Hail hell

Apr. 15th, 2013 08:33 am
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
As a follow=up to my last post, which was about the hail storm on Saturday, I should mention that after I entered the coffee shop I got a text message from the UW alert system, which I didn't even bother to read once I noticed where it was from. As soon as I got into work today and started looking through my work email I discovered what it was about. That enormous thunderclap I mentioned in my previous story was the result of a lightning bolt that apparently struck the University power substation, resulting in loss of power across campus. One of my co-workers had to come into the office, because he had to reboot our servers and restart the cooling unit. He was coordinating with other university personnel who had to deal with the consequences of power outages all over the place. So while Drunk Guy was celebrating life with a little hail dance on Queen Anne Avenue, responsible people were being responsible elsewhere. As usual, I was oblivious to the signals.
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
Yesterday I walked to Lower Queen Anne. It's three miles and takes me about an hour. It had been raining right before I set out, so I considered taking an umbrella, but then I decided it was really only showers anyway, so I'd just risk it. About halfway to my destination, however, I heard a tremendous thunderclap behind me. I looked back, and there was a massive wall of black clouds over Ballard and Fremont. Uh-oh. Thunder usually means a downpour, and those clouds looked absolutely loaded. I hastened my pace.

Heading toward Mercer I ran across a couple of homeless guys. "Did you see that lightening?" one of them asked.

"Yeah," I said. "I'm running."

"I'm scared!" he laughed.

My luck held. As I hit Queen Anne Ave a few bits of hail started sprinkling down, but it was only after I entered Uptown Espresso that the deluge descended. The black clouds suddenly dumped the biggest load of hail I've seen since I can remember.

"Good timing," said the barista.

"I can't believe it waited until I got inside," I said thankfully.

And then it started hailing even harder. We both stared out the window in amazement. In fact everybody in the cafe was looking out the window. People got out their phones to take pictures and videos. As we all stood around watching all hell bust loose, suddenly a guy jumped out into the street outside and started prancing around in the hailfall. He was naked to the waist.

"The good ol' Mecca," said the barista, referring to the infamous bar across the street. We all watched the guy with big grins on our faces. Nature called, and he responded, do si do your partner. I was just sorry I wasn't drunk enough to join him. Sort of.
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
[livejournal.com profile] ron_drummond left a phone message a bit ago asking me to repost something he'd posted to a fannish list earlier in the day:

I've been living in a house on the banks of the Hudson River. The water is almost up to the ceiling of the basement, and it's looking like one or more of the dams upriver from us are going to break, so it's possible the entire main floor of the house will be flooded too. I got the books off of the bottom shelves of all the bookcases, and the two long wide flat boxes of Little, Big posters off the floor and onto a table top -- but it might not be enough. I had to leave to get some food and coffee in me -- electricity's out, and will be for at least three days, so no way to cook etc. Not sure where I'm going to sleep tonight.


In his phone message Ron said that when he opens the basement door, water is only about three steps down, but it hasn't gotten any higher in the past few hours. Whether the house gets flooded will depend on whether they release water from the dams upriver. Here's hoping that won't be necessary.
randy_byers: (bumble bee man)
So today the NYTimes has an article about the abundance of moss in Seattle: "Poor Season for Sunshine Is Great One for Spores". It's basically fluff, but I did like this bit:

“So many of the calls we get are from people who actually want to get rid of moss,” said Sue Hartman, who helps answer the gardening hot line run by Seattle Tilth, which promotes organic and sustainable gardening. “But this being the Pacific Northwest, moss is really kind of a native plant. I personally love moss, and my pals here at Tilth also love moss.”

Noting that this has been “an extraordinary year for moss,” Ms. Hartman said Seattle Tilth tried to provide “a little therapy” for people whose image of a lawn or garden bed does not necessarily include moss.

“When we see something that doesn’t look right to us, our first instinct is we need to correct it,” Ms. Hartman said. “But if moss is growing somewhere, it’s growing there for a reason. Perhaps you’re trying to grow grass in a place where grass doesn’t want to grow.”


Right on. Embrace the moss! Or embrace *in* the moss, as the raccoons in the story do.

And fittingly enough, that's my last free NYTimes article of the month. Made it all the way to the 20th. Guess I won't be able to read Dave Kehr's DVD column on Sunday.
randy_byers: (bumble bee man)
Our northern-facing front yard has long been a haven for moss, particularly the parts of it that are in the shadow of the house for much of the day. Also, I've been slowly turning the grassier, less mossy parts of the yard into a flower bed. So I wasn't particularly surprised when I mowed the remaining lawn for the first time this year and observed that pretty much the whole of it is now a big bed of moss. Didn't even think twice.

