Tag archive for winter

What I Wanted (was winter)

That’s my interpretation of the basic meaning in a poem from Tracy Herd via Poetry Daily:

What I Wanted

was such a plump, bountiful
landscape of snow, more
than I’d ever dared wish for.
That was back when we had
proper winters, long ago,
when lawns and driveways
vanished: there were
no boundaries. Fences, walls,
gardens and homes dropped off
the edge of the world.
There was a muffled
silence each night when
darkness married with snow
to wake me from dreams
that began and ended
with the snow. I was hidden
from view behind a tree
whose branches were
perilously bent and laden
with snow, watching
a dark figure disappear;
then I would slip out fearlessly,
sure-footed and fleet,
with my magnifying glass
and pocket torch to follow
the tracks that led off as far
as a child’s eye could see,
and then a little further.

Tracey Herd

Not in This World
Bloodaxe Books / Dufour Editions

Reached into the upper 80’s today in Southern California. Hotter tomorrow. We have not had a “proper winter” yet and it seems that spring is on the way out already here in early April.

Full Story »

Uh-oh CA: Ridiculously Resilient Ridge is back

Despite a couple of mild rains, we haven't seen any sizeable precipitation in some time. Craig Miller of KQED in San Francisco explains why:

You might’ve noticed a conspicuous absence lately: rain.

In fact, with a scant few days remaining in the month, much of Northern California is on track for a record-dry January. The winter storms that had us scrambling in December have largely dried up, raising the prospect of a fourth year of drought. We had two big bursts that qualify as atmospheric river storms and then … crickets.

If this sounds somewhat familiar, flash back to the beginning of 2013, when, after a similarly soggy December, almost in sync with the New Year’s ball dropping in Times Square, the tap suddenly shut off — and stayed off.

It turned out that a big, bloated bubble of high pressure had parked itself over the West Coast and did not move. It caught the eye of Daniel Swain, then a 23-year-old doctoral student in climate science at Stanford University.

“It was going on and on, well beyond that maximum that we normally see and persisting over months,” Swain recalls. “And not only over months but then recurring essentially over the course of two consecutive winter seasons.”

He started writing about it on his California Weather blog and decided to give it a name: the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. It stuck. In fact, the “Triple-R” as it’s now known in weather geek shorthand, has become enough of “a thing” that it has its own Wikipedia page.

We've discussed the "RRR" on this site before: Is this is a repeat of our unhappy experience in 2013 and 2014?.

“No,” California State Climatologist Mike Anderson told [Craig Allen of KQED] at a recent drought briefing. “This is very different from the pattern that set up last year, where we had a ridge that extended up into Canada, and was reinforced and lasted six weeks.”

“The pattern we’re in now is more of a transient pattern where you may see a ridge develop but it may just as easily break down,” Anderson continued. “In this case, the patterns that we see in the jet streams and the oceans are not all moving in the same direction to create such a ridge. The jet stream is in a position where it will push through and will have an easier time than it did last year.”

Boy do I hope Mr. Anderson is right. Otherwise we might get a pattern something like this.



Plus, Michelle L'Heureux writes for NOAA, chances of an El Nino are fading.

Mid-week update: latest forecast shows sun with little or no precipitation this week in SoCal. 

Full Story »

NOAA: Arctic Warming = cold winters for Eastern US

Today the National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration released the Arctic Report Card for 2014. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, but the first consequence of that warming, according to our national experts, is very very cold winters for the eastern United States. 

To quote: 

The warming Arctic atmosphere was strongly connected to lower latitudes in early 2014 causing cold air outbreaks into the eastern USA and warm air intrusions into Alaska and northern Europe.

An image depicting this coldness from January of this year makes the point graphically:



Full Story »

Why are Americans so extreme?

Heather Havrilesky wants to know what it is about extreme fitness that fascinates Americans:

A blond woman in a hot pink spandex tank hoists a sledgehammer over her shoulders, then slams it down with a dull thud onto the big tire in front of her. Beside her, another woman swings her sledgehammer even higher, grimacing and groaning with the effort. Their faces are bright red and dripping with sweat. It’s 9:45 a.m. and 85 degrees, and the sun is glinting off the asphalt of the strip-mall parking lot where the women are laboring."Swing it higher, above your shoulder!” a woman bellows at them, even as they gasp each time they raise their hammers, each time they let them fall.

