Recently in Climate Category

Rain again

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Got another 0.2" last night - it is wet out there. Winter Weather Advisory for Mt. Baker - more snow. They have had 20" in the last 24 hours - great time for skiing!

About California's snowfall

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We all know about the Oroville Dam and the intense rainfall - California has also had some problems with snow. From the Los Angeles Times:

Mammoth got so much snow this winter it called in the National Guard for help
Hey, Mammoth Lakes, add this group shot of the National Guard to your winter scrapbook.

Burdened with removing the 44 feet of snow that had fallen this season, the village of 8,200 called in the National Guard earlier this month to help cart 4,000 tons of it away. The five-day offensive, involving 17 air and Army troops, will be just one of the many memories in this winter of monster, record-setting snows.

The SOS — shovel our snow — was issued after the village and Mono County declared a state of emergency to seek help in handling the piles that lined homes and streets. A request for snow removal assistance was passed along to the state Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), which then called in the Guard.

Though not unheard of, it’s highly unusual for the National Guard to race to rescue towns socked in by snow.

Wonder what will happen next year. This snowfall still only comes to less than one half of what the record snowfall at Mt. Baker ( 1,140 inches or 95.0 ft) in the 1998-1999 season. That particular snowfall followed a large El Niño pattern the previous summer. Hmmmm...

From The Weather Channel (which has been beating out the National Weather Service for forecasts for my area):

El Niño's Odds to Return By Late Summer or Fall Increasing
The odds of El Niño's development by the late summer or early fall have increased, according to the latest output from forecast model guidance.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) officially declared La Niña's end in early February as sea temperatures have steadily warmed in the equatorial region of the central and eastern Pacific, and we're now in the neutral phase of the oscillation. Neutral means that neither La Niña or El Niño conditions exist.

As shown below, models currently suggest we'll be in the neutral category through the spring and into the early summer months (April-May-June, or AMJ), but after that, sea temperatures could be warm enough for El Niño conditions to take over.

More at the site - our greater than normal snow and precipitation was caused by last summer's El Niño - two in a row?

In other astronomy news

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Our sun is in a marked quiet phase - no sunspots. From Watts Up With That:

Solar Slump: The Sun has been blank for two weeks straight
Over the weekend, we reviewed the state of the solar data for March 2017. Now, there’s a two week straight lack of sunspots, the longest stretch since 2010.

Overview
The sun is currently blank with no visible sunspots and this is the 14th straight day with a blank look which is the longest such stretch since April 2010 according to spaceweather.com. Historically weak solar cycle 24 continues to transition away from its solar maximum phase and towards the next solar minimum. In April 2010 – the last time there was a two week stretch with no visible sunspots – the sun was emerging from the last solar minimum which was historically long and deep. There have already been 26 spotless days in 2017 (34% of the entire year) and this follows 32 spotless days last year which occurred primarily during the latter part of the year. The blank look to the sun will increase in frequency over the next couple of years leading up to the next solar minimum – probably to be reached in late 2019 or 2020. By one measure, the current solar cycle is the third weakest since record keeping began in 1755 and it continues a weakening trend since solar cycle 21 peaked in 1980. One of the impacts of low solar activity is the increase of cosmic rays that can penetrate into the Earth’s upper atmosphere and this has some important consequences.

The sun is a key driver in our climate and sunspots are an excellent proxy for solar output. Fewer sunspots = less warmth. This also means more clouds with a higher albedo (reflectivity) of the Earths atmosphere and correspondingly more cooling. The solar wind is comprised of charged particles streaming against the Earth's magnetic field. This creates a barrier which deflects incoming cosmic rays. When this barrier is weaker, more cosmic rays reach the atmosphere, collide with atoms of oxygen and water releasing charged particles. These particles form nucleation sites for water vapor - hence, more clouds.

Time to lay in a stock of firewood and bundle up.

El Niño in the news - Peru

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Peru is having a rough time with flooding from the remnants of last winter's El Niño. From FOX News:

Death toll rises to 72 in Peru rains, flooding, mudslides
The intense rains, overflowing rivers, mudslides and flooding being experienced in the country are the worst seen in in two decades, Peruvian authorities said Saturday, affecting more than half the nation as the death toll since the beginning of the year hits 72.

Prime Minister Fernando Zavala on Saturday updated the number of dead to 72 in comments to local radio station RPP.

The government says 374 people were killed in 1998 during a similar period of massive rains and flooding caused by rains blamed on the El Nino climate pattern.

A bit more:

Even Peru's capital city of Lima, where a desert climate seldom leads to rain, police on Friday had to help hundreds of residents in an outskirt neighborhood cross a flooded road by sending them one-by-one along a rope through choppy waters. The muddy current channeled down the street after a major river overflowed. Some residents left their homes with just a single plastic bag carrying their belongings.

