day job, but then the site is more a fun hobby than anything else.

Also, I've added a link to Mark Nelsen's "Fox 12 Weather Blog" in the Weather Links area. I've been following Mark's blog for a while and am impressed with the weather model discussions. Mark also has a personal weather site full of interesting NW weather links.

Just in case you aren't hearing enough holiday music yet, here's my favorite Christmas song. Well, not specifically Christmas, but definitely winter wonderland related. This is the Eurythmics version of the tune:



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November Revisited

Compared to historical averages, November in Hood River was much warmer, with average wind speed and rainfall.

The average temperature was 3.8 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 3.7 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were average, with southerly winds predominating.

The first third of the month was rainy, and the rest of the month not so much, ending 0.21 inches above average.

There were 2 records set in November at the official Hood River Agrimet station. Both occurred on November 12. The rainfall of 1.05" surpassed the previous record of 1.03" (1966), and the low temperature of 53 set a new "high low" for the date (previously 48 degrees in 1999).

The data below is from our home weather station. The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from our own station's 2000 to 2007 data. Note that average wind speeds include all 24 hours of the day and night, which is why they are way lower than daytime peak winds. In addition, the wind speed at our station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 65
28
45.3
41.5

Wind (mph) 36

1.6
1.7

Rainfall (in) 1.21

5.05 (total)
4.84

Monday, December 1, 2008

Warm Spell

After flirting with a chilly, boring inversion event Thanksgiving week, the weather took a turn for the better (as in "warmer") the past few days.

On Saturday, the high temp at our station hit 59 degrees, tying the record high set in 1995.

And today, as a warm storm front moves into Oregon, the temperature has reached 57, surpassing the historic record of 56 degrees (1939).

We've dropped behind normal precipitation amounts for the current rain year. No snow at the ski resorts, either. We can make that up pretty fast, but time's a wasting. I've done my part by changing the top banner at the Hood River Weather site to a snowy wintry theme. That should do it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not a whole lot happening on the HR weather scene lately. High pressure has been diverting storms north and south for the most part, and that will continue for the next week.

We did receive a little more rain (0.18") than expected from today's weak front. Another shot of precipitation might roll in on Thanksgiving, but after that... dry...

I've lived in Hood River 32 years now. For the earlier part of that time, it seemed like it would very often snow here on Thanksgiving. Not so much anymore. But I'm hoping that my saying this will shift the odds towards snow.

And from the "wow, I sure wish I'd seen that" category: Five days ago over Alberta, Canada, a desk-sized meteor plunged into Earth's atmosphere, captured on a police car dash cam:


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Start Wearing Purple

Maybe this, or something similar, has happened to you. You check your email. There's a link in one that looks interesting, so you click it.

Hours later, you find yourself at a web site far far away from where you started.

So yesterday, I glanced at the email that I get monthly from Atom.com: "New Featured Videos". Here's one: "Impersonator does George Bush Exit Interviews". What the heck. It might be funny. I need a laugh, and lame duck presidents are cool, in their own way. Click.

It's an entertaining impersonation of President Bush. But what really caught my eye (and ears) was the short Yahoo ad that proceeded the videos. People in an elevator. One starts singing a very catchy tune. Others join in, fun is had by all, and the commercial ends.

It was a very catchy tune. So I did a Google search on the song, which was "Start Wearing Purple". Click.

Hours later, after much web research and much clicking, I now know more about the Eastern European/New York musical genre called gypsy punk than I ever imagined possible. That certainly wasn't in my plans for the evening, but that's the thing about plans.

The purple part of the song title is up for grabs: is it the color favored by gypsies? Royalty? Gays? Conservatives? Liberals? It's a mystery, along with why Yahoo chose the tune for an ad (except that it's so darn catchy).

I've embedded the video of the song below. It's by the performance group Gogol Bordello. The catchy tune part starts at 30 seconds or so. Please note that there is actually very little wearing of purple. Or anything else, for that matter. Apparently, gypsies have a lot of fun.

And, accordions are involved.




Don't Breathe Advisory

As I rounded the corner from Rowena to The Dalles on my morning commute today, I was apparently teleported to the Los Angeles air basin. Or at least that's what the sky looked like. Visibility appeared to be less than 5 miles, pretty unusual for around here.

The National Weather Service isn't too impressed with the air quality either. An Air Stagnation Advisory is in effect for the Gorge and Eastern Oregon. The advisory expires at noon tomorrow (if we don't expire first), as a Pacific weather system moves in to hopefully stir things up.

But, by all means, keep burning those piles of leaves and brush!

