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.

Saturday/ thunder and lightning

There was a big storm with thunder and spectacular lightning, that moved over the city on Saturday night. Some flights to Seattle-Tacoma airport had to be diverted to Vancouver.

These are iPhone pictures that I took from my friends’ house, of the city skyline, looking westward to Puget Sound.

A compound lightning bolt behind the US Bank Center (pyramid top) building in the city skyline. On the far left is the Columbia Center (the city’s tallest) and to the right of the lightning bolt, the Rainier Square Tower building that is still under construction.
Here’s a longer cloud-to-cloud bolt that streaked across the skyline.
On the left, a lightning bolt in the distance. On the right is the exact same scene (some time later), lit up as bright as broad daylight, with the overhead lightning flashes.

Monday/ the end of summer

The unofficial end of summer in the United States is here: Labor Day.

Hurricane Dorian was wreaking havoc on The Bahamas on Sunday & Monday.
It really does not look as if it will make landfall on the Florida panhandle, though.

New image on Tue 9/3 show the destruction in the Abaco Islands, located in the northern Bahamas. [Source: New York Times, obtained from Terran Knowles/Our News Bahamas]

Thursday/ Dorian and its ‘cone of uncertainty’

We are in the peak of the hurricane season here in the States (mid August through end of October), and hurricane Dorian is projected to reach Florida on Monday.

We are seeing the familiar ‘cone of uncertainty’ graphic on TV screens, but research by Hurakan, a University of Miami team, revealed that many people do not understand these maps.
Some 40% of people do not feel threatened if they live just outside the cone. (Actually, the path of the hurricane is inside the cone only 60-70% of the time).
Some people think the cone shows the hurricane ‘gets bigger’ over time. (No. The cone is bigger because the more days into the future, the more uncertain the projections of the path of the hurricane become).
People who are inside the cone, but far from the center, tend to prepare less than those closer to the central line. (As pointed out earlier, the path of the hurricane can be anywhere inside the cone, or even outside of it).

Hurricane Dorian’s projected path (from NOAA’s website). Floridians would do well to understand that the hurricane can make landfall anywhere on the east coast of the panhandle and that heavy rain, storm surges, flooding, wind and other hazards may affect areas outside of the cone (as noted in the black box at the top).

Tuesday/ the last of summer

We will get to 88°F (31°C) here in the city tomorrow, possibly the last hot weather, in what has really been a mild summer.
The days are getting shorter and our sun sits lower in the sky, every day now.

A bee making the best of what’s still out there, on a ‘black and bloom’ anise or Brazilian Sage (Salvia guaranitica) that I found in Seattle’s University District. The sage flowers nearly continuously from spring until winter.

Friday/ no heat wave here

We are spared the heat wave that is gripping the Midwest and Northeast of the country.
The Seattle area may see 86°F/ 30°C by Sunday, but that is mild compared to the sizzling temperatures forecast for St. Louis, Washington DC and Boston.

The forecast for Saturday’s heat-indexed temperatures from Accuweather. Conversion: 95°F is 35°C | 100°F is 38°C | 105°F is 41°C | 110°F is 43°C.
The scene tonight at Volunteer Park at 8 pm or so. A smattering of people are listening to a violinist from South India, performing on the stage. Classical music barbarian that I am, I could not really appreciate the music, and so I left after a while.

Sunday/ jumped on a bike

I went bicycling with my friends on today, and tried out an electric-assist bicycle for the first time.

The bicycle has three gears, and performed very well. As far as I could tell, the electric assist from the battery is always-on (so no way to turn it off).
On even grades, the electric assist feels a little like cheating! – but it does come in very handy on long uphill climbs.

I’m ready! I found this bike a few blocks away from my friends’ house, with the help of Uber’s app, scanned its QR code with my phone, unlocked it, and it was ready to go. JUMP is Uber’s bike-share service that competes with Lime, the other bike rental player in Seattle.
Here’s Lake Washington, during a quick stop in Seward Park. It was a beautiful day (75°F/ 24°C) with sun and puffy white clouds.