The 1998 event was related to severe weather up here too - 1998-9 was the season that saw  the world's greatest recorded snowfall in one season, 1,140 inches (95.0 ft; 29.0 m) at our local mountain: Mt. Baker. You can see the remnants of El Niño at the ENSO website - more at NOAA: What are El Niño and La Niña?

I told you it was wet - Cliff Mass

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Cliff Mass has an excellent post on our wet weather at his blog: Cliff Mass Weather Blog

A Year's Worth of Water in 5 Months
Meteorologists and hydrologists call it the water year, the period between October 1 and September 30. Each year the cumulative precipitation for the water year is totalled starting October 1.

The water year is a natural precipitation measure along the U.S. West Coast because we typically get very little precipitation over the summer and precipitation generally is not significant until October.

Thus, there is a hydrological reset each summer, with the soils dried, the snowpack melted, and the rivers dropping to low early fall levels. So October 1 is a good date to start the new water season.

Now the amazing thing. Five and one-half months into the 2016-2017 water year, many Northwest stations have ALREADY received their total water year amounts. You got that right....if there was not another drop of rain or flake of snow for the next 6.5 months, these stations would have their full normal precipitation for the water year.

Yep - wet!

From AccuWeather:

Nor'easter to shut down travel, unleash blizzard conditions in at least 8 states
A major nor'easter threatens to shut down travel due to heavy snow and strong winds from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston early this week. Blizzard conditions will develop in part of the northeastern United States.

The storm will first continue to bring snow and travel problems in the Midwest through Monday.

The new storm will strengthen rapidly and hug the east coast of the U.S. early this week.

Snow will then rapidly spread northward spanning Monday night to Tuesday night.

For many areas in the Northeast, this will likely be the biggest and most impactful storm of the winter.

Yikes - I hope that people are prepared. I know some bloggers in that area that are but this is going to shut down transportation for a few days. Grocery stores are going to be vast wastelands for a week.

This from the Associated Press:

AIRLINE CANCELLATIONS PILE UP AS STORM DISRUPTS TRAVEL PLANS
U.S. airlines have already canceled more than 6,000 flights Monday and Tuesday as a late-winter storm is expected to dump enough snow to disrupt travel in the Northeast.

That is going to mess up people's plans. A friend of mine is flying out of Seattle tomorrow to Denmark - I hope she is not transferring in New York.

Stepped outside to find an inch of snow on the ground and more coming down. Worst case scenario, I can take Buttercup to tomorrows meeting but still...

Title of this post - the ever great Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Live in Montreal 1977.

A lot of water

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Back at 4:52PM, I measured about 0.25 inches in six hours - now at nine hours, it is a bit over 0.6 inches. Not exactly a Pineapple Express but a good soaking - get the soil ready for spring and replenish the aquifers.

A nice long soak

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The rain has settled in for a nice long fall - snow level is about 3,000 feet - I can see solid snowfall on the mountain near my house. About 0.25 inches have fallen in the last six hours with much more forecast through the next ten days.

There is an interesting event being held at Mt. Baker - The Future of Ice. They held a similar event last year and it was interesting. I had to bite my tongue a few times during the talks as two of the presenters showed slides of data that I recognized as coming from computer models and not actual measurements (the actual data told a different story entirely).

Might mention to them if they would be interested in an alternate view for next years presentation. I can think of a few people who might open some eyes...

Is too thick to measure - from Nevada's Reno Gazette-Journal:

Snow data confirm drought-busting Sierra Nevada winter
One sure sign the Sierra Nevada is experiencing a historic winter is the snowpack is getting too deep for devices scientists use to measure it.

It’s a problem that cropped up Wednesday when researchers sought to confirm snow depth at a data site on Slide Mountain at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe near Reno.

“We’re not even close,” hydrologist Jeff Anderson said after jamming an aluminum tube more than 16 feet into the snowpack hoping to reach the ground below.

The snow-measuring snafu provided real life confirmation of what scientific instruments on the site already showed.

The Sierra Nevada is wrapping up a historic winter and that’s huge news for Nevada and California, states that have spent the past several years mired in drought.

“Who would have thought this two years ago when we were measuring the worst snowpack on record,” Anderson said.

The snowpack is 212 inches deep at the Slide Mountain SNOTEL site. Water content at the site was 74.6 inches, meaning there’s more than six feet of water in the 17-foot snowpack. It’s a record for March 1 at the site.

The SNOTEL website can be found here at the Natural Resources Conservation ServiceSnow Telemetry (SNOTEL) and Snow Course Data and Products - a nicely done clickable map for the Western States, Canada and Alaska.

