Archive for the 'Weather' Category

Here comes the heat

Quoting a report from motherboard …

Think of the stickiest, record-hot summer you’ve ever experienced, whether you’re 30 or 60 years old. In 10 years or less, that miserable summer will happen every second year across most of the U.S. and Canada, the Mediterranean, and much of Asia, according to a study to be published in the open access journal Earth’s Future. By the 2030s, every second summer over almost all of the entire Northern hemisphere will be hotter than any record-setting hot summer of the past 40 years, the study found. By 2050, virtually every summer will be hotter than anything we’ve experienced to date. Record hot summers are now 70 times more likely than they were in the past 40 years over the entire Northern hemisphere, the peer-reviewed study found. What does all this mean? Heat alerts will be increasing, cities will have to employ aggressive cooling strategies most summers, and in places like South Asia, it will be too dangerous to work outside, Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at Canada’s University of Victoria, said.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017EF000639/abstract

Pikes Peak Northeast Time-Lapse Over 3 Storms

Pikes Peak East Time-Lapse Over 3 Storms

Colorado Springs Windstorm

Holy hell we got hammered by Chinook winds (see Chinook tidbits below) over the last three days:

  • Monday 1.9.17 – Weather station registered a gust of 77 MPH, and sustained winds of 50 mph
  • Tuesday 1.10.17 – Gust of 74, sustained of 45 mph
  • Wednesday 1.11.17 – Gust of 66, sustained of 30 mph

Trees were down all over town, semis flipped on their sides all along the highway, roofs ripped off, fences down (update 1.23.17 Home Depot and Lowes are still out of lumber), power lines down, houses and cars crushed by trees. Fort Carson and Cheyenne mountain were forced to shelter in place due to ludicrous 100 MPH winds. The official wind gusts from NWS (including record setting gusts … three of them … over 80 MPH at Colorado Springs Airport).

Cool videos:

 

Chinook wind craziness:

  • Loma, Montana, boasts having the most extreme recorded temperature change in a 24-hour period. On January 15, 1972, the temperature rose from -54 to 49 °F (-48 to 9 °C), a 103 °F (58 °C) change in temperature, a dramatic example of the regional Chinook wind in action.
  • The Black Hills of South Dakota are home to the world’s fastest recorded rise in temperature. On January 22, 1943, at about 7:30 am MST, the temperature in Spearfish, South Dakota, was -4 °F (-20 °C). The chinook kicked in, and two minutes later, the temperature was 45 °F (7 °C). The 49 °F (27 °C) rise set a world record, yet to be exceeded. By 9:00 am, the temperature had risen to 54 °F (12 °C). Suddenly, the Chinook died down and the temperature tumbled back to -4 °F (-20 °C). The 58 °F (32 °C) drop took only 27 minutes.
  • The aforementioned 107 mph (172 km/h) wind in Alberta and other local wind records west of the 100th meridian on the Great Plains of the United States and Canada, as well as instances of the record high and low temperature for a given day of the year being set on the same date, are largely the result of these winds.

