Thursday, September 8, 2011

September Grab Bag

Summer is winding down and snow and ski news is starting to trickle in. @CorduroyPlanet's Twitter stream came alive last week with snow and resort news, and many tweeters I haven't seen since the last weeks of last season have awakened from their summer slumber.

Early snowfall in Colorado is first out of the blocks this year. @Liftopia linked the early snow story. @Skiingmag retweeted @COPowder's photo from Winter Park here.

These are 12,000ft events up in the in Truckee the afternoon highs have been close to 80°F, cooling overnight into the low 50s. It's been more than a week since the Airport's Official Thermometer recorded the 48 State Low at 32°F.

The KTRK METAR station is biased as much as 10°-15° cooler than the Town of Truckee itself due to the airport's site in the Martis Valley. Next time you drive from Truckee to Northstar, take a look around as you pass the Truckee Airport. It's in a giant bowl, surrounded by mountains towering 2500ft above. All the cold air from those peaks runs down those peaks to find the Official Thermometers, skewing the temperature record lower.

I'm starting to hear a little La Niña noise above the general din. Even semi-summer-silent @PistenBullyUSA tweeted the speculation between tweets thanking PistenBully customers for buying another snowcat from the German manufacturer.

One of the BullyTweets caught my touts their new PistenBully EQ.1 Diesel/Electric Hybrid Groomer. I spent some time searching for the details of their hybrid system, but it looks like PB is playing this pretty close to their vest. There might be something here.

I'm imagining a diesel engine running a generator that drives the track motors and implement motors, along the line of the railroad's diesel electric locomotives. I'm pretty sure there would still be auxiliary hydraulic pumps to run the blade and stinger functions.

PistenBully touts a 25% fuel savings for the EQ.1. Torque is never a problem with electric motors, given enough horsepower and amps. Tillers and winches are electric on the EQ.1, but I couldn't find confirmation that the drive motors are electric, not hydrostatic. Given the weight of electric motors, there could be balance problems for these cats with so much weight right on the sprockets. I'll keep an eye out for more on these eBullies. I'll bet there's too much electrical interference to tune an AM radio station in one of these eBullies FAIL

The Climate Prediction Center's next 90-Day Outlook for ENSO will publish next Thursday Sept 15, 2011. The last issue caused a mini-stir when it raised the likelihood of La Niña's return to 50%.

Reading the first snowfall article reminded me of just how weird our 2011 weather has been. The story mentioned the record summer heat in Colorado in it's first sentence. Here in California, August was our eighth month of below normal temps. The Midwest, Texas, and the East and Southeast are all broiling this year...while La Niña looks to be reforming in the Pacific.

There's two weeks left of Celestial Summer, and next week I'll get my traditional first glimpse of the Autumnal light in the skies around Stead Field, home of the Reno National Championship Air Races. That's when the intel gathering and speculation about the coming Winter usually kick into gear.

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