The Oroville Dam - a few days ago

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The California Department of Water Resources sent a helicopter to the Oroville Dam on February 27th - this is what was left of the spillway (no audio):

I wonder just how long it is going to take them to fix this. The state has no money - it is being spent on entitlement programs for immigrants and a shiny new train to nowhere.

Environmentalism gone too far - bread

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This is just nuts - from The Beeb:

Bread's environmental costs are counted
The environmental impact of producing a loaf of bread has been analysed in depth from the farm to the shop shelf.

The biggest single factor is the use of fertiliser to grow wheat, which accounts for 43% of greenhouse gas emissions, say experts.

Emissions arise from energy needed to make ammonium nitrate fertiliser and from nitrous oxide released when it is broken down in the soil.

Around 12 million loaves are sold each day in the UK.

Consumers need to be more aware of the environmental costs of their food, say researchers at the University of Sheffield.

A bit more:

Lead researcher Dr Liam Goucher said that in every loaf there is embodied global warming resulting from the fertiliser farmers use to increase their wheat harvest.

I think that Dr. Goucher has too much time and money on his hands if he is fooling around with tripe like this. Maybe he would be ripe for a budget cut - after all, running the lights and heading in his lab probably outputs a lot of CO2 as well - what is his lab's carbon footprint? But wait, there's more:

Prof Peter Horton, a co-researcher on the study, added: "With over 100 million tonnes of fertiliser used globally each year to support agricultural production this is a massive problem, but environmental impact is not costed within the system and so there are currently no real incentives to reduce our reliance on fertiliser."

What a maroon - your proposal is for people to starve? Also, it is a well documented fact that crop yields per acre have increased 4% to 7% from 1980 to 2006 solely due to the increase in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. From Nature: How much has the increase in atmospheric CO2 directly affected past soybean production?, from The National Academies Press: Effects of Increasing Carbon Dioxide Levels and Climate Change on Plant Growth, Evapotranspiration, and Water Resources 

Something that people fail to grasp is that CO2 is plant food - without it, there would be no photosynthesis and therefore, no plant life.

Talking about snow - Reykjavík, Iceland

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The snow is not just here - from Iceland Review Online:

Record Snow in Reykjavík
When the residents of Reykjavík woke up yesterday morning, their cars were gone. Upon closer inspection, they could be detected under the thickest blanket of snow to cover the capital since 1937, or 51 cm (20 in). The record from January 18, 1937, is 55 cm. This was also the largest snow accumulation on record for February in the capital area.

Church ministers in many churches in Reykjavík had to cancel mass, because no one would have been able to attend. Skiers, who have been deprived of snow most of the winter, were on cloud nine. Children were delighted to get a chance to go sledding, make snowmen and play in the snow. Teenagers with a driver’s license, known to sleep in every Sunday, miraculously jumped out of bed long before noon, eager to test their driving skills in the deep snow. Mothers who ventured for a ride with their young drivers had their nerves tested as the vehicles took some unexpected turns.

We could use some global warming about now...

Horsing around

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The farrier just left - Rocky is in great shape for his age - a little arthritis but nothing unexpected. We had been overfeeding him and he was about 400 pounds overweight - he still has a hundred pounds to lose but he is doing a lot better.

Snow is really coming down now - there is a good six inches on the ground.

Seattle is getting hammered - from Cliff Mass:

Surprise Snowstorm in Seattle
3:30PM Update
THUNDERSNOW HAS HIT SEATTLE!
As predicted, a strong convergence zone has formed over Puget Sound, producing heavy precipitation and lightning.

The heavy precipitation is driving the freezing/snow levels towards the surface and there is mixed rain/snow here at the UW. Did you notice how the snow was associated with the heaviest precipitation? Hopefully, the lightning won't get near the overturned truck on I5 loaded with butane....

It was quite a surprise for many as heavy snow started falling in Seattle around 6:30 AM this morning. The National Weather Service did talk about the potential for rain and snow showers, but the this morning the snow was quite substantial with .5-2.5 inches around Seattle and neighboring communities.

Australia and alt.energy

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South Australia and the island of Tasmania have gone all-in for alternative energy and they are paying the price for it. For some background go here and here for the most recent troubles. For Tasmania go here and read.

Today's post comes from the UK Guardian:

Coca-Cola to close South Australia factory with loss of nearly 200 jobs
Coca-Cola Amatil has announced the closure of its South Australia factory in the latest employment blow to hit the state.

Around 180 workers will lose their jobs when the bottling operation in the inner-city Adelaide suburb of Thebarton closes in 2019.

South Australia has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country – 6.4% – and will this year see the closure of the Holden car factory in Elizabeth with the loss of around 1,000 jobs.

Coca Cola boss Alison Watkins said it had reviewed its supply chain to maintain “competitiveness in the market” and decided it was not viable to update the Thebarton factory.

