31 December 2016


An Arctic front is planning to drop in to visit for New Years Eve!

The traditional lowland-snow setup is in place, with high pressure far off the coast and cold lows sliding down the eastern side. Models have been showing it for some time, but few have forecast much on the ground; Arctic fronts are cold but pretty dry unless they can pull moisture from the Pacific at just the right moment. Too much marine air makes for an ugly slush-fall, too little brings just flurries and quick clearing. I recall watching one from my office window about 20 years ago, with rain showers and west wind; next time I looked the flags were limp, and soon howling from the north with a quick hour of very dry flakes. A great demo of how Arctic fronts behave!

Today the Weather Service accepted that conditions are 'better' than expected, so perhaps two inches will await us at the dawn of 2017. It should be snowing at midnight, so we can probably swap a snowy toast as the Age of Reason is replaced by the emerging (and hopefully brief) Twitter Age. We may not make it to midnight as we were up quite late last night, but a few fireworks will need lighting once darkness descends. Hm, fireworks and snowflakes - I suspect I've never seen that combination before!

Impressively cold air is supposed to stick around for most of the week, with highs around 30° and lows below 20°. That means a fine chilly setup for when the next moisture arrives, when the weather will once again become "interesting"!

26 December 2016


So that six inches is still around in patches, mostly woodpiles and decks but a few other sheltered spots as well. Now it's coming down again in advance of another batch of warmer air to follow overnight. Nothing like good King Wenceslas here, but pretty to watch. The Fiat now has chains but no 4wd yet, the long holiday weekend surely kept it from progressing.

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12/30: the final lumps of snow are nearly gone. Just in time for the 12/31 overnight Arctic front, which will likely drop an inch or two before dropping us into the freezer for several days! Chappy new year!

19 December 2016


Another two inches of snow fell with the storm that was supposed to clear out the cold air - but at 8am today the warm air began to win at last. It now has six inches to rinse away, so it won't be an immediate change, but the snow is dropping from all the fir-boughs. We have nowhere in particular to be today anyway.

The snow has been very pretty - and of course shoveling it is occasionally great exercise.

15 December 2016

two more snow bouts

After Tuesday's inch-plus we were hit with Thursday's "short storm". It would be a quick transition to rain and 40° - well that's what the models said. Instead we ended with 4 inches on the ground while the east wind pushed the powdery stuff around. I did get the lower/right chain tensioner in place, but that was it for the 4wd. After a mail-truck crushed the snow on our driveway Saturday we made it down to town on the 11th to grab a few things.

And then came yesterday.
We hit snow going north as we went south, and in Gresham it was slowing wildly and 26°. It took us from 3:30 to 9PM to make it home, going through downtown and up US30, where it reached 31° near Rainier. Our hill was easy sledding if we'd been going downhill; it took us 10 minutes to get up the last slopes at 800' and the driveway wasn't worth attempting. We're again at 4" total even as the last patches were melting away when we left at noon! This storm had very little wind this far from the Gorge, it seems; much better accumulation on thin branches and fence-rails.

time to brush off the fire-pit?

stick added to the table-top
And so we're Fiat-500 dependent, and no chains - the Explorer died just a mile before reaching its scheduled visit to a repair shop for the ominous engine rattle. Lórien walked 2 blocks to her hair appointment while I awaited a tow. An $86 fee got it to the shop, now to hear what else it needs to become winter-worthy. Sure would be handy to have right now. I waved farewell to it for now, grabbed a heavy gym bag from the back then went shopping before catching a bus. After about 1/2 mile of hiking I caught a ride up the hill to the house and Fiat, which we then drove to Portland. Thank goodness for Zane and his pickup; I was already tired from hauling an awkward 10# of stuff (heavy gym bag slung on one side, a gallon of milk in the other hand) and the climb to 800' had just begun!

06 December 2016

Snow wins round 1

I was unable to get our 4wd truck prepared in time for our first snowy day. Just under 2" of snow showed up, and showers were white throughout the day. Our little Fiat 500 is not a snow vehicle but our Explorer SporTrac 4WD could be.. but the timing chain (perhaps?) is rattling badly so I'm updating the chain tensioners as it's a) possible for me to work on and b) could solve the problem. No guarantees though!