View this morning looking west towards The Dalles

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Ray Of Hope

I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but today the Iraq government has taken encouraging steps towards mandating total US troop withdrawal by 2011. And, the Bush administration is apparently OK with that, after being against timetables for withdrawal. Thanks, Mr President. Being willing to change one's mind when circumstances warrant is a sign of maturity.

I'm pretty sure Rush won't approve of this weak-spined flip-flopping though, but as far as Rush is concerned, Obama is already President and is directly responsible for this recession (depression?) plus every other bad thing in the world. Maybe the entire Universe. At least the heat is off the Clinton administration. Oh wait... the current Obama administration IS the Clinton administration. Funny stuff.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pushing On A String

This weeks Hood River Weather site poll wonders what we should do about the impending bankruptcy of the Not So Big 3 U.S. automakers.

My thoughts? I believe capitalism and a "free market" system (with just enough regulatory oversight to keep companies relatively honest and/or legal) are probably the best fit for human nature. Capitalism allows companies to take risks and either succeed or fail based on product quality, consumer demand, and how well the company is run. It's far from a perfect system, but much better than economic systems where the government runs the companies.

Of course, we've never had a pure capitalistic free market system. There have been and always will be elements of government control and socialism sprinkled into the mix. But lately the sprinkling has turned into a downpour, as banks, insurance companies, and now automakers have been deemed "too big to fail". Unfortunately, as economists have increasingly pointed out, some institutions may prove to be "too big to save".

So where do we draw the line with taxpayer money being used to sustain companies with failing business models? My opinion is: right here, right now, starting with US automakers. Let the bankruptcy system work. Let creative destruction eventually fill the niches with leaner, smarter companies. Yes, thousands, perhaps millions of people will suffer tragic economic hardships, at least temporarily. Yes, facing the music and letting companies fail will deepen the recession. But recessions NEED to happen occasionally to wring the excesses out of the previous economic boom times.

And besides, governmental attempts to avoid recessions are usually about as successful as pushing on a string.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

They Knew...

Yet another post about the ongoing global financial meltdown. Sorry, but this stuff is really fascinating to me. But then, I would find an asteroid striking the Earth really fascinating too.

It's the popular consensus that the main (or at least initial) cause of this financial mess was the collapse of the housing bubble. Blame for the bubble and subsequent bust is being placed everywhere: Clinton, Bush, liberals, conservatives, greedy mortgage lenders, under qualified home buyers, crazy types of loans, government regulators asleep at the wheel. All of which are factors, but this misses the Much Bigger Question, which is:

We've had housing boom/bust cycles before. Never before did they threaten to take down the entire global financial system like this. What's so different this time?

What's so different is what was done with the mortgages after they were sold. Wall Street investment companies (Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, etc) were buying up as many mortgages as they could from banks and mortgage companies so they could repackage the loans into exotic instruments sold all over the world as AAA rated "safe" investments. Banks and mortgage companies were more than happy to quickly unload these increasingly risky mortgages onto someone else. Every step along the way, big commissions were being made. Unfortunately each step took the underlying risk and magnified it, while at the same time making the increasing risk less and less visible.

The result? The entire global financial system became an extremely leveraged house of cards, with risky mortgages forming the foundation.

To shift metaphors a bit, when the first domino fell (foreclosures and the drop in housing prices), Wall Street investment companies were the next domino in line. And there are a whole lot more dominoes starting to fall that were set in place by greed and lack of regulatory oversight. Insurance companies, pensions, entire countries, and much much more. We haven't seen the end of this.

Speaking of the end of this, here's an excellent (but lengthy) personal account of what was going on in Wall Street over the past decade. Titled "The End", it is authored by Michael Lewis, who worked for a while in Wall Street, and earlier wrote the book "Liars Poker".

When Bear Sterns and Lehman collapsed, putting thousands of investment analysts out of work, the photos I saw of them leaving their workplace for the last time seemed rather odd. They were mostly all smiling or at least not looking worried. Strange, for having suddenly just lost a very high paying job. But it turns out that a lot of them saw this coming a long time ago, and some even placed (and collected!) multi-million-dollar bets that the risky financial instruments they had created from mortgages would eventually take down the very companies they worked for. Not to mention, most of the global economy.

They knew. They knew...

(another really fascinating global meltdown scenario)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Record Rain

1.21 inches of rain fell yesterday at our house. The Hood River Agrimet station reports 1.05 inches. The previous record for the date was 1.03" in 1966.

Looks like we'll get a break from precipitation for the next week or so.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Warm Storm

Today was (and still is) a totally fascinating weather day in Hood River. For me, it started at 5 am as I staggered out onto the deck with my first cup of coffee. I had heard the wind howling earlier in the night and figured the broken clouds might provide an excellent view of the full moon. I wasn't disappointed. I attempted to take some pictures of the moon with the clouds swirling past it. No go. Kinda looks like a blurry streetlight. My picture taking skills definitely need some work.

