Friday, December 11, 2009

November 2009 Revisited

Compared to historical averages, November in Hood River was warmer, normal in precipitation, and less windy.

The average temperature (42.1°) was warmer than long term averages (41.5°), but only slightly warmer than more recent averages of 42.0° (2000-2008). There was 4.86" of precipitation, compared to an average November precipitation of 4.84". The wind speed was considerably lower than average (0.9 mph vs 1.7 mph), consistent with the lower average wind speed for the past 3 months. As with October, this was the least windy November since at least 2002.

There were no official Hood River weather records set in November.


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


HighLowAverageHistorical Average
Temperature (F) 60
30
42.1
41.5
Wind (mph)33

0.9
1.7
Rainfall (in)0.84

4.86 (total)
4.84



Goodbye Autumn... Hello Winter...

Monday, November 2, 2009

October 2009 Revisited

Compared to historical averages, October in Hood River was cooler, a little drier, and less windy.

The average temperature (50.5°) was 0.8 degrees cooler than long term averages, and 1.8 degrees cooler than more recent averages (2000-2008). This reversed the previous 3 month's pattern of warmer than average temperatures. In this century, only 2002 and 2007 were slightly cooler at 50.4°. There was 2.23" of rain, compared to an average October precipitation of 2.38". The wind speed was considerably lower than average. This was the least windy October since at least 2002.

October was especially notable for having an early frost, and an extremely early snowfall (see previous blog post). But the snow melted fast, and didn't count as an official MCAREC Hood River record. Still, it was a lot of fun to watch, and it was the earliest snowfall in Hood River in my memory, which goes back to 1976. Assuming my memory is correct, which isn't a given.

There was 1 officially confirmed local weather record set in October. On the 13th, the high temperature only reached 40°, breaking the previous "low high" of 49° set in 1966.


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 69
27
50.5
51.3

Wind (mph) 31

1.3
2.1

Rainfall (in) 0.56

2.23 (total)
2.38

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Global Warming... Yeah, Right

I keep hoping that climate change will extend the growing season in Hood River. My hopes keep getting dashed. The first frost of the season (at city elevation) arrived Oct 11, and it came with a record-setting vengeance. The previous Oct 11th record low of 28° (1980) was easily brushed aside by the 25° low measured at MCAREC's HOXO station.

But, as fun as THAT was, it was just the prelude... and, the setup. Two days later, on Oct 13, a Pineapple Express began to move in over the top of the cold air. This produced what may have been the earliest recorded measurable snowfall in Hood River! The previous earliest snow date for Hood River was Oct 29, 1935.

We'll have to wait for MCAREC's official data on this, but I'm estimating up to 0.5 inches of snow built up in areas around town. It melted fast, which may affect whether it was "measurable" or not, but in any event, it was awesomely cool to see snowfall this early in the season.

But wait! There's more! The high temperature that day only reached 40°! That totally demolished the previous "low high" record of 49° (1966).

Thus, October 13, 2009, might well have been a rare "three-fer" in the world of Hood River weather records. Earliest measureable snowfall, most snowfall on any Oct 13, and the record "low high" for the date.

So I think I'll wait at least one more year to plant citrus trees here. But... if we had some global warming...




Thanks to Dave from the weather chat room for the link to this catchy little tune.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

September 2009 Revisited

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

The temperature was 3.5 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 1.1 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2008). This was the warmest September since 2003. There was 0.70" of rain, compared to an average September precipitation of 0.92". The wind speed was considerably lower than average. This was the least windy September since 2002.

September continued the warm, dry trend of June, July, and August. Otherwise, the month was pretty nondescript. There were welcome light rains around the 5th and 29th; nothing spectacular, just enough to settle the dust.

We wrapped up the water year (which runs Oct 1 thru the following Sep 30) with a surplus. The average yearly rain in Hood River is 29.92", give or take 0.50" depending on the database referenced. My station received 32.67", while the more official HOXO station received 33.33".

There was 1 local weather record set in September. On the 14th, the low temperature of 61° broke the previous "high low" record of 60° set in 2007.


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 94
40
64.0
60.5

Wind (mph) 33

2.6
3.4

Rainfall (in) 0.20

0.70 (total)
0.92



Full Harvest Moon... time to celebrate!

