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Thursday, September 22, 2016

What is the Equinox??


I like to think of it as the Snake of Sunlight…

The word equinox was formed by two Latin words: "Equi" is the Latin prefix for "equal" and "nox" is the Latin word for "night." The equal refers to the fact that the amount of daylight and darkness on this day are almost equal.   – 12 hours – all over the world. (For all practical purposes, the amount of daylight and darkness on the equinox can be considered equal. Scientists are quick to point out it is not exactly the same – but, let’s face it scientists are famous for splitting hairs and atoms and they want all of their science nerd friends to know that they know it’s not technically exact.)

The September equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses Earth’s Equator – from north to south.
On any other day of the year, either the southern hemisphere or the Northern Hemisphere tilts a little towards the Sun. But on the 2 equinoxes, the tilt of Earth's axis is perpendicular to the Sun's rays, like the illustrations shows
Earth orbits the Sun at a slant, which is why equinoxes and solstices happen.

 Shorter days ahead…The days (length of daylight)  will now grow shorter until the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year, become equal at the Vernal (spring)  equinox in March, then grow longer until the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year in June.

The Autumnal equinox is known by many names - Fall Equinox, September Equinox, the beginning of fall.  Keep in mind the Northern Hemisphere’s Autumnal Equinox is the Southern Hemisphere’s Vernal Equinox- but it is the September equinox for the whole planet.

The “Meteorological Seasons”.  Meteorologists and climatologists have come up with their own calendar and named it after themselves. They don’t recognize the “astronomical seasons” like rest of the world -so they don't consider today the first day of fall.  Heaven’s no – They have to start early.  How else would they  “predict” the weather and tell us what’s happening before it happens?
Weather folks start autumn on Sept. 1, the first day of winter Dec. 1, the first day of spring March 1 and the first day of summer June 1. Each of those seasons, known as "meteorological seasons," runs three full months and they are based on the annual temperature cycle instead of the earth's rotation around the sun.

Traditions and Folklore
Many cultures and religions celebrate holidays and festivals around the September equinox.
The Snake of Sunlight

The snake of sunlight at Chichen Itza, Mexico.The snake of sunlight on the stairs of the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico.
A famous ancient equinox celebration was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico.
The pyramid, known as El Castillo, has 4 staircases running from the top to the bottom of the pyramid's faces, notorious for the bloody human sacrifices that used to take place here. The staircases are built at a carefully calculated angle which makes it look like an enormous snake of sunlight slithers down the stairs on the day of the equinox.




Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Pacific Northwest: Snow Capital of the U.S.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog   January 26, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The U.S. snow depth analysis shows a dramatic picture this morning:  huge amounts of snow over the Northwest U.S., but virtually nothing over the Northeast U.S. (see below).  Washington State has greater depths than any other state (mainly in the Cascades), with amounts exceeded only by British Columbia, the Saudi Arabia of water resources.  British Columbia snow is a big positive for us, of course, since the Columbia drains southward and many of us head to Whistler or other south BC ski areas.

Serious folks in the snow business like to look at snow water equivalent (SWE) instead of snow depth.  SWE tells us the liquid water equivalent (the depth of water if the snowpack was melted) of the frozen water in the snowpack and is a better measure of the water availability when the snowpack melts during the spring.  The SWE for this AM (see below) shows massive amounts in our area, with substantial SWE in the northern and central Rockies.  Bad news over the eastern U.S., where preternatural warmth--reaching the lower 70s was enjoyed during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The temperatures back east were simply startling and opposite of the severe cold they experienced the  last two winters.  Take a look at the max temperatures on Christmas Eve Day.   72F in New York City and Albany.   69F in Boston.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Pacific Northwest: Snow Capital of the U.S.

The U.S. snow depth analysis shows a dramatic picture this morning:  huge amounts of snow over the Northwest U.S., but virtually nothing over the Northeast U.S. (see below).  Washington State has greater depths than any other state (mainly in the Cascades), with amounts exceeded only by British Columbia, the Saudi Arabia of water resources.  British Columbia snow is a big positive for us, of course, since the Columbia drains southward and many of us head to Whistler or other south BC ski areas.


Serious folks in the snow business like to look at snow water equivalent (SWE) instead of snow depth.  SWE tells us the liquid water equivalent (the depth of water if the snowpack was melted) of the frozen water in the snowpack and is a better measure of the water availability when the snowpack melts during the spring.  The SWE for this AM (see below) shows massive amounts in our area, with substantial SWE in the northern and central Rockies.  Bad news over the eastern U.S., where preternatural warmth--reaching the lower 70s was enjoyed during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The temperatures back east were simply startling and opposite of the severe cold they experienced the  last two winters.  Take a look at the max temperatures on Christmas Eve Day.   72F in New York City and Albany.   69F in Boston.


