Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lost In Spaces

My zeal for knowledge of ROSAT's final resting places is becoming tempered as time passes. @ROSAT_Reentry is still tweeting about three more hunks of Space Junk that are reentering in the next few days!

OK, in the past hour @ROSAT_Reentry says two of the three have now reentered. These are Rocket Boosters, not dense or heavy satellites, so very little debris if any should make it back to Earth's surface.

Since Tuesday, I've been keeping an eye on Boreal's webcam because they announced that snowmaking would begin and a day or so later, that they would open Friday.

Regular readers know I was skeptical...based on my frequent viewing of the webcam images. Thursday evening, and again Friday morning, Sacramento's Local News Broadcasts featured video or LIVE remotes from Boreal touting the 3PM Friday opening. Boreal will turn one lift until 8PM.

I expect to see LIVE Remotes from Sacramento and Reno TV Stations tonight.

A funny thing happened after lunch today...Boreal moved their webcam a little to the east revealing their Nugget Double Chair. I definitely felt like I fell for their head fake.

The webcam view until today was of the top-to-bottom snowmaking line with top-to-bottom flood lighting, leading me to think they would open their mid length Castle Peak Quad Chair. I figured given the short hours of snowmaking temps, that they wouldn't have their top-to-bottom Accelerator Quad Chair in time for this weekend... OK, reel me in now...

I looked in at 3PM and a crowd was forming, by 4PM it was a big crowd for a small patch of snow!  I looked at the nearest PWS, the Central Sierra Snowlab. The Snowlab is on the other side of the ridge from Boreal. Boreal's on the North side the Snowlab is on the South side in Soda Springs. Boreal will be cooler than the Lab most days because they're up in the Donner Pass Gap. The Lab was 54°F at 4PM. Boreal was probably 4°F-5°F cooler...still warm for a ski hill.

That's a crowd!
Boreal needs a good night of snowmaking temps to make enough snow to build the maze area for the Castle Peak Quad.

There's ski resorts opening this weekend from coast to coast, and Winter Storm Warnings are up for much of the Northeast...I'll update those after Game 7 of the World Series...Play Ball!

There's nothing like World Series Game Seven! Congratulations St Louis!

Today my twitter stream came alive with news of Ski Resorts around the country opening this weekend...

Sunday River in Maine opens Saturday.
Killington and Mount Snow in Vermont Saturday
Wolf Creek in Colorado Saturday
Colorado's Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are already turning some lifts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

After Shocks

After Snarks are more like it!
This came through my twitter timeline this morning: @unofficialsquaw "We Are All Gonna Die | New Fault Found in Truckee, CA | Potential to go 6.9 Magnitude, Burst Dams, Flood Reno." I followed the link: "Tahoe Earthquake|New Fault Found in Truckee,CA-Are We All Gonna Die?"

Boys will be boys...I clicked on Boreal's webcam...they were shut down earlier than's hard to guage how productive their night was by the webcam image. I looked at a couple of nearby weather stations before I clicked over to the Reno NWS site. Winds down, temps up through the weekend.

Wow! Now that was a World Series game! We're gonna decide it in Game Seven! WooHoo!

I kept an eye on Boreal's webcam all through Game Six...the homers, the comeback innings, the heartbreaks...down to the last strike...twice! And still I refreshed every 10-20 minutes. At quarter to midnight, the temps are still way too warm to fire up.

The 11 O'Clock news said Boreal would open Friday...we'll see about that...

Friday 9:30AM Update
I caught a live remote from Boreal on GoodMorningSacramento this the time I got the mute off, the piece was over. Boreal's website says they open Friday afternoon at 3PM, and stay open until 8PM.
Watch for Boreal video on a local TV Newscast near you tonight.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Did You Feel It?

I was just getting ready to write when I had a strange feeling...I wondered is that an earthquake? It was more like I could feel the groundwave coming...that is I didn't feel a shaking, but I felt a feeling that made me wonder: "Is that an earthquake coming?"...then the DaveCave shook pretty good.

I clicked over to the Drudge Report for the Quake Sheet Link. Nothing...I refreshed the page and there was a good sized red box. Magnitude 5.2. I refreshed again Mag 4.8, epicenter, roughly half way between Truckee and Quincy. 23 miles from Truckee. Sacramento's NBC Affiliate KCRA3 broke into the Tonight Show twice in 10 minutes to talk about it. They felt it down in Sacramento too, 90 miles from the epicenter.

But that's not what I sat down to write about...
Wednesday 6:22PM
Boreal fired up their snowmaking system Tuesday night.In fact, they kept the fans running until almost noon! Today they fired up before I checked in at 9PM It feels colder tonight, but the forecast says warming. I saw Boreal video on a couple of newscasts Wednesday. Boreal's looking good at 12:35AM

Thursday 12:30 AM
KCRA3 broke in a third time to report not much new on the 'quake, and asked viewers to chime in on their Facebook page. USGS downgraded the Magnitude to 4.7

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Autumn's First Chill

A cold front came through Truckee this morning. It's not an Arctic Express or anything, but once the cloud deck exits and the Northeast Winds begin it will cool right down. I just watched the 5 O'Clock News from Sacramento, and Channel 13's Weatherman Dave Bender said the Truckee Airport would get down to 25°F overnight...that means mid-40s at the DaveCave.

Not one minute later, @borealmtn tweeted:"Keep an eye on the Boreal web cam. Should see the fan guns fire up around 10pm or so." I looked at Boreal's Webcam...a "baseline view" if you will...