Anyway, we had a peak gust at our house of 36 mph at 6:23 am. That's the second highest gust of the year here, surpassed only by the 37 mph gust on January 17.

This is an unseasonably warm storm. This morning's low of 57 most likely set a record for the "high low" for any Nov 12. The previous record was 48 degrees in 1999. Then, afternoon temperatures warmed up to 65 degrees, tying the record high set in 1990. At my workplace in The Dalles, the high reached a balmy 74 degrees. (Don't ya just love the word "balmy"?)

As I write this (6:05 pm), it's still 60 degrees out, and raining heavily. Regionally, there is some concern about localized flooding, but this early in the season there's not enough snow to melt to cause more severe widespread flooding. It's more a problem with leaves clogging storm drains and water backing up.

I sure do enjoy stormy weather, just short of the point where it starts destroying things.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

October Revisited

Compared to historical averages, October at our weather station was cooler, less windy, and drier.

The average temperature was 0.1 degrees cooler than long term averages, and 1.3 degrees cooler than more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were lower than average, with SW winds predominating.

The month started off with lots of rain, but ended up 0.82 inches below average.

There were no temperature or rainfall records set in October at the official Hood River Agrimet station.

The data below is from our personal weather station. The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the MCAREC Agrimet data. Historical wind average is from our own station's 2000 to 2007 data. It's important to note that average wind speeds include all 24 hours of the day and night, which is why they are way lower than daytime peak winds. In addition, the wind speed at our station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 80
30
51.2
51.3

Wind (mph) 27

1.8
2.4

Rainfall (in) 0.56

1.56 (total)
2.38

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Whew

Thank goodness THAT'S over. I don't know how many more Presidential elections I can take. They're way too polarizing, and way too superficial for my liking.

The final Hood River Weather site poll was Obama 60%, McCain 32%. Nationally, the results were Obama 53%, McCain 46%. In Oregon, Obama 54%, McCain 42%. I don't have the results for Hood River County yet.

Meanwhile, the weather continues on its random walk into late Fall/Winter with lots of rain, some snow in the mountains, and tree leaves falling rapidly all over everything. It's almost as if... as if the Universe somehow goes on its way with very little concern about the political and economic concerns of humans on this tiny rock 93 million miles from an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy in a Universe full of so much more than we can possibly imagine.



Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rhythm of the Rain

November 1, and the rains have returned. October started off wet, but ended up drier than average. Can't complain, cause we've had some great Fall colors, warm sunny days, and some really cool pastel sunrises.

Bring on the rain. We need it. The next 4 months are critical for returning moisture to the soil and adequate snowpack to the mountains.

Every now and again, when it's gray, rainy, and a tad bit melancholy out, I get the song "Rhythm of the Rain" stuck in my head. It's usually the version by the late great Dan Fogelberg, which I can't embed due to copyright, but here's the link.

Looking around YouTube for the video, I was reminded that the song was originally written and performed by the 60's pop group "The Cascades", who are still kicking around in concert and sounding better than ever:



Why they have aged so much while I remain practically untouched by the passing of time is a mystery.

P.S. Good luck getting the song out of your head...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Leverage This

Those pesky Credit Default Swaps (CDS), which have turned a housing boom/bust cycle into a full blown global financial meltdown, are even worse than I thought.

It was 2 years ago, upon reading a lot about Wall Street's and insurance company's invention of CDS's, derivatives, their connection to the housing boom/mortgages, and their potential disastrous consequences, that I decided to move pretty much out of stocks. I was a year early, and missed out on some big gains, but also some big losses. It was one of my luckier market timing moves, and it almost makes up for all my typically terrible stock market timing moves earlier in life. I am VERY SLOWLY moving a little cash back into equities, but today I read this:

Unbelievably, CDS's were also set up to insure the debt of ENTIRE NATIONS.

This is not good. Not good at all. Talk about a domino effect... Goodbye to some insurance companies, goodbye to some sovereign nations' finances. Goodbye totally leveraged global financial house of cards. It was fun while it lasted.

The weather in Hood River, however, continues to be fantastic, fun, and lasting. Perfect for leveraging these warm days, cool nights, and great Fall colors into some great outdoor activities!

Monday, October 13, 2008

September Revisited

Better late than never. I've been a little distracted lately by the impending collapse of the entire global economic system. Now that world governments have stepped in to nationalize the financial system and somehow back the 50+ TRILLION dollars of Credit Default Swaps and the absolutely insane amounts of leverage in the system, all is well again. What was I thinking? I'll try to stay more focused on happy thoughts in the future.