Portland had some snow showers but nothing recordable reached the ground. The snow broke our pop-up shelter that I had put over the truck to keep me dry, so by nightfall the truck was snugly in the garage instead.. so I can try to get it ready by Thursday's winter-mix of treacherous weather!

03 December 2016

cold-weather projects

Cold air and possible snow has been forecast for the coming week. It was nailed down quite early at W.Underground, only varying a bit as the temperature change of 1-2° can turn rain to snow and back again. Sunday night and Wednesday are the targets still, but 3-5" of snow has become closer to 2" max - time will tell how it plays out. Just seeing flakes would be fun, but travel would be a problem with more on the roads.

I now have the parts to fix our Explorer Sport-trac 4WD but time is now really short - and I have a sore back and a cold, wet driveway. The Fiat has very little clearance for even contemplating tire chains, so it's the Ford or nothing is the snow flies. We're pretty much prepared to camp for a few days, but the lack of truck has led to a lack of firewood. Once the timing-chain rattle is fixed (hopefully that's what the problem is since that's what I am fixing!) a few more options will be available to us.

Another new project has appeared on our stove-top. Water is coming down the vent! Apparently this weekend will take me up on the roof to see what can be done about that; hopefully a quick dab of caulk will be sufficient rather than a poor wrapping of tarp. We had big plans for both a new roof and a heat pump for 2016, but those are now next year's projects once the refinance has refilled our home-improvement account.

'Tis the season!

22 November 2016

now that's a front!

Just short of Thanksgiving we have colder air coming. Nothing white at 800 feet, but plenty above 3000' for the next several days. The cold front has now passed, and a chilly trough awaits. Thick clouds and short days make for a great gloom settling in for a while.

Some gusty winds may visit as well, and definite storminess for the coast! It's really time to get our 4wd vehicle ready for use, as the small Fiat will be of no use in a few inches of snow. Not this week or this month, but who's to say what the winter will bring us?

03 November 2016

The October rainfall total is..


Big though!

Strangely, our weather station reports both daily values and monthly accumulation - and they do not agree. October total shows 20.21" which is amazing, but the daily totals sum to 18.9 inches. Either number is over 3x the 30-year average of 5.5", so it was a very wet month! Octobers in this region are often beautiful for a week or two, but not this year; weekends in particular were stormy, and intervals between storms few.

I have seen previous months were off a bit but this month was so damp that the discrepancy was notable.

14 October 2016

extreme, and modeling chaos

Mt. Hood forecast at the summit ±

Snow showers before 11pm, then snow after 11pm. Low around 21. Wind chill values as low as -2. Windy, with a west southwest wind 34 to 39 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches possible.
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 27. Wind chill values as low as -1. Windy, with a southwest wind 40 to 45 mph increasing to 50 to 55 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 100 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 19 to 25 inches possible.
Saturday Night
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 21. Wind chill values as low as -4. Windy, with a west southwest wind 50 to 60 mph decreasing to 38 to 48 mph in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 100 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 11 to 17 inches possible.
Snow showers. High near 23. Windy, with a southwest wind 26 to 32 mph, with gusts as high as 47 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 9 to 13 inches possible.

100mph wind gusts, two feet of snow in 12 hours - o what fun!

Here is today's big-storm solution, similar to yesterday but low pressure not as low. And I'm hearing thunder as I type!


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Basic Stuff about Weather Models

So I clicked on the summit of Mt. Hood to get this forecast - elevation 11200 and change. 
Here's the forecast - well kinda? Forecast is at 9623' as shown at the bottom.
What's really happening at the summit?!?

