Thursday, May 28, 2009


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


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

Wind (mph) 31


Rainfall (in) 0.49

1.66 (total)