Latest from The Spokesman-Review
As the seasons change in Boise, there are a few sure signs each year that winter is on its way. First, the leaves turn, which they did in spectacular, fiery fashion this year. Then, there’s the Ski Swap – and it’s arrived. This year is the 63rd annual Boise Ski Swap, a benefit for the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation; equipment check-in at Expo Idaho started at 3 p.m. on Halloween, and the swap opens to buyers at 5 p.m. on Friday. Hours are 5-10 p.m. Friday, 10-8 Saturday and 10-3 on Sunday; it’s a place to find deals on ski or snowboard equipment for the family, outfit the kids, sell off outgrown gear and get ready for the season, with exhibits from everyone from the resorts to the volunteer ski patrol. Admission is $5 on Friday, $3 on Saturday, and either $3 or a can of food on Sunday; kids under 12 are admitted for free. There’s more info here.
The next sign of winter is on the way: The annual Warren Miller ski film, which is coming to Boise’s Egyptian Theater Nov. 21-23. This year’s flick is entitled “Ticket to Ride.”
ENVIRONMENT — If you are a camper, backpacker, paddler or angler, you're probably looking back, as I am, with fond memories of October's fall color spectacle against blue skies.
It was fantastic, with perhaps a record dearth of rainfall to spoil the experience.
Not great for everyone, but we take the lemonaide when it comes.
We were sleeping under stars and an brilliant full moon without need for a tent in the middle of the month
Like all seasons, October glory is finally waning into something else, as this photo suggests from Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
PARKS — The first serious bout of winter-like weather has temporarily closed Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road today at The Loop on the west side of the park.
Weather conditions along the higher elevations of the Going-to-the-Sun Road today have included very windy conditions — 30-40 mph at Big Bend — slush and icy conditions on the road, cloudy and limited visibility, and snow accumulations of more than 8 inches at Logan Pass.
Camping conditions suck.
SEATTLE — The National Weather Service confirms the winds that damaged industrial buildings in western Washington, including a Boeing factory, were a tornado.
Meteorologist Johnny Burg says a team from the Weather Service office in Seattle went to the scene Monday and certified the tornado, based on eyewitness accounts.
The tornado at 7:20 a.m. tore a hole in the roof of the Northwest Door factory at Frederickson, halting production of garage doors.
The tornado also caused minor damage to the nearby Boeing factory and cars in the parking lot. Boeing says work has resumed.
The winds topped a weekend of record rains from a wintry storm in the Northwest.
Is is blustery where you are? Here in Spokane we're battening down the hatches and clicking our ruby red shoes.
Saw several campaign signs that had been blown over this afternoon.
And I'm wondering. If the wind dies down before people get home from work in a few hours, will those with uprooted yard signs remember the weather? Or, like in every other situation, will they blame the political opposition?
UPDATED: 2:55 p.m.
CAMPING — Idaho Panhandle National Forests staffers are scrambling to assess tree damage at developed forest sites after a visitor was killed in the Stagger Inn Campground northwest of Priest Lake by a damaged tree related to thunder storms on Sunday night.
Kyle L. Garrett, 48, of Sandpoint, died when a 200-foot-tall tree uprooted and fell on his tent, according to the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office. A 52-year-old woman was also injured and was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The Stagger Inn is a small primitive campground at the Roosevelt Grove of Ancient Cedars in Pend Oreille County just west of the Idaho state line.
Other campgrounds are being evaluated before the Labor Day holiday.
Here's the info from Panhandle Forests spokesman Jason Kirchner:
High winds throughout the Idaho Panhandle last night caused numerous trees to weaken and fall resulting in one fatality at the USDA Forest Service’s Stagger Inn Campground in Pend Orielle County, Wash. Investigation into the accident is being led by the Pend Orielle County Sheriff’s Department. Due to these hazardous conditions, and in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest has begun a widespread assessment of its developed recreation sites to identify additional areas where storm damage may have weakened trees. Rapid assessments of campgrounds, picnic areas and other developed recreation sites will determine whether temporary closures are needed to provide for public safety until crews are able to remove hazardous trees.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident at our campground and are making every effort to ensure that last night’s storm damage has not left hazard trees in our developed recreation sites,” said Idaho Panhandle National Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth.
To ensure a rapid and comprehensive response to last night’s storm damage the forest has activated an Incident Management Team, like those used to manage wildfires and other emergencies, to quickly assess and manage hazards discovered in recreation sites across the forest. Assessment will focus only on developed sites, such as campgrounds and picnic areas. Further assessment updates, including any temporary closures will be posted at www.inciweb.org.
