Tuesday/ graupel

I learned a new word today from our local TV weatherman: graupel.

Graupel is precipitation that forms when tiny, super-cooled water droplets glom onto snowflakes. The soft snowy pellets then fall down to earth.

This must be sleet or fine hail (hard pellets), that fell here in my yard today, and not graupel. Graupel’s consistency is that of opaque white snowy pellets.

Wednesday/ the Volunteer Park Water Tower

It was another beautiful day here in Seattle.
I wanted to get a clear view of Mt Rainier, and the observation deck of the Water Tower here in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill was a good place to go to get that. And hey, no entry fee: it’s free of charge.

The Water Tower in Volunteer Park was built in 1906 and is 75 ft (23 m) tall.
A Maurits Escher-esque illusion: does this staircase inside the Tower go up, or down? (It goes down).
The observation deck inside allows for 360 degree views. The sun was low on the horizon right by the Space Needle, though, and so I will have to go back in the morning some time, to take a nice Space Needle picture.

 

Ta-da! The Mountain* is completely out, a cloudless blue sky above it.
*Mt Rainier, a Strato-volcano mountain in the Cascade Range | Elevation 14,411 ft (4,392 m) | Last eruption: 1894.
This is the entrance/ exit facing Prospect St. MCMVI, says the Roman numerals: 1906. The brown signpost on the right says ‘Climbing Prohibited’. So that must mean that rock climbers have tried to scale the uneven outer brick wall with its toeholds and finger holds!

Tuesday/ lots of sunshine

There was sun and blue sky all day here in the Emerald City.
Even so, it was only 47 °F (8° C).

As I walked down to the Capitol Hill Library today, though, bright sunlight would bounce off windows from the buildings nearby and onto me, and I instantly felt the radiated heat on my face.

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope has produced the highest resolution image of the sun’s surface ever taken. In this picture, taken at 789 nanometers (nm) wavelength, we can see features as small as 30 km (18 mi) in size for the first time ever. The image shows a pattern of turbulent, “boiling” gas that covers the entire sun. The cell-like structures — each about the size of Texas — are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from the inside of the sun to its surface. Hot solar material (plasma) rises in the bright centers of “cells,” cools off and then sinks below the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection. In these dark lanes we can also see the tiny, bright markers of magnetic fields. Never before seen to this clarity, these bright specks are thought to channel energy up into the outer layers of the solar atmosphere called the corona. These bright spots may be at the core of why the solar corona is more than a million degrees. [Photograph: Highest resolution photo of Sun (NSF) as of January 20, 2020 NSO/AURA/NSF]

Saturday/ pink and blue street cars

The rain let up a little today, but some cold air moved in from the Pacific, pushing temperatures down again into the mid-40s (6° C).

Thank heavens for the rainbow crosswalks, and the blue and pink street cars, I thought, as I walked along Broadway today. They bring some color — to counter the gray skies and sidewalks.

Thursday/ the river in the sky

A break in the rain in January here in Seattle, means you have to jump at it, and go for a walk. We had an even rainier-than-usual start to the year here, with 8.04 in so far at Seatac Airport. The average for Jan. is 5.2 in.

It’s not over yet, for January rain! Another inch or two will get added to the rain totals for some places with an ‘atmospheric river’ moving in. (A little dramatic, that description, no?).  I guess it will help to alert people in flood-prone places to be on the lookout. There is a lot of snow on higher elevations that can melt with the rain and make trouble. [Meteorologist Jordan Steele on King5 TV].

Sunday/ raindrops keep falling on my head

I cut my walkabout in downtown Seattle short today when big raindrops started to come down again.
It was 52 °F/ 11 °C with blue skies when I started out, but grey rain clouds soon swept in from the Pacific.

It was still clear by the time I had walked down to the Capitol Hill train station, with its brand new apartment buildings ..
.. but by 4.20 pm the rain had arrived. This is the view looking towards West Seattle across Elliott Bay, from the top deck at Pike Place market. That’s the MV Kitsap ferry on the left (built in 1980), setting out for Bremerton. The one approaching in the distance is probably coming in from Bainbridge Island. (Ferry traffic was down for the first time in 7 years in 2019, by 3% from 2018. Officials note that the severe winter weather in Feb. 2018, as well as the construction of the new terminal at Colman dock, are probably the main reasons for the decline).

Friday/ checking the snowpacks

Wow .. the snowpack levels in the mountains and higher elevations have improved dramatically. Snoqualmie Pass (at 3,000 ft on Interstate 90) had 6.7 feet/ 2.04 m of snow in 6 days.

There should still be more accumulation to come, though.
April 1 of every year is (on average) when the snowpack depths peak, and the snow starts to melt in spring.

The latest snow telemetry (SNOTEL) report shows values that are now near normal for this time of year.

Tuesday/ more snow coming

My crude snow gauge (a ruler stuck into the snow on my deck railing), shows 59 mm (2.3 in) at my house the last 48 hrs.

It was nice to see the clouds clear a little this afternoon, with a little sun and blue sky.

There is a lot more snow coming tonight, moving in from over the Pacific.

Most of it will be to the north of Seattle, and on the mountains to the east and the west of the city.

Sunday/ light snow

A system with rain met arctic air from the Fraser Valley in Canada tonight here in the Pacific Northwest, and made for light snow on the ground here in the city.

I took this picture of my street is at 11 pm on Sunday night. There might be an inch or two more snow on the ground by Monday morning, say the meteorologists. Monday’s high will hover just below freezing (30°F/ -1 °C). Brrr!