Friday, September 25, 2009

In The Arms Of The Angel

We had to say goodbye today to one of our best-ever cats. During 21 years of faithful companionship, from the day he showed up unannounced as a kitten on our deck in 1988, to the present day, Fluffy was a bundle of sweet cat-ness and a joy to have around.

He loved to: eat, sleep, sunbathe, play with us and the other cats inside and outside, chase and retrieve cat toys, wallow in catnip (above), and lay in laps (especially the ladies laps... my lap was usually his reluctant second choice). And, for the last couple of years, he had taken to sleeping cuddled up next to me at night, often gently grabbing my arm and and laying his head on it as he slept. That was killer. That I'm REALLY going to miss...

But, at the end, as arthritis, frailty, failing coordination, and generally failing health got progressively worse, it became painfully clear that it was time to let him go. 21 cat years, after all, is something like 100+ human years; and he deserved and received a mercifully peaceful passing.

Rest in peace, old friend. Thanks for all the good times. Sweet dreams...






Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

We set a new Hood River "high low" record on September 14. The low temperature at MCAREC's HOXO automated weather station only got down to 60.73° (I wish they could be more precise). That squeaked by the old record of 60° set in 2007. Clearly, global warming has us firmly in its grasp.

On another, not totally unrelated, subject: I am thinking of creating a site visitor survey (not a poll) as to whether or not I should create a "Hood River non-weather-related-controversial and/or bipartisan subjects" chat room. My dilemma is, about the time I think I really should separate that stuff out, it dies down to a reasonably entertaining roar. Anyway, stay tuned...


Saturday, September 5, 2009

August 2009 Revisited

Compared to historical averages, August in Hood River was warmer, drier, and windier.

The temperature was 3.9 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 0.6 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2008). There was 0.12" of rain, compared to an average August precipitation of 0.37". The wind speed was higher than average.

August continued the warm, dry trend of June and July. The first 3 days were above 90°, winding down from the intense heat wave of late July. From there, temperatures dipped considerably below normal for a couple of weeks. On August 11th, rain came (briefly) back after a 66 day dry spell. Starting August 17, a short 3 day heat wave sent the temperature soaring to 104° (at my station). Then, a cool down, followed by a one day blast of 98° on Aug 27. Wind sports enthusiasts had an excellent month, with winds on the river officially reaching "nuclear" levels on quite a few days.

There were 2 local weather records set in August. On the 12th, we received 0.04" of rain, and on the 19th, the official high temperature reached 101°.


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 104
46
70.5
66.6

Wind (mph) 33

5.0
4.3

Rainfall (in) 0.09

0.12 (total)
0.37

Thursday, August 20, 2009

112 Years Ago

Just a quick post to let you know (and to make sure I don't forget) that we broke a 112 year old high temperature record for any Aug 19 in Hood River. Yesterday's official high of 101° broke the old record of 99°, set in... get this... 1897.

(I vaguely remember that year, and if memory serves, I didn't have A/C at the time. It sucked.)

The past 3 days were a more typical heat wave around here; characterized by a heat low that moves day by day from PDX, to HR, and then to TD and points east. A taste of extreme heat; breaking just in time as the west wind returns and brings relief.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Rain

It's not unusual for summer in the Hood to be dry. July thru August, and sometimes all the way into mid-October, we can go for long stretches without a drop of rain.

But June, an often wet month, well known for swelling local cherries to bursting with untimely downpours, turned off the rain on June 6th.

And it left the tap off until August 11... when 0.03" of delicious, glorious warm rain fell on our heat-wave parched landscape, relieving a 66 day long dry spell. Sweet...

Even sweeter, a record amount of rain was recorded the next day, August 12. Odd that a mere 0.04 inches of rain would break a record (0.03") that dated all the way back to 1922, but hey, if you're gonna try to break a rain record, this is the time of the year to do it.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July 2009 Revisited

Compared to historical averages, July in Hood River was way warmer, totally dry, and less windy.

The temperature was a sizzling 6.7 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 2.4 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2008). This was the warmest July at my weather station since I started keeping reliable records in 2000. There was no measurable precipitation, compared to a July normal precip of 0.23". The wind speed was considerably lower than average.