Compared to historical averages, September in Hood River was warmer, less windy, and drier.

The average temperature was 2.2 degrees warmer than long term averages, but 0.2 degrees cooler than more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were considerably lower than average, with SSW winds predominating.

There were no official temperature or rainfall records set in September.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 91
34
62.7
60.5

Wind (mph) 30

2.7
3.5

Rainfall (in) 0.21

0.27 (total)
0.92

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Poll? What Poll?

Sometime yesterday morning the weekly poll on the Hood River Weather site disappeared. Just up and vanished. And it was getting interesting, with Jeff Merkley slightly ahead of Gordon Smith in the Oregon senatorial race, which pretty much reflects the results of other polls.

To create the weekly poll, I've been using a paid poll hosting service. It's pretty inexpensive, and up until now has been quite reliable. Hopefully this is just a short term problem. If the hosting service doesn't re-surface in the next few days, I'll start using a free service (PollDaddy), which is a lot more versatile anyway. It allows multiple choices, comments, and conditional branching, all of which makes for a better polling experience. I haven't switched yet because I still have some months left on the paid service, but this might force the issue earlier.

10/12/08 12:50 Update: Nevermind. The poll is back, 30 minutes after I posted the above rant. Now I just have to come up with a new poll topic...

Busy garden day today... planting garlic, mowing the lawn, harvesting and roasting peppers and pumpkin seeds:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

First Frost

This morning's low of 30 degrees at our weather station and 29 degrees at AGRIMET marked the first official below freezing temperature at the Hood River city elevation this Fall. It's a little earlier than average (Oct 20); once again global warming has failed miserably in extending the growing season here. Maybe next year.

It looks like I was able to temporarily save our very abundant pepper crop last night by covering it with Reemay fabric (from Good News Gardening), which can protect down to 30 degrees. The peppers do appear slightly stunned this morning but not melted, unlike the cucumber and squash plants which were unprotected. The tomatoes were barely nipped, since they are more protected by being up against the south side of the house.

One more cold night tonight, and then temperatures should moderate. The forecasts indicate no rain at least through next weekend.

Mt Adams has a bright shiny new coat of snow, as seen from our house:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Record Rain?

Maybe, maybe not. The previous record rainfall on any October 4th was 0.42 inches (1939).
We received 0.56 inches at our weather station yesterday. At the official Hood River AGRIMET station, the provisional rainfall data shows 0.41 inches. So take your pick (along with all the other weather stations around here).

In any event, it was a good soaking, and lawns that were allowed to go dormant over the summer should be perking up dramatically. Now the trick will be to catch an afternoon when the lawns are dry enough to mow. Especially if you've just fertilized the lawn, like me. It's always something.

This water year is starting off impressively. So far, 5 days into it, we've received 1.10 inches of rain, 0.89 inches above normal.

Speaking of possible records, we can add another record low arctic sea ice to the rapidly growing list of things that just don't seem to be heading in a good direction whatsoever. For mankind, that is. I suspect that the Earth (and especially the Universe) could really care less one way or another. Stay tuned...

This week's Hood River Weather poll wonders whether you will vote for Smith or Merkley for Oregon senator. If nothing else, that race has provided some entertaining negative ads.



Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's A Wrap

September 30th marked the end of the 2008 "water year", which means we're now in the 2009 water year. And, right on schedule, rain is in the forecast for the next couple of days after a fantastic stretch of warm and dry September weather.

So why does the water year begin October 1 instead of Sept, or Nov, or January? Oddly enough, I haven't been able to find a published official reason why, but one obvious reason would be that snowpack is now at its minimum and will start to build from here on out. So, I guess the southern hemisphere would start its water year April 1? Any site visitors from down under that can confirm that?

And I also haven't been able to find out whether if it's an international standard or just up to each locality.

But, at this point, I'm very quickly losing interest in the whole water year subject and just looking forward to some interesting and varied Fall stormy weather.

The 2008 water year was wetter than average in Hood River. The long term yearly average is 30.03 inches. At our weather station, we received 31.51 inches. The official Hood River station at MCAREC recorded 34.98 inches.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Babitz For Mayor

In an era where governmental fiscal responsibility is pretty much an oxymoron, there are some refreshing exceptions. Those exceptions exist largely because state and local laws require balanced budgets. But, as California's annual budgetary contortions demonstrate, there are plenty of ways to hide a deficit. "Kick the can down the road" politics at its best. Or worst.

Realistically, there's not a lot I can do to change global, federal or state fiscal irresponsibility, but I can act locally. And this year's City of Hood River mayoral race provides just such an opportunity.