Colorado Trail 2016

  • 8.11 – Segment 12: Made it 6.4 miles in (230 start), passed on Antero due to late starts. Wasn’t feeling all that well, talked to Daniel about it until I could breath and pushed on. Short day, great campsite, met a couple of other segment hikers.
  • 8.12 – Finished segment 12: It was surprisingly long. Daniel was sick toward the end so we hitchhiked to Buena Vista, at in the old town restoration area, got a hotel room at Super 8, and got a ride to my car.  The restoration area of old Buena Vista is insanely cool. We ate at an expensive burger joint and turned in early. The shitty super 8 room was $150.
  • 8.13 – Segment 13: We woke up about 9 and at breakfast, did laundry. After we checked out we grabbed Daniel’s car, ate lunch and drove past the Princeton Hot Springs area and Cottonwood Hot Springs areas. We left my car at Rainbow Lake and took Daniel’s to the beginning of 13, hiked 2.5 miles and about 1500 feet to our campsite, which was amazing and had no one around. We both shed a lot of weight from our packs, I went from 34 to 26 and I can really feel the difference. We got a fire going and hung out and talked until about 10 PM. We are going to wake up early, climb Yale, and take the steep descent back to my car. We will probably head into town for food and then camp and fish down at Rainbow. Tomorrow will be a 16mile hike.
  • 8.14 – Segment 13: Woke up and climbed 1000 ft to Yale saddle. Ditched packs and began climbing Yale. It was rough going and slow. Daniel did not like how cliffed out so he turned around. I decided to continue. It got super dicey at around 12900 feet with steep loose rock. I pushed on until 13400 and then decided to turn around since the route was not looking any better. I carefully and slowly made my way off the mountain down to Daniel.  We hiked 3.3 miles back to my car which was now next to a crime scene. Apparently someone died in their truck. I saw that truck the day before and thought it looked a little off, just dusty and parked up against brush. We went to retrieve Daniel’s car and ate at Amicas pizza in Salida which was great. We bought pillows and blankets for the car camping nights, which should improve our sleep. Tomorrow we will finish 13 (we are just crawling along this year, usually average about 16-22 miles a day).
  • 8.15 – Finished segment 13:  Made quick time, met a through hiker named Bearcam from mass, hiked with him for about 8-10 miles until Princeton. Daniel and I decided to skip Princeton r&r day (since we had been hiking so little) and continue into 14 tomorrow instead. We should be camping at 12.2 miles tomorrow night. My right Achilles is starting to hurt … a lot, I think from Yale. We headed into Salida, ate at the boathouse, good food, checked out the two hostels for wed night, and headed to BV to see little shop of horrors at the drive in. That was an amazing experience. Tuned to 87.5 to listen, there were only four cars there. They said that Drive in was built in the 60s and was one of maybe 3 in the state. Had timesheet issues with Jo.
  • 8.16 – Segment 14: Slept at beginning of 14 and met two through hikers who got a ride down the two mile Princeton road Kelsey section (we actually met her a day later) and Joe, a retired pilot from Portland. We talked to him a bit on the hike and offered use of our car since it was staged at the end of 14 and since he wanted to go to Salida. We ran into Bearcam an hour or so into the hike and the three of us whizzed along. We got to our camp site and pitched at 12.2. My heal was hurting me pretty bad. Joe showed up about 30 mins later and we all sat around the fire talking. I finally had my mac and cheese and tuna … which I had been going on and on about through the day, and which … somehow … no one else had ever tried.
  • 8.17- Finished segment 14: I froze through the night (frost?!?) and woke up pissed that my heal was hurting,  so I packed up quickly to get a early start on the remaining 8+ miles. Joe also headed out early. I apparently passed him at some point of time. Eventually, all 4 of us ended up together and we cruised along until we finished 14. The four of us road in Daniels car to go pick my car up, and ate at Amicas for lunch. Joe, Daniel and I stayed at The great western. We headed to the laundry mat and ran into Kelsey again who was also doing laundry. It was funny that all five of us ended up there without planning it. That night we went to a sports bar across from Bearcam’s hotel and called it a night. We found out Kelsey was staying in the same hotel.