Scary thing is, Havrilesky isn't making this up:


As one woman pauses to wipe the sweat from her eyes, she spots me studying her. I’ve been trying not to stare, but it’s a strange spectacle, this John Henry workout of theirs, hammering away in front of a women’s fitness center, just a few doors down from a smoke shop and a hair salon. It looks exhausting, and more than a little dangerous. (What if a sledgehammer slips and flies from one woman’s hands, braining her companion?) It also looks fruitless. Why not join a roofing crew for a few hours instead? Surely, there’s a tunnel somewhere that needs digging, or at least some hot tar that needs pouring.

Love it when a writer can get sarcastic in the sober, sedate NYTimes. But she has an idea — Puritanism, of course. OF COURSE!

The whole notion of pushing your physical limits — popularized by early Nike ads, Navy SEAL mythos and Lance Armstrong’s cult of personality — has attained a religiosity that’s as passionate as it is pervasive. The “extreme” version of anything is now widely assumed to be an improvement on the original rather than a perverse amplification of it. And as with most of sports culture, there is no gray area. You win or you lose. You leave it all on the floor or you shamefully skulk off the floor with extra gas in your tank.

But our new religion has more than a little in common with the religions that brought our ancestors to America in the first place. Like the idealists and extremists who founded this country, the modern zealots of exercise turn their backs on the indulgences of our culture, seeking solace in self-abnegation and suffering. “This is the route to a better life,” they tell us, gesturing at their sledgehammers and their kettlebells, their military drills and their dramatic re-enactments of hard labor. And in these uncertain times, it doesn’t sound so bad to be prepared for some coming disaster — or even for an actual job doing hard labor, if our empire ever falls.

She's probably right. Here's another example that freaked me out — a laconic extreme hiker, who did (not walked) the John Muir Trail this summer when he had a few days to spare — and who now intends to through-hike the Pacific Crest Trail….in winter

Justin Licheter writes:

The plan is to try to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail this win­ter. By thru-hike, I mean use what­ever human pow­ered means of travel is best for the con­di­tions. This will range between, hik­ing, snow­shoe­ing, and back­coun­try ski­ing, and stay­ing along thePCT cor­ri­dor. We are call­ing it the PCT cor­ri­dor because due to con­di­tions and snow cover it will be vir­tu­ally impos­si­ble to stay on the trail at all times. Often the trail tread will be buried under 15 feet of snow.

Well, my research indicates that the winter is likely to be dry for the next couple of months. Perhaps Lichter and his companion will have finished before the big snows hit the Sierras. 

Full Story »

El Niño 2014 October forecast: Glass little over half full

NOAA released its October outlook for our winter, based on ocean temperatures, and continues to find a 60-65% chance of the appearance of the boychick.

Here's my fave set of graphs today, from another site, and here's my fave single graph:


These are tempeartures taken across a section of the equatorial Pacific, the vast belt across the widest girth of the planet, that the experts consider central for the formation of El Niño.

As you can see, this year is in the red — meaning warmer than usual ocean conditions, which harbingers a warm winter with possibility of wetness for California — but only by a tiny bit. 

It's especially small compared to big El Niño years such as 2010 and of course the epochal 1997-1998, a year of catastrophic weather that literally changed the world. Note too that the forecast was well in the red for 2012, a predicted El Niño, which did not develop and left us in drought. 

On the other hand, if you look at the depth of blue/cooling over recent years in this indicative region, you see a steadily diminishing. This was the point The New York Times made a month or so ago in a story with a conclusion that struck me as anomalously insightful. 

“Even if we don’t see an El Niño, it doesn’t mean California is going to be dry,” [the climatologist] said.

In fact, Mr. Halpert and Mr. Pierce said, one bright spot in the long-range outlook is that with the odds favoring at least a weak El Niño, the opposite weather phenomenon, known as La Niña, is less likely. La Niña occurs when Pacific water is colder than normal, and the result for California could be very dry weather.

