Posts filed under ‘The Environment, Weather, Etc.’
Where’s Pat Robertson when you need him to explain all this? It’s the gays!
In June, 2012 we had fire. In September this year we had a 1000 year flood (this was the scene a block from my house) and now we’re getting near-hurricane force wind and the coldest temperatures in 15 years.
Needless to say, the puppies and the hubby and I are hunkering down:
High Wind Warning in Northeastern Colorado
Gusty Downslope winds persist in and near the front range Foothills this evening, then taper off late tonight. The strongest winds will be possible in the foothills of Boulder and Jefferson counties.
High Wind Warning remains in effect until 5 am MST Tuesday.
Timing: After a lull early this evening, occasional strong and gusty west winds may again develop overnight.
Winds: west winds of 25 to 40 mph can be expected with a few gusts to around 75 mph.
Republicans at work, killing stuff, which they’re so good at:
Usually when energy development moves into deeper waters to harness marine energy resources, coastal residents have nightmares of risky technology and oil spills.
But not when that development means floating wind turbines.
Statoil, the Norwegian-based oil and gas company, received approval from the United Kingdom’s Crown Estate to build five floating wind turbines in 100 meters of water off the coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Combined, they will generate 30 megawatts of energy, and the planned hub will be the largest in Europe.
Offshore wind is big in Europe, but turbines are limited to shallow waters (around 60 meters) because the pylons that support them have to be blasted into the seabed. Floating turbines, however, just require a few cables to keep the floating shaft in one spot, and they can be installed in water as deep at 700 meters.
Statoil successfully demonstrated the world’s first floating turbine off the coast of Norway in 2009. In October, Statoil pulled the plug on a $120 million project off the coast of Maine due to regulatory uncertainty. Republican Governor Paul LePage had long opposed the project, which would have made his state a center of global offshore wind innovation, and pushed a law through the legislature that forced a delay in the negotiations over Statoil’s contract.
Wow. Astonishingly shortsighted on LePage’s part but of course he’s got to be loyal to his oil energy masters. Not only that, I’m sure this project would have created a lot, lot, lot of jobs and isn’t that what Republicans are always squawking about?
Remember back in late March when an Exxon oil pipeline burst and spilled gooey oil all over a residential neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas? Here are some pics.
Fast forward seven months and man-oh-man, the once tight community has been torn apart:
Eight months after an ExxonMobil pipeline leaked Canadian oil across an Arkansas subdivision, a cloud of uncertainty looms large over the young families, singles and retirees who chose the affordable, decade-old Northwoods neighborhood to establish roots. Nearly half of them have put their houses up for sale in search of a fresh start they never wanted.
“The area is blanketed with ‘For Sale’ signs,” said April Lane, a community health advocate who has worked with the spill victims. Twenty-nine of the development’s 62 homes have either been sold to Exxon under its buy-out program or are on the open market.
Some people were forced to sell because oil settled in their homes’ foundations, where removing it is nearly impossible. Others chose to leave because of fears about potential health effects and the marketability of their properties. Those who are staying aren’t necessarily doing so by choice: Many don’t have enough equity to afford a down payment on a new home in another suburb, according to local real estate brokers.
The upheaval has torn at the fabric of the once tight-knit central Arkansas neighborhood, where barbecues were regularly held and neighbors watched after each other’s kids, who played in Northwoods’ three cul-de-sacs and five streets. Ryan Senia, a 30-year-old bachelor who bought his Northwoods home in 2009, said it was either sell to Exxon now or risk “holding onto that thing forever.”
“It’s like selling a salvaged car—nobody wants to buy it.”
The subdivision was thrust into this position on March 29, when 5,000 barrels of oil spewed out of Exxon’s 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline. Twenty-two homes were evacuated, almost one-third of the Northwoods development.
The leaked oil was from Alberta’s tar sands region, similar to the diluted bitumen (dilbit) that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL project, if it’s built.
Really sad and entirely avoidable. Who the hell approved the construction of a subdivision on top of an oil pipeline?
Few if any even knew that an oil pipeline was buried under their lawns.