Well, it turns out that moss loves the chilly, wet spring weather we've been having (the coldest April on record so far), which probably has something to do with how noticeable the take-over in the front yard has become. Also why the new flower bed itself is growing moss. And the front walk. And the front gutter. I'd check my own north side if I knew which side was which.

(Tip of the hat to [livejournal.com profile] wrdnrd, whose UW in the Media newsletter alerted me to this story because two UW professors are quoted in it.)
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
According to a barista at Bulldog News who hails from Juneau, they get 130 inches of rain per year. Seattle gets 35-40 inches. Plus, while they don't get much freezing weather, they are still chillier than we are. 130 inches of cold rain. The barista just moved to Seattle last year, and he says this is the best winter he's ever had. Paradise weather.

Well, it's certainly a gorgeous, sunny day today, in contrast to recent weather, which is how that conversation got started.

Soggy daze

May. 30th, 2010 06:20 pm
randy_byers: (cap)
Seattle is green for a reason.

-- John Hertz
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Ode on Melancholy
by John Keats

NO, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globèd peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Cliff Mass reports: "The numerical forecast models are consistently calling for a major pineapple expresss/atmospheric river event starting Sunday and extending through early Wednesday." Prepare the life rafts!
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Cliff Mass has a blog post about the threat of flooding in the Green River and a couple of different approaches to trying to forecast the threat. What I found interesting about this post was a new term to me -- the lovely "atmospheric rivers," which is another term for what is popularly called a pineapple express in these parts -- and a color-coded satellite view or representation of what a pineapple express looks like. "Most of our local flooding events are associated with narrow plumes of warm, moist air coming out of the subtropics -- known as atmospheric rivers or pineapple expresses in the literature."

Here's another use of the term referring to the recent storms in California: Atmospheric River Slams Northern California.

Hot

Jul. 29th, 2009 08:54 am
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Yes, it's very, very hot in Seattle. Even worse, many beautiful people are wearing very little clothing. Very, very hot.

Mish mash

Jan. 8th, 2009 11:51 am
randy_byers: (Default)
'Tis the season to be reminded that mish was the Salish word for river. Thus Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skykomish, Sammamish, Duwamish. Although that doesn't exhaust the great river names around here: Nooksack, Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Nisqually, Dosewallips, Pysht, Quillayute, Quinault, Skookumchuck, and the ever popular Humptulips.

Lists of flooding rivers on the news always sound pretty tribal in these parts. It was something that struck me as soon as I moved here. It was a January, after all.
randy_byers: (Default)
The blanket of snow has turned into a sheet of ice.

Didn't see any bicycles on the Burke-Gilman trail on the way to work this morning, although I saw a few struggling perilously homeward last night. There were a fair number of cars on the road today, however, and everywhere a chorus of clanking chains and the whine of spinning tires. Like a writer who has nothing to write about but the weather.
randy_byers: (Default)
Well, Seattle is getting snowed on now. I walked to work in it. Very nice, especially once I got to the Wallingford ridge, and it got thicker and covered the ground better. The falling snow was crisp and light, not like the heavy, wet snow we get most often in these parts. There weren't many other pedestrians or cars, so it was very quiet and peaceful. The I-5 bridge looked like a snowglobe in the distance.

It hadn't started snowing by the time I went to bed last night, so I figured it was yet another dud snowpocalypse. Then I was jolted awake in the early morning by two deep, rolling thunderbolts. Yowza! I imagined the skies splitting open and dumping snow, although I didn't get out of bed to check. It was freezing cold in my basement room. Boy, I didn't want to get out of bed.

It'll be interesting to see if the University stays open all day. One forecast I heard on the radio predicted freezing temperatures later once the sky clears, which could mean ice under the snow. That might not be so fun to walk on, let alone drive on. Then again, there are no classes now, and lots of people haven't come to work, so maybe they'll just stay open for those of us who are here.

Snow continues to fall outside my office window. Capitol Hill looks like a snowglobe in the distance.
randy_byers: (Default)
So it snowed all around Seattle last night, but Seattle itself was in a "snow shadow". (Funny how it doesn't work that way with rain.) Now they're saying that Seattle might get hit with a snow storm later today. Wait for it: "The heaviest snow could very well come about the evening commute time and into early evening," according to a National Weather Service meteorologist quoted in the Post-Intelligencer. Sounds like it might be one of those days when I'm glad to commute by foot.