But the defence minister, Christopher Pyne, said on Wednesday the company was leaving his home state because of high business costs and concerns about the reliability of the power supply.

We can’t keep going on as a high-tax, highly expensive place to do business with the highest electricity prices in the country and the most unreliable electricity supply in the country and this is where the rubber starts to hit the road for businesses,” Pyne told FiveAA radio.

The Labor premier, Jay Weatherill, has been fiercely criticised by the Coalition for closing down the state’s last coal-fired power station.

Emphasis mine. The article goes on to say that Coca-Cola is not leaving Australia, it will be expanding production at other Australian plants. It is leaving the state of South Australia specifically because of the high energy cost and the unreliable supply.

It is possible to burn coal cleanly, the enviros do not like it and unfortunately, they have the upper hand at this time. The only way that any form of alternative energy will be profitable at a reasonable price is with very large government subsidies - these subsidies come directly from our taxpayer dollars or from Government Debt.

Reproducibility in Science

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Great editorial in Investor's Business Daily:

Is Global Warming Science Just A Fraud?
Climate Change: We're often told by advocates of climate change that the "science is settled." But in fact, "science" itself is in a deep crisis over making claims it can't back up, especially about climate.

As BBC News Science Correspondent Tom Feilden noted last week, "Science is facing a 'reproducibility crisis' where more than two-thirds of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist's experiments, research suggests." This isn't just his journalistic opinion, but the conclusion of the University of Virginia's Center for Open Science, which estimates that roughly 70% of all studies can't be reproduced.

And this includes the field of climate change, by the way. It's a disaster. Being able to reproduce others' experiments or findings from models is at the very heart of science. Yet, radical climate change advocates would have us spend 2% of global GDP, or roughly $1.5 trillion a year, to forestall a minuscule amount of anticipated warming based on dubious modeling and experiments.

Meanwhile, the federal government spends literally billions of dollars a year on climate change, with virtually none of the money funding scientists who doubt the climate change threat. There is no serious debate. This is a problem for all of science.

And a ray of hope:

It's time for some science Glasnost. New EPA Director Scott Pruitt has called for an open debate on climate science, rather than the name-calling and outright dishonesty of the past. Real science has nothing to fear from more openness and discussion, but everything to fear from more politicized dishonesty.

Good - let us look at the actual measured data and not the output from some computer models. Let us take a look at all of the natural sources of greenhouse gasses instead of trying to cripple our economy by killing carbon dioxide - without which plant life would be impossible.

California flooding

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Things are bad down there - from San Jose's The Mercury News:

San Jose mayor: Clear ‘failure’ led to record flooding
A day after rescuers boated hundreds of people to safety during San Jose’s worst flooding in decades, city officials Wednesday let many of the 14,000 evacuated residents return home and blamed the sudden breach of Coyote Creek on bad information about its capacity.

The flooding followed a series of heavy rains that filled Anderson Reservoir to capacity. Downstream, Coyote Creek quickly swelled to four feet above flood level, cresting at 14.4 feet around 3 p.m. Tuesday and breaking a 95-year-old record of 12.8 feet set in 1922.

For many, the flooding came with no warning. Mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged residents should not have first learned of the danger when rescuers arrived by boat to evacuate them. Hundreds remained displaced Wednesday, with the city and Red Cross offering two high schools that are closed for spring break as overnight shelters that drew about 275 people.

Officials have yet to begin assessing damage to the neighborhoods, where the city has already issued health warnings about the dangerously polluted floodwaters, and it may be weeks before life is back to normal for residents in some of the most badly damaged homes.

Three places I would never live - adjacent to any large body of water, especially the coast of Oregon or Washington, near a potential landslide or on a flood plain. These areas may have spectacular scenery but the danger is just too great.

From a magazine that used to be really good - Scientific American:

California Dam Crisis Could Have Been Averted
By now we have all seen the spectacular images of volumes of water crashing down the Oroville Dam spillway in California and blasting upward into the air as they hit an enormous crater in the spillway floor, flooding down the adjacent hillside, threatening people in towns below. Those images reveal a big mistake: failure to update infrastructure to defend against climate change.

The menacing floodwaters last week forced the emergency evacuation of 188,000 residents. Yet the impending disaster came as no surprise to officials in Butte and Plumas counties. The rural counties, which surround Lake Oroville, had challenged the state’s environmental review of dam operations in a 2008 lawsuit, arguing the state "recklessly failed" to properly account for climate change in its long-term dam management plan.

The dam was built in the 1960s when temperatures were cooler and more precipitation was stored in a greater snowpack in the mountains of the Feather River watershed, which drains into Lake Oroville. Today warming temperatures are bringing more rain as well as melting the Sierra Nevada snowpack earlier in the spring. As the counties’ attorneys predicted, among the results is a rush of downhill water much faster than in the past. “We anticipated that this crisis might come about,” says Tony Rossmann, special counsel to Butte County.