  • 8.18 – Salida day, and crazy tubing: Daniel and I woke up antsy to do something but my heel was still hurting. We drove to downtown Salida to hike their hill. The views were very nice from up there. On the way down we stopped by the Arkansas river and sat for a while with our feet in. It felt great. After that we decided to walk around a bit and we stumbled upon a little shop that rented inner-tubes. We asked the lady that worked there is there was any way to tube the Arkansas and she informed us that we could stage a car about 10 miles downstream, and that we should be able to reach it in “a couple of hours”. I think it was about 1:00. We went to go grab Kelsey and ask if she was interested in joining us (she is always game) and off we went. The water was pretty cold and Kelsey was in for a total of about 1o seconds before being sucked into a spillway where she flipped. Daniel also had issues with flipping. It started out fun and amazing, even though the water temp was probably in the 50’s. Eventually a storm rolled in, the outside temp dropped to the 40’s and the wind picked up. We were all freezing our asses off … like really freezing our asses off. Unfortunately the trip took much longer than we expected to, so by the time we came up on the bend where my car was staged … at 17:30 we were hyped out, like really hyped out. Everything hurt, hands didn’t work, heal somehow was still on fire … just a mess. We got in the car, drove back to town, saw that we had a worried message from the tube owner, so I dropped Daniel and Kelsey off to change and shower and headed out to meat the tube owner back at her store. Once there she told me she was sorry and that kayakers typically take a couple of hours. I bought a shirt, changed, picked up Kelsey and Daniel, and we headed to Boathouse Cantina for hot Chili and Hot Toddies.  We were all exhausted from freezing for 4+ hours so we called it a night.  This was by far the most memorable day of the trip for me.
  • 8.19 – Segment 15: We woke up relatively early, picked everyone up and staged my car at the end of Segment 15. We then crammed into Daniel’s car and drove about an hour to the beginning of 15. The hike up to the pass was beautiful and the weather was great. We all kept together and took turns at various positions (leading/trailing) and discussed just about everything. We finished the 14.3 miles pretty quickly and pitched our tents at the beginning of Segment 16, in a nice pasture (though there was a lot of horse shit). Kelsey Daniel and I figure we would get a jump on things and go ahead and stage my car at the end of 16. So we went and picked up Daniel’s car, and began our drive. We had no idea the staging trip would take about 3 hours. The end of 16 was WAY out in the sticks, requiring a 45 minute off road drive just to get to the end. We finally reached the end, found a safe place to leave Ted (Daniel’s car) and began heading back. I was worried that Bearcam and Joe were going to be worried since we were gone so long so I began hauling ass down the dirt road (which wasn’t the kind of road you haul ass on). About 10 minutes into my rally race, I blew my back tire on something and pulled over to put on my donut. The rest of the trip was much slower. We limped back to the campsite with Jo’s warm bear around midnight.
  • 8.20 – New tire, meeting the gang: I decided first thing in the morning that I needed to spend that day sorting out my tire situation. My heel was still hurting and I had no idea what I was going to do regarding the tire. My tires were about 6 weeks old, and all under warranty so I was hoping that I could just find a new one, throw it on and meet up with the gang. Since I have AWD, I really needed to get a new tire before totaling my slip differential/car (and I had already driven about 80 miles on it). I went into Salida and pulled over to clean out my car. I stopped by the hotel we had stayed at to borrow a phone and phone book (service is shit there) and began calling around. Nothing in BV, nothing in Leadville, a couple of places in Salida, though when I called them they said they did not have the replacement tire … shit. I found a place that was willing to sell me an old tire that was closer to the circumference of my new tires, though still about .75 inches off, so I could then drive about 1.5-2 hours into Pueblo to get my new tire under warranty. Needless to say this took all damn day. I finished around dinner and tried quickly to head up to meet the gang for our farewell dinner. I reached the end of segment 16 around sundown, and everyone was hunkered down in their tents to avoid cold rain/drizzle/hail (I think elevation was around 11,500 feet). I showed up, got out firewood, got a fire going, broke out hotdogs and beer, and we had our final dinner. I slept in the car, woke up early to say goodbye to everyone, and then was on my way back to one last Salida meal with Daniel. This part of the trail had the best primitive toilet I had ever seen on a trail.

