March 18, 2011

Winter Returns (Again)

Our off-again, on-again winter returns this weekend, with a huge forecast that should hopefully turn our thoughts back to snow. Sunday night appears to offer the most potential for snowfall, with huge storm totals being predicted from the Eastern Sierra to SoCal…

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October 21, 2010


Some time ago, my mom began what is now an annual tradition: the prediction, every Fall, that the upcoming winter is going to be “The Big One.” One would assume this strategy would guarantee that when The Big One finally did arrive, my mom would have successfully predicted it, but unfortunately she had the bad luck to begin her forecasting career at the start of an exceptionally dry decade in the southwest. Winter after winter would thus come and go in our hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona, leaving us in shirtsleeves on Christmas, grumbling helplessly as the local ski area struggled to open (more…)

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September 27, 2010


Or was it even hotter? The LA Times reports the official thermometer downtown reached 113° F today, the highest temperature ever recorded (going back to 1877) — and then the thermometer stopped working. Have mercy!

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November 13, 2009

Execution by Mathmatics

I enjoyed the original Freakonomics when it first came out. Written by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner, the book used economic analysis in clever and unexpected ways to expose “the hidden side of everything.” Freakonomics made its share of enemies, thanks to its occasionally radical theories, such as suggesting the national decline in Crime seen during the Clinton years was actually due to the legalization of Abortion some twenty years earlier. Levitt and Dubner clearly enjoyed rabble-rousing as a sport. But, the book did successfully challenge conventional wisdom on a wide range of subjects. It was a good, fun read (more…)

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May 22, 2008

Rain, Hail, Lighting, Snow…Tornado?

Rain, Hail, Lighting, Snow…Tornado?

I was walking out my door today around 5 p.m. on the way to the grocery when the sudden rumble of thunder stopped me. Hmm…I guess those black clouds on the horizon weren’t fog, after all. SoCal weather took a turn for the bizarre today, with the full gamut of weather phenomena. Here at the SierraDescents command center, we got heavy rain and lightning. For those unfamiliar with Southern California (more…)

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January 23, 2008

See Kili Before the Snow Is Gone

My brother and I talked about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro years ago; for us, it was one of those exotic, chance-of-a-lifetime dreams. Sadly, the trip fell through, and we never went.

While not a technical climb, 19,340′ Kilimanjaro has long been a coveted summit. The view atop the summit at dawn is legendary. And the climb up, starting in African rain forest, and ultimately reaching the continent’s highest (and glaciated) point, is surely one of the most diverse imaginable.

Kili’s popularity has been growing in recent years, fueled by a “see the snow before it’s gone” pitch. Most scientists believe Kilimanjaro’s glaciers will vanish sometime this century. That has translated into something of a tourist boom. I don’t know if my brother and I will ever make it to Kilimanjaro, but if we do, I doubt we’ll be carrying skis.

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January 8, 2008

Greenland Uncertainty

The New York Times has a front-page article today on the melting of Greenland’s ice. Greenland occupies a special place in the global warming watch, as it contains an extraordinary amount of frozen water (a Gulf of Mexico’s worth, according to the article). Should all of this ice melt abruptly, it would indeed make for a Hollywood-style doomsday scenario (at least for human civilization) (more…)

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September 22, 2007

September Snow?

By any standard, we’ve just seen a very unusual weather event: a ‘winter’ storm in SoCal—in the month of September.

NWS was forecasting accumulations of 18 inches in the Southern Sierra, with higher totals possible. It may be an exaggeration to say we saw as much rain overnight here in L.A. as all of last season, but it sure felt like it.

Is this a harbinger of a big Sierra winter? It’s not too late to pick up a Mt. Baldy season pass…

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September 5, 2007

Global Dimming

PBS’ Nova is running a new episode on a phenomenon they’ve dubbed, “Global Dimming”—the reduction of the sun’s intensity due to atmospheric pollution. On its surface this might seem like a perfectly obvious consequence of pollution, but, as the documentary demonstrates, scientists are making astonishing discoveries about its true scope (more…)

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August 12, 2007

GW Alert: Russia Plants Flag Under North Pole

Here’s a chiller of a story for you from the Los Angeles Times: Russian submarines planted the national flag on the seabed two miles beneath the North Pole, claming the land as an extension of Russia’s continental shelf—and therefore within their domain for oil and gas exploration.

It turns out that Global Warming, which is melting the ice, made the move possible. And rich petroleum reserves are believed to be located in the region. More oil to burn means more warming means less ice means more access to oil, and so on, leading credence to those who believe we humans are going to burn every last drop of oil on the planet and damn the consequences (more…)

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