City Councilman Arthur Babitz has thrown his hat into the mayor's race. After reading the position statements on his blog, he's got my vote. It's refreshing to have a candidate who has a specific, well thought out, and responsible fiscal plan, rather than the usual vague platitudes.

The Hood River Weather site's weekly poll asks how you will vote in this mayoral race. And if you aren't registered to vote in the real world yet, you have until Oct 14th in Oregon.

Now it's outside in the real world to enjoy this fantastic early Fall heat wave!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Indian Summer (Debatably)

The expression Indian Summer might not be all that politically correct anymore, but it sure is a great time of the year. Native Americans can be proud. Besides, what's not to like about a period of warm days and cool nights after the first frost, accelerating the changing colors of the deciduous trees and shrubs?

The debatable part refers to the fact that in Hood River City proper, this beautiful warm spell isn't technically an Indian Summer yet. At our weather station, we hit a low of 35 on Sept 23, and the official MCAREC station dipped to 33. But, temperatures at slightly higher elevations went below 32, and most likely put an end to the tomato, pepper, squash, and cucumber season at those locations. Close enough to an Indian Summer for me.

The average first frost date in Hood River is Oct 20. Last year, it held off until Oct 26. The year before, Oct 10th.

Speaking of debatable, how about that Presidential debate? Since neither candidate screwed up too badly, I suspect each side is convinced that its candidate clearly "won". What is clear is that there is a distinct difference in personality and viewpoints, and how future challenges will be perceived and acted upon.

What is not so clear to me is whether who wins the election will make much of a difference. Fiscal irresponsibility and bad decisions, past and present, have set our country on an economic course that is probably not reversible in time to avoid some historically huge icebergs ahead. And whoever is President over the next 4 years will have their hands tied as to their options.

Like most people, I vote for the candidate whose stand on the issues and approach to problem solving is most aligned with mine. I'm pretty independent; political party affiliation is way down on my list of things to consider, especially since I don't hardly even recognize Republican or Democratic actions anymore. Years ago the Republicans were the more fiscally responsible party (pre-Reagan), but that notion is long gone. Now it's borrow and spend. Or, if you prefer tax and spend, the Democrats will be happy to oblige. But how about "live within one's means"? How quaint of a notion is that?

At this point, I'll probably be voting for Obama. He lives more in the current and future world than McCain. He's younger, more flexible, more open to new data and approaches, not driven by religious dogma, and hopefully not so prone to solving future problems with yesterday's worn out solutions.
Besides, it's time to let someone from a different party other than Republicans fail miserably over the next 4 years.

Good luck to whoever wins this election. They will definitely need it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn

Ahh, Autumn. The autumnal equinox, equal days and nights. The start of Fall here, the start of Spring down under. The sun moves directly over the equator at noon today on its annual path through the seasons from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere.

Of course, it's not the sun doing the actual moving through the seasons; it's Earth sailing smoothly along its elliptical orbit around the sun, tilted just enough to present different hemispheres to the sun at different times of the year.

Speaking of things that are not sailing smoothly along, I am so relieved that the federal government has stepped in to save the faltering world economy with untold trillions of dollars that we don't really have and never will. I was very concerned that Wall Street brokerages, SEC regulators, banks, mortgage companies, and mortgage holders might actually be held responsible for mistakes made. Whew. That was close. Saved by the printing press.

For now. In the long run (maybe not so long of a run), by bankrupting our country, we can kiss our currency goodbye. Thought you had enough money set aside for a secure retirement? Think again. And, if you can, keep working.

Now that I've set a dismal tone for the beginning of Fall, here's an old Edgar Winter song that, although beautifully written and sung, never fails to put me in a vaguely depressed and melancholy state of mind:



Actually, I do love the autumn months. It's a visually stunning time of the year, and the weather is varied and interesting.

And I'm not really depressed. I'm just a little pissed off at the amount of irresponsibility and incompetence that has created this financial mess. And the laissez-faire "everything goes if it benefits businesses" approach of the government didn't help things.

I'll get over it. This too shall pass...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Never Mind

I guess I spoke too soon in the previous post. With the Feds apparently about to step in and cushion the collapse of giant AIG insurance company with taxpayer dollars, all is now good with the stock market. There will probably be a big jump in stocks tomorrow.

So here's the current investing plan: When the Feds appear to be stepping in and helping support otherwise bankrupt companies, the stock market will soar. When the Feds appear to be holding back from such taxpayer support, the stock market will plummet.

This would be really exciting, if it weren't so damn depressing and potentially catastrophic.

There seems to be a fire somewhere up valley from here (here being May and Rand Street); the evening sun is turning orange from the smoke. Haven't seen anything on the news about it yet; hopefully no homes are in danger.

