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March 31, 2008

Good News for the Southwest--The La Nina that Wasn't

The Arizona Republic has this recap of the 2007-08 winter:

This was supposed to be a dry Arizona winter, deprived of rain and snow by the oceanic weathermaker La Niña.

As sure as it's hot in August, if it's La Niña, it's dry in winter...

How wet was the 2007-08 winter? Pretty wet, though not as wet as 2004-05, the last time reservoirs rose and water flowed down the normally dry lower Salt River.

A few big storms delivered the bulk of the rain and snow in most areas. Four storm systems accounted for nearly all the precipitation recorded in Phoenix and Flagstaff from Nov. 30 through the end of January...

In the high country, the storms pushed snowpack well above normal, as high as 180 percent of the 30-year average in some basins. The San Francisco Peaks above Flagstaff remain at 225 percent of normal.

But this is where it gets interesting. Last year, it was an extremely dry El Nino year. This year, it was an extremely wet La Nina.

What happened to La Niña and its warm, dry winter? That's a question meteorologists will puzzle over for a while.

Temperatures in the Pacific Ocean began dropping off near the equator midway through 2007, signaling the onset of La Niña, one of the most reliable predictors of weather in the Southwest.

For months, climate experts forecasted warm, dry winter conditions across Arizona, an outlook that persisted until the first storms hit in early December.

Paul Iñiguez, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Phoenix, said this La Niña was the strongest in 35 years and the fourth-strongest in 132 years of record keeping. Such conditions almost always steer storms north of Arizona, drenching the upper tier of states.

But Iñiguez said the forecasts tripped over unexpected differences elsewhere in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, where pockets of warmer water grew, influencing the storm track in ways uncharacteristic of La Niña.

"This year, the systems had access to more moisture from the south," Iñiguez said, moisture that helped fuel the lower northern storm track and give Arizona a juiced-up winter.

Why all these events converged no one can yet say, but the result was one of Arizona's wettest La Niña winters on record.

So what conclusion should I draw? Climatologists are almost certain what La Nina and El Nino mean for the southwest. Yet, here were are and the results the last two years are exactly the opposite of what the Climatologists predicted.

So they will scurry off for another several months to write papers about how they were actually right if they had taken into account some other phenomenon that suddenly emerged and no one considered and that their models simply need some minor tweak made.

Is it possible that the weather is far more complicated than Climatologists believe it to be? That simple hockey sticks and CO2 cannot alter the entire planet or that ocean temperatures are not the only indicator of a wet winter?

While one wetter than expected winter in Arizona may not be more than a happy coincidence, it does call into questions the simplistic nature of many predictive models that Climatologists have convinced us can accurately predict weather patterns during the winter.

I still believe that the Sun and Sun Spots play more of a role in things than Al Gore wants to let on and far more of a role than all the CO2 we can produce.

Posted by Justin at 12:11 AM | Comments (1)

March 23, 2008

End of the Season Party at Brian Head

The end is near and Brian Head is already getting ready for the end of season party:

End of Season Party on the Snow!
Saturday, April 12th

Lift Tickets 50% Off!
Bounce Back Sunday for the same price
(Must show lift ticket from Saturday)

Come celebrate the last weekend of the 2007-08 Winter Season! Lots of activities and competitions with cool prizes, outdoor barbecue, discounts on food and blowout prices on retail merchandise! Activities begin at 11 a.m. and include:

  • Pond Skimming
  • Mountain Bike Race
  • Rubber Ducky Race
  • Rail Jam
  • On-Snow Putting Green
  • And Lots More!

Sign-ups begin at 9 a.m. on the 3rd floor of the Giant Steps Lodge.

I am gonna give pond skimming a try this season. I gotta do it and if Jackson goes, I am gonna convince him and Jake to do it too.

Posted by Justin at 12:06 PM

14 Year Old Dies Skiing Heavenly

Bad news from Heavenly:

A 14-year-old girl died Thursday afternoon following a ski accident at Heavenly Mountain Resort, authorities said.

Emily Clothier, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., apparently died from blunt force trauma after hitting a tree, although an exact cause of death was pending, said El Dorado County Sheriff's Lt. Les Lovell.

The girl was wearing a helmet and was practice skiing with the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation, Lovell said. She was found by her coach who was skiing about one minute behind her, he added.

The accident happened on the Nevada side of the ski resort at about 1:30 p.m., Heavenly officials confirmed...