Ah the simple joys of creating models to predict chaos. 
The complex world has to undergo some 'simplifying assumptions' for models to have any chance of simulating the weather in a timely manner. Step one is to break down the region to be forecast into a set of regular chunks: a grid. You could choose a myriad of methods to make a grid - clearly this image shows thar a large set of squares is doing the job. Each square is crammed with average data for that little bit of Earth. If you look at Oregon's high point in the real world you notice that just north of the summit it drops to 7000' in a hurry, courtesy of Coe and Eliot glaciers and their centuries of heavy grinding - hence this square includes both the summit and a steep plunge. Models can use hexagons or other grid shapes, but squares are nice in a few ways. For one they are made up of more squares, also you can make a square out of several of these squares. Either way it's still a square, and a model that runs squares can be calibrated run with different squares. Handy!

So why not make smaller squares then? Cut this square into its own 4x4 grid with more precise averages for each square, and re-run? Great idea in theory, but those theoretical weather forecasts will come out about eight hours after the storm has passed. These models are complicated, covering huge differences in conditions horizontally and vertically .. and it's changing over time, very rapidly at times and less so at other times. Superdupercomputers are now being delivered to the Weather Service for more complex modeling, but even so a grid-point that sits at 11200 and change won't appear soon.

Consider this still image of a fine set of thuunderstorms (taken in NE Portland, November 2009). At the top those clouds are congealing chunks of frozen water, which will get heavy and fall. The rain and hail at the cloud's base is clearly falling, and doing so with gusto! All this is in the still photo - now make a movie and see the cloud drift in one direction while it gets taller, more energy moves both up and down inside of it, and clear skies evaporate the new-fallen rain to make more vapor.  Now make a model - GO!

Remember how mountains can focus several climate zones? I think it was in high school I learned this stuff, back when Coe and Eliot glaciers were killing off the mastodons (kidding, I think). Climbing a mountain is like traveling toward the poles, as you get to cooler regions and the trees shrink then disappear. What mountains do over millennia a thunder-cloud can do in three hours! A dry desert heat and a moist sky can produce a cloud that is well below freezing on top (which is often higher than Mt.Everest!). Unlike mountains though, the ice zone can land in the desert for an hour, the cloud moves off, and the ephemeral mountains rebuild off the hot desert again.

13 October 2016

the Ides of October storm

It's not a real storm nowadays unless it has a name. The Weather Channel uses Norse and Greek gods, the NWS went with the calendar.

Here's the NWS Portland meteogram for our little spot on the map:

Top: clearly not a cold storm, but typhoon remnants generally look like this. Fairly warm downpours, so little range from high to low and not much space between temperature and dew-point.

Middle: here's the wind setup as it stands on Thursday night. After 4PM Saturday steady winds from the south in the mid-40s mph, and gusts to.. 67?  Wow: that's about 20mph higher than this chart for Portland, so our proximity to the low and our higher hillside location make a difference. In our specific case we're just on the north slope below a high point, so we'll hear limbs cracking on the 800' crest - hopefully none of them will impale our roof or our vehicles! The yard itself will probably feel the swirling wind to either side, but previous south winds have been blocked quite effectively. However: they were Not sixty-mile plus gusts on those occasions!

weather bomb

The new WRF/GFS solution = further south, nearer ECMWF.  

p.s. it might not rain next Friday!

interesting reading II

Canada's site at theweathernetwork has a great video with images of Songda (once a Super Typhoon!) and its predicted track


They also show the Seattle NWS with this dire comment!

Cliff Mass' blog shows great concern, but the MM5 as of this post was still on GFS track from earlier.

And as of 10AM the GFS has "come around" - so maybe 60/40% now on that southern track?

Area Forecast Discussion
National Weather Service Seattle WA
950 AM PDT Thu Oct 13 2016
..the next strong low pressure system will have moisture from former typhoon Songda so that storm should be stronger. The GFS has that low making landfall on the Washington Coast Saturday evening and the GFS track is just right for a genuine windstorm for the interior of Western Washington. It will be interesting to see the 12z ecmwf solution.

fun reading

The NWS discussion has many "interesting" notes today. (They use the word "interesting" often when "dangerous" or "volatile" are equally good choices.)