So many logical flaws, so little time.

Warm weather does not necessarily bring more rain - warm air holds more water by volume than cool air so if it is warm, there is less chance of rainfall. The real cause was lack of maintenance and it looks like the concrete spillway was not built well to begin with. The dam was built in the 1960's when it was cooler - yes, so cool that the climate scientists were yammering about global cooling - the next ice age. Here is the rainfall data for Los Angeles dating back to 1877 - see for yourself. There are ten years or so of minimal rainfall and then a year or two of well above average. This is called climate and there is nothing unusual in this pattern - it is normal for the Los Angeles area.

From the National Weather Service:

201 PM PST Sun Feb 19 2017
...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS EVENING...
The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for snow...which is in effect until 10 PM PST this evening.

    • SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...6 to 11 inches are likely through this evening.
    • SOME AFFECTED LOCATIONS...The volcanoes will receive the highest amounts. Less will fall in the highway passes.
    • TIMING...Most snow will fall this afternoon and evening.
    • MAIN IMPACT...Travel will be affected.

From Associated Press:

FLOOD FEARS RENEWED AS ANOTHER STORM AIMS FOR CALIFORNIA
Residents returning to homes damaged by flooding should be prepared to evacuate again as yet another powerful Pacific storm takes aim at Northern California, officials warned Sunday.

The San Joaquin River was reaching flood stage, and residents of Manteca were told to be ready to evacuate in case it hit dangerous levels.

Meanwhile, the water level was decreasing at Lake Oroville dam, where a damaged spillway had raised major flood concerns.

Water was also receding in the farm community of Maxwell, where dozens of people sought higher ground after creeks topped their banks and inundated houses on Friday, said Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Jim Saso said.

Nothing unusual - a couple years of drought and then whammo - this site has rainfall data for Los Angeles dating back to 1877

If I was into panning for gold, I bet that now would be an excellent time to visit some streams - a lot of the streambeds have been washed over and new gold exposed.

After the deluge - California

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California is cleaning up after the monster storm - from the Los Angeles Times:

Cleanup begins after powerful storm slams Southern California
Cleanup was beginning across Southern California on Saturday after a storm that forecasters billed as the most powerful in years caused flooding on multiple freeways, triggered dramatic mudslides and downed hundreds of trees and power lines.

The storm was moving out Saturday morning after dumping record rain in some areas and leaving havoc in its wake.

Thousands of Los Angeles County residents remained without power early Saturday, while road crews scrambled to repair sinkholes throughout the area, including one in Studio City that swallowed two vehicles Friday night. No one was injured in the incident.

Four fatalities known so far. The Times is also maintaining a Live Updates page with streaming news reports.

Our new Science Advisor

Not definite yet but he sounds great - from Eric Worral writing at Anthony's:

William Happer on Climate Science: “They’re glassy-eyed and they chant”
Professor William Happer, who has been tipped as front runner to replace John Holdren as the Whitehouse Science Advisor, has described climate scientists as a glassy eyed cult.

Trump’s likely science adviser calls climate scientists ‘glassy-eyed cult’

William Happer, frontrunner for job of providing mainstream scientific opinion to officials, backs crackdown on federal scientists’ freedom to speak out

The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness.

William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.

“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

A bit harsh to the Krishnas but otherwise spot on.

Oroville - a few updates

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Dodged the bullet - rainfall

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The pineapple express I was looking at went further to the South than was initially forecast. We were forecast to have three to seven inches of rain but only had a little over 0.4"

From The Seattle Times:

More rain on way, as Seattle may be headed to wet-weather record
Seattle has seen more than three times the normal amount of rain for February — and the month is only half over.

A big, juicy air mass stretching to Hawaii has Seattle in for a soaking, with more rain on the way.

Normal rainfall through Tuesday would be 1.82 inches, but Seattle has soaked up 5.71 inches through Tuesday, with even more rain pouring down overnight and Wednesday, said Dustin Guy, of the National Weather Service in Seattle.

I have not checked conditions in California - will do so in a few minutes. The dogs are giving me the stink-eye...

Off for coffee and working at home today

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The atmospheric river seems to have turned South today - we have had some rain but only 0.2" accumulation so far - not the several inches that were forecast. Still, the signature curve is very much that of a pineapple express - the discharge in cu feet per second of our local river:

20170215-nooksack.png

This is indicating 17K cu ft/second - the Oroville dam is having to discharge at 100,000 cubic feet per second - 5.8 times as much water and our local river is a big one. A lot of water moving there.

Driveway is still slick as snot - there was a lot of ice buildup. Still have to park the truck at the head and commute with Buttercup my tractor.