The girl received immediate medical treatment at the scene and then was taken by CALSTAR helicopter to Barton Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2:39 p.m., Lovell said.

The accident occurred in the ski resort's Stagecoach area. The girl skied off the Stagecoach trail and into a wooded area, according to Heavenly. The resort has begun a routine investigation of the accident, Pecoraro said.

Even helmets do not protect 100%.

When we were at Wolf Creek, helicopters were flying overhead searching for the two snowboarders that got lost (and were not found). Remember that it is a dangerous sport. Trees. Tree wells. Blizzard conditions. Cold. Cliffs. Icy roads. There are lots of dangers.

Talk to your kids about safety. Remember safety yourself. Stay in control and stay safe. Especially be safe about alcohol and drugs. Save the crack smoking for the condo. Every time some a-hole is getting on the lift in front of me and is drunk or I smell the pot smoke, I think about getting clipped from him and tearing an ACL or busting my dome.

Posted by Justin at 12:02 PM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2008

21" Last Night at Brian Head

Brian Head got 21" last night which puts the resort over the 300" mark for the year. I got the e-mail powder alert at 8AM as I was heading to chemo. The list of places I would rather be than the VA Hospital is pretty long, but Brian Head is the top of the list.

Things will mellow for me after Easter hopefully and I am going to try to get in one more good weekend.

Posted by Justin at 10:43 PM | Comments (1)

March 04, 2008

Slow Blogging for a While

I am having a slew of things go on right now. First, my grandfather has lung cancer. Thankfully, it is in its early stages, but he is starting Chemo next week or the week after (if he decides to do it). As I aluded to in the other post today, he is the man that raised me from the time I was 12. I spent today with him going to the VA to help him get his benefits and treatment stuff straightened out. A stop by In-N-Out Burgers and a long drive talking was much needed. My daughter Lindsey stayed with my grandmother today while we drove to Phoenix.

Second, Jake is starting another season of football and Jarrett is starting another season of basketball. So I am doing my best to balance all the duties of being a dad with those of being a son (grandson). Boy Scouts. Basketball Practices. Football Practices. Sprinting and Speed Camps. Chemotherapy. School projects and Parent-Teacher meetings. Estate Planning. You know, the usual stuff.

I am going to try to squeeze in a long ski weekend or two before April, but I am pretty booked. I have dozens of ski seasons ahead of me, but have some serious work to do now. In short, things might slow down around here for a while. Blogging and skiing are my release and my way of spending time with friends and family. I have some other business to attend to in the meantime.

Today was Jake's first football practice. He is a completely different kid than in August when he first put on pads. He is officially the fasted kid on his team and the tallest by at least four inches (which I told him did not bode well for his team j/k). He just needs some more meat on his skinny bones. He laid some wood today and then he got to run extra sprints after practice for not cleaning his room well enough this morning (he didn't open the blinds and close the closet doors). The same kind of lessons my grandfather taught me. Perfection. Attention to details. Hard work.

Posted by Justin at 11:41 PM

D&D Founder Gary Gygax Dies

A couple great lines about it from various blogs included this from Ace of Spades:

He will be remembered by many geeks of a certain age for helping making long-lasting painful celibacy seem almost hip and cool (almost), and also, sadly, for undermining Israel's ability to defend herself from her enemies.

So I encourage all of you to take the What Character am I challenge:

I Am A: Lawful Good Human Paladin/Sorcerer (3rd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:

Lawful Good A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment because it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Paladins take their adventures seriously, and even a mundane mission is, in the heart of the paladin, a personal test an opportunity to demonstrate bravery, to learn tactics, and to find ways to do good. Divine power protects these warriors of virtue, warding off harm, protecting from disease, healing, and guarding against fear. The paladin can also direct this power to help others, healing wounds or curing diseases, and also use it to destroy evil. Experienced paladins can smite evil foes and turn away undead. A paladin's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast. Many of the paladin's special abilities also benefit from a high Charisma score.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

I remember back when I was 12 and had my head shaved and wore Army fatigues, wrote computer programs on an old Apple II-E in basic, and played D&D. It was when my mother shipped my ass off to live with my grandfather that I discovered football and became a more "well balanced" person (read girls stopped treating my like a weirdo and people stopped fearing that I would someday go on a shooting spree).

Posted by Justin at 11:32 PM