Following a warm, dry June, July continued the trend. The first 4 days were above 90, with a 98 degree high on the 2nd. Another brief hot spell in the middle of the month, followed by a quick dip to low 70's highs, and then... and then....The Mother Of All Heat Waves arrived. I pretty much described it in the previous blog post, but let me just restate: It was too hot. It was too humid. It was too long.

Oddly enough though, there were only 2 official local temperature records set in July. See the previous blog post for details. It certainly seemed like there were more records than that during the extended heat wave, but maybe that was just my brain frying...


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 107
48
73.8
67.1

Wind (mph) 34

4.1
5.2

Rainfall (in) 0.00

0.00 (total)
0.23

Friday, July 31, 2009

In The Summertime

So, in the cold, gray, inversiony days of winter, you wanted summer to get here, right? Warm, gloriously sunny days? Catching some rays while enjoying outdoor activities? Maybe even a nice little heat wave for the icing on the cake?

OK, we've had all that, including the heat wave, and the icing on the summer cake melted away days ago. We are currently in one of the most persistent and humid heat waves to hit the Pacific Northwest in a long, long time.

Temperatures hit the low 90's on July 25th, and haven't looked back since. At my weather station, the last 4 consecutive days have exceeded 100 degrees, maxing out at 107 on Tuesday July 28th. Today's temperature has moderated a bit under the influence of west winds and a touch of marine air, but temperatures are expected to go up again over the weekend.

And, since (apparently) one of the reasons I was put here on Earth is to point out when Hood River weather records are broken (or, in this case, tied), here goes:

  • Tuesday, July 28, the high temperature of 104 broke the old record of 103 (2005).
  • Wednesday, July 29, the "high low" temperature of 69 tied the record set in 1998.
  • Friday, July 31, the "high low" temperature of 69 broke the old record of 65 in 2000.
As I've mentioned previously, these records are based not on my own station's data, which would have produced more records, but on the MCAREC automated surrogate station HOXO. I'd like to use MCAREC's data directly, since the historical database comes from there, but the data is not easy to come by on a timely basis. Not their fault; software and other issues currently hinder timely online availability of data. I appreciate "doc" in the chat room bringing me up to speed on where that stands, and the fact that MCAREC is managed by NOAA and HOXO is managed by BLM. But, according to NOAA, the two stations' data correlate nicely, so for now I'll use the automated station. And the folks at MCAREC can correct me if necessary.

Stay cool, the best you can. And enjoy all the good things summer has to offer!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

June 2009 Revisited

Compared to historical averages, June in Hood River was warmer, drier, and slightly windier.

The temperature was 3.9 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 1.8 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2008). This was the warmest June since 2003. Precipitation was only 0.10" against a long term average of 0.80". The wind speed was slightly higher than average.

This was definitely not a repeat of last year's chilly "June-uary", which was 5 degrees cooler than this June. All in all, it was a very pleasant month, if a bit on the dry side. We were taunted and teased by approaching thunderstorms several times, but the storm cells had this annoying habit of missing us and heading for points south, north and west. Anywhere but here. :(

There was 1 local weather record set in June. The low temperature of 61 degrees on the 18th exceeded the old "high low" record for the date (60 degrees in 1961)


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 90
43
65.8
61.9

Wind (mph) 30

4.9
4.7

Rainfall (in) 0.10

0.05 (total)
0.80

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Solstice

Is it long enough for you? The length of daylight, that is? If not, too bad, because it doesn't get any better than this! (at our latitude, anyway).

Summer solstice. The tilt of the earth on its axis, combined with its yearly orbit around the sun, puts the sun (and its astronomical companion, the ecliptic) as far north in our sky as it gets.

I like solstices and equinoxes. There's something about being reminded that we are on this relatively small blue planet, tilted, rotating, and orbiting with clockwork precision around our star. Nicely predictable, in an often unpredictable human world.

Wishing you all a fantastic summer!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Record High Low

Finally, a good reason to do another blog post. Yesterday's low temperature of 61 degrees broke the old "high low" record (for any June 17th) of 60 degrees (1961). This June has been a warmer, drier version of a typical Hood River June, and way different than last year's cold "June-uary.

Came across this video from "Wierd Al"
Yankovic. His tribute to The Doors, featuring original Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek. Wierd Al does an excellent Jim Morrison...