Local forecast

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Yep - it is going to get wet - from the National Weather Service:

HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
1055 AM PST Tue Feb 14 2017

...Flooding Possible Wednesday to Thursday for Rivers Flowing Off
of the North Cascades...

Rivers flowing off of the North Cascades are expected to rise
starting early Wednesday morning as a storm system brings heavy
rain to western Washington beginning Tuesday evening. With snow
levels at 7000 - 9000 feet, the storm is expected to produce 3 to
7 inches of rain over the North Cascades. If this amount of rain
falls, rises on the rivers in northwest Washington will have the
possibility of exceeding flood stage but at this time are expected
to stay below.

Say hello to our little buddy

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We have lived through the snowpocalypse, now it is rain:

20170214-pineapple.jpg

Aimed more at California and Oregon than here but who knows - scheduled to hit sometime tomorrow (Wednesday) From Cliff Mass:

The West Coast Will Face An Extraordinarily Wet Period
Northern California is experiencing its wettest winter on record, with reservoirs full, the ground saturated, and many of the rivers at or near flood stage.

Oroville Dam, northeast of Sacramento, is on the brink of failure and downstream residents have been warned to evacuate. Water is being released through the emergency spillway in a desperate attempt to save the dam.

During the past two weeks, immense amounts of precipitation has fallen over the West Coast (see image), with some locations in the Sierra and coastal mountains getting more than 20 inches of water.

A bit more:

Folks, it is not over yet. Although a ridge of high pressure temporarily has dried things out the last few days, the fire hose of rain will be returning on Wednesday.

Here is the forecast precipitation total for the next 9-days from the U.S. GFS model. Nearly all of the Cascades, Sierras, and coastal mountains will get 5-10 inches of additional precipitation. This includes the last hold-out from serious wetting, the mountains behind Santa Barbara.

And more to come.

Orroville Dam update

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A two-fer - first from San Jose, CA's The Mercury News:

Oroville Dam: Feds and state officials ignored warnings 12 years ago
More than a decade ago, federal and state officials and some of California’s largest water agencies rejected concerns that the massive earthen spillway at Oroville Dam — at risk of collapse Sunday night and prompting the evacuation of 185,000 people — could erode during heavy winter rains and cause a catastrophe.

Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

Much more at the site - it all boils down to politics and money. Over 3,000 comments - lots of good ones.

Second, from the Los Angeles Times:

Here's the nightmare scenario at Oroville Dam that officials are fighting to prevent
Any dam engineer would be terrified of this nightmare scenario — the possible collapse of a retaining wall in California’s second largest reservoir.

That’s the prospect officials faced when they ordered more than 100,000 people evacuated downstream of the nation’s tallest dam Sunday.

It occurred insidiously: a pocket of erosion that crept ever closer to a low concrete wall that was supposed to be the last, best defense against disaster.

The threatened concrete structure, called a weir, was designed as an emergency escape route of sorts for rapidly rising waters at swollen Lake Oroville. By allowing some water to spill over its shoulders, the concrete wall would relieve tremendous pressure building on Oroville Dam itself, which is located nearby.

And there is another big storm heading their way - expected to hit sometime this weekend.

From the ChicoER News:

Emergency spillway could fail; evacuations ordered
Evacuations were ordered Sunday afternoon after erosion raised fears the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam could fail.

An evacuation information center has been set up to answer questions: 530-872-5951.

The Department of Water Resources said about 3 p.m. Sunday a headcut appeared in the soil downhill from the emergency spillway, and appeared to be spreading upward toward the structure.

If the spillway structure were undercut by the enlarging hole, it could fail, and the water behind that barrier would come down the hill into the Diversion Pool and down the Feather River.

With that possibility, and “an abundance of caution,” Sheriff Kory Honea ordered the evacuation of downtown Oroville and other low-lying areas downstream. Yuba and Sutter counties followed suit.

The bridges across the Feather River between Marysville and Yuba City were closed.

The dams regular spillway was built 50 years ago and failed during normal operation. It will be some time until the actual cause is determined. The Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States.

The ChicoER also published this damning editorial:

Editorial: Oroville Dam crisis a failure on many levels
History was made in Butte County this week, and it isn’t the good kind of history either.

A 50-year-old spillway broke in the middle on Tuesday next to Oroville Dam and the modern equivalent of hydraulic mining happened Saturday when water topped the north side of the dam face and down an emergency spillway.

To call it an emergency spillway is to vastly oversell it. It is not a structure. It is a ravine that until this week was filled with trees, rocks and dirt.

Once dam operators figured out that the lake’s inflow was more than the crumbling spillway would allow as an outflow, crews scrambled to clear a path for the water from the inevitable overflow.

Using rocks and cement, they tried to steer a path away from the damaged spillway.

