This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 6, 2005 6:45 PM. The previous post in this blog was You're not fooling this guy. The next post in this blog is Marqui time again. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, March 6, 2005

Who'll start the rain?

I try to blog about the weather only sparingly. But meteorologically, this has been the craziest winter I can ever remember spending in the Pacific Northwest. If you can call it a winter.

Our usual incessant rains have been a complete no-show; lately we've had strings of days of sunshine and temperature in the 60s. February was dry, and March isn't any wetter.

Of course, we love the beauty of it, and enjoy basking in the unaccustomed sunlight. Those of us who aren't passionate about skiing greet the clear, bright mornings with a smile.

But this summer is going to be a real mess. Even we denizens of Portland are going to have to cope with brown lawns, other water restrictions, dry fountains, and fire hazards in our parks and wild spaces. Our Bull Run reservoir system can do without a snowpack on Mount Hood from the depths of winter, but without spring rains, we're in trouble.

Given all the problems at the Portland Water Bureau in recent years, a curveball from Mother Nature isn't exactly what we need right now. But it's speeding its way in now.

UPDATE, 10:34 p.m.: A reader writes:

Who knows, my weather theory may soon be proven as correct?

My theory dating back to 1978 is that sub-ocean volcanic activity has been the cause of our so called El Ninio's (and split jet streams) and the source of that may soon be discovered by the NOAA research ship, that as I write is steaming to an area NW of Astoria. A field of hot water vents were discovered near here soon after St. Helens did her thing in 1980.

I have been noting links between earthquake activity in the Pacific Rim, splits in our Eastern Pacific Jet stream and watching changes in ocean temps on this NOAA site:


To date all the scientific folks that I have asked about my theory have refused to give me an answer or give me an acknowledgment. Perhaps it's a bit more popular to blame it on air pollution causing the oceans to warm and thus cause the Splitting Jet Stream problem. But then, some may not want to panic the populace with only a theory.

However, I wouldn't choose to be on that NOAA ship if a large volcanic gas emission were to occur. What I hear is, bubbles won't float your boat.

Comments (6)

Maybe someone with a better memory than I can help, but I recall a serious drought in, I think, the summer of '74. I was in the hardware business at the time and all manner of water saving devices were selling like hotcakes. The governor (which one was it?) advised all homeowners to put a brick in their toilet tank to displace water and lawn irrigation was banned. Golfers revelled in it; those dried out fairways allowed your ball to roll a good fifty yards after touch-down. I think the drought broke in August. I remember that I was sleeping in my parents backyard when the rains returned... how sweet was the smell of that rain.

This weather has been making me think about my childhood, too, but the memories are different. As a native Portlander, I recall that my brother and I actually owned--and used pretty much every year--a wood Radio Flyer sled. To my unscientific mind this is a clue that climate change just might be real. Who would buy their their kid a sled in Portland these days? It would almost never get used.

I remember using our sled every year also. But I do remember that snow events were about once or twice a year and very short. Ice events have always been common. The biggest snow I remember was 63-64... until the one we had last winter, that is. My uncle and father, though, remembered major freezes back in the 1920's... they had pictures of model T Fords being driven across the frozen Columbia river.

Climate change can occur, but the issues are whether it is occurring right now (vs. is this just another of the occasional blips that last for a decade or two and then settle back to normal), and if climate change is occurring, how much of it is due to human activity. The short answer is we don't know. We don't have enough data, and we don't have other planets to experiment on.

The planet has been much colder before, and it has been much warmer. Likely, it will be much colder some time in the future, and at some other time, it will be much warmer. There is nothing particularly special about our current climate that requires us to preserve it all costs, other than the fact that we are a somewhat parochial people. We like certainty, and climate is revealing itself to be more uncertain than we like.

I like rain. The rain make me bland new. Am I strange???

Has anyone else wondered about the "swarm" of deep, Pacific ocean earthquakes along the Juan de Fuca ridge, a few hundred miles off the Washington coast, and the recent Mount St. Helens activity? Tectonic plate movement involving the Juan de Fuca, the Pacific and the North American plates, all seem to be moving toward that area.

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