Saturday, June 6, 2009

May 2009 Revisted

Compared to historical data, May in Hood River was wetter, warmer, and less windy.

The temperature was 2.9 degrees warmer than long term averages, and 0.9 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2008). Precipitation totaled 3.17" against a long term average of 1.08". The average wind speed was the lowest for any May since 2000. I am using my own station's wind speed data, and it only goes back that far.

Just for kicks, let's divide this May into two halves. Let's call them the "1st Half" and the "2nd Half". In the 1st half, rain predominated. Man, did it ever predominate... Records were broken. Yearly rain year totals were exceeded. Mountain snow packs, which were already at high levels, were packed even deeper.

In the 2nd half, the rain stopped and the warm spells began. On May 28th, we hit 92 degrees, the first 90+ degree day of the year.

There were 2 local weather records set in May, both of them daily rainfall records (see 2 blog posts below this one).


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 92
36
59.3
56.4

Wind (mph) 30

3.2
4.0

Rainfall (in) 0.62

3.17 (total)
1.08

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Perspective


Rowena Crest Viewpoint. A beautiful, spectacular spot, 800 feet above the river, easily accessible on my daily commute from Hood River to The Dalles. Looking upriver at the Columbia as it enters the eastern Gorge: a landscape defined and shaped by geology that predates humans by millions of years, and which will be here for millennia to come.

Formed by massive lava flows millions of years ago, and subsequently carved out over multiple ice ages by incredible floods (at max, 200 feet higher than this viewpoint!), this view of the Columbia River Gorge is inspiring. I make a point of stopping here often throughout the seasons, reflecting on the passing of time, the inevitable changes that time brings, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes in between, but always what we need to experience at the time. And, by far the best part: the incredible blessing of just... Being Here Now...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Back To Back

Two consecutive rainfall records for Hood River this week. On May 6th, we received 0.45", breaking the previous record of 0.22" (2002). The next day, May 7th, 0.46" against the old record of 0.26" (1933).

The rain put us almost 4 inches above normal for this point in the rain year. This assures that this will be an above average rain year (Oct 1 thru Sept 30), as our normal rain year averages 30.03", and we are now at 30.78".

Lots of numbers. But also lots of snowpack: almost twice the normal amount (water-equivalent) for our neck o' the woods. This is great news for summer water supplies.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Biofuels

This week's weather site poll asks how often (if at all) you use biofuels for your vehicles. This poll was suggested by Jerry, a local orchardist who has been using biofuels for quite a while. To quote:

"We've been using B-99, 99% American made biodiesel for 6-years. A 67% reduction in exhaust pipe emissions, bio-degradable, non-toxic, and just much easier to work around in the orchard. Also, for $200/each, we've converted all three of our gas engine vehicles to run on E-85, 85% American made ethanol. Again, a 50% reduction of exhaust pipe emission, American made, helping us reduce our dependency on foreign oil."

"Many of the newer vehicles are flex fuel cars and most people don't even know they can run E-85. It's renewable, sustainable and made in America. Bio-diesel can be used in any 1990 or newer diesel powered vehicle with no conversion."

"E-85 is available at Pacific Pride in Bingen for $1.60/gal. this week (they also have B-20). Carson Oil Company in Hood River owns Pacific Biofuels and delivers any blend of biodiesel or ethanol. Let's see how many people in Hood River are helping the environment by using biofuels....not the perfect answer, but it's available, and everyone, with a little effort, can take advantage of the benefits today."

Thanks for the suggestion and info, Jerry. I'm all for alternatives to fossil fuels, and some biofuels are pretty much carbon neutral. Obviously, as we've seen in the past few years, ethanol from food crops presents some real problems, and in some cases takes more energy to make than it produces. Cellulosic ethanol makes a lot more sense, if the technology can be made to work in an environmentally and economic fashion.

Even more promising are biofuels made from non-food crops such as jatropha and algae, that require far fewer inputs of energy and fertilizer.

An unfortunate result of the recent supply/demand slide in oil prices has been less of an economic incentive for biofuels. I think government support into research/development of non-food sources would be an appropriate use of, well, money that we don't have. But, likely a much better long term investment than spending that same non-existent money on inappropriate corporate bailouts.

