Thursday, February 28, 2008

Record High Temperature Today?

Maybe. The previous high temperature record for February 28 was 64 degrees in 1988. Our weather station registered 67 degrees today. We'll have to wait for the data at the OSU Mid-Col Ag Station to see if it was an actual official record. In any event, it was a beautiful warm sunny February day.

In a couple of days, I'll be planting the first veges of the season: snow peas. The plants emerge quicker if I soak the seeds overnight, place them in moist paper towels until they sprout, and then plant the sprouts. The first planting of radishes will also go in about March 1. I'm salivating uncontrollably just thinking about it. Which is probably way more information than you really wanted to know.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Universal Health Care?

A little rain today, and then back to a dry pattern for at least a week. We're about 30% below average rainfall for the month, but still 13% wetter on a rain year basis. Plenty of snow pack in the mountains at this point, so not much chance of drought this year in Western Oregon.

This week's Hood River Weather poll asks whether we should be moving towards a "single-payer" universal health care system. Our current health care payment system is an inefficient, expensive mix of employer-provided benefits (which most employers are shedding as fast as they can), Medicare, largely unaffordable individual plans. and a huge group of uninsured people, many of whom end up overwhelming emergency rooms or foregoing care entirely.

There is no perfect health care payment system. There are, however, more efficient ones. We are the only wealthy,
industrialized country that hasn't figured out that universal health care coverage, with a single payer system, costs much less per capita and provides the same or better level of care. Probably not as timely care for non-critical procedures, but timely enough. And those folks who can afford to pay for more immediate non-critical care would be able to, either thru private payment, supplemental insurance, or medical tourism. Even the Federal General Accounting Office estimates that a single payer system would reduce administrative costs, contain medical costs more efficiently, and save hundreds of billions of dollars.

Unfortunately, there is little political will for such a system, and no public groundswell in that direction. No current presidential candidate endorses a single-payer system. It's too much of a leap from the current system. The insurance lobbies are too powerful, and the time-worn protest of "no socialized medicine!" is a favorite rallying cry of many who still have good affordable coverage themselves. But we already have "socialized medicine". Medicare on the national level, and "free" emergency room care on the local level.

My opinion? I have reasonably good medical coverage through my employer, I'm no fan of socialism, but I believe that universal single payer health coverage is the obvious economic choice, and the sooner the better.

And now, back to the weather. We made it thru winter, and spring is just around the corner...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse Feb 20

Wednesday evening, we Earthlings will have a ringside seat to a total lunar eclipse. This will be the 3rd lunar eclipse within a year, but will be much easier to stay up for, as it starts here locally at moonrise (around 6 pm) and ends 3 hours later. The maximum redness of the Earth's shadow on the moon will be between 7 and 8 pm Pacific time. Check it out. Lunar eclipses are one of those "perspective-altering" events that can give us a glimpse of the Much Bigger Picture of which we're all a tiny little part. This is the last lunar eclipse for almost 3 years.

Hopefully the sky will be clear. If not, here's a 1 minute time lapse video of the Aug 2007 lunar eclipse. Note: lunar eclipses are usually not accompanied by such stirring music, unless you provide your own:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

So Much For That Poll...

Thanks a lot, "Mitt". If that is indeed your real name...

When I decided upon a Hood River Weather poll last weekend, it seemed a pretty safe bet to list the "4 leading candidates" as choices. But noooooooo... with Romney's withdrawal from the presidential race today, John McCain appears to have an insurmountable lead on the Republican side. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are still in the race, and have lots of supporters, but odds now favor McCain.

Meanwhile, at least the Democratic race remains interesting. I don't think I will do another political poll until the Oregon primary (May 20th). If even then.

Monday, February 4, 2008

January Revisited

January was another entertaining weather month. Colder, windier, and slightly wetter than average, January had enough variable weather to satisfy even the most jaded weather junkie.

January's average temperature was 1.5 degrees cooler than long term averages, and 4.5 degrees below 2000-2006 averages. Snowfall was 23.5 inches, well above the historical average of 14.4 inches. Much higher snow amounts were recorded in the middle and upper valleys. Wind speeds were above average, with WSW winds predominate. That's unusual for January; east winds usually prevail. There were no depressing extended inversion events during the month, continuing this winter's very welcome "no-inversion" pattern.

There were 2 local weather records set in January. 15 inches of snow fell on January 26, breaking the old record for the date of 9 inches (1933). And, in a unofficial record, the barometer dipped to 28.91 inches on January 4th. The previous low baro at our station was 28.94 in 2002.

High Low Average Historical Average Variance
Temperature (F) 49.0
Wind (mph) 37

Rainfall (in) 1.16