It is vitally important for forest visitors to understand that hazardous trees may be present anywhere on the national forest. Visitors are encouraged to take a hard look at their surroundings when recreating throughout the forest, and especially when selecting a campsite. Hazardous trees are not always readily apparent, but some obvious indicators of dangerous trees include damage to roots, branches or trunk; insect infestations; leaning trees; or dead trees. These types of trees are especially hazardous when the wind is blowing.
I haven’t set the kitchen table in weeks.
Each morning I wake up, pour a cup of coffee, open the back door and step out onto my patio. Usually it is cool enough to wear a robe or the heavy man’s denim work shirt I sometimes slip over my gown when I'm too impatient.
Lunch might be a salad while I work at the big table on the patio or idle in the shaded corner of my backyard. Dinner is eaten late, on the patio again, just as the sun slips behind the trees on the horizon. After the meal I leash the dog and walk to Manito Park to take a stroll around the gardens, where it is always at least five degrees cooler and the air is thick with the heady perfume of flowers. Then, at night, after the dishes are done and the dog and the cats have been fed, I slip out the back door again for a few more minutes. I sit on the glider, pushing myself back and forth with my toes against concrete that still holds the warmth of the sun, and I mark the end of another day.
This time of year, my living area is always turned inside out. I eat, read, relax, work and daydream outdoors. When my children were all still at home, before we moved out of the big house in the country and into the cottage in town, I set up a daybed on the patio. During the day they would sprawl over it, reading for hours, surrounded by newspaper comics, crossword puzzles, Barbie dolls, Breyer horses and empty Popsicle wrappers. At night, after dinner, after the last bit of daylight had faded, my youngest and I would lie down together on the summer bed. Often her sisters and her brother would join us and we would lie there like puppies in a basket, gazing up, watching the stars come out and the Milky Way spread like spilled paint across the black night sky. We pointed out the Big Dipper and called out when shooting stars streaked across overhead. We counted satellites. Sometimes we spotted the flash of the Space Station’s solar panels as it orbited, and once an owl startled us as it flew low and silently over the backyard.
Eventually the others would wander off and the youngest would drift off to sleep in my arms. But I would always lie there a bit longer, breathing the shampoo-and-green-grass fragrance of her hair, reluctant to let her go.
Finally, around midnight, I would rouse her and help her stumble up to her bed and then climb into my own.
Anyone who has ever lived where the humidity chases the temperature up the thermometer and the mid-summer air—day or night—is as uncomfortable and heavy as a damp blanket, will understand the way I delight in the season here. I grew up in the South. Summer could be long and cruel. But here in the Northwest, where the season is short and sweet, mornings are deliciously cool, afternoons are hot and bright and the twilight is long and slow and luxurious.
I can’t bear to waste a minute so I take my cup of coffee out to meet the sun and I’m there to watch the moon rise. And one by one these beautiful days go by while I sit and watch, and think of children whose hair smelled of green grass and lavender shampoo.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
WILDERNESS — I'm just back from four electrifying days of backpacking in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, catching up old news for which I had a front row seat.
Mudslides bury North Cascades Highway — Hikers stranded Monday as storms leave the vital summer passage closed over the mountains between Mazama and the Skagit Valley. The Washington State Department of Transportation says eight mudslides have buried SR 20.
Lightning pounds North Cascades — Lightning maps showed more than 7,400 strikes occurred from 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range and in Southeastern Washington, including the Glacier Peak Wilderness where I was hunkered three nights in a row wishing I had ear plugs. Much of the thunder was concentrated in Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Franklin counties, Forest Service officials say.
Other river restrictions are in place in other parts of the state.
Welcome back, everyone. Hope you had a relaxing holiday weekend. This image here is from Payette Lake on Saturday.
We all know…
Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day
But you might have noticed that saying it seldom works.
Well, here's my theory. It's because we fail to specify an exact date.
So I'm going to give it a try and propose a return date that might do our typically summer-parched area some good.
Rain, rain, go away
Come again July 19th.
WILDLIFE — Researchers are documenting how climate change is dealing a skimpy hand to the chipper pika, the “rock rabbits” of the high mountain talus slopes, as reported in this Idaho Statesman story.
Remember, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied endangered species protections for the pika in 2010.
It is a chilly 10 degrees out in Boise, and Idaho Fish & Game reports that the heat is out at its headquarters on Walnut Street. As a result, they’ve closed their license desk for the day and are encouraging customers to visit vendors instead, or go the F&G regional office in Nampa. “We expect to be open for business tomorrow,” said F&G Deputy Director Sharon Kiefer. “Our apologies to license buyers!”