SMDH. This is really upsetting. It’s a case of the House of Representatives voting 100% against the interests of We the People and in favor of corporations that pollute the planet:
On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that will block the Department of the Interior (DOI) from regulating fracking in states that already have regulations in place. The bill, H.R. 2728, passed the House in a 235 – 187 vote. Twelve Democrats voted in favor of the legislation and two Republicans voted against it.
“Hydraulic fracturing has been safely and effectively regulated by states for decades,” said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), according to The Hill. “So the Obama administration’s proposed regulations are unnecessary.”
On Tuesday, Hastings added a last-minute amendment to another piece of oil and gas industry-friendly legislation that was also passed by the House on Wednesday. His amendment to the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act cuts government funding for renewable energy projects by 50 percent.
If there is a God and if there is a Heaven and a Hell, Rep. Hastings will go to hell. He wants to cut government funding for renewable energy projects by 50 percent (as do his 234 colleagues who voted in favor) when we’re on the cusp of tipping into irreversible global warming? I don’t think God takes kindly to people who want to destroy our lovely planet and everything on it.
I lived through the floods in Boulder in September when 24″ of rain fell over the course of four days. On Monday night, 17 inches of rain fell on the Italian island of Sardinia in 90 minutes. 90 minutes!
Wow. That must have been quite an experience.
Here’s a graph showing the number of minutes the cable “news” outlets devoted to climate change between April 1 and August 13 this year. Note the stars on O’Reilly’s and Hannity’s shows. Those stars mean the coverage was dismissive of climate change (natch - hey, we’re talkin’ Fox).
Oh, and CNN is supposedly a flaming liberal channel, right? It looks like Erin Burnett’s show, OutFront, devoted about four minutes to the issue while Anderson Cooper didn’t touch it. Liberal? What a joke that is.
What a sorry state of affairs.
SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (November 21, 2013)–The public is outraged more indigenous wild horses will be rounded up and permanently removed from public land to grab water and frack the land. Protect Mustangs is calling for protests to stand up for the American mustang and a tourism boycott targeted at Wyoming who promotes ”Roam Free” in their marketing yet ignores the wild horse. 700 Adobe Town and Salt Wells herds will be rounded up from the public-private land known as the “Checkerboard” starting this week. The majority will live in captivity, be at-risk for going to slaughter and forever lose their freedom to roam.
“Fracking for oil and gas is polluting the environment and wiping out America’s wild horses,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “It’s time for clean energy that can coexist with wildlife.”
Amen, amen, amen to that.
After watching this video — Fukushima: Beyond Urgent — I’d say what’s happening at Fukushima these days should be reported on way more than it is, as in not at all (thanks “liberal media!”).
Words from the last frame:
Nothing like this has ever been attempted. All of humanity will be threatened for 1,000s of years if rods in Unit 4 pools touch during removal process.
See links to more info about Fukushima here (scroll down).
I live in Boulder, Colorado, the site of September’s “1,000 year flood.”
Now — two and a half months later — we’re seeing headlines like this around here:
That said, this would be the lead chyron on the Weather Channel this evening:
The Midwest Recovers? It’s been 24 hours since the tornadoes hit yet the “midwest” is recovering?
I challenge the Weather Channel to go back to Washington, Illinois — or Joplin, Missouri — remember that? — in a year or two to follow up as to what “recovery” means.
I’m thinking it won’t be a 24-hour fix like the Weather Channel wants us to believe.
Wow. My thoughts go out to people in the Philippines tonight:
Super Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines early Friday morning, is one of the strongest storms ever recorded on the planet. Here are some fast facts about the storm:
• Super Typhoon Haiyan has winds of 195 mph and gusts of 235 mph. This is one of the highest wind speeds ever recorded in a storm in world history.
• It made landfall as the most powerful typhoon or hurricane in recorded history.
• The strength of Haiyan is equal to that of an extremely powerful Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic. (Typhoons are the same type of storms as hurricanes).
• It’s possible Haiyan could become the strongest storm ever recorded to make landfall, anywhere on Earth.
Check out this National Geographic interactive map showing how the world’s shorelines would change if all the ice everywhere on Earth melted, something that’s on its way to happening:
In September Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke “at an energy summit at the Bush Institute…[and] credited legendary oilman George Mitchell and the free market with creating the state’s energy boom, which helped Texas sustain a healthy economy in recent years as the nation plunged into an economic recessions.”