“At least when you have a weak El Niño it’s not a La Niña,” Mr. Pierce said. “So that’s some limited good news.”

Impressive to me when a highly changeable news story remains relevant well after the pub date.

Full Story »

Winter sunset: Yosemite high country 2012

From YosemiteRanger:


Full Story »

La Niña dry winter prediction fails in 2010, experts agree

This fall experts, including the Forest Service, were predicting a strong La Niña condition likely to produce a dry winter, with heat and Santa Ana winds.

The oceanic pattern developed, but the prediction? 

Bzzzttt! Wrong. Here in Ventura County, we're at roughtly 150% of normal, and got pounded by about six inches of rain over the weekend, stranding literally dozens of hikers, including both a Sierra Club outing and a Boy Scouts outing, in the backcountry, requiring rescue. More rain is expected this week.

Leader of the forecasting pack Bill Patzert admits: the predictions were a bust

I have a rain gauge, but my old wheelbarrow makes the point more impressively…


Full Story » Comment (1)

Thin ice in the Arctic means cold winters back East?

Put perhaps as simply as possible, that's the speculation among some experts about the cold snowy winters experienced this year in many Northern hemisphere climates, such as New York.

Here's the most concise, detailed explanation I've found so far, from Climate Central:

Recent scientific studies have shown that the dramatic warming that has been occurring in the Arctic during the past few decades, along with the associated loss of sea ice cover, may be changing atmospheric circulation patterns throughout the northern hemisphere. This could be contributing to the recent outbreaks of unusually cold and snowy weather. Sea ice loss during the spring and summer melt season, which leaves a thinner and more sparse ice cover throughout the fall and early winter, is a key suspect in influencing winter weather patterns. When the ice melts, it allows incoming solar radiation to warm water and air temperatures, which in turn has an influence on atmospheric pressure and circulation, and may help shift Arctic air southward, while the Arctic remains unusually warm.

One meteorologist has described the pattern this way: "This pattern is kind of like leaving the refrigerator door ajar — the refrigerator warm up, but all the cold air spills out into the house."

It's important not to overlook the ancient planetary cycles, of course. Down here in SoCal, it feels the past few days as if La Niña has taken hold. It's cold and dry, with no sign of precip in sight. 


Full Story »

Winter sunsets in SoCal…

…are the best. Someday I'll find out why. Promise. 


[pic courtesy of Lauren Coyne] 

Full Story » Comment (1)

Australian Winter Turns Apocalyptic: Global Warming Blamed

Is my headline an exaggeration of reality? 

If you ask a denier site such as Watts Up With That, no doubt they would scoff, and say it's the usual natural variability.

But deniers not only ignore the bad news about global warming obvious to most people on the ground, in places like Sydney and SoCal, they cynically mislead shamefully often.

For instance, in this headline they misquote Bill Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Lab to imply that he questions the reality of global warming, though Patzert has made amply clear to myself and countless other reporters that global warming is a reality of the utmost seriousness, and the author of the post no doubt knows that.

It's sunspots, Watts Up says. Has nothing to do with the atmosphere.

Well, here's a chance to take a look and judge for yourself.

Here's the news from Sydney today, via the BBC:

Australia has experienced its warmest August on record amid soaring winter temperatures.

Climatologists have blamed both the effects of climate change and natural variability.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology says that August was a "most extraordinary month" with mean temperatures 2.47C above the long-term average.

August in Australia culminated in a record-breaking heat-wave across much of the continent.

In the Queensland town of Bedourie the temperature reached 38.5C. [101F]

Elsewhere, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have had their warmest winters on record.

That's right: winter.

101.3 doesn't sound so bad…for August. But what if it were February? 

Here's a graph that goes with the story, showing a slight temp trend for Oz winters:


But the irony in the story is found in the caption under the photo at the top of the page: 

Rivers are dry in some areas, and people have been enjoying unusually hot days.


Probably that was the work of some photo editor back in London, who for some reason felt compelled to obscure the nightmarish scene that was Sydney today.

Here's what Sydney really looked like, according to resident Tomhide via Flickr.



Full Story » Comments (3)