Eastern U.S temperatures have been much warmer than normal all fall.   Here is the anomaly (difference from normal) of max temperature for the past 90 days.  Western WA has actually been a bit below normal.

Why?   The proximate reason is unusually persistent high pressure over the eastern U.S..  Here is the anomaly (in tens of meters)  of the heights at a mid-level of the atmosphere (500hPa) for the past 90 days. . Red means higher heights (pressure) than normal.  High heights are associated with warmer temperatures below.

This is probably the result of natural variability, no reason to expect it is connected with global warming.  What about El Nino?   Probably not at this point.   We have yet to see the normal El Nino circulation changes, which generally are most profound after January 1st and certainly our recent weather in the Northwest is not El Nino-like.  

Finally, some folks in the lowlands may enjoy some snow tomorrow:  those on the Kitsap and SE of the Olympics.  Here is the 24 snowfall ending 4 AM Monday.   Some snow extending over the the Hood Canal area and over parts of Kitsap.  Light snow in the Cascades (few inches).  None over Seattle, so our mayor can relax.


Most of the Kitsap snow will fall tomorrow morning as a modest front crosses our region

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Earth from Space - Dramatic Pictures of our Planet

Incredible photos from the International Space Station

Hurricane Danny. Keeping an eye on you from the International Space Station. Looks like you're 1st in the Atlantic this year. Stay safe below! (Photo courtesy Scott Kelly / NASA)


Been hanging out with the Bahamas again, it never gets old. (Photo courtesy Scott Kelly / NASA)












#GoodMorning to those in the western #USA. Looks like there's a lot going on down there. #YearInSpace (Photo courtesy Scott Kelly / NASA)Kelly / NASA)













#Aurora and all that jazz over #Chicago city lights. #YearInSpace (Photo courtesy Scott Kelly / NASA)
Day 195. Day went by like a flash of #lightning. Good night from @space_station! #YearInSpace (Photo courtesy Scott Kelly / NASA) 

#MiddleEast. So much history, so much tragedy. #YearInSpace. (Photo courtesy Scott Kelly / NASA)



Sunday, November 22, 2015

13 FEET of snow, 65 mph winds Mt. Rainier

 Just another day atop Mt. Rainier

13 FEET of snow, 65 mph winds -- just another day atop Mt. Rainier
You think it's been a little stormy around Seattle this weekend? Child's play to the Mt. Rainier summit.

How's this for a weekend forecast: Between 122 and 162 inches of snow (10-13 FEET!), 65 mph winds, and temperatures in the 20-30 degree range, making wind chills near zero.
At least, that's what the automated forecasts have from the National Weather Service. Check it out:



Now, crazy extreme weather is nothing new for the summit -- you're half way to general flight paths and, of course, there's no other topography around to stand in the way of a raging atmosphere.

But still, even by summit standards, that has to be pretty intense. I'd hope any climbers wouldn't be daring enough to think this is the right time to attempt a climb.

I have to give a shout out to this this ski site that was first to notice the forecast. For skiers, we of course aren't looking at 13 feet of snow anywhere where there are chair lifts, but Mt. Baker and Stevens Pass should get their first decent coating of the season.

Apple Cup 2015 Kicks Off time set

Cougs, Huskies will tee it up early on Black Friday
It's an early one, and the stakes are high as the Washington
State Cougars face the Washington Huskies in the Apple Cup 
on Black Friday.
    (1200)WWWllllllnnWWWWelcome back to a Black Friday Apple Cup once again. The Washington State 
Cougars and Washington Huskies will face off in Seattle in the final regular season
 game of the season on the day after Thanksgiving, and it's going to be a (relatively) 
early one. On Monday, the Pac-12 announced that the Cougs and Huskies will kick
 the Apple Cup off at 12:30 pm PT on Nov. 27th, live on FOX.
We know what's at stake here. The Huskies, with four wins on the year, need to beat
 Oregon State this weekend to even have a shot at going into the last week with bowl
 eligibility on the line. This means, in all likelihood, that the already bowl eligible,
and red hot, Cougs have a chance to improve their own bowl positioning while
 keeping their hated rival out of the postseason.
In a bit of a weird twist for a conference that probably wants to show off its marquee
 rivalry games, as well, Oregon and Oregon State will kick the Civil War off at 1 p.m.
PT, right on the heels of the Apple Cup beginning.
We'll be back with plenty of Apple Cup coverage next week. Until then, plan your
days and shopping accordingly. The Cougs have a chance to finish strong, and the 
Apple Cup may just present a very sweet opportunity to play the role of spoiler
 despite being favorite.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Washington is in a drought - According to the Feds

Cliff  Mass Weather Blog

November 19, 2015

How can we be in a drought if there is flooding?


 According to our government, the entire state is in at least moderate drought, with NW Washington and eastern Washington being in severe or extreme drought.

