Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dang! Sidelined

Oh Crap! I was supposed to be grinding around my Mountain tonight, instead of hackin' away at this keyboard! Unexpected dramas have postponed my annual Fall Migration back up to the High Sierra. Jeez, the webcams are showing what looks like just the beginning of the protracted battle shaping up...and the 1AM replay of the 11O'clock News just touted "Maybe up to FIVE FEET of snow" Man I wanted to be in the game tonight!

No worries...I'm thinking this winter will provide plenty of epic battles with Mother Nature's pure wind driven champagne powder! Plenty of Winter Storm Warnings to go around!

So a little Sucker Hole wended it's way up to Donner Summit...tomorrow, Saturday the Reno AFD promises epic snow accumulation...perhaps to cover the five foot boast from the TV Talking Heads!

I'm off to dreamland...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gearing Up

It's almost first night back on my Mountain. I slept like a baby last night, but that doesn't mean I'm not excited. Big Picture-wise, I can't wait to get out there to see how much snow has fallen, and what new ManMade challenges management has added to my bailiwick...It looks like there's a new Sign/Map board at the bottom of the Big Mountain's Chairlift. Hopefully, it's not in the way of plowing around the terminal.

ManMade challenges aside, there's plenty on tap to keep things interesting. The Geminid Meteor Showers peak Sunday night. 140 meteors per hour are possible with the waning moon almost new. These falling stars may or may not be observed between clouds from another weather system heading towards the High Sierra.

Forecasters are unsure of the strength of the next two weather events, as their models are split on the question: When and where will these systems split. Most of the models have the splits, but the timing and ultimate track of the remaining parts are all over the place. Reno's 04:04 AFD said stay tuned for the Day Shift's AFD, maybe the runs will come together enough for them to make the call!

Friday night I climb into my All-Time Favorite Snowcat. This is the tractor's third season on the Mountain. It's a Prinoth BR350 and it's served me well these past two seasons. Always ready to rumble, it's been surprisingly breakdown free, and never suffered a multi-day down period. She's always been ready to work, and work hard. I often smile and marvel at just how much work this tractor does without complaint or hiccups of any kind. Even the electronics in this cat have been free of confused electrons. She's a gamer for sure. I've spent more than a thousand hours running her, and it's bittersweet knowing she'll be just another trade-in next summer. Hopefully, Prinoth will provide another strong, trouble free machine with a big heart, and no new wrinkles. It's gotta be tough when you've developed your product to a place just a hair shy of perfection. Resisting the desire to "fix something that's not broke" must be irresistible.

I've got my "Groomer's Kit" ready...Bike Messenger's Bag, Tool Bag, Thermos, Two Dozen CDs, Lunch Pail, iPod & FM Transmitter, Flashlight and Headlamp, and assorted Carabiners and Webbing to keep everything within reach. One thing the manufacturer omitted when they designed the BR350, was the Rear Window Grab Bar...omitting it lets them knock a few bucks off the selling price, but that bar was very handy. In the cats that had the bar, you could clip your backpack to the bar, it would hang there all night, and the bag wouldn't fall onto the floor when you headed down a really steep trail. I've been requesting a Retro-Fit Grab Bar since the BR350 came far no joy from Prinoth, or the Vehicle Maintenance Gurus...sigh.

I'm keeping this short today, I've got a ton of things to wrap up before I head up the hill in the morning. This is gonna be good!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fatigue Fatigue

I'm too tired for my weekend to be over! All this Winter like 1969/Mavericks Surf Contest buzzing entangled me, and kept me on the edge of my seat all weekend. So I wrote because it came, and I still did a bunch of projects, and prepared for a hard freeze here at the Ancestral Digs. The yards came through with flying colors, too.

It's a good fatigue...I earned it. I'll sleep it off tonight, and tomorrow I have a few errands and another project. I'm trying to stay on track, and not get ahead of myself. Thursday I'm headed up i80 to the DaveCave, so I can settle in, catch a nap Friday and hit the Mountain Friday night for a Graveyard Shift...I'm stoked, and the weatherman says there's more snow coming this weekend...sweet!

I'm Up
This morning, the Reno AFD is backing away from their Thursday snow forecast, saying:


Cool, I'll avoid a chain control mess on the Interstate Thursday. I'll be back to my Grooming 101 seminar Thursday, too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

About last Night...