While we shiver and sniffle in the frigid temperatures of the inversion-plagued Boise valley, there's a whole different world just 16 miles to the north at Bogus Basin. This view from the top of Chair 1 yesterday afternoon snows the smog-filled valley below in which the city is hidden. The non-profit ski resort's snow cover may be a bit thin, but it is just gorgeous up there. Yesterday, it hit better than 45 degrees with deep blue skies, bright sunshine and fresh, clean air. There were people skiing in sunglasses and no hats; everyone was shedding layers, unzipping coats and slathering on the sunscreen. Rock skis still are in order, and there are few runs they're now able to groom, but the terrain park is open on frontside to the joy of a whole lot of kids, and the snow is holding up beautifully in the Superior and Triangle areas on the back side, especially for those who enjoy skiing bumps. Best of all is the weather - it was really hard to leave yesterday and head back down the hill…
As Idaho lawmakers head back to their districts for the weekend, some face perilous driving conditions across the state, bad enough that a few are deciding to spend the weekend in Boise. Meanwhile, enough snow has fallen around the state Capitol to allow construction of this stylish snowman with leafy arms, which is standing proudly on the Statehouse lawn near 8th and Jefferson streets.
Layers of fog and clouds decorate the skies over Boise this morning, where the overnight low dropped into the 30s, but highs today are expected to get up as high as 51 degrees. There's a 30 percent chance of rain today, rising to 90 percent tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.
It's certainly possible that road conditions far from my front door could be quite different.
But at first glance, it would appear that children's prayers for a snow day off from school fell on deaf ears.
Perhaps their promises to “be good” and clean up their rooms in exchange for schools being closed today were not deemed credible.
Whoosh - and just like that, the season has changed. Rain came cascading down in Boise, and a big wind gust just knocked half the golden leaves off this tree. Best of all, some significant rain has been reported in the mountains across the state - raising hopes of a long-awaited end to this year's destructive wildfire season.
Gov. Butch Otter said today he's asked the Idaho Department of Fish & Game and the state Department of Environmental Quality to work up estimates of damage from this year's extensive forest fires, particularly the Mustang Complex and Halstead fires, which he noted have heavily impacted the Salmon River drainage, “where we've spent a lot of money on salmon restoration.” Otter said he wants to get a handle on how ash and erosion from the fires are likely to damage salmon habitat once spring runoff hits. He also said he's gotten an initial estimate from DEQ that this year's wildfires put 1.7 million tons or more of pollutants into Idaho's air, and reactivated 2.5 million tons of mercury, releasing it back into the air.
WINTER SPORTS — The photo above comes today from Revelstoke Mountain Resort, a day's drive north in British Columbia, where the ski area operators were stoked to wake up and see the first snowfall of the season in the Canadian Rockies area.
Revelstoke Mountain is Canada’s Newest Ski Resort, claiming to have the most vertical in North America – 5620ft!
MOUNTAINEERING — Safely below the snowline, I was hiking in the Alps near Chamonix, France, last week when 9 climbers were killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe. It was particularly eery for me and my family, since we had just shared a train ride with a South Africa couple who had just climbed the peak — and we had shared breakfast on a previous day with a man who was headed up to climb.
The tragedy in bringing international attention to what appear to be increasing danger and unpredictibility in snow-country climbing and backcountry skiing.
Following the tragedy in the Alps as well as another on Mount McKinley, the New York Times has published this report citing veteran climbers pointing out that today’s conditions are combining to create a volatile highball of risk.
OUTDOOR WEATHER — It's June 6, 2012, and the folks at Schwetizer Mountain Resort above Sandpoint are reporting … SNOW.
Check out the mountain's video weather report about a twist that's keeping huckleberry blossoms in their buds.
I don't know how it is where you are or what it will be like a few minutes from now. But the fog I encountered while riding my bike to work this morning was the thickest I can recall in years.
I wonder how widespread it was.
I guess I could turn on one of the newsroom TVs and check out some Live Team Coverage of the conditions.
But I'm not THAT curious.
The soundtrack for my bike ride home this afternoon was bird chirping.
Seemed like way more than usual. It was loud, insistent and all around me.
And though I can't say for sure, it sounded to me as if they were commenting on the weather. Perhaps they were suggesting that today's version of spring was (not) for the birds.
A tweet from Katie Utehs/Krem expresses my sentiments exactly re: grapple currently falling outside my office window on Northwest Boulevard: “Mother nature you're killing me! What is this slush falling from the sky?” Is it time to sacrifice a local weather forecaster in the nearest volcano to see if we can get things changed around?
