Saturday, June 30, 2012

What weather pattern changes?

Its been a funny year for weather so far in 2012.  I don't mean funny ha ha, I mean funny strange.  This winter was the most depressing winter in my half century plus memory.  No snow at all in area we like to play in, central Minnesota and most of northern Wisconsin.  The ski races we normally compete in were cancelled and dowhill areas were limited by how much snow they could afford to make, if the weather was cold enough, that is.  For those who rejoiced in this winter, I would strongly encourage you to get the hell out of here.  Buy a nice single wide in Sun City or Boca Raton and settle down to an exciting and stimulating life of 75F and sunny, your very own little Groundhog Day. On the western end of the country, No1 Son in Portland was sending me gloating emails about yet another 20" dump of snow in the Mount Hood area.  This is not the Champagne Powder of the Steamboat area of Colorado of course, but is referred to as Cascade Concrete, heavy wet snow yet plenty of fun to play on.  Feast or famine I guess.

That same scenario has continued into this summer.  This year April was May and May was April around here.  Apples will be pricey this fall because many of the trees blossomed early and then were covered with snow.  Stock up on your apple futures right now.  Another product of the northland, maple syrup, will be in short supply as well.  Warm days and below freezing nights are needed to get the sap flowing.  Warm all the time means very little sap flow and bitter sap near the end of the run.  In our world of cause and effect, no sap flowing meant Podman pulled his taps and buckets and joined the Amtrak pub crawl with us to Portland, OR.  Where we went up on the slopes of Mt. Hood and experienced what nine feet of snow looked like.

Meanwhile, in just the last couple weeks my sis-in-law, JeremiahJohnstone, was fighting one of the many fires in New Mexico and had to drag a woman from a burning trailer.  When I spoke with her the infrence was 'too dumb to evacuate' but that's neither here nor there.  Tinder dry weather all along the Front Range has the USFS ground and air crews scrambling.  Just Wednesday I received an email from my friend Carol in Boulder, CO, "a fire near south Boulder has  put my neighborhood under a pre-evacuation order.  Just now I saw flames on Bear Peak, to the immediate west of me.  We had a few minutes of rain but mostly lightning, a real danger in our tinderbox of a state".  Just yesterday a note from our sea kayaking 'Man in Black' down in Baraboo, WI noted that that part of the state is under a burning ban and that only campfires in rings would be allowed this 4th of July.

A few hours north of there a burning ban is not necessary.  A significant chunk of Duluth has been washed into Lake Superior, per the image above, causing $100 million in damage to the area.  In addition the long term effects of this 500 year flood on Lake Superior won't be know for years.  Speculation is that an entire two year class of Steelhead have been wiped out in the north shore streams.  When we crossed from Little Sand Bay to Sand Island last Saturday with the SKOAC Intro class. not only was the water brown rather than its usual brilliant blue, but there was lots of debris in the water ranging from birch bark to logs that would tear the lower unit out of a motor, were any boaters dumb enough to run wide open after seeing the debris.  No one has a good idea of how long it will take to settle or what will happen when it does, per the linked article above.

If you've read this far I'm sure you are wondering where the hell is he going with this.  I guess my point is to look around you, given your own personal experience and that of your friends and relatives, and let me know whether you think the climate is changing or not.  The fact that 10,000 year ago most of us in Minnesota and Wisconsin were sitting under 100 feet of glacial ice, and that before that fossils would indicate that we were at the bottom of a large warm sea, would tend to make us certain that climate does change.  Whether or not that change is being accelerated by human activity seems to be accepted by roughly 97% of the scientists in the field. The thing that makes some people skeptical of climate change is the same thing that makes a certain number of people believe that John Denver was a sniper in Vietnam before getting into songwriting, or that Mr Rogers wore those long sleeved cardigans to hide the gnarly tattoos on his forearms.  Unfounded, made up, and ridiculous internet crap, crap that really doesn't take all that much effort to debunk.  All I want to do with this little post is to encourage people to look around them, talk to friends and relatives, and maybe do a little hunting on a fact checking site like  And do it with an open mind please.  If you want to confirm your belief that handling poisonous snakes is your road to salvation and redemption you can easily do that on the internet, although as the sites author so succinctly states, "take my opinions with a grain assault".  There you go!  It's much like the guy standing on the spit of Rocky Island in the Apostles, hat blowing off from a south wind and three footers breaking at his feet, while listening to a NOAA weather radio report of  'light and variable winds and waves under two feet'.  He can choose either to believe what he hears on the media or go with his own observations of what's happening locally.   All I ask is that you take a look around and then use your resources and your brain to arrive at an informed opinion.
(photo credits: NOAA sat photos, JeremiahJohnstone, PBS, some guy in a small plane)


xtremewriting said...

I always want to share your posts directly from your page - is there anyway to add a Facebook/Twitter share? (regardless, I'll continue to share by copying and pasting the URL) :)!

DaveO said...

I have serious reservations about associating anything with Facebook and also refuse to be limited by 141 characters or whatever it is. Thanks for reading and sharing.