  • First to note is Typhoon Songda - its remnants will reach the USA on Saturday. 
  • A quick wound-up low will bring back memories of its big winds as they visit Astoria (ECMWF model) or Victoria (GFS). If you live near Astoria, that's an important distinction!! 
  • The words "180-200kt jet" are also in here - that's a huge amount of wind up high that is potentially available for delivery at lower levels, in the 'proper' conditions. 
  • Oh yes, they also describe the ECMWF as "sticking to its guns", meaning that its solution has been consistent while others have jumped about. It's hard to pin down such an unstable event.
So: typhoon remnants, really fast jet stream, predicted Low pressure to get winds going, and the most consistently correct model in the world says it will make landfall as close to our home as possible. 

Perhaps those south winds will deliver our firewood this year? Not entirely likely - yet several large trees sit on the 800-foot crest of our hill, and our driveway sits about 30' below and north of that crest. Maybe I'll park the Fiat somewhere else on Saturday..

geek alert!

youtube shot (after 25 seconds)
accuweather wind forecast 10/15, model unknown

weather channel - also going GFS and barely mentioning the risk that ECMWF track suggests!
screen shot: ECMWF is scenario #2. Skill tests always put ECMWF and UKMET at the top, GFS a clear tier lower-  but tropical systems are notoriously challenging to all models esp. with a 160+ jet stream!

09 October 2016

October starts wet!

Eight days in and we're about 1½" above the TOTAL amount of rain expected in October! We've had a couple of 1-inch days (and we are doing it again today). The forecast for later in the week still includes several fronts and an atmospheric river slamming into the region - not yet certain where the stream will focus, but someone will get 2+ inches of additional water. Why not us?

Here's the upcoming hit for Wed evening through Friday evening... oof.

02 October 2016

preparing for cooler times

It's looking mighty clear (in a cloudy sort of way) that the warm season has ended. October is two days old and we're at 2/3" of rain, with another inch or two coming this week. I may even have heard a rumble of thunder last night with the intense showers!

So Friday was a hasty clean-up day at our Homely House. Many downed branches were put under cover as firewood, and I finally broke out the electric chain-saw on a smaller tree that I brought down over a year ago. It looks like good wood for a fire now, though the bark needed to come off as it was pretty damp in places. Hopefully we can buy some firewood soon but we have enough to get by - it's not really cold yet, just no longer warm.

I had hoped to bring down some larger branches from the maples this year to be ready in a coming winter but that didn't happen. Maybe next spring.

A late-September storm deprived us of our true-eqnionx sunrise, but two mornings later we were rewarded with a fine view! As of yesterday St.Helens is allegedly covered in a few inches of snow - if only we could get enough clearing to admire its new cloak! This one will and a few more will likely be rinsed off before winter's chill finally allows it to hang about for six months, but it's always fun to see those grey peaks lighten up this time of year.

21 September 2016

curious weather

An odd late-summer weather pattern arrived with a closed low sinking south along the coast. The result has been nice weather for the most part around Portland - yet each of the past two days had impressive cumulonimbus clouds pop up around Longview! The weather is only in the low-mid 70s so it's neither a tropical surge nor a frontal passage, just pop-up cumulus with enough instability to gain anvil-top status!

I only had the phone handy today so images are merely acceptable; these were impressive clouds for this region.

Tomorrow is the first day of autumn so fog will now be expected far more than thunder-clouds. The weather dumped over an inch on us last weekend, but the new roof that sits over our back door held up well with no leaks. Considering it received no special treatment other than its fence-slat weatherproofing, I was quite surprised. I now have a weather sealant to apply: once the next storm passes we could reach 80° one last time, so both the deck and the new side-roof will get some attention.

16 September 2016

battening down!