Question: What do you make of grapple/snow on March 26?
I’ve had many Press subscribers ask me recently to explain just how I measure the snowfall at my location on Player Drive in the northwestern corner of Coeur d’Alene. They also ask me why I seem to gauge more snow during a particular period or season than in their parts of town. First, we are at an elevation on Player Drive that’s nearly 100 feet higher than down near Lake Coeur d’Alene at the resort. The lake likewise tends to keep surrounding areas a bit warmer during the winter months, hence less snow. The second reason that we frequently see more of the white stuff in my part of town is that are are in a ‘snowbelt corridor’ that runs from just north of I-90 northward through Rathdrum and Twin Lakes/Cliff Harris, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (2007 Kathy Plonka SR file photo of Cliff Harris)
Question: How would you rate Winter 2011-12 as compared to other Inland Northwest winters?
Here is Ashley Steinhart's forecast for March.
“In like a horde of ravening ice weasels, out like a drooling moose.”
(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
The winter’s first real snowfall blankets the city, with more predicted, and for a moment the flakes have stopped falling. A window in the weather has opened and the time is right.
I pick up the snow shovel that is kept beside the back door this time of year and it doesn’t take long to find a rhythm. As I work my way down the driveway, the shovel slides cleanly over the concrete, scooping up mounds of the fresh white powder. Up and down the street other people have come outside, moving like dark shadows against the brightness of the snow. A few call out to a neighbor but most, like me, work silently.
The city’s big plows push up the main street, scraping against the asphalt as they clear the streets for the morning commute. I catch a glimpse of the flashing yellow lights as they speed past at the corner and then the quiet returns.
When shoveling snow, when working or exercising in any way, it’s hard not to marvel at the intricate mechanics of the human body. The heart pumps , the mind directs, the muscles obey, the bones bear weight and the process repeats so quickly and smoothly we forget that we are, at our core, a living machine. Built to work.
The cold air bites at my face and my fingers begin to ache so I stop and pull off my gloves, tucking my hands under my coat, pressing them against my stomach. My body, warmed by the exercise, comforts itself and soon I am back at work and my mind plays over people and projects and problems as I push forward, and, as always seems to happen when my hands are busy and my mind is free, there is a clarity that too often escape me indoors. I am startled when an answer, a solution or simple resolution that has been eluding me, pops suddenly into my head.
The snow sparkles like diamonds scattered over the ground in front of me, catching the reflection of the single lightbulb that hangs over the garage and I am reminded that with each shovelful I am lifting and tossing away more tiny, singular, crystals than I could ever count. But it is only the ones that catch the light for an instant and glint in the night that stand out.
It is, when you think about it, the same with ideas and and memories and shooting stars. There are more around and within us than we can ever imagine and yet we only glimpse the precious few that streak through the deep quiet of solitude and, without warning, light up the dark.
(See more of my work at my CAMera photo/travel blog)
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons and can be reached at email@example.com
Good morning, Netizens…
It's here! It's here!
After nearly a week spent forecasting doom and gloom about winter snowfall coming and destroying most lifeforms in the Pacific Northwest, the snow actually began arriving, bringing with it winter, just yesterday. Almost immediately the streets began more closely resembling skating rinks than public thoroughfares. Before anyone construes that I am casting aspersions on the good character of Spokane Public Works Department snow removal technicians, much less our new Mayor, it typically takes a few days of snow piled hock-deep on the middle of our street before I begin growling to myself.
We haven't gotten that far YET. We have a few people who haven't learned (or remembered) how to drive on snowy roads. A four-wheel-drive does not automatically give you the right to drive at ludicrous speeds on icy streets anytime of your choosing. There is a law for that: it is called gravity, and you might do well to heed it before driving too fast on the roads today.
Egads, it's winter. Finally. Now everybody can quit bitching about how we haven't had any winter weather.
Snow update: Bogus Basin has gotten 9 inches of new snow, for a base of 12 inches and a summit depth of 16 inches. There's no announcement yet as to a possible opening for the local, non-profit ski resort that's gone dry so far this year, but one could come tonight during the “Get Louder for Powder” party on the Basque Block in downtown Boise; mountain supporters are being asked to wear ski clothes and goggles to the 5-8 p.m. bash of live music, food, beer and wine. It's still snowing in Boise, too; there's about 3 inches of wet snow on the ground outside the state Capitol. And at noon, Brundage Mountain at McCall reported 15 inches of new snow since 5 p.m. yesterday, 24 inches in the last 24 hours.