9/17 update: It's apprently the Gnarl Ridge fire on the east flank of Mt Hood, which was started by lightening in early August and has re-emerged.

Harvested some pumpkins this past weekend (mellowed by the currently orange sunlight):

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wall Street Takes A Hit

And not a moment too soon. One of the things I find interesting and try to keep current on is the economic structure of our civilization. I was getting a little tired of the US Federal Government stepping in with their ability to create electronic money out of thin air (more debt) and using it to rescue companies who really should be allowed to go bankrupt due to the companys' poor business decisions. It's called the principle of moral hazard. If you insulate companies and individuals from the consequences of their actions, it's not a good thing.

So today I felt something I haven't felt for a while: a sense of respect for the Feds. They held their ground. They didn't bail out Lehman Brothers. I don't expect that practice to continue, but it felt good today.

And such fiscally responsible actions are the morally right thing to do for future generations. They will be the ones wondering what were we thinking when we saddled them with unpayable mountains of debt that has the potential to destroy our currency through hyperinflation, or crash the economy into deflation. It's happened throughout history with other countries that were fiscally irresponsible, and we are not immune.

So, vote for the most fiscally responsible candidates! (Good luck figuring out who they are).

Enough ranting. Enjoy this wonderful late summer weather.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How Great Is This?

I've held off on posting about how great the weather is lately, since more often than not, whenever I mention how great the weather is lately, it takes a sudden turn for the worse. It's a knack of mine.

But I can't stand it anymore. The weather the past 2 weeks has been absolutely incredibly great. There, I've said it. Let the weather chips fall where they will.

September has always been my favorite weather month in Hood River (closely followed by the other 11 months). Typically warm days, cool nights, and the wind tends to die down in the transition from summer to fall. Not the greatest weather for wind sports enthusiasts, but the wind will return.

Tomorrow marks the full Harvest Moon. Get out there and harvest, or at least celebrate the bounty from those that do plant and harvest. One excellent way to do that is to support locally grown food.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Site Down

Not sure why, but the Hood River Weather site is experiencing intermittent down times this afternoon and evening. Our weather station data is still being uploaded successfully to Weather Underground. Hopefully the problem will resolve sooner than later.

Friday, September 5, 2008

August Revisited

Compared to historical averages, August in Hood River was warmer, less windy, and slightly wetter.

The average temperature was 2.9 degrees warmer than long term averages, but only 0.4 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were considerably lower than average, with southwest winds predominating.

There were 4 local weather records set during the month. On August 6, the high of 102 broke the old record of 98 (1972). On August 16, the high of 106 broke the old record of 100 (1977). On August 17, the high of 107 broke the old record of 104 (1977). And on August 28, the low of 38 broke the old record of 40 (1960).


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 107
38
69.6
66.7

Wind (mph) 32

3.7
4.4

Rainfall (in) 0.21

0.49 (total)
0.39

Monday, September 1, 2008

Goodbye Heat Index, Hello Wind Chill

Seeing as how it's a windy, cool Labor Day weekend, what better time for me to switch the Hood River Weather site from displaying "heat index" to displaying "wind chill". It just feels right. And chillier...

Plus, I do this every year in September. Heat index from June through August, and wind chill the rest of the time. One of life's little traditions. Happy Labor Day to y'all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

River Nose

At the request of numerous Columbia River water sports folks and the Columbia Riverkeeper group, the EPA is currently studying the mysterious (and rather freakishly named) set of ailments called "river nose". Some of the symptoms reported over the years include runny nose, sore throats, diarrhea, and cuts/scrapes that take longer than normal to heal.

So, for this week's Hood River Weather site poll, I'm asking what you think might be the primary cause. I'm thinking that it's probably multiple causes, but since my polling software doesn't allow multiple choices yet, just pick the cause you think is primary.

I am assuming that no other windsurfing area of the world reports these particular sets of symptoms, so I have left out my somewhat cynical theory of "just being out in the extreme wind and cold water and being smashed against waves and equipment and having water pushed forcibly into facial orifices and open cuts and scrapes". So my second theory is "pollen or algae", and I am leaning towards the algae.

We can only hope that the EPA studies help resolve the cause and can come up with a less visually disturbing name than "river nose".



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another. Warm. Morning.

So warm, in fact, that it appears we broke another temperature record today. This morning's low of 71 beats the old "high low" record for the date of 66 (2004).

As noted previously, all these records need to be confirmed by the data at the MCAREC site, which is as close to an official Hood River site as there is.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Enough Heat Already

It's 6 pm now. The temperature has cooled down to a refreshing 104. At 5:10 pm, the temperature here at our weather station maxed out at 108. That not only shattered the old record of 100 for Aug 16 (1977), but it tied the all time highest temperature ever officially recorded for any date in Hood River.