The overflow started Saturday morning just after 8 a.m. By 11 a.m., the stream was large. With tributaries still running high from last week’s storms, the inflow to the lake was 84,000 cubic-feet per second. The spillway could only handle 55,000 cfs.

Getting to the point:

For the state, Lake Oroville is a source of cheap power and cheap water for people downstream. From Butte County’s point of view, it has been a draw on resources, from lost property taxes to money spent on public safety and infrastructure. For too long, our area has received the worst end of this deal.

The reservoir’s water and power have been a cash cow for the state and obviously the state didn’t reinvest on inspections, maintenance and contingency plans.

The DWR can argue all day that this was an unforeseen and unpreventable act of nature, but that has to be part of the lesson. When you have a spillway (and a dam) that’s a half-century old, you’d better pay attention to the maintenance.

Much more at the site - the state of California was making a lot of money from the electrical power generation and potable water sales but they were not reinvesting this revenue back into upgrades and maintenence. Now the butcher's bill has come due - the next six months or so will be interesting.

Here is a somewhat dystopian video:

More dam trouble - California

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Spillway actually, not the dam. From The Landslide Blog:

Oroville Dam: extraordinary erosion, and a crisis, on the spillway
The Oroville Dam in California is the tallest dam in the USA.  with a height of 230 m, this is an earthfill embankment dam built between 1961 and 1968 for the purposes of water supply, hydroelectric power generation and flood control.  After years of drought, California is suffering a series of huge rainstorms – so-called atmospheric rivers – that have rapidly raised the water level in the dam.  To allow flood control, the dam has been undergoing controlled discharges of water through the spillway.

On Tuesday, after such a release water, major damage was noted on the spillway, apparently caused by the failure of the concrete base and then erosion of the underlying substrate.

Over the next few days further discharges of water have been undertaken to test the spillway and to control the water level in the lake.

Unsurprisingly, the condition of the spillway has dramatically deteriorated:

20170210-oroville.jpg

The issue is that if they do not use the spillway, the water level could over-top the dam itself - something it was not designed for. San Francisco station KQED is following the story:

With Oroville Spillway Damage Spreading, Officials Prepare for Reservoir to Overflow
Update, 9:20 a.m. Friday: Two things have changed overnight at Oroville Dam and the giant reservoir behind it.

First: Inflow from the Feather River watershed into Lake Oroville, while still very high, has dropped from its peak levels Thursday.

Second: California Department of Water Resources managers followed through with a plan to ramp up releases down the dam’s wrecked spillway (for their rationale for doing that, see our earlier updates, below).

More at the site.

Quite the flooding in Nevada

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A dam breached and there was a lot of snow runoff - from Salt Lake City station KSL-5 TV:

Yikes - our own river is running about three times average volume but nowhere near flood stage - yet:

20170210-nooksack.png

Snowing like gangbusters for the last five of hours - NWS has Wintry Mix with temps down to 30°F, TWC has Ice to Rain with temps down to 28°F. I have 25.9°F outside right now.

Both are forecasting heavy rain with temps in the low to mid 40's - see how fast this melts the snow. Next couple of days are warmish too so the prognosis is good.

New England is expecting a taste of what we have been through - Boston is scheduled to get 15" of snow starting tomorrow.

Reheating some spaghetti for dinner - do a salad too.

So much for the forecast

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Rain and icy rain? No, just more snow and lots of it. National Weather Service

1211 PM PST Wed Feb 8 2017
...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM PST

THURSDAY...

    • SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...13 to 25 inches...mainly in the passes and near the crest.
    • Timing...The heaviest snow will fall tonight...turning to rain in the passes Thursday morning. Freezing rain is possible in the passes and near the crest.
    • SNOW LEVEL...The snow level will rise to around 6000 feet... but cold air in Eastern Washington will keep the snow level lower near the crest and in the passes Wednesday night.

Temp is already falling - got up to 28.0°F this afternoon, now down to 25.9°F and falling. I do miss not having my morning coffee and some milk would be nice. Very well set otherwise - plenty of food in the pantry and firewood in the bin on the back porch. I have a generator if I absolutely need it - do not like the noise and reading by candlelight is fine by me.

Flooding in California

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From Sacramento, CA station KCRA:

They need to build some water storage dams but the enviros will not let them. It would greatly reduce the effects of drought and eliminate this flooding. How much property damage do they have to sustain before they bring this option to the table again.

Oh Joy - another Winter Storm Warning

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This just came in the email:

Winter Storm Warning 

    • Snow Accumulations, 1 or 2 Inches of Snow is Possible today and Into tonight, Particularly in Locations North Of Bellingham.
    • Ice Accumulation of Up to a Half an Inch Is Expected As Freezing Rain Falls this Evening.

Things just keep getting funner and funner...

