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!