Wednesday/ bushfires: the worst on record

It’s Christmas Day, but firefighters in South Australia, across the Adelaide Hills, are still battling to bring raging bushfires under control there.
Record low rainfall this year has contributed to the scorching of some 5 million hectares (that’s 19,000 sq miles) in Australia so far, by far the worst year on record.

What will it take to get the bushfires in Australia under control? The water bottle is for the koala, I think. (Pictures of koalas tended by firefighters have made the rounds in the media). The CFA on the jackets of the firefighters stands for Country Fire Authority,  a fire and emergency service in some parts of the country. [Cartoon by Dean Alston in the West Australian].

Saturday/ low on snow

We had relatively warm weather here the last week or so. A massive warmer-than-normal blob of water in the Pacific Ocean off the Washington coast may be to blame.

We also had the driest November in 40 years (only 1.71 in. of rain at Sea-Tac Airport, 26% of the average). That also means that the snowpack levels on the mountains in Washington State are lagging far behind the normal levels for this time of the year.

The leaves are all gone now – the scene on 20th Ave here on Capitol Hill on Saturday afternoon. It was definitely warm enough to go for a walk: 49°F/ 9.5°C.
The Washington State Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) report of Dec 8 shows the snowpacks lagging far behind their normal levels. I guess there is still time to make up the difference.

Thursday/ the sun is out, and the Mountain

On Wednesday and today, it was sunny, with lots of blue sky — a high of only 48°F/ 9°C, though.

The sun is out, and so is the Mountain. (Mt Rainier). In the Seattle city skyline, look for the new Rainier Square Tower, just to the right of the tallest skyscraper in the middle of the picture, the black Columbia Tower (opened 1985). [Picture taken today by Seattle photographer Tim Durkan, presumably from his bird’s eye view on an incoming flight. (Picture posted on Twitter @timdurkan)].
Here is my picture from last Friday of Rainier Square Tower (left), as I was walking towards 4th Ave. on University St. There is just a few more floors to cover up at the top. That’s Rainier Tower on the right (opened 1977).

Monday/ not a lot of rain, so far

November is Seattle’s rainiest month, with an average total of some 6 or 7 in. of rain.
So far this month, though, the rain gauge at Seattle-Tacoma airport had recorded only 0.86 in of rain through Sunday night.

Blobs of rain water, big and small, stick to the waxy leaves of the ‘Ascot Rainbow’ Euphorbia at the back of my house.

Saturday/ Venice, battling the rising waters

Here’s a little wry cartoon from German weekly magazine Die Spiegel, about the rising waters engulfing Venice. (The city is experiencing its worst flooding in 50 years).

‘Fantastic! Through climate change and high tides we can now come much easier and closer to Venice! [Cartoon by Klaus Stuttmann of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel].
Happier days for the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). This is circa 1979, where scenes from the coming-of-age movie ‘A Little Romance’ was shot. This is Diane Lane, making her movie debut as Lauren, the girl that falls in love with French boy Daniel (Thelonious Bernard).

Tuesday/ tornado!

Big, destructive tornadoes are a rare sight in South Africa, but one touched down near the town of New Hanover in KwaZulu-Natal province on Tuesday at 4 pm local time.

No fatalities have been reported so far, but some 30 houses and an electrical substation were damaged.

Update Thu 11/14: Two fatalities have been reported, from homes in the Mpolweni settlement that were struck by the tornado. More people are still reported as missing.

Tornado spotted near New Hanover in KwaZulu-Natal. This is some 40 miles from the port city of Durban, as the crow flies. The outlines of the Mersey electrical substation is visible in the picture. I could not find a report of its strength, but it could have been F-1 (73-112 mph winds). [Picture Credit: The still frame is from a clip posted on Twitter @StormReportSA1]

Wednesday/ still no rain

Wednesday marked the 12th day with no rain here in the Pacific Northwest, unusual for this time of year. There is a stubborn stationary high pressure system to the north, that keeps the rain away.

Picture & text from NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle on Twitter): Moonrise over Lake Washington, last light on Mount Rainier and Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds over Seattle at sunset late this afternoon. Sunset is now at 4.43 pm.

Monday/ more rain

More steady rain fell today. I see Seattle-Tacoma airport had measured 2.57 in. for the period from last Wednesday through this Sunday night.

We usually get a little less than the airport here in the city, so let’s say the city has gotten 2 inches or so.  (I really should get a rain gauge!). There is sunny weather on the way, but we may have to wait until Wednesday to get a lot of it.

A little sunbreak from late Saturday afternoon, here by my house. It’s great to see the sun come out for a bit when there has only been clouds and rain all day. The red leaves are from my Japanese maple tree (Acer palmatum).

Tuesday/ the euagarics are here

The gilled mushrooms (fancy name: euagarics) that usually pop out of the ground this time of year, have appeared again in my backyard.

The ones I have gotten so far, are not as red, nor as big, as years before. It could be because the soil has dried out these last two weeks. (That is about to change, though. The weatherman says we will get up to 2 inches of rain the next few days).

Gilled mushrooms are called euagarics by fungus aficionados. I believe these are fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), even though they are smaller and not quite as big and red as ones I had last year.

Sunday/ fall colors start to appear

It’s autumn – fall, as we say in the US – and the leaves are starting to change color. It was a nice sunny day (64° F/ 18° C), but the daylight shortens by 3 minutes every day now.

The blue leadwood (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) on my back porch still has some of its delicate flowers, and the green leaves have now turned red.