Sounds great huh?
Well let’s peel back a layer or two. Check out this photo of a fraction of the 100,000 fracking wells that are helping Texas “sustain a health economy.” The question is, at what cost and will it be worth it in the end? Are George Mitchell and the “free market” really doing Texas a favor?
Oh, and then there’s this from the American Petroleum Institute (API): 10 Facts Everyone Should Know About Shale Energy:
The economic impacts of developing shale gas resources are revolutionary. Hydraulic fracturing will account for nearly 75 percent of natural gas development in the future. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling apply the latest technologies and make it commercially viable to recover shale gas and oil. Without it, we would lose 45 percent of domestic natural gas production and 17 percent of our oil production within 5 years.
But again, at what cost? The API people undoubtedly envision a United States that is covered in fracking wells. Hey, let’s make it so the whole country looks like that photo.
I saw this ad on my local Denver/ABC News station tonight. I guess I better run out and sign up to have “Energy From Shale” put five or ten fracking wells in my backyard tonight. Sounds so idyllic!
I’d never eat meat from Ms. Kern’s ranch and man-oh-man, I feel sorry for her kids. I have a bad feeling about this. I think she’s going to regret it. When you “talk with experts” from the fracking industry about fracking ah, yeah, it’s gonna sound great.
As an aside, Ault, Colorado is in Weld County. On November 5, Weld County will vote on seceding (or not) from Colorado.
This article, from the Australian newspaper, The Herald, is about Ivan Macfadyen’s trek from Melbourne to Osaka, ten years go and then again this past spring:
IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.
“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.
And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.
“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.
“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.
“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.
Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.
No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.
If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.
After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
Tough as it is, I recommend reading the whole article. It isn’t all that long and it’s good to get a first-person account — with a first-person, ten-year perspective — as opposed to reading about “what scientists predict…”
Far as I know, what Macfadyen experienced is what scientists are predicting will happen 30, 40 years from now, not RIGHT NOW.
My backyard in Boulder, Colorado this morning:
But the forecast is for sun and 65º tomorrow. Life.
The ripple effect of climate change is going to be devastating. It already is. Very sad news here:
For such large creatures, moose are a relatively hidden species. They are hard to count. They live where humans do not like to go, along the boggy fringes of northern lakes and rivers where the sound of summer mosquitoes fills the air. They thrive in cold weather, and their well-being depends on sharp, cold autumns and late springs, which protect them from their most important predator: not the wolf, but the winter tick.
Moose are dying off across North America for a number of reasons, most of which can be linked to a warming climate and an eroding winter. Long, warm autumns and early, wet springs benefit winter ticks, which can cluster on moose in unbelievable numbers, causing anemia, loss of appetite, hair loss from rubbing — weakening the animals at the onset of winter, just when they need their strength most.
In British Columbia, they have lost protective cover thanks to the die-back of white pine forests caused by an epidemic of pine bark beetles. The epidemic, largely attributed to climate change, has also robbed grizzly bears of the seeds they depend on for winter food.
The collapse in moose numbers — one Minnesota population has fallen from 4,000 animals to fewer than 100 — is something scientists can track but otherwise can do nothing about.
Sometimes — like right now — I’m so ashamed of we humans.
A once-in-a-decade typhoon threatened Japan on Tuesday, disrupting travel and shipping and forcing precautions to be taken at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Typhoon Wipha is moving across the Pacific straight towards the capital, Tokyo, and is expected to make landfall during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, bringing hurricane-force winds to the metropolitan area of 30 million people.
The center of the storm was 860 km (535 miles) southwest of Tokyo at 0800 GMT, the Japan Meteorological Agency said on its website. It was moving north-northeast at 35 kph (22 mph).
The storm had weakened as it headed north over the sea but was still packing sustained winds of about 140 kph (87 mph) with gusts as high as 194 kph (120 mph), the agency said.
The agency issued warnings for Tokyo of heavy rain, flooding and gales, and advised people to be prepared to leave their homes quickly and to avoid unnecessary travel.
A spokesman for the meteorological agency said the storm was a “once in a decade event”.