Not just here - poor growing in Europe

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From Watts Up With That:

The New Maunder Minimum? Vegetable Shortages Strike London
The Sun reports that in London, some supermarkets are rationing purchases of vegetables like lettuce, which is in short supply due to Southern European crop failures.

SALAD SHORTAGE What is the 2017 vegetable shortage, which supermarkets are rationing broccoli and lettuce and what’s the cause of the crisis?
Tesco and Sainsbury’s are rationing iceburg lettuces and broccoli as cold weather in the Med causes a vegetable shortage.

Some more:

Read more: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2774614/vegetable-shortage-2017-supermarkets-rationing-broccoli-lettuce-crisis/

Why do I describe this as a possible early taste of Maunder Minimum like conditions? As WUWT has reported, solar activity has been unusually low this cycle, and appears to be trending downwards, leading to predictions we are entering a new solar grand minimum.

While the connection between solar activity and weather is controversial, in Europe, Solar Grand Minima appear to be associated with cold, rainy weather, and growing season difficulties.

Our Sun is a variable star and the regular solar cycles are at an all-time low when looking at the last 200 years or so. We need to address the idea of a 30-50 year period of abnormally low temperatures. This will have an impact on agriculture as well as energy costs. I am sitting here looking at a perfect example of this problem.

Sanctuary for Climate Scientists

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It has come to this - from the UK Guardian:

Emmanuel Macron enjoins uneasy US scientists: 'Move to France'
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has called on US scientists, academics and entrepreneurs at odds with Donald Trump’s administration to move to France.

The former economy minister, one of the frontrunners in the upcoming presidential election, urged US-based scientists working on climate change, renewable energy and health issues who were wary of the new political situation to seek refuge across the Atlantic. “I want all those who today embody innovation and excellence in the United States to hear what we say: from now on, from next May, you will have a new homeland – France,” he said on Saturday.

Fine then. Go. We will not try to stop you. I wonder if France is able to offer the sweet sweet grant money that the US Government used to. There used to be many millions of taxpayer dollars for writing papers that propped up the Anthropogenic Global Warming scam for the last 20 years. The party is over, the wheels have fallen off the bus and it is time to think of something else to do. Learn welding - lots of people are hiring and the pay is great.

Here is my post from October 19th, 2015:

Keeping my fingers crossed - things are lining up
Too early to say right now but this year's El Niño is looking a lot like the one of 1997-1998. From Watts Up With That:

NASA: current El Niño ‘appears likely to equal the event of 1997-98’

NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER
Every two to seven years, an unusually warm pool of water — sometimes two to three degrees Celsius higher than normal develops across the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean to create a natural short-term climate change event. This warm condition, known as El Niño, affects the local aquatic environment, but also spurs extreme weather patterns around the world, from flooding in California to droughts in Australia. This winter, the 2015-16 El Niño event will be better observed from space than any previous El Niño.

This year’s El Niño is already strong and appears likely to equal the event of 1997-98, the strongest El Niño on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. All 19 of NASA’s current orbiting Earth-observing missions were launched after 1997. In the past two decades, NASA has made tremendous progress in gathering and analyzing data that help researchers understand more about the mechanics and global impacts of El Niño.

Emphasis mine - what happened right after the 1997-1998 El Niño? From NOAA, August 2, 1999:

MT. BAKER HOLDS SNOWFALL RECORD, NOAA REPORTS
It's official – Mt. Baker, Wash., has set a new record for the most snowfall ever measured in the United States in a single season, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported today.

The Mt. Baker Ski Area in northwestern Washington State reported 1,140 inches of snowfall for the 1998-99 snowfall season. The figure was scrutinized by the National Climate Extremes Committee, which is responsible for evaluating potential national record-setting extreme events. The committee, composed of experts from NOAA, the American Association of State Climatologists, and a regional expert from the Western Regional Climate Center, made a unanimous recommendation to the director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center to accept the figure.

"In accepting the validity of the 1,140 inches of snowfall at Mt. Baker, the National Climatic Data Center recognizes that a new record has been set," said Tom Karl, director of the center. "The previous U.S. seasonal snowfall record was 1,122 inches, set during the 1971-1972 snowfall season at Mt. Rainer/Paradise, a station located at 5,500 feet on the slopes of Mt. Rainer, about 150 miles south of Mt. Baker."

There is a lot that can happen between now and 2017 so do not hold your breath but, like I said, things are lining up. The drop in temperatures will help a lot as lately we have been getting enough precipitation but it has been too warm.

Check out the Google Images page: Mt Baker record snowfall

Wonderful story at the London Daily Mail:

Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data
The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.

The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.

And the data:

NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.

Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.

The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.

The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified.

Much more at the site - NOAA is ripe with corruption. They are just publishing what people want to hear and not the actual data. no person is being held accountable so they think that they can get away without recrimination. Talk about a swamp needed draining...

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