The first tropical connection of the season arrives tomorrow, with ½ to one inch of rain expected.
Several yard tasks wanted doing beforehand, but I could only manage a few of them today:
  • Deck staining - deferred. I had hopes but was too tired to pull that one off since pre-sanding will be needed.
  • A/C removal from window - done! Hopefully next year a heat pump will do that dirty work.
  • Small roof over front/back door - done! Now to see how my rough draft survives a good dousing..
  • One last lawn mowing - partly done. The flat area is taken care of, the slopes will be fine without it.
  • Rain channels over the spa - done! They are still not locked down though, so more needs doing.
So with that the age of heat ends. Forecasts for next week are in the 60s, and by late September any heat wave will be isolated and brief. Shadows now cover our driveway after 10AM so the asphalt will not contribute to overheating the house - and afternoons are especially shady here. The equinox is nigh!

Bad news - the Explorer 'truck' is making a racket in the engine compartment, one that I cannot pin down. That will defer any firewood for a bit, and hopefully not mess with the budget too badly.

02 September 2016

heat's end?

We made it to September without a heat pump. Our financial strategies pulled down many debts but in doing so much of the down payment for this went elsewhere. Late August was a string of 80-90° days, but on the 31st we had over ½ inch of rain. September began with fog! Over an inch of rain already as we head toward autumn, and no 80° days in the forecast. We could still pull a few warm days, but for the most part summer heat has ended for us here.

In the garden our spinach has gone to flowers, a dozen or more hops have arrived, and a few small zucchini are doing their best. The rains will cheer them for a last dash, and hopefully a few days of steamed 'zukes will come before long. The big mower was only needed once on the major slopes, thankfully - but it sure does the job well!

Little Mithril isn't so small any more, getting lanky and matching up more closely with her mama-cat. It's time to trap and spay, with a bit more luck mama will take the drive this year. Besides the cats, several other projects remain before the true wet season: some more rain-diversions, a porch roof and finishing the two stairs outside are the big ones, and a bit of painting would be good too.  The roof must wait another year like the heat pump, but the gutters really need to be re-sloped for better big-rainfall events.

Also, it's time to buy firewood for the first time - the previous owners stocked us very well and we were sparing with it, but the pile is now essentially empty. Our new green 'truck' can handle a decent amount, likely enough for the year.. now to get out and shop / chop!

07 July 2016

damp times in July!

I did not finish using the new riding mower in time. An off-seasonal weather pattern will have the NW coast under a damp and somewhat breezy pattern for several days, beginning today with about .30" in the bucket already. We could get another half-inch through next Wednesday, which is really wet for mid-July!

The PRISM model average at our place is just under an inch for July but it's Portland's driest month (thanks to the occasional August thundershower). We shall see how much we end up with - but it's good news for several reasons. Fire season is delayed by such soil-moistening showers, and our need for a heat-pump or other home cooling can be postponed a few more weeks!

28 June 2016

- and a few more niceties

We finally saw a counter-depth refrigerator fall to our price point, so that should arrive Thursday. Our current 'fridge came with the house - and it runs all the time! No not quite, but we notice when it's off because it's quite rare.  A modern device (with a door-ajar alarm) will definitely improve matters.

Also coming Thursday are a new washer and dryer. They will bolt together and thereby free up a lot of space in the laundry zone. Some days our clothes come out looking less clean than when they went in - this should cure that for a long time to come.

All three are Samsung products.
We received a call from them asking to be sure items will fit through our doorways, then asked if I had any questions. I asked why the NX camera series is no longer supported, probably not an expected comment.  It has to be asked though; I would embrace the NX300/500 series if I believed other lenses were coming, but no comment from Samsung and no signs of life in the NX system.  They do now have refrigerators with cameras inside - sorry, not quite.

postscript - never mind, then. I visited the Samsung website and their Products tab shows no cameras whatsoever. Appliances, phones with cameras, and IT solutions - no consumer electronics, cameras or NX by any name.  How sad.

21 June 2016

it had to happen -

We bought a riding mower this week, to be delivered on July 2nd. Drat.

It was a great Sears deal - $250 off, then 10%, then 5% more with Sears card.
Add tax and delivery and it's a lesser great deal, but still mighty good.

I hate losing the exercise factor of a push mower, but several parts of the yard have not been mowed even once this year.  And one part wasn't done last year!! Until the two of us are mowing at the same time, the yard will always fall behind with simple maintenance - so this needed to happen.  Maybe we can sell it in a year or two, but for now we'll have a yard with a less forsaken look to it.