Rough Going Tonight Over Sierra Highways
It's Sunday after dark. Here in the Inland Valley, I've successfully dodged rain squalls all afternoon. And I tied up a knitting basket-full of loose ends. At 8:45 PM there's chain controls up on Interstate 80 from Alta to the Nevada State Line, and Donner Pass is closed to trucks westbound. The CalTrans Chain Control page says I-80 is closed to westbound trucks at the Nevada State Line due to snow. Alta is about 3200ft, and snow levels are forecast to drop to around 500ft later Sunday night in the North Bay Counties of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and east. Frost and Freeze Warnings cover the Coast and Inland Valleys, a Winter Storm Warning stays in effect until 7PM Monday night...something for everybody...

It's going to be a bumpy night. The Remote Sensors report temps from 15F on Donner Summit down to 9F at the 8500ft level. The farther northeast the sensor, the colder the reading. This was a "Backdoor Storm" spun up over the Great Basin and retrograded overnight along the frontal boundary into the Tahoe Sierra, and points south west. The raindrops I dodged Sunday afternoon, were from the advancing front, not the retrograde snowmaker.

Over in the Reno NWS Office, forecasters are in their element, they're earning it, but they're lovin' it too. They've been updating their AFD every three hours or so all day. It's far from over, the next pulse is winding up and will pound the High Sierra by morning, when Ridge Winds are forecast to gust up to 70mph. They say another 8-16 inches at 7000ft. Nice dry champagne powder.

Surfer Dudes turn it down to Simmer
The Big Wave Surf Democracy punted...that is they decided to postpone their vote, and take a look at Wednesday's forecast...they need 48 hours to pull the trigger. They're getting some sleep. Thanks to their buzzing, I found that my favorite NDBC Buoys Twitter hourly updates now! They don't have anything significant to report yet...

Frothing up the pond where CorduroyPlanet's Lillypad floats, are the CalTrans Highway Signs that also Twitter their every update...even if they say: "I'm still not saying anything new"...every half hour... I follow the signs during storms, and unfollow them when the storms pass...they are verbose for electronic a point way beyond audience comprehension. Later this week, I have to run the gauntlet and try to thread the needle between storms, to get reacquainted with my DaveCave, and get back out on My Mountain!

From the Front Lines of the Flatlands
SFO/Monterey's NWS Office is getting in on the fun too. Their latest AFD backs off on the Snow Level they're saying 1500ft, which seems more realistic...less Fantasyland.

Dispatch from the Front
Back up on Interstate 80, chain controls are moving downhill. At 10:45PM chains are required from Colfax (2,425ft) to the Nevada State Line.

Dispatch from the Front Yard
This morning, I took my camera out with me to pick up the newspaper. Snow is on the foliage here at the 500ft elevation of the Ancestral Digs. The sun is shining, but the Morning News says there's still snow falling in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Chain Controls lowered all the way down to Auburn overnight...1,227ft

While I don't count this as a Major Storm here in the Bay Area, it counts in the High Sierra. So the Surf Weather Dudes are 1/30 of the way to fulfilling their forecast for the winter...Score one for them.

History Dispatch
Remember Pearl Harbor today. Say a prayer for the departed, and thank a Veteran for their service to our country.

"December 7th, 1941, a day that will live in Infamy" FDR

Epic Swells Again

Grab Bag for Geeks
I'll keep this short...think of it as a BonusBlog this week. It's just that the Buzz about the "Epic Swells like 1969" keeps showing up in my Twitter Feed. Maybe these Dudes will get some sleep tonight, but somehow I doubt it...

The Santa Cruz Sentinel weighed in with some news: "Surfers will decide if contest will get the green light Friday" It's kinda nice to see democracy on the rise somewhere these days.

Well the cold got here! Atop the SF/Monterey NWS' Homepage is a red banner that says: LOW SNOW LEVELS MONDAY! The Weatherman on the KPIX 11 O'clock News said snow down to 500ft Monday...That'll do it for the last of the Vine Ripe Tomatoes at the Local Farmer's Market.

Frosty Dawn
The SF/Monterey NWS wasn't kidding. Their full page of weather warnings was bound to get it right, even if you chalk it up to the Shotgun Effect...that many Warnings, Watches and Advisories are bound to find a few targets...

There's frost on the pumpkin here in the Inland Valley Sunday morning. Hanging in bed while the house warmed up, I surfed for Weathergeek data. It looks like the Surf Contest Dudes got some sacktime after all, there's a quiet calm over in their Cyber-Neighborhood this morning.

Filling the Toolbox
Without any new intel from the Surf World, I did some snooping around their websites. It turns out that Surfers, Skiers, Snowboarders, Groomers, Boaters and Fishermen all work or play in similar milieus. As such, the Surfer's Wing of the Weathersphere sports some truly comprehensive Weather Websites. Think of them as Sports/Weather/Buoy/Webcam Aggregators...sort of a "one page fits all" deal. I bookmarked Stormsurf because it's got all the features I want, whether I'm working, traveling, or fishing.

