Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Re: That one meteorological incantation

We all know…

Rain, rain, go away

Come again some other day

Sure.

But you might have noticed that saying it seldom works.

Why?

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.

Climate change not kind to kindly pikas

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.

When it’s 10 degrees and the heat goes out…

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!”

Up where the air is clear…

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…

Now gracing Statehouse grounds: Snowman

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…

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.

Where’s your messiah now?

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.

Rain, rain, put out the fires…

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.

Tuesday Video: Watching the Arctic thaw

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a number of cameras near the North Pole and this is a timelapse from one, beginning on June 30 and running until August 12. This is something worth watching in full screen view as the ice gets smaller and smaller.

Seasons are changing: Revelstoke gets first snowfall

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! 

July 2012 was the hottest month ever

As reported yesterday, July was the hottest month ever recorded in the Lower 48 states, breaking a record set during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The U.S. also kept setting records for weather extremes, including drought, heavy rainfall, unusual temperatures, and storms. The average temperature last month was 77.6 degrees. That breaks the old record from July 1936 by 0.2 degree, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and their records go back to 1895.

Virginia broke all records with the hottest July ever and a lot of other states reached their maximum. 

Global warming new factor in mountaineering safety

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.

You didn’t put your skis away yet, did you?

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.

And now let’s turn to the weather

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.

Unprintable quotes

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.

Katie: You’re Killing Me, Ma Nature

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?

Harris: Measuring Snowfall

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?

March: In lieu of lions and lambs

Here is Ashley Steinhart's forecast for March.

"In like a horde of ravening ice weasels, out like a drooling moose."

The Solitude of Snow

(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 catmillsap@gmail.com

Winter arrives, and with it joy in chaos…

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.

 

Dave

Snow update: 9” new at Bogus so far…

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.

Extreme weather events and climate change

This is a great feature from the National Resources Defense Council. It's an interactive map showing all the record weather events from the last year. According to the NRDC, "in 2011, there were at least 2,941 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US."

The map shows record snowfalls, record rainfalls, record high and low temperatures, and the affected range from disastrous events like floods, droughts and wildfire. While the image is a summary of the year — click here to watch a time-lapse video of 2011's record-busting weather, and to look at detailed summaries of extreme events in your state.

From the NRDC: 2011 has been a year of unparalleled extremes: 14 disastrous weather events in the US so far this year have resulted in over a billion dollars in property damage – an all-time record breaking number – and their estimated $53 billion price tag doesn’t include health costs. As shown recently, in a first-of-its-kind study published in the journal Health Affairs1, when health-related costs of extreme events are calculated, the total tally increases substantially and will likely continue to climb due to climate change. 7 of the 2011 extreme events – a record-high number – are the type expected to worsen due to climate change.

Windy days risky for hiking at Mount Spokane

MOUNTAIN WEATHER — "Today I hiked down to the Spokane Mountaineers chalet (near the cross-country ski trails) through knee-deep snow," said Holly Weiler, a club member and diehard hiker.

"Then I hiked back to the car and discovered a big tree across the driveway, right over my footprints from 30 minutes before!

"It made me change my mind about doing any other woodland hiking on this windy, windy day!"

What’s the ideal Thanksgiving weather?

A) Nippy and overcast. B) Sunny and unseasonably warm. C) Snow. D) Blue skies, cold. E) Rain. F) Other.

Live at 5

Broke my already erratic viewing boycott to check out how the local TV news would handle the weather.

Would they be in full "Storm Team" mode?

Wasn't disappointed. All three led with the news that it still might snow.

It's good to know that there are some things you can count on in this world.  

First snowfall hits Spokane region…

Good morning, Netizens…

 

I knew, as soon as I crept forth from my bed this morning, that during the early morning hours, some of that wretched snow would fall. Both my wife and I suffer in later life with what I call “weather joints”; whenever the weather is going to change, particularly if it involves moisture in any form or at least a change in the barometric pressure, our joints remonstrate with us about it, more often than not in advance. We both have known this weekend was going to be a meteorological “busy” time, with several weather fronts moving through the area.

 

An old shoulder injury and a faulty kneecap both were taking front row seats as soon as I hit the deck, muttering such inanities as, “Here's a little pain to start you on your way, Sunny Dave” and “You deserve this, you know!”

 

Our overnight half-inch snowfall contribution wasn't all that much, although the gusty winds last evening contributed its fair share of downed trees, power lines in the streets and general mayhem, most of which appears to have been repaired overnight. Areas of the South Hill and the outlying areas of Spokane appeared to have been hit the hardest, and although we in the near north side did not appear to have lost power not even once. The one positive note about last evening is that all the leaves from our pair of aspen trees that hadn't already hit the ground did so, and the leaves that had fallen were neatly moved into the neighbor's lawn, thus negating the need for us to rake leaves. Good move, Mother Nature, and thank you!

 

Today is the first day of the annual Fall Folk Festival, but this year, unlike nearly a decade in the past, neither of us nor our granddaughters will be in attendance for a remarkable number of reasons, a few of which I will elaborate upon at another time in the near-future. The Fall Folk Festival is a good show and it's still free which matters a great deal, even here in budgetary-challenged Spokane.

 

Of course, our Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, has announced to the news media that she is retiring by January. All things being equal, you will pardon me if I rebut her comments with an admonition for her not to let the door out hit her in the butt. Of course, as always, your opinions and ideas are worthy. As I always say, it's another day in paradise! Try to ignore the snow.

 

Dave

Snowflakes hit the foothills, and it’s Ski Swap time in Boise…

It is snowing - snowing! - right now in the Boise foothills. It's not sticking, but the timing is perfect for today's start of Boise's big annual Ski Swap, which opens at 5 p.m. today at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds, also known as "Expo Idaho." The swap, which benefits the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation, runs through Sunday; it costs $3 to get in, and is the place to find deals on new-to-you gear, from skis and snowboards to helmets and outfits, or unload your kids' outgrown gear and find replacements.

Sellers can take their gear in (11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today or 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday) to check it in for sale; the swap takes a 25 percent commission on items sold. The swap is open to buyers from 5-10 tonight (folks line up for the opening); 10-8 Saturday and 10-3 on Sunday.
  

A ‘Boise, Idaho rainbow sunrise’…

When my daughter, now 21, was little, she used to call this a "Boise, Idaho rainbow sunrise," and to this day, the phrase comes to mind when I see one. This morning's is gorgeous; it's chilly, just 34 degrees, but something to see.

Red tree appears, autumn is here…

Each year, the appearance of a single flame-red tree, amid a sea of green leafiness in Boise's North End, signals the start of fall for me; I first spotted it two days ago, but this was my first chance to snap a picture. Already, the foliage around it is starting to take on glints of gold.

Seasons change…

I was out of town the first part of this week, and caught something special Wednesday morning: The year's first snowfall at Lake Tahoe, shown here. After our warm, summery September, the season really is changing now, as Boise's chilly rain today attests. It must be time…