Saturday, December 30, 2006

My Neighbor Gives Great Advice About the Local Weather Forcast

Here is some great info about the weather from a neighbor:

The U.S. Weather Bureau for the metro Denver area is
located in Boulder, and has more people working the
forecasts than anyone else. Go to:

The buttons give a variety of information. The official
forecast is gotten by pushing "Zone Forecast" (then
use your browers "Find" function to search for "Ned").
This forecast is updated several times a day, but most
significantly around 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. (only in
unusual circumstances, like today, is it updated
more frequently).

The "Short term forecast" is updated every 3 hours
or so and is more immediate. Look for the part that
includes Nederland. During calm periods, nothing
is posted here.

During periods of potentially bad weather situations,
click on the "Warnings and Advisories" button. During
threatening situations, this is updated every 6 hours
or so. An alternative is the "Special Weather" button,
which is often changed during morning hours more
frequently than the "Warnings...".

For those who really want to understand what to
believe about the official forecasts, the really
special button is "Forecast Discussion". While
this discussion (be sure to go to the Denver
discussion, rather than Grand Junction, Pueblo,
or Goodland) is filled with abbreviations and
technical jargon, the forecasters let their hair
down and tell you about their confidence (or lack
thereof) of the forecasts. Anyone can get the gist
of what's in their minds, behind the official
forecasts, despite the jargon.

For example: last week's storm was confidently
predicted 48 hours in advance, and the "Discussion"
indicated confidence that the storm would happen in
the way it actually did. This storm, that seems
to be ending in our area, had great uncertainty
for the last 5 days. If you read the
"Discussion", it was clear that this meteorological
situation was unprecedented, involved inherently
unpredictable aspects, and the official forecasts
were extremely uncertain. For us, added to the
general uncertainty, is the fact (apparent from
the Discussions) that we have been on the western
fringes of the storm. If it had moved (and, still,
if it might move) a hundred miles to the west, we
could get a lot more snow. But if it moves a
hundred miles to the east in Kansas/Oklahoma,
then we're finished with the snow.

No matter how much you might like Mike Nelson's
personality, he is mainly just giving a "popular"
account of this official forecast. Some media
outlets subscribe to other services (like Accuweather)
which, I believe, are less reliable. For the March
2003 7-foot storm, United Airlines relied on
Accuweather, which predicted snow flurries for
Denver, and flew all its planes into DIA to be
stranded. I relied on the Weather Bureau, which
predicted a possible "storm-of-the-century" in its
forecast "Discussion" 36 hours before the first
flake fell, so I loaded up with supplies. Somne
media simply aren't savvy. KUNC radio, for
example, hasn't figured out when the new forecasts
are issued. So KUNC reported around 5 o'clock
that we would get another foot of snow tonight,m
relying on the official forecast written before
dawn and not realizing that the usual afternoon
forecast (available between 3 and 4 pm) had
downgraded the snow forecast.

I hope this is helpful. Although I am a professional
astronomer, I actually have a Master's Degree
in meteorology and have long been interested in
the there is a bit of professional
backing to my recommendations.

For the next few days, however, we're happily
stranded by all the snow in our driveway.

Happy New Year!

Clark (& Y) Chapman

Friday, December 29, 2006

3 feet of snow and counting

Earlier today I measured 21 inches of new snow and a total of almost 3 feet of snow. And there is supposed to be more on the way.

I heard that you'd have to go back to 1913 to find another instance of two back to back snow storms like this.

In Boulder, they have the concept of a 100 year flood for the flood plane.

Up here, we seem to be experiencing a "100 year" snow.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Plowing the driveway using heavy equipment

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, when the snow gets to deep, its time to call in the heavy equipment. We called High Country Excavating because they've given us a fair deal in the past.
The neighbor that usually does our driveway was stranded coming back from Florida, so the snow got to be 2 feet deep in the driveway. This is very difficult for a regular residential grade snowplow to handle.
If you look carefully at the opening sequence in the video below, you'll see that the front end loader had to PUSH his way UP the driveway using the backhoe. This is obviously not a maneuver that is available to a pickup based snowplow.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.

Here is a response I sent to the Puma email list after Terry Greenberg asked about plowing services:

Hi Terry and all,

This is starting to feel like the storm that started on March 15,2003. Contract residential plowing services could not handle it. It took earth moving equipment to dig me and a bunch of neighbors out.

The problem is that standard plowing equipment can't handle more than about a foot of snow. We're working our way up here to two feet now. Once you've got more than a foot, it becomes difficult for a residential snow plow to get through, especially on long uphill driveways.

I just put in my call to High Country Excavating. Last time, spring came to the rescue. The snow may not get as deep this time, but its not even Christmas yet.

Who wants to fess up to singing "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" ONE TO MANY TIMES!?!

- Mike

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thorodin in the news


Thorodin made the news. It's just a little bit about hiking Thorodin in the Fiday December 15 edition on page 3B of the local Daily Camera, but its something.

The problem with climbing Thorodin is that the one trail to the top was blocked of years a go by a zealous land owner at the trail head. Another possible route goes up a private jeep track that has a "no tresspassing" sign. The jeep track is used to maintain the 2 story antenna farm that is on the top of Star Peak (part of Thorodin)

The suggested trail in the Camera article starts at Panorama Point in Golden Gate State park. It then suggests a moderate bushwack 1.5 miles and 1200 foot elevation gain to the top. It recommend the hike because of the view. I'll second that recommendation.