Friday, May 1, 2009

April 2009 Revisited

Compared to historical data, April in Hood River was average, average, average. So average, in fact, that it stands out as unusually average.

The temperature was 0.1 degrees warmer than long term averages, but 0.5 degrees cooler than more recent averages (2000-2008). Precipitation totaled 1.66" against a long term average of 1.63". The wind speed? ... that's right, you guessed it....

Have I mentioned how average April was? In between the normal cool, wet spells, we had a couple of normal heat waves centered around the 6th and 20th, hitting our first 80+ degree day on the 20th. Very nice. (And very average).

There were no local weather records set in April.


The data below is from my home weather station.
To view its monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 85
28
50.0
49.9

Wind (mph) 31

3.0
3.1

Rainfall (in) 0.49

1.66 (total)
1.63

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Persistence

Hmm.... 18 days since my last post here. That's a new procrastination record for me as far as blogging goes. But, I do like records, even if I have to set them myself.

See, as I've mentioned before, I started this blog 2 years ago in an attempt to add some interactivity between myself and visitors to the Hood River Weather site. The result? Not so much. But, ever since adding the chat window in December 2008, and then (reluctantly at first) joining Facebook, I've had interactivity up the wazoo. And, let me tell you, interactivity up the wazoo can be very distracting.

So, the initial reason for doing this blog has pretty much disappeared. Facebook and Twitter are available for photos, status reports, groups, and much more. In fact, blogs may well be on their way out, replaced by social networking and microblogging (140 characters or less!). Which is about the length of my attention span anymore.

But, for several reasons I am still drawn to posting in this blog. First, I enjoy writing, and need the practice. There's something very satisfying about thinking a subject through and crafting a semi-coherent essay. Not that I do a good job at it, but, like I said, practice, practice, practice.

Second, although very few comments come in here, I am aware that at least a couple of dozen people read this, so that's enough to get my ego stroked and I really should give them something new to read occasionally. As if anyone really needs yet another thing to read...

The third reason is "persistence". On a personal level, the more one persistently exercises their will power (sit down and write a blog post, damn it!), the stronger that ability becomes. (but don't get me going on whether we humans actually HAVE free will, that's another blog post).

However, on a non-personal level, "persistence" implies that information stays available for an extended time. So when I do a "March Revisited" blog post, it's here. It stays here. It's searchable. Same thing with weather records, events, links, anything I find interesting and want to share and/or remember. In a chat room, and on Twitter/Facebook, information fades away quickly. (at least, we can only hope it does)

But the best reason for continuing this blog? I get to ramble on without interruption about all sorts of crap! And it's persistent!



Persistence of Vision
(hint: you don't need to view it full screen, you don't need to wait until instructed to look away, and just look at another part of the screen for the effect. And there's music.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Over 3 Million Served

I'm not one to brag (well, not too much), but the Hood River Weather site has reached 3 million views. I celebrated the 2 million mark here, about 1.5 years ago. The million view rate is accelerating, which is exciting to me, but then, it really doesn't take much to excite me.

But I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you, the site visitors, who apparently find the site useful and/or interesting. Or whatever it is that keeps you coming back. You guys make it all worthwhile! Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

March Revisited

Compared to historical data, March in Hood River was way colder, wetter, and slightly windier than average. To view my weather station's monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The persistent inversion conditions of January and February were replaced in March by persistent cold, wet weather systems. Huge monthly snow amounts in the mountains have set us up for continued excellent skiing and (hopefully) abundant summer water supplies.

The average temperature in March was 2.8 degrees colder than long term averages, and 4.4 degrees colder than more recent averages (2000-2008). So far this year, only January has been warmer than normal. And, if NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has anything to say about it, April will continue the cooler trend.

There were no local weather records set in March.

The data below is from my home weather station. The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 57
25
41.4
44.2

Wind (mph) 33

3.0
2.7

Rainfall (in) 0.83

5.67 (total)
3.13


Sunny days ahead. Let the sun shine in!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Everything Old Is Vernal Again

Ahh, Spring. Probably my favorite turning of the seasons. Daylight hours are starting to win out over nightdark hours. It's getting slowly warmer, and the biosphere is beginning to rejoice in a burst of growth and activity. Rebirth and renewal are the blessed order of the day.

