Sunday, January 27, 2008

Record Snow Yesterday?

Almost certainly. In Hood River, the record snowfall for Jan 26 was 9 inches in 1933. We had 11 inches on our deck at 8 pm last night, and 16 inches this morning at 8 am.

Since snow depth is so variable from place to place, we'll have to wait until the OSU Extension station announces their official snowfall amount before declaring a new record in Hood River for Jan 26.

Today's (Jan 27) record snow was 19.5 inches in 1954. That record is safe. However, new storms are moving through in the next couple of days. With temperatures expected to be around freezing, more record snow is a distinct possibility.

Hood River's highest one day snowfall was 47 inches on Jan 9 (1980), although folks here at the time remember something more like 5 to 7 feet.

Have fun in the snow. Be safe, especially while driving (slow down!) and snow shoveling (take lots of breaks!).

Saturday, January 26, 2008


After a week of sunny and cold weather, moisture returns. Right now (Saturday 8 pm), it's in the form of snow. Lots of snow. 11 inches and more to come. The temperature, which has dipped to 14 degrees in the past week, is still plenty cold at 27 degrees. The warming trend will be slow over the next few days.

Forecasts are for more precipitation through Tuesday. If past patterns hold true, most will fall in the form of snow, followed by sleet, followed by freezing rain.

For those who like a wide variety of weather, this winter has been great. Hardly any boring cloudy inversion events. And, in a couple more weeks, winter patterns will start changing over to more spring-like patterns.

Feel free to post your local snow amounts here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bundle Up

4:00 pm Sunday afternoon. It's still relatively warm outside at 37 degrees, but a very cold air mass from the northeast is coming our way this evening. This will be our first arctic breakout of the winter, but not at all unusual for January. Expect low temperatures over the next 4 days in the mid teens and maybe lower. In these type of events, we'll have east winds of 5 to 10 mph while Portland on the other end of the Gorge will have 50+ mph east winds. Brrrrr!

However, no chance of breaking any local all time cold records this week, as low temperatures in 1930 at this time in January were in the -15 to -20 range.

The Hood River Weather poll this week attempts to be topical with the question "how do you heat your home?" We have a natural gas furnace, supplemented occasionally with a wood stove. I've lived in 6 different houses here since 1976, and this combination of heating along with a pretty tight house is the best ever. Still, winter heating bills just keep climbing. It doesn't seem to matter that we use the same or fewer therms or KW hours, since the cost per unit continues to climb.

Oh, by the way, I replaced the outside temperature sensor late last week, and the occasional "extremely high temperature" reading problem hasn't reoccurred. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is This Unusual Or What

January 17th. The middle of winter. Clear outside with very strong west winds. So what is wrong with this picture?

Nothing. It's absolutely beautiful out. But... this is VERY unusual weather for this time of the year. Typically, we would be in the cold inversion foggy east wind pattern, and Portland would be sunny. But it's exactly the opposite right now. Strong west winds, relatively warm at 40 degrees. This more resembles an early March weather pattern. How great is this??

Here's the Portland fog/cloud layer today that has stopped just west of Hood River:

And here's our view today of Mt Adams, a volcano about 40 miles due north, in all its snow covered glory (12,300 ft high):

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Space Exploration

This week's poll on the Hood River Weather site asks what our space exploration priorities should be, given the budget realities.

My opinion? For the immediate future, we should be focusing on the much less expensive option of using unmanned spacecraft to explore the planets, asteroids, and comets. The return on investment in science and exploration that unmanned missions provide is way more than that of manned missions.

In the very long run, if we are to survive as a species, we will eventually need to colonize further out from the Sun, to Mars and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Our Sun, being a type G star, will become warmer at a rate that will make life on Earth impossible after another 300 million years or so.

We have plenty of time. In order to not repeat the Apollo program's short life, it would be better to have robotic missions build permanent bases on Mars and beyond before we send humans there. That way, we can go there to stay, not just do a few missions like Apollo and then quit.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Does It Feel Like 129 Degrees To You?

Me neither. But that's what our wireless outside temperature sensor is currently indicating. So, after calling the Davis Vantage Pro weather station support folks, their verdict is that the sensor has failed, and for a mere $70 they will be happy to send me a replacement.

Unfortunately, it won't be here until next Tuesday. And then, depending on my ability to install the new sensor in the driving rain or snow or sub zero temperatures, not to mention that I am working during most of the daylight hours, I might have it functioning by next Wednesday. Or Thursday. Maybe.

Until then, you can view other local area weather stations' current temperature data here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


4 inches of snow on the deck here in west Hood River at 6:30 am, and probably more to come.

Feel free to post your own snow amounts here.

Update: 5:30 pm, snowing all day but melting and packing down. 6 inches accumulation on deck.

Monday, January 7, 2008

2007 Revisited

I just finished crunching the numbers for the entire year of 2007:

2007's average temperature was 52.7 degrees F, 2.0 degrees warmer than long term averages. However, it was only 0.1 degrees warmer than 2000-2006 averages. In that recent time period, 2003 has been the warmest year at 53.8 degrees F.