The typhoon is expected to sweep through northern Japan after making landfall and to pass near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, on the coast 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, later on Wednesday.
Typhoon Wipha is the strongest storm to approach eastern Japan since October 2004. That cyclone triggered floods and landslides that killed almost 100 people, forced thousands from their homes and caused billions of dollars in damage.
DAEGU, South Korea, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Coal will surpass oil as the key fuel for the global economy by 2020 despite government efforts to reduce carbon emissions, energy consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie said on Monday.
Rising demand in China and India will push coal past oil as the two Asian powerhouses will need to rely on the comparatively cheaper fuel to power their economies. Coal demand in the United States, Europe and the rest of Asia will hold steady.
Global coal consumption is expected to rise by 25 percent by the end of the decade to 4,500 million tonnes of oil equivalent, overtaking oil at 4,400 million tonnes, according to Woodmac in a presentation on Monday at the World Energy Congress.
“China’s demand for coal will almost single-handedly propel the growth of coal as the dominant global fuel,” said William Durbin, president of global markets at Woodmac. “Unlike alternatives, it is plentiful and affordable.”
China – already the top consumer – will drive two-thirds of the growth in global coal use this decade. Half of China’s power generation capacity to be built between 2012 and 2020 will be coal-fired, said Woodmac.
This will contribute to a doubling of the region’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to 2.3 gigatonnes by 2035, according to the IEA.
Don’t get it? Try this: Why We Need to Quit Coal.
Australia is just now beginning its hot summer season and it ain’t lookin’ good for them:
Extreme unseasonal weather is expected across much of NSW on Thursday, prompting fire authorities to issue “extreme fire danger” warnings for major populated areas.
Sydney is forecast to reach 37 degrees – 15 above the long-term average – and other areas may climb to 40, with winds gusting as high as 70 kilometres per hour in some regions.
Sydney has already posted record warmth for the year to date, the winter and September
“These conditions mean there is potential for the rapid spread of fire,” Shane Fitzsimmons, Rural Fire Service Commissioner, said.
The warning, one level before the “catastrophic” level, applies to the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions.
A total fire ban, Sydney’s fifth so far this spring, is expected to be set for Thursday.
I’m here in Boulder, Colorado, having just lived through a thousand year flood, and I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I’m sensitive to people experiencing “extreme,” “catastrophic,” and/or “record” weather events.
Good luck Australia.
More weird weather:
Chile declared a state of emergency on Thursday after a late frost caused an estimated $1 billion worth of damage to fruit crops, potentially hitting wine production as well.
The affected central region is the main fruit and wine producing area in Chile, the world’s No.7 wine producer, and includes vineyards owned by prominent local wine label Concha y Toro.
The industry is one of Chile’s most important after copper, with fruit exports worth $4.3 billion in 2012 and wine worth $1.8 billion, according to government figures.
“These frosts are the worst that agriculture has faced in 84 years, impacting the area from Coquimbo to Bio Bio,” the national agricultural society said as Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol pledged aid for affected farmers.
Fruit trade association Fedefruta has given an early estimate of up to $1 billion of damage from the extensive cold snap in late September.
Secretary of Agriculture: Why Do We Value Our Rural Farmers? Because They Send Their Kids to the Military!!!
A friend just sent me this mind blowing and sadly discouraging tidbit from mid-August. Does a militaristic mindset permeate the brain of every upper level government official?
Why do we need more farmers? What is the driving force behind USDA policy? In an infuriating epiphany I have yet to metabolize, I found out Wednesday in a private policy-generation meeting with Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McCauliffe.
It was a who’s who of Virginia agriculture: Farm Bureau, Va. Agribusiness Council, Va. Forestry Association, Va. Poultry Federation, Va. Cattlemen’s Ass., deans from Virginia Tech and Virginia State–you get the picture.
But I digress. The big surprise occurred a few minutes into the meeting: US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack walked in.
Are you ready for the shoe to drop? The epiphany? What could the US Secretary of Agriculture, at the highest strategic planning sessions of our land, be challenged by other leaders to change this figure, to get more people in rural America, to encourage farming and help more farms get started? What could be the driving reason to have more farmers? Why does he go to bed at night trying to figure out how to increase farmers? How does the President and other cabinet members view his role as the nation’s farming czar?