At the peak I was actually trying to will the thermometer to hit 109, and make this the hottest day ever, but, no go. So much for the awesome outside-temperature-changing power of the human mind. On the other hand, there were probably way more people wishing the temperature down...

The wind has shifted to a slight west breeze, and this most likely marks the gradual end of this particular heat wave.

One Record Down

Yesterday's sweltering high of 106 easily surpassed the 75 year old previous record for Aug 15 (101 in 1933). This morning is starting off just as warm, so today's record of 100 (1977) is looking like ancient history also.

The official (OSU Ag Exp Station) record all time high for Hood River is 108 degrees (Aug 18 1977).

Temperatures should start to moderate Sunday with a returning west wind gradient, and next week looks much cooler with a possibility of some rain. Thunderstorms are a distinct possibilty in the next few days.

Click here for Temira's much more detailed (and more entertaining) forecast.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Heat Wave

Today is the first day of a 3 to 4 day heat wave in Hood River. Typically, the west wind dies down, gentle easterly breezes come and go, daytime temps soar, and nightly temps drop to a comfortable 60-70 degrees.

Today's high of 100 didn't break a record, but tomorrow's record high of 101 and Saturday's record of 100 are within reach. If this doesn't kick this year's late-ripening tomatoes, peppers, and corn into high gear, nothing will.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Zero Zip Nada

As mentioned by dbradway in a comment to the previous post, today is the only day of the year that has never received any measureable rainfall in Hood River. I didn't notice this myself until last year (see here), and it looks like the record is going to hold for another year.

Here's a screen shot from the Hood River Weather site today. Note the "Record Rain This Date" followed by "None Never". No Way, No How:



Friday, August 8, 2008

Now THAT Was Cool

I was blasted awake at 11 pm last night by the nearly simultaneous explosion of a million flashbulbs accompanied by a house shaking crack of thunder. This was immediately followed by the sound of pretty good sized hail falling on the roof and the outside vegetation. The temperature was a comfortable 78 degrees out, so most of the windows were open, and the light and sound show continued for another 15 minutes or so. Our rain gauge accumulated 0.06 inches within 5 minutes, a pretty good drenching, but way too brief to provide lasting relief from watering. Thankfully, the hail wasn't heavy enough to damage any of our plants.

As I've mentioned before, I love thunderstorms, and we don't get very many of them here. Maybe climate change will bring more summer thunderstorms into our area. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for...

Speaking of a possibly warming climate, this morning's low of 64 might have set a new record for the "highest low" for this date. The previous record was 63 in 1976.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Heat Index

On the Hood River Weather site, just under the current temperature, is something called "heat index", otherwise known as the "feels like" temperature. I put it there in the summer in place of "wind chill", which obviously is more of a cooler weather thing.

But, generally speaking, our heat index has been totally unimpressive. It always shows either the current temperature or lower. Some heat index THAT is...

Until the past two days...

A lingering heat wave combined with moisture streaming up from the Southwest has made for hot humid afternoons. Pretty unusual for Hood River. And, the heat index has actually been higher than the actual temperature!! Yes!!

At one point today, the outside temperature was 86, and the humidity was 50%, making for a heat index "feels like" temperature of 89.

Now, people who live in more humid areas of the world would laugh their butts off at this small Hood River heat index. In Florida, for example, try 95 degrees at 75% humidity for a heat index of 110 degrees.

It turns out that, in Hood River, the heat index hardly ever applies. It only takes effect at temperatures of 80 degrees or higher with a relative humidity of 40% or higher. These combined conditions, thankfully, are quite rare here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

July Revisited

July in Hood River was pretty much average in temperature, less windy than average, and dry.

The average temperature was 0.9 degrees warmer than long term averages, but 1.0 degrees below more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were lower than average, with West winds predominating.

There were 2 local weather records set during the month. On July 24, the low of 41 broke the old record of 43 (1960). On July 31, the low of 41 broke the old record of 42 (1945).


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 97
41
68.0
67.1

Wind (mph) 30

4.8
5.3

Rainfall (in) 0.00

0.00 (total)
0.20

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm Back

OK, I know, 12 days is a bit long between blog posts, but I have excuses. Lots of 'em. I'll blame it mostly on a vacation spent visiting relatives and seeing incredible scenery in beautiful Southern Utah. Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks were awesome. Ancient sea beds thrust up over millions of years and partially eroded by wind and rain and ice. Quite excellent at putting our brief mortal lives into a much longer term perspective.