Precipitation was an inch above average. Wind speeds for the year averaged 3.0 mph, compared to the 2000-2006 average of 3.4 mph.

There were 2 high temperature records, and 11 "high low" temperature records set in 2007.

High Low Average Historical Average Variance
Temperature (F) 104.6
Wind (mph) 37

Rainfall (in) 1.86

Barometric (in Hg) 30.78 29.49

Sunday, January 6, 2008


The Hood River Weather site has featured a weekly poll for over a year now, and it's been fun to see how site visitors feel about various issues. One of my 2 blog goals this year is to do a new posting here with each poll, with my personal take on the issue, and y'all can elaborate on yours if you want.

OK, UFO's. In the mid to late 1960's, as a teenager, my fascination with all things skyward and beyond in the Universe prompted me to join two of the civilian UFO research groups in existence at that time: NICAP and APRO. Both groups gathered UFO reports and attempted to impartially separate the explainable sightings from those that would point directly at aliens as the most likely explanation.

I really wanted to believe that we were being visited; that the galaxy was teeming with intelligent space-faring civilizations, some of whom had discovered us here on Earth. After all, Star Trek and numerous science fiction TV and movies had plenty of aliens running around.

But over the years, nothing (including Roswell, alien abductions, and mysterious lights in the sky) has stood out as anything other than natural (and mostly honestly misinterpreted) phenomena.
I'm still open to strong confirmable evidence that will irrefutably prove aliens are visiting our backwater section of our galaxy's suburbs. But Fermi's Paradox pretty much sums up my skepticism. Given the age of our galaxy, and the fact that many other solar systems have existed millions of years longer than ours, much older civilizations have had plenty of time to colonize the entire galaxy if that was likely or possible. And it would be obvious. But it's not. In fact, in the EM spectrum, from infrared to ultraviolet, including radio, the galaxy appears to be absent of intelligent signals. Except, of course, our own radio and TV broadcasts, spreading outwards at the speed of light and now in a sphere about 75 light years in diameter from Earth. BTW, for those who would like to participate in the ongoing search for radio wave evidence for intelligent life, I highly recommend running the Seti@home software.

Here's my take on life in the universe: Given that there are likely millions of planets that can support life in the billions of galaxies that exist, molecular and single cell life is probably very common. Multi-cellular organisms (plants and animals) take a lot longer to emerge, and are less common. Intelligent and space-faring life is probably extremely uncommon; the result of an improbable combination of selective events over millions of years of evolution. And, any such civilizations are likely to find the unimaginably immense distances (translate: travel time) between stars insurmountable, assuming they don't become extinct first. Maybe they create intelligent autonomous robotic probes to travel and colonize for them, but... where the heck are they...

So, maybe we are one of some Extremely Isolated Intelligent species in the Universe, which only makes our own human existence even more marvelous and precious and worthy of our best efforts to preserve our planet and not destroy ourselves and our fellow species.

Hopefully this will be the longest post I will ever make in this blog. :)

Oh, my second blog goal this year? Creating another blog focused on vegetable gardening in Hood River (one of my more earthbound interests). Which plants work, which don't, when to plant, successes, failures.... all that stuff. Not sure if I will have the time or motivation to pull it off, but stay tuned.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Low Pressure Record?

Yesterday, as a massive storm swept over the West Coast, the barometric pressure dropped to levels usually associated with hurricanes and cyclones. Here at our weather station in Hood River, the barometer bottomed out at 28.91 inches Hg.

I haven't been able to find a barometric pressure historical database for Hood River, but yesterday's reading is the lowest at our station since we started it 10 years ago. The previous low was 28.94 on December 16, 2002.

The Columbia River Gorge is well known for its high winds, but an odd characteristic of most of these extreme winter west coast windstorms is that the Gorge (especially around Hood River) stays remarkably wind-free. The winds yesterday were calm with a peak "gust" of 7 mph. For some reason, the pressure differential from Portland to The Dalles stays pretty much flat in these storms, and therefore little wind occurs here.

Is anyone aware of any historical barometric databases for Hood River? Any observations from your own barometers from yesterday?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

December Revisited

December was a pretty entertaining month, weather wise. Warmer and wetter than average, with a nice mix of changing weather patterns. Heavy rain early in the month, which flooded Western Oregon and Washington, had little flood impact here. And, best of all, there were quite a few days where the clouds/fog parted and the sun made a welcome appearance.

December's average temperature was 1.8 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 1.4 degrees above 2000-2006 averages. Precipitation was a little more than 2 inches above average. At our location in west Hood River (400 ft), we had maybe 6 inches of total snow throughout the entire month, and it melted fast each time. Much higher snow amounts were recorded in the middle and upper valleys. Wind speeds were average, with west winds slightly predominate over east winds. That's pretty unusual for December; east winds usually prevail. And that also helps explain the total lack of depressing extended inversion events during the month.

There were no local records set in December.

High Low Average Historical Average Variance
Temperature (F) 59.5
Wind (mph) 28

Rainfall (in) 1.86

Barometric (in Hg) 30.60 29.57