This thing may not be able to manage some of the steeper slopes, so the uphill parts can still be done with a walking mower - how nice?

It has headlights too, so we can mow any time we want! 

Neighbors with jobs beware!

03 June 2016

speed-mowing and bird-watching

I broke the 35-minute mowing 'record' just now. That's just the second mowing of the upper lawn, which should be more embarrassing than it appears. The lower lawns have not been completely mowed yet, and of course the lowest lawn (that I wasn't sure belonged to us!) has not been addressed yet in our 2+ years here.  Oops.

This heat wave came with a bonus ¼-inch of rain beforehand.  We managed to assemble the square garden and plant our vegetables, which had suffered during the previous warm spell in their pots.  Several plants received larger pots too, so that rain settled them in nicely.  Not everything is where we'd like it to be later, but in the ground beats in the pot when the sun beats down.

I haven't quite assembled the front-porch roof, which would also double as a sun-shade at times like this. We'll get there next week once these three days reaching for 99° have passed.

Our thrush count remains low, so they must be waiting for a major push soon.  Our robins still dominate the airwaves with crows singing bass croaks, and a few whistles and warbles intervene. I spotted our local Towhee again today, with his amber eye and colorful coat - but I do not yet know which song belongs to them.  Hopefully a few more of the Swainson's Thrushes will get here soon and sing us gently to rest and to wakefulness in the coming few months!

Update - how funny!

While shooting the Towhee I caught a Swainson's thrush staring at the funny colorful bird.. that's him on the right side of this other image! I had no clue the thrush was there until I went to crop some of the photos the next day.

18 May 2016

Thrush Day!! May 18 this year

Must listen again next year to seek patterns.  Lórien's favorite song is here at last.
youtube video

14 May 2016

it's marine-push season.. already?

We've experienced a few heat waves in April and May, and yesterday was a classic marine-push day.  We were just over 80° around lunchtime, and well before dinner it was 55° with breezy west winds threatening to remove items from our deck!  We added a nice parasol to our outdoor table this past week, so we need to watch for signs of windy times so it can be retracted; we did just fine this time, but it's early yet..

On the wildlife front we still await a clear signal from any Swainsons Thrushes in the area. Butterflies are here in abundance right now, the frogs are finally winding down, and both swifts and towhees have been seen. We could not recall if the thrushes appeared around May 1st or June 1st last year, and of course this is only our second spring at this address so times will definitely vary!  We had hoped the warm spells would bring them up the hill a bit early, but that has not happened..

18 April 2016

first 90° day?

Today and tomorrow are the expected peak heat days, and it's a hot one.  No wind from anywhere unlike yesterday's easterly flow, and our thermometer just hit 94°. Granted it's in direct sunshine right now, but it does have a solar fan built in to compensate for thermal buildup. There's just no cool place to pull from right now!

I pulled our old-school dial thermometer from its shady spot to a place on the deck - it is holding in the low 80s which makes a little more sense.  Perhaps that sunny post needs to be shifted a bit further west to where the Solo Cedar can shade it later in the day?

Done!  Perhaps a temporary shift, but I moved the gage further into the house's afternoon shadow. Now reading is below 90 and still falling. It's about six feet from the house so some morning contamination could happen, but later in the day should be less amazing. More likely the main effect will be on winds as they swirl past the house.. I must get a taller pole and find a shadier spot!

08 April 2016

more planting, and the first mowing

I had planned to plant raspberries adjacent to the blueberries that came with the house, but a few things made that plan unappealing.  For one thing some wild berries are already in that area, creeping toward the blueberries - so at some point soon the mix could confuse.  The cute new fence has run out of raw materials before it would reach the raspberries so that's also not ideal.

leaf-piles as the snow fell
The final piece came almost by accident.  Last fall I raked the leaves into a long pile, then let it sit a long time as the autumn rains pounded us severely.  Winter set in and froze those leaf-piles, and finally a few weeks ago I moved them to a more properly place.  What a surprise: the grass in those places is quite dead, or stunned enough to appear so.