During my vacation, I apparently missed out on: a 4 day heat wave here, a forest fire near Mt Adams, and a wildfire in The Dalles. But I did return in time for epic winds and cooler temperatures. I'm hoping warmer summer temperatures will return sooner than later.

Sorry about the missing Hood River Weather site data today from 06:30 to 16:00 . Every now and again, my computer locks up, and if I'm away at work at the time, and can't reboot, well... missing data...

Friday, July 11, 2008

June Revisited

Compared to historical averages, June in Hood River was cool, windy, and dry.

The average temperature was 1.3 degrees cooler than long term averages, and 1.8 degrees below more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were considerably higher than average, with West winds predominating.

There were 2 local weather records set during the month. On June 29, the high of 99 broke the old record of 95 (1942). The next day, June 30, the high of 101 broke the old record of 99 (2003).


High Low Average Historical Average Variance
Temperature (F) 101
40
60.6
61.9
-1.3
Wind (mph) 31

5.2
4.6
0.6
Rainfall (in) 0.15

0.48 (total)
0.80

Sunday, June 29, 2008

That's Two

Two days, two high temperature records. Today's high of 99 broke the old record of 95 (1942).

Thunderstorms rolled in this afternoon, along with a shift to west winds. Not much rain, but a definite cool-down. I do wish we had more thunderstorms around here, except for the wildfire part...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

That's One

Today's high of 102 demolished the previous record of 98 set in 2000. In addition, tomorrow's record high of 95 will almost certainly fall. Summer has kicked in with a vengence.

But, as is typical with local weather patterns, heat waves here don't last more than 3 days, and cooler temps are on tap by Tuesday.

And speaking of on tap, this weather definitely calls for a cool beverage (or two).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ahhh ... Summer ...

The first full day of summer. Overcast, little to no wind, 75 to 80 degrees. Very pleasant; a great day to be outside. Our cat Tucker totally agrees.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Full Moon On The Rise

Check out the full moon rising the next couple of evenings at sunset (around 9 pm). Due to seasonal alignments, the "solstice moon" is one of the more spectacular moonrises of the year. Local forecasts are for clear skies around sunset, so we might luck out on this one...


Monday, June 16, 2008

Now, Not So Cold

In this record breaking cold Spring, temperatures reaching into the 70's feel like a heat wave. Very nice. The extremely epic winds on the river have blessed the wind sports enthusiasts to the point of exhaustion. Those of us not participating in windsurfing or kiteboarding are desperately trying to hang on to anything to prevent being blown away.

Vegetable gardens, having experienced a slow start, are now kicking into gear big time. Our lettuce and garlic are coming along nicely:


Currently harvesting lettuce, green onions, radishes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, cilantro, and celery. Summer squash in a week or two...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Still Cold

Today's chilly temperatures placed another exclamation point on the ongoing saga of the "Really Cold And Somewhat Depressing Spring Of 2008". The high today of 57 most likely broke the "lowest high" record for any June 10th. The previous record of 60 degrees was set in 1970.

Warmer temperatures are forecast starting Thursday. Bring it on. Please.

Friday, June 6, 2008

May Revisited

Compared to historical averages, May in Hood River was (oddly enough) slightly warmer and drier. It sure seemed cooler and wetter at the time, but apparently the brief record hot spell at the middle of the month moved the averages up. Go figure.

The average temperature was 0.9 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 0.3 degrees above 2000-2007 averages. Wind speeds were higher than average, with West winds predominating.

There were 3 local weather records set during the mid month warm spell. On May 17th, the high of 92 broke the old record of 90 (1954). The next day, May 18th, the high of 95 broke the old record of 91 (1956), and the low of 63 broke the old "high low" record of 56 (1986).

Why, you might ask, did I proclaim 5 records during the month in earlier posts to this blog? It comes down to the proverbial apples and oranges thing. The official keeper of Hood River weather data and records is the OSU Ag Research Station. However, their daily data is usually not published until several days later. Not only that, their data is collected at 8 am each day, meaning that their data is from 8 am to 8 am, and my weather station's data is from midnight to midnight. In addition, our stations are separated by several miles, and temperatures and rainfall can vary, sometimes substantially, at that distance.

So, one should consider any temperature and rainfall records that I mention during a month to be tentative. When I do this monthly summary, I use the OSU data (not my own station data) to confirm an official record.

Regarding wind gusts and averages, I am relying totally on my own station data from 2000 to present, as wind speeds vary dramatically locally, especially on the Columbia River (much higher than mine).


High Low Average Historical Average Variance
Temperature (F) 95
32
57.3
56.4
0.90
Wind (mph) 30

4.3
3.9
0.4
Rainfall (in) 0.17

0.80 (total)
1.08
-0.28