All my reminiscing over the Winter of 1969 made me track down my Local Newspaper's "Sierra Storm King" I've enjoyed Mark McLaughlin's historical weather passions for many years, and I'm eagerly awaiting his new book on Tahoe Sierra Winter Sports History: "Longboards to Olympics" Mark is publishing his latest just in time for the 50th Anniversary of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and the 60th of Squaw Valley USA.

Mark's Website made my Weather Bookmarks, too. I'm starting to think he'll have plenty to write about, now that El Niño is coming back to town!

Do you feel the Buzz in the air yet? I'm buzzin' because Winter 2009/2010 could be Epic!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Epic Swells Like 1969

Weekend Wonders
I'm giving Grooming 101 a rest for the weekend...besides weekends are for play! I'm playing with the new iPod, setting up accounts, importing contacts and bookmarks, and generally enjoying a GeeWhiz experience. As Captain Jack Aubrey quipped in Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander": "What a fascinating, Modern World we live in"

While fiddling with my Tweetdeck application, I received a Retweet from @Mavericks_Surf touting "Epic Surf Expected like 1969"

My mind raced immediately into WayBack Mode...1969 was an Epic Winter in the High Sierra. One of the largest snowfall winters on record, 1969 is indelibly etched in my memory because the huge front window-wall of the then new Gold Coast Lodge at Squaw Valley USA, caved in under the deep drifts of a huge storm period. I remember it vividly because the event happened just a few weeks after I made my first unchaperoned overnight ski trip with my older cousin Gary in his sweet 1955 Chevy Nomad Station Wagon!

It was a memorable first non-Boy Scout overnight...and we stayed in the 1960 Winter Olympics' Athlete Quarters. Squaw still basked in the glow of The Games in 1969...the buzz of the Winter Games seemed palpable to me, and the skiing was fabulous! I was just seventeen and very impressionable...

Back in the here and now, my mind finished it flights of fancy, and I clicked the lead to a FoxTV station in Honolulu, Hawaii. Dangerous swell is headed for Hawaii and ultimately the California's associated storminess will be around almost all week. Darn it, getting back to reality made me take a quick look around the Weathersphere to see if next week might look like 1969.

It's gonna be cold, that's for sure! Reno's AFD from 03:29 Saturday said:

Looking good Snowmaking-wise, though this weekends frontal push won't bring much snow to the Tahoe Sierra...most of the snow showers are tapped to occur South of Lake Tahoe. This first Cold Front will open the Storm Door, and just like a Real Sierra Winter, another storm will come through every other day all next week! Hurray! I climb back into my BR350 Friday night.

I talked with the Boss for a while Friday afternoon, he told me there was more snowmaking going on than I could see from the Mountain's webcams...they had trouble with Temperature Inversions inhibiting their progress last week, but the approaching front had things mixing up enough to banish the inversions, and allow some bountiful snowmaking shifts. Boo-yah!

Surfing Buoys
Never one to get hung up on reality on a weekend, I toured my Buoy Bookmarks to see if any sign of the approaching "Epic Swells like 1969" were getting noticed by the Buoy Network...Nope, it's still too early. The Maverick Surfer guys are really wound-up, though...they're Twittering up a storm! (Sorry) Lot's of 50FT! Tweets, God bless 'em...

Taking a jaunt outside, the skies here at the Ancestral Digs looked decidedly threatening...heavy weather looking clouds in gray and darker gray greeted me while I fetched the newspaper from the driveway. Now four hours hence, the skies are blue over the Inland Valley, but there's a slight chill in the air.

Errands Completed
I spent the afternoon away from the Weather Frenzy…I can report however, that Holiday Shopping Frenzy is in Full Effect.

Driving out to the Berkeley Flatlands to gather some arts & crafts supplies, I was amazed at just how filthy the air out there was! It must have been wood smoke from Bay Area fireplaces hanging over the Basin…there wasn’t a wisp of breeze anywhere today.

Jacking back into the CyberStream, I see the Mavericks Contest is still on a roiling boil. Those Surfer Dudes aren’t going to sleep tonight! They missed the opportunity for their Contest last season, so they’re Totally Stoked by the Big Swell Forecast…God love ‘em…even if they don’t have a Weather Page on any of the Mavericks Websites.

I’m still trying to track down those Nebulous Surfer Dude Forecasters who said: " weather forecasters are saying there's going to be at least 30 Major Storms come through Northern California's Coast between now and March 31st..."

I’ll admit it, I’ve got the Storm Door Buzz goin’ on, too. Getting back in my tractor again will be like a warm comfortable Homecoming…kinda cozy even. I'm Stoked, too!