What could be the most important contribution that increasing farmers could offer to the nation? Better food? Better soil development? Better care for animals? Better care for plants?
Here’s the bombshell:
Are you ready? Here’s his answer: although rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military. Say what? You mean when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, the bottom line–you know all the cliches–the whole reason for increasing farms is to provide cannon fodder for American imperial might. He said rural kids grow up with a sense of wanting to give something back, and if we lose that value system, we’ll lose our military might.
So folks, it all boils down to American military muscle. It’s not about food, healing the land, stewarding precious soil and resources; it’s all about making sure we keep a steady stream of youngsters going into the military.
I was left speechless after reading this and I still am. SMDH.
Boulder County put this PSA together urging people to stay out of the mountains west of Boulder so road crews can do their work.
Wow. I just learned about the film: “GMO OMG.”
“The corn we see growing around here is actually registered as a pesticide?”
“But it’s also a food?”
“Well, that’s debatable.”
Gotta see it. Watch the trailer here.
And then there’s this: The idiots in D.C. want to grant Monsanto immunity from lawsuits stemming from their GMO seeds, kinda like they granted gun manufacturers protection from lawsuits stemming from deaths and injuries caused by their guns:
On Friday, Sept 20th, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (H.J.RES.59) that contains the same Monsanto Protection Act that it passed last spring! We need your help to stop it in the Senate, which will vote this week! While the previous continuing resolution was scheduled to expire on September 30th, the new bill contains the exact same language that offers Monsanto and their GMO crops protection from judicial oversight and forces the USDA to allow the planting of untested GMO crops without proper scientific or regulatory review.
Having just lived through a mega-storm here in Boulder, Colorado, my heart goes out to all the people in the path of Super-Typhoon Usagi:
An atmospheric monster has blossomed in the western Pacific Ocean, and it could have a devastating impact on Hong Kong this weekend.
On Thursday, Super Typhoon Usagi—now officially Earth’s strongest storm this year—rapidly grew from tropical storm strength to the equivalent of a category five hurricane, the scale’s highest level. That transformation occurred in an impressively short period of time: the storm’s estimated winds increased in speed by about 85mph (140kph) in less than a day—good enough for one of the fastest intensification rates ever recorded. Maximum wind gusts within Usagi are now estimated to be an incredible 170 knots (see below), or 195 mph (315 kph).
195 mph winds combined with buildings like this
could spell disaster.
Ah yes, fickle Republicans strike again. Ethics? Morality? Character? Doing what’s just plain right to help their fellow humans? Nah. It’s all about what will get them re-elected:
As historic floods of “biblical” proportions continue to ravage Colorado, President Obama signed an emergency declaration on Sunday — a move that was encouraged by a bipartisan letter last week from the state’s nine-member Congressional delegation. But the four Republican Congressmen who are now supporting disaster relief for their own state were among those voting earlier this year against the emergency aid funding for Superstorm Sandy victims on the East Coast.
Colorado Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton joined their delegation in asking the president to send emergency funds to help their constituents combat and recover from the more than 14 inches of rain that have flooded Colorado this month.
The next time you hear a Republican say he or she wants to “cut the deficit” laugh and tell them about this. What they bloviate about to their Fox & Friends has nothing to do with their convictions. It has everything to do with sticking one’s finger in the air and deciding which way the wind is blowing.Turning that upside down, both of Colorado’s Democratic senators voted for Sandy relief earlier this year, despite the fact that that that relief didn’t go to their state. Hello!
In a 62-36 vote, the Senate on Monday approved legislation providing $50.7 billion to help New York, New Jersey and other states hit by Hurricane Sandy.
All 36 “no” votes came from Republicans.
Recently a group of researchers from Harvard and Oregon State University has published the first global temperature reconstruction for the last 11,000 years – that’s the whole Holocene (Marcott et al. 2013). The results are striking and worthy of further discussion.