I've tossed the term "vernal equinox" around previously in blog posts each Spring, but the word "vernal" has always thrown me. "Autumnal" equinox, well, it's pretty obvious what that means. But "vernal"? So today I looked it up. The definition that seems to fit the best is "fresh, vigorous, new". A perfect description of Spring!

Like last Spring, this year's winter weather in the Pacific Northwest is dragging its feet, kicking and screaming into Spring, with cooler temperatures and rain. But that's ok. The mountain snowpack is in good shape, the vegetation is waking up in an orderly fashion (not too early), and the garden soil is ready and willing. It's all good. Enjoy.


Flashback: Piano lessons, age 10. This one was fun to play, if a bit over the top. I really should do a keyboard synth version, with hard driving rhythm section. Hopefully Felix Mendellson would approve.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Walking On Sunshine

I woke up this morning to a forecast of two more sunny days ahead. There was something else I woke up to also, but I'll get to that later. This will be a three day run of sunshine; which I think is the longest sunny stretch in town all winter. Temperatures aren't especially warm though; highs in the 40 to 50 range. Still, it's sunshine. Beautiful, glorious, life-giving sunshine.

With daylight savings time now in effect, there's time after work to get out and walk, bike, garden (or whatever you like to do outside) and soak up some rays.

In fact, it's after work right now, and I just got back from walking The Stairs in downtown Hood River. Good workout, those stairs... a perfect example of the principle that "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger".

If I continue this exercise (and assuming it doesn't kill me) I will be the owner of legs of steel, with the rest of me made of some other, more rubber-like substance.
 

So what is it about sunshine that lifts people's spirits? Is it vitamin D? Fluctuations in the levels of melatonin produced by the pineal gland? Other hormones kicking in? One thing's for sure, though: Don't it feel good?  



I also woke up to a song stuck in my head, and I thought I would share.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

February Revisited

Compared to historical data, February in Hood River was colder, drier, and less windy than average. To view my weather station's monthly summary and graphs at Weather Underground, click here.

The average temperature was 1.1 degrees colder than long term averages, and 2.6 degrees colder than more recent averages (2000-2008). Wind speeds were low, due to persistent inversion conditions.

In fact, if I had to sum up February in three words, they would be: "Persistent Inversion Conditions". However, as is typical during inversions, there was an abundance of sunny weather at higher elevations and at the Mt Hood ski areas.

There was one weather record set in February. On the 27th, the official rain total of 0.98" broke the old record (for that date) of 0.95" (1976).

The data below is from my home weather station. The "historical average" numbers for temperature and rainfall are from the Hood River MCAREC data. Historical wind average is from my station's 2000 to 2008 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 this station is considerably lower than on the Columbia River.


High Low Average Historical Average
Temperature (F) 54
26
37.3
38.4

Wind (mph) 34

0.9
1.6

Rainfall (in) 1.27

3.04 (total)
3.65

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Record Rain

After a torrid pace of 13 blog posts in January, I've fallen off the blogging wagon this month. There just hasn't been much to write about weather-wise (or otherwise, for that matter).

So, just when I was thinking I'd never blog again, the inspiration literally fell out of the sky yesterday in the form of a record amount of rain in Hood River for any February 25. My station recorded 1.27", MCAREC, the "most official" keeper of HR records, recorded 0.98", and the previous record was 0.95" in 1976. I defer to MCAREC on these things, since their database (which inexplicably is always a couple of years behind) is the one my weather software uses.

As much as I enjoy experiencing a local weather record being eclipsed, what I really appreciated about this storm was that it almost certainly banished The Inversion (aka The Thing That Lives In The Gorge) from the Gorge for the season. Whereas last year's winter came and went with almost no inversion events, this year "IT" came back with a vengeance in January and February. Fortunately, inversion events from March on are virtually unheard of, as warmer temperatures and westerly patterns take hold.

To celebrate the turning of the seasons, and because (by this time of the year) I am desperate to get my hands in the soil, I planted the first vege crop a couple of days ago: Sugar Sprint peas, an early sweet edible pod variety. Since the soil temperature is low (currently 44 degrees), germination would take forever, so I pre-spout the peas until the roots are about 1/4" long, and then plant about an inch deep. And next, in a few more days, the first radish seeds get planted. Life is good.