And so the crest of our hill has now become an ideal place for planting!

The first step was placing the new magnolia, which had a good spot in that area - we had a natural hole in the ground that would break an ankle if it were not filled, and both of us felt that was a good magnolia spot.  With bare ground to either side the raspberries had found a home, so they will sit just south of the magnolia to stay in the sun as the tree rises higher.

This is subject to change, but for now it's better than them sitting in pots awaiting a firm decision.

In the meantime, here are our first magnolia blooms!

06 April 2016


Both health and weather have improved - a few days in the 70s, and perhaps 80° tomorrow! I have added a few  nice features in the yard: a dark-grape vine, two hanging flowerpots, an azalea and many new bulbs.  Even a Willamette hop, in memory of yards and ales past.  I also bought two raspberry plants, and then took as much of the old layabout 2x6 wood-ends as I could find & created a zigzag wooden wall behind the blueberries.  It turned out well, and oh my I ache - I was racing a rainstorm at the time, and carrying several 4x4 posts with four 2x6 stubs attached adds up in a hurry.  I'll need to craft a few more so the raspberries have a similar layout.

Looks nice though, after the heavy work!

10 March 2016

colds and showers

I've been unwell quite a bit lately.  A week-long cold, a day of gluten poisoning, and now another small but effective illness has left me weak & stupid. The blood test today could prove valuable, though it was one of those rare miserable blood draws; too many uses of the right arm, I guess.

Weather-wise, the showers keep coming. A few stronger events have come in and a few more are in the forecast. March is not the strong-storm season - more commonly it's a showery, breezy month.  Even so a few atmospheric rivers have set up, bashing California (for which they are grateful!) and sideswiping the NW coast. We're already over four inches on the 10th! If we define the wet season as Oct-Mar* we were done with precip in February to meet average, so we're 4.3" to the wet side with three weeks to go.

Robins have replaced the varied thrushes, more crows are calling, and daffodills are in bloom - so spring has reached us in any case.  The skunk cabbage is stinking up the creek-bed, and we've seen a few bunnies and heard the sparse but effective frog chorus. It's nice to have more daylight even if it's often fighting the cloud cover!

Next weekend we'll lose our sunrises but have late light - I dislike the forward/back artificial shifts but we all manage - and most of us survive. Energy savings are in dispute from Daylight Time but I've heard that more accidents occur when we shift.  The world voluntarily jet-lags twice a year for some reason that most of us find elusive. Bizarre..

*April and October are very similar here based on 30yr averages, but October is most commonly considered the wet month around here.
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
0.92 1.21 2.31 5.52 10.84 9.44 9.08 6.66 6.54 5.20 3.45 2.55

27 February 2016

a few good days

Our autumn debris-burning season was deferred by the long parade of strong, wet storms that refused to relent before the cold weather arrived. This past week brought a day or two in the low sixties, and my head-cold relented just in time for me to get out and clean up some of autumn's trimmings!  With rain in the afternoon forecast I was only able to get about 1/3 of the debris and none of the leaves into the burn pile, and once started it crackled nicely even as the rain attempted to douse it a bit too soon. Today was nice again so I cleaned up another part of the yard, and separated larger sticks from the branches and got them to separate areas for later treatment.  Since the big rake broke before all piles were removed from the yard it's time to shop for a durable one before all of that is shifted toward the burn area!

My eight-day head cold terminated with a day of gluten poisoning, so at the end of it all I weighed 163 pounds, or 17# less than my peak just before retirement.  Some of that weight will come back but 165 would be a great place to stabilize, maybe even a few pounds less.

In the meantime - the daphne is just starting its aromatic bloom, tiny iris are popping out of the ground and the croci are soon to follow.  Pretty soon the lawn-mower will have its turn.  The slope below the burn pile is entirely made up of blackberry vines that need to have some control - that will take some doing probably about 900 square feet of prickly trouble about to resume its takeover of the known world!  I have a fine machete ready to take it on, but something tells me I shall need something more powerful before I can succeed in controlling the nasty vines...