Boreal has a phalanx of Fan Guns ready to blow snow tonight.
Boreal has six nights to get enough snow made to open on Halloween as is their tradition, but I have to believe thay'd really like to open Friday to maximize their ticket sales and coast-to-coast news coverage as the first California Ski Resort to open. (there's a couple of Colorado Ski Resorts already open with a trail or two on mandmade snow) Boreal has three nights to get it together for a Friday morning opening.

Here's another Tweeter...this one is a Skiing/Snowboarding Social Networking Conference held in Tahoe that I just started following last night, @snowcial get it? Snow+Social=Snowcial. They tweeted Heavenly's intention to begin snowmaking tomorrow. It seems thay want to sell me a ticket to their Convention worse than they want to network, or get social with C/P...I'll tweet 'em the addresses to all of C/P's web outposts.

I looked at the Reno AFD. Some widely scattered instability showers here and there tonight, but the pattern is dry for the next week anyway. I'm relieved that My Mountain won't begin snowmaking operations before November 15th.

9:45PM Update
Boreal got the fans and guns going tonight. Judging from the PWSs in the neighborhood, conditions are marginal, but thanks to the windtunnel effect of Donner Pass, the wet, warm air is just passing through.

Boreal at 9:45PM Webcam looks South, so right is West.Looks like a robust NE wind!
This will be fun to watch!

Monday, October 24, 2011

ROSAT The Waiting Continues

NewScientist weighs in on ROSAT's deorbit. Satellite watchers are fairly certain that the German X-Ray Telescope splashed down in daylight into the Indian Ocean or Andaman Sea.

The article reminded me that USSTRATCOM didn't confirm UARS impact location for 4-5 days after the fact.

So, unless some debris found it's way to land, we'll have to wait until later in the week to hear anything definitive.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Head Scratching Time Begins

A couple of things came streaming through my social sites today...more precisely, I noticed them today...

KCRA3's @MarkFinan's tweet touting his "La Niña Explainer" on the  KCRA 3 Weather Facebook Page

I didn't know Finan had a weather page on facebook, so I searched and liked it. Here it's a good thumbnail sketch of a seriously complex system:

    "For those of you that didn't see my explanation of La Nina on the news last night, let me explain here. First the basics... La Nina refers to a period of cooler than average water in the equatorial Pacific. The cooler than average water can set or alter weather patterns for extended periods of time, like for a season. 
    Based on past episodes, there are tendencies that you can see when we have a La Nina in place. For some parts of the country, like the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest, those tendencies are pretty well defined. The Northwest has a very good chance of having a cool, wet winter. For our area the signals are very mixed. 
    Last year was a La Nina year and the water year was very impressive in NorCal. Sacramento finished with about 125% of average rain and the Sierra had about 200% average precipitation. 
    Not all years are like that for us. Some years come in pretty average and some come in very dry. 1975-76 was a La Nina season and was one of the driest years we have ever seen. Sacramento only picked up about 7 inches of rain that season, about 36% of average. 
    The problem is that there are more forces at work that [effect] the equatorial Pacific. There is the Arctic Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the MJO, the PDO etc. All of these have some influence on our weather patterns at any given time. Research into these is ongoing so seasonal forecasting is still pretty iffy. 
    So the bottom line is we don't know what sort of Winter we'll have here in NorCal."

Our climate is like an onion in that there are many layers of driving forces that influence the climate in the long term and weather in the short term. You could call these drivers the "Alphabet Soup"...they are all acronyms: AO, ENSO, PDO, MJO, NAO for a start.

ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) is like the onion's skin. It's on the surface and it's the first oscillation that casual observers discover, and it's the shortest period oscillation we've discovered. ENSO is home to El Niño and La Niña.

Mr Finan is right about the forecasting being "iffy", most of the dedevelopment of the computer forecasting models took place in the last 30 years or so...about the same time that the PDO was in the Positive Phase (read warm phase). Now that the PDO has crossed into negative territory, the models will have accuracy problems.

Clearly meteorologists haven't yet found the mechanism that drives Central California Precipitation during La Niña Winters.

Notice all the acronyms end with an "O" for oscillation. These are all cycles of temperature trends for different oceans or regions of oceans. Oceans are where the lion's share of Earth's heat is stored. Most of Earth's heat comes from the Sun, while a fraction comes from the Earth's molten iron core via vulcanism...see deep ocean vents for example.

The Sun has cycles too, though I'd wager we haven't discovered most of these yet. The most familiar cycle is the Sunspot Cycle. It's the first one we noticed. The earliest surviving record of sunspot observation dates from 364BC , based on comments by Chinese astronomer Gan De in a star catalog. The first clear mention of a sunspot in Western literature, around 300 BC, was by Theophrastus, a student of Plato and Aristotle.

I was 50 years old when I saw my first sun spot. I was on The New Seeker a "party boat", off the beach at Pacifica fishing for salmon. The marine layer was just the right thickness to reveal the disc of the Sun which was sporting a huge sunspot several times the size of the Earth.

Solar observers say the Sun is being very quiet, just another monkey wrench in the forecaster's bailiwick to complicate their job.

ROSAT Has Reentered

Space scientists have an idea where ROSAT plunged into the atmosphere. By the look of the Ground Track, I'd say it's 50/50 that it landed in the Indian Ocean.

About 80% of the ground track is over the Indian Ocean
More when I get more.