The icing on the cake this morning (snow)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inside The Meltdown

This week, PBS aired a new episode of Frontline entitled "Inside The Meltdown", chronicling the financial and economic events of this past Fall, and the events that lead up to the meltdown.

A lot of people, myself included, had started to feel pretty concerned about the housing, credit, and stock market booms a couple of years ago, and figured something bad was going to come of all this at some point.

But I doubt that many of us who were concerned understood just how extremely over leveraged the global financial system had become, based on financial instruments such as Mortgage Backed Securities, Credit Default Swaps, and other mathematical derivatives that not even their creators fully understood. I know I didn't; I had heard of those things, and that they were potentially dangerous, but... bring down the whole world economy? I did a few blog posts on the subject last Fall as things were unfolding and I was trying to make some sense out of it.

If you missed the broadcast, it's available online. I recommend it highly, since the meltdown and the ongoing attempts to stabilize things (and the future consequences of these steps) will reverberate through the rest of our lives.

(Sorry to drag the economy into my blog again, but there's just not much happening in local weather, and I had to write something that was longer than one or two sentences, just for practice! Plus, it's a great Frontline show)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Planetarium Software

I woke up earlier than I had to this morning, in an futile attempt to view a penumbral lunar eclipse. At the last minute, clouds moved in, making it a somewhat disappointing total lunar eclipse (by clouds).

However, in the process of researching the event, I came across two fascinating (and useful) astronomy resources. First, a site called Shadow and Substance, which highlights upcoming eclipse events (and more). And, from there, a free open source Planetarium program called Stellarium that blows away other programs I've seen, including commercial ones.

Stellarium has lots of options, a little overwhelming at first, but well worth the effort to setup. If you want to set Hood River as your default location, our latitude (in digital format) is 45.706 N, and longitude is 121.519 W. More or less. You can get closer to your actual location by searching on the internet.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

January Revisited

Compared to historical data, January in Hood River was warmer, wetter, and windier than average.

The average temperature was 2.8 degrees warmer than long term averages, but only 0.3 degrees warmer than more recent averages (2000-2007). Wind speeds were twice the average, largely due to some strong Chinook winds in the first third of the month.

January was a study in contrasts. The month immediately started off with a warm and wet pineapple express, setting rainfall records. On the 14th, a classic Gorge Inversion set in, and lasted at least 9 days, way too long. The rest of the month was a mix of rain, a little snow... more gray, and some sun.

There were 3 official records surpassed in January. On New Year's Day, the rain total of 3.24" easily broke the old record (for that date) of 1.60" (1997), and the daily record for ANY day in January (previously 2.48" Jan 6, 1948). And, on January 18, at the peak of the inversion event, the barometric pressure reached 30.84. The previous high at our station was 30.83 (2004).

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) 58
14
36.7
33.9

Wind (mph) 37

3.0
1.6

Rainfall (in) 3.24

6.03 (total)
5.20

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Looking Up

13 million years ago, a nearby elliptical galaxy and a spiral galaxy collided, merging in a slow majestic dance of destruction and rebirth. At the center of the collision, a super massive black hole formed. Energetic photons, from infrared to ultraviolet, began moving out in all directions, including ours.

Meanwhile, the same 13 million years ago, back on Earth, there were no humans yet. There were, however, primates that would eventually branch off to other primates which would eventually branch off to us.

And we, being intelligent, tool-using primates, would eventually build optics and telescopes and computers that extend our human senses out into the Universe.

Fast forward to the present time. Our technologically extended vision is now receiving the 13 million year old photons from what we call the Centaurus A galaxy (our nearest giant galaxy). And here's what our technologically enhanced eyes see n
ow:


As super massive black holes draw matter in, they often form twin jets streaming out from each pole, blasting the surrounding space with unimaginable streams of matter and energy.

So when we look up at such things, we are looking back in time, back long before we and our amazing tools even existed. To be here now, and to be able to capture those ancient wave particles of light, photons that during their journey encompassed all of human history and a whole lot more, well, "awesome" doesn't even come close. And perhaps this is one of the biggest reasons why astronomy, cosmology, and all things skyward hold such an interest for me (and maybe some of you too?)