The Drought-affected Snoqualmie Valley

THIS IS RIDICULOUS!  There is absolutely no objective measure showing that western Washington is abnormally dry.  And their changes do not recognize the HUGE amount of moisture that has fallen on the Cascades--on both sides.  I found it hard to understand how NOAA (the National Weather Service) and other groups can allow such a subjective and obviously wrong measure to become the NATION'S MAIN DROUGHT INDEX.   And let me assure you, I can point out equally problematic drought appraisals in other parts of the country.

The current official US Government Drought Monitor graphic for Washington State is shown below. 



Our society needs to plan and make adaptations for upcoming climate change.   Products like the Drought Monitor will hinder efforts to do so in a rational, robust fashion. 
If it is evident that there is no drought, why is the Drought Monitor saying we are NOW in a serious drought?  Read on..

Many STATE AND LOCAL ENTITIES USE THE US DROUGHT MONITOR, such as Washington State and the Dept of Ecology Drought Page, which features the Drought Monitor information at the top of their webpage! (see below)


As I will demonstrate, the NOAA Drought Monitor information is unscientific and subjective.  More of a political and motivational tool than reliable guidance to make key decisions.

First, it is ridiculous to claim that our entire state is in moderate or more severe drought.  There are stronger words I could have used, but this is is a family friendly blog.

Many of our local RIVER ARE FLOODING with nearly all Washington rivers running above normal. For example, here is the latest USGS streamflow map.  Nearly the entire state has streamflows that are well above normal (green, blue, and black), with some of the largest flows over the eastern slopes of the Cascades.
 The latest NW River Forecast Center summaries show many rivers in serious flood stage over our state from the Yakima River in eastern Washington, to the Snoqualmie, to the Chehalis, and more.   Doesn't look like drought there.


Well, what about PRECIPITATION?  Most of the state is above normal (greens and blues), including all of western Washington, the Cascades, including the eastern slopes, and most of far eastern Washington.  And where it is low (Columbia Basin), it is only a bit below normal.  And those folks generally get their water from the Columbia River, which is at normal levels.


How about the official CROP MOISTURE index?  Way above normal in western WA and normal in the east.
I know what you are thinking, what about SNOWPACK? The U.S. Government SNOTEL sites range from 42 to 205% of normal.   And many of our ski areas will be opening early for Thanksgiving (e.g., Baker, Whistler).


Many of our RESERVOIRS ARE WELL ABOVE NORMAL from recent rains.  Take Seattle.  Here is the total storage of the Tolt and Chester Morse reservoirs.  Levels have jumped to WAY ABOVE normal and are about 80% full.  No problems with having enough water for next summer at this rate.
Even reservoirs on the eastern slopes that feed the critical Yakima River are well above normal - and rising! (red asterisks).   We are on track to completely fill the Yakima reservoirs earlier than normal.

 It is silly to suggest that we are in a drought.  We are not.   And typical precipitation during even strong El Nino years is generally at or slightly below normal, so there is no reason to expect a drought ahead.

Now, I know what you are wondering.  If it is evident that there is no drought, why is the Drought Monitor saying we are NOW in a serious drought?

Now we get to the embarrassing part of the blog.   The Drought Monitor  is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

And now the key point:  it is a SUBJECTIVE, QUALITATIVE BLEND of  all kinds of information, including subjective appraisals of impacts.  It is not a strictly objective index based on precipitation, soil moisture, and the like.  And the folks that make this index tend to seriously exaggerate drought, as should be obvious to anyone who read the early part of my blog.  I will let you speculate why they are producing an unreliable product.

The Drought Monitor is unscientific, subjective and is doing the nation and our region a disservice by providing unreliable information that will lead authorities and governments to make the wrong decisions.   It is also being used by some to hype the current impacts of climate change produced by anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

Our society needs to plan and make adaptations for upcoming climate change.   Products like the Drought Monitor will hinder efforts to do so in a rational, robust fashion.  It should be ended and replaced by a rational, completely objective product.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WSU Football Facts

 

The Washington State Cougars football family is one of the most passionate in the country.

 
 
Playing in the PAC-12 Conference, the Cougars play the best competition on the West Coast.
 
Wazzu has played over 1,000 football games since they first fielded a team in 1893 and are one of the oldest programs in the westewestern United States.
 
1900 WSU Football Team.  At that time it was known as Washington Agricultural College
 
 
 
 The Cougars have won 4 conference championships and played in over 10 bowl games, including 4 Rose Bowl appearances.
 
Wazzu fans spread the entire country, and Pullman is a tough place to play if you are not wearing the Cougars Crimson and Grey.
 
 The Cougars run onto the field through a cloud of smoke, and chants of “Wazzu” that are deafening. Gamedays in Pullman are as high energy as anywhere in the PAC-12 North, and
 
 



keep your eye out for the Washington State flag that has flown on every college game day set since 2003

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