Boulder is slowly recovering after the flood. The hubby and I had to drive across town yesterday; the farthest we’d been since last Wednesday. We saw home after home with trash in the front yard — mattresses, carpeting, carpet pads, etc. — and though it had rained since Monday morning, water was still running down the streets in some areas. What a testament to the amount of water that fell on the mountains that’s still draining down and out onto the plains.
This morning I took my three mile speed walk for the first time in ten days. I go up into a hilly area to the southwest of our house, right up against the base of the Flatirons. Homes on top of the ridges were fine but those built below have been inundated, with water, obviously, that flowed down the hillsides. Some of them look like they literally had a wall of water blow right through them.
And then there’s this unanticipated pesky little problem:
Following last week’s seemingly endless rain, trash and debris dropoff sites established around Boulder to help with the post-flood cleanup efforts are now dealing with a seemingly endless stream of water-logged, muddy material.
City officials recognized Tuesday that sites were having trouble keeping up with demand but noted thee Boulder area is not the only place in Colorado with garbage disposal needs, making it hard to find additional run-off containers.
“The challenge we’re facing is that the demand for the receptacles is far greater than the space in the receptacles,” city spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said. “And there is a limited supply of roll-off containers in the region right now.”
Amazing. You can plan and plan and plan but then run into a snag like this that really makes a huge difference in people’s lives, and not for the better.
My Tweet of the Day:
I can see the beautiful building that houses the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) here in Boulder from my chair as I write. You can almost see that building vibrate during the day and glow at night what with all the geniuses at work here. It isn’t a genius bar, it’s a genius building.
Here’s Bob Henson from NCAR’s assessment of the flood that hit Boulder this week. It wasn’t a 100-year flood as everyone’s been surmising. When you hang out at NCAR and you crunch the numbers, it was more like a 1,000-year flood.
(Full disclosure: Bob Henson is a good friend of my brother’s.)
Bob Henson | September 14, 2013 • Even after the rains finally abated on Friday, I found myself struck by how the waterlogged air in Boulder felt oddly, almost eerily tropical. This only put an exclamation point on the weirdness of the week and its events. Four days of rainfall across Colorado’s Front Range produced massive flooding that’s marooned thousands of people, inundated many key roads, and damaged countless homes and businesses.
Just how rare was this event? Was it a 100-year flood, or something bigger (or smaller)? As always, the answer depends on exactly what you’re looking at, and exactly where.
Engineers often refer to NOAA’s Atlas 14 to find frequency estimates: how often to expect precipitation of a given intensity and duration. Russ Schumacher (Colorado State University) used the atlas to calculate frequency estimates for the rains observed in the critical 48-hour window from 6 a.m. MDT Wednesday to 6 a.m. Friday. In doing so, Schumacher found that a large chunk of Boulder County and parts of several other state counties passed the 1000-year recurrence threshold.
This doesn’t mean that such an rainfall would literally be expected once every thousand years, like clockwork. Rather, it’s a statement of probability: a 1000-year rainfall has an 0.1% chance of occurring in any given year.
Wow. And to think I was here for the big event!
I left out a lot so if you’re a science geek, you might want to read the whole thing.
Bear Creek — usually not a whole lot more than a trickle — runs down the middle of Table Mesa Drive in South Boulder. The creek comes out of the mountains and runs out onto the plains.
Table Mesa Drive is a block and a half north of my house.
This is what looking west on Table Mesa Drive looks like this morning:
This is what it looks like looking east. You can see where the creek is supposed to run, in between the two lanes of road.
This is two blocks west, where Bear Creek is pouring out of the mountains. It appears that debris piled up at the entrance to the culvert that runs under the street (just the other side of those big trees) and the creek made its own path immediately to the south:
This is a shot just to the right of the one above, showing a pile of rocks that were once strewn all over the road:
And this is another shot, again just a bit to the right of the two photos above, showing an earth mover at work:
If that earth mover was about 100 feet further ahead of where it is here at the time I took the top shot above, it would be visible at the top of the hill in that photo.
This is as far out as I’ve ventured thus far but I imagine there is damage like this everywhere, not to mention thousands of flooded basements, roads that have literally washed away, and hillsides that have washed away.
Needless to say, I have new respect for lil’ ol’ Bear Creek.
Hey, I see a patch of blue in the sky outside my office window. Fingers crossed!