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 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.

BTW, the 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.