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

Wind (mph) 37


Rainfall (in) 3.24

6.03 (total)