Meanwhile, after all the build-up of anticipation yesterday, it feels as though Lucy pulled the football away at the last minute once again. Typical Seattle dud snowpocalypse.

Frigid air

Dec. 15th, 2008 08:30 am
randy_byers: (pig alley)
Temperatures have dropped below freezing in Seattle and are expected to stay there for the rest of the week. Mind you, it got up to 30 F yesterday, so it's not exactly arctic weather. Still, I put on my longjohns for the walk to work this morning. The sky was an amazing deep, clear periwinkle -- a perfect backdrop for the sharp silver gibbous moon still hanging in the heavens at that hour.

Had too much fun at [livejournal.com profile] daveon's housewarming party on Saturday. I think I may have had a little too much to drink. Certainly I felt like death warmed over yesterday, so since Denys and I decided we didn't want to risk icy roads to see Milk on Capitol Hill, I hiked up to the Guild 45th to see Australia again. Felt much the same way I had about it the first time: I really enjoyed it up until the point where she and the drover separate, and after that it gets a bit mechanical and tiresome. Somewhere on the internets I stumbled upon a story that Luhrmann had originally shot an ending where the drover dies, but the studio asked him to change it to a happy ending. I hope that other ending pops up on home video at some point.

After I got home I watched The Italian (1915) on the Perils of the New Land set from Flicker Alley. This is the story of an Italian gondolier who comes to America to make enough money so he can marry the girl he loves. There's an almost documentary quality to the narrative, which delves into big city ward politics, and then moves surprisingly into tragic and melodramatic territory. The other surprise was how much camera movement there was. There was one shot where the camera moved slowly in on the protagonist that had a very modern feeling of growing intimacy. It seemed shocking in a film of that era, but the more films from the Teens I see, the more I realize that experiments with camera movement were already pretty widespread.
randy_byers: (Default)
When I was still going to the polls to vote (instead of voting absentee, as I do now), it always seemed that it was raining. Today is no different. It's another blustery Election Day. My sniffling has turned into a hacking cough, so I'm staying home today to watch history being made. I sent in my absentee ballot long ago, so I'll be keeping my powder dry. Come on, America, do the right thing!

ETA: Holy cow! Tremayne at Open Left reports that Gallup is predicting a 64% turnout for the election this year, which would be the highest percentage since 1960.
randy_byers: (Default)
This morning on the walk to work there was a very fine drizzle, only slightly heavier than a mist. Heavy enough that I could feel it settling on me, but not heavy enough that I wanted to use the umbrella to ward it off. Felt kind of refreshing, if clammy can be refreshing.
randy_byers: (Default)
It's grey and cool again today. Yes, I'm told, June (always a dismal month here) has thus far been even cooler than normal. Also, it's expected to remain cooler than normal through July. Fine. Couldn't it be cool and sunny, rather than cool and cloudy? Yeah, right, where do I live again? I'd settle for cool and slightly lambent.

Either that or I'm just feeling grumpy and dissatisfied today. Expletive deleting euphemisms! And your little dog, too!

Ah well, cool weather is good for weeding traffic circles and sitting inside doing editorial work, right?

Bah. Hope yours is better, whatever yours is.
randy_byers: (Default)
So we've had ourselves a Pineapple Express raining on us for the past 24 hours. 2.74 inches of rain so far, according to the Seattle Times, with another two to three inches on the way.

As I waded through pools and puddles and rivers of water on the way to work, I was reminded of the urban hike I took with Andy and Carrie a couple weeks ago. We looked at a number of creeks that feed Lake Washington, including Thornton Creek, which is being daylighted in various areas. So this morning I thought how this area probably had dozens of creeks and streams in the old days, many of them now running through culverts under the streets. But culverts are not a very efficient way of getting all this water from the hills into the lakes. Most of the water ends up staying on the streets and other paved areas, and pavement is pretty random in the way it distributes water. It creates a complete mess, basically. There is water fricking everywhere, rather than mostly confined to streambeds.

The other thing I was thinking about as I waded to work was the article I had just read in the paper on Saturday about a recent study that shows that "Stormwater from roads, parking lots and elsewhere carries between 6.3 million and 8 million gallons of petroleum into the [Puget] Sound every year, according to a report issued Friday by the state Department of Ecology. The 1989 Valdez accident in Alaska dumped 11 million gallons." Oil isn't the only thing being washed into the Sound, and it's a huge environmental problem. Nobody knows what to do about it, as far as I can tell, although I've heard it suggested that we should run stormwater through a treatment process.

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