09 February 2016

Coal Creek Crest is (finally) Reporting!

Well it took longer than it should - but I finally have the proper items in the proper places for the streaming to Weather Underground to work.  Hopefully it will experience a long and happy life of reporting the conditions here on our humble hilltop. I swear that I used to be pretty good at making computers do my bidding.. someone even paid me for it!

Today was a marvelous 61° with randomly-filtered sunshine.  I spent some time sticking crocus and iris bulbs into the ground - better late than never, I hope!  They were supposed to go in last fall, but perpetually stormy weather kept me inside and I lost track of the bulbs.

Yesterday was 59 or 60° -- yes I should know precisely, but did I mention that I was having wx-station problems? My default weather station seems to be in LaCrosse WI, so once a few more virtual wires are unscrambled I can be more certain.  Let's not rain on this parade just yet, OK?  Rain is coming in 24 hours anyway, more or less.  The last three days have been special, especially for February.

And now back to our regular, wet programming...

Update!  I finally turned off the AcuRite data feed with the LaCrosse crosse-wiring and it only feeds W.Underground - works fine that way!

29 January 2016

parallel tests

 -  and a new tiny desk!

I now have the new weather system set up outside, its receiver is on the left side of the monitor.  The old model with ailing sensors (no wind or outside temp data) is on the right.  The rain data is close enough to be deemed a match, so on Sunday the 1st of Feb I will reset the new one, sum up January's rain (now 6.88", slightly below normal) and see what the new system software can do.  It should be able to post to WUnderground (we're thinking Coal Creek Crest is a fine name) and the webcam on the side of the monitor can rotate for the view outside, at least for now.  Should be interesting, and fun!
The former computer desk was small but nothing like this, plus it had a stand up top for the printer.  For living-room use it was a bit jarring as a decorative statement, so having the printer in the back room is a far better option.  It's a WiFi printer after all, it can go almost anywhere.

11 January 2016

powering down the weather station

I had big plans for the weather station we have in the yard.  Upgrading the software, adding a webcam and taking it more public via W-Underground or other similar sites.  The $80 software update wasn't too bad, and I asked Santa for it.  Whether for good or ill, my wife could not make good on Santa's request.

Yes I wanted this, so why would this be bad news?  Well, about a month ago the outdoor temperature sensor died.  I could see it was cold enough to snow, but my database was filling with blanks!  Now in the past week or two the wind sensor isn't quite right; I replaced the batteries that were reported dead but with no improvement.  I rebooted temp and wind beacons without success.

This station had been at the previous house for a few years, doing random work.  Perhaps the bargain gift of ten years back just needed to be replaced..

I wandered the web & found a bargain on a complete AccuRite station.
No it's not Davis Instruments - nor is it $600 for the basic equipment so that'll do (pig).  The entire system will be new and improved - and perhaps the older sensors that still speak will be pulled into the reports?  We'll see about that, and soon; it should arrive in a couple of days.
Here's the company's site with the product.

'Apologies' for the random 'Babe' reference?

09 January 2016

snow, again.

Never thought I'd say that so casually in my lifetime!

Another snowy day - not on the 29th as models had suspected but on the 3rd of the new year!  Yes they had suspected that day as well, but two more inches were followed by a short burst of rain/ice early on the 4th.. which failed to melt for a few days!

I was able to drive into town on the 3rd, but the car could not get back up our driveway!  The combination of steep and curvy was too much for a front-drive car with a limited space to make a run at it.  I tried with and without chains over the coming days, even brought down hot water to pour in front of the tires - but it was not until late on the 6th that car and garage were reacquainted.  As of the 9th some patches remain but it's pretty much in the memory books - and the photo albums.

Not only was this a bit inconvenient, it also deferred our Christmas!  We had gifts that could not be ordered on time due to our delayed refinance, and then we were forced to await their appearance since no deliveries were possible for several days.

Strange days - pretty ones though!