Blodgett Crash Site

Blodgett crash site

Blodgett crash site

Jade and I finally made it up to the Blodgett crash site a couple of weekends ago. I took a trip up there the day after Thanksgiving but it was snowing hard and the snowpack was quite deep, so I had difficulty finding the wreckage up on the ridge in limited visibility. This time around the weather was clear and somewhat warm for a mid December day. We got to the top of the ridge near a rock outcrop and took shelter from the wind on the East side of the rocks. I was digging through my pack for some snacks and noticed she had already taken off to go find the crash site. Withing a couple of minutes I could hear her screaming that she had found it.

More information about the crash is below:

Where: Blodgett Peak

When: Crashed in a cloud bank Feb. 23, 1943, en route from Pueblo to Denver

Casualties: Two

To get there: Climb Blodgett Peak, then descend 800 feet down the northwest ridge. 6 miles round trip on rough trail, 3,000 feet elevation gain.

Directions: Take the Woodmen Road exit west from Interstate 25 to a light where Woodmen and Rockrimmon roads meet; keep right. Drive five miles as the road winds toward the foothills and turn right into the clearly marked Blodgett Peak Open Space parking lot.

The hike: From Blodgett Peak Open Space parking lot, follow the wide, road-like trail that winds toward the peak. From the trail, hikers can look up and see their route climb through oaks on the southeastern flank, then enter a steep drainage on the south face before gaining a saddle just west of the summit. Take the road into the hills for just over a mile until it ends in a group of firs. Keep left at 0.8 mile at a junction with a road that goes to a nearby water tank. When the road ends a few steps later follow a clear trail less than a mile north, passing a spur to a neighborhood on the right, and arriving at a T intersection with another trail. Go left. The junction is unmarked, so note it for the way down. The trail climbs in a transect across the southwest flank of the peak. When the trail reaches the wooded southern drainage, it switches back east, climbs a bit, then switches back west and squeezes through a slot between two huge granite boulders. From here the trail gets nasty, shooting up the hill for 500 feet. The trail slacks off as it nears a ridge. At a saddle, follow the trail right a few hundred yards to Blodgett’s rocky cap. From the top, follow a trailless ridge down to the north/northwest. The wreck is .5 miles and 800 feet down on the east side of the ridge. A good map is critical to find it. The coordinates are 38 degrees 57 minutes 48.63 seconds north latitude and 104 degrees 54 minutes 35.53 seconds west longitude.

I marked the following locations (fractional degrees):

  • Parking area: 38.973621, -104.890258
  • Crash: 38.963550, -104.909825
  • Blodgett: 38.958910, -104.907154
  • Blodgett open space area: 38.948931, -104.886191

More information regarding WWII training flights and wrecks (from http://gazette.com/crash-course/article/24742):

The state has almost 700 documented military crashes and uncounted civilian wrecks. The vast majority of the military planes, such as the B-24 near Trinidad, went down on training flights during World War II. Between 1942 and 1945, the United States was forced to grow from a nation of farmers and factory workers into the largest air force in the world. The transformation came at a steep price. An estimated 15,000 servicemen died in 22,000 training flights before ever seeing battle. In Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, where, Wallace said, most of the training took place, crash numbers were especially high. “These were young kids flying these planes,” Wallace said as he jostled through the bushes to search another hillside. “Training was short. You had new pilots. New aircraft. You had problems.” Colorado had training airfields in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. In two years, about 300 bombers, fighters and training planes crashed along the Front Range. The Colorado Springs area is home to more than any other. The city is ringed by wreck sites: a B-24 Liberator on Cheyenne Mountain, another above the Flying W Ranch, a trio of B-29 Superfortresses — the model that dropped the atomic bomb — on the plains east of town. “At the crashes out on the plains, there usually isn’t much to see,” said Wallace. The twisted metal was carted away for scrap. But mountain wrecks are protected by steep, isolated terrain, so they often go unvisited. Some have changed little in decades. Not many of them are recognizable as planes. Before the days of radar and computer navigation, crews had to find their way through clouds by dead reckoning. If calculations were slightly wrong, or a wind blew them off course, they could (and often did) slam into the mountains. “There’s an old saying among pilots,” said Duke Sumonia, a fellow wreck chaser. “The clouds have rocks in them.” What remains after a pilot finds those rocks is little more than mattress-size shreds of aluminum and engine parts strewn over a hillside. That’s what Wallace was looking for above Trinidad: a glint of metal in the woods. A 55,000-pound bomber shouldn’t be hard to find. But time had hidden much. Wreck chasing first caught Wallace’s eye in 1990 when he was hiking above the Flying W Ranch west of Colorado Springs. He had never been a pilot, or particularly interested in planes, but then he spotted a hunk of engine. “I thought to myself, ‘How did a car get way up here?’” he said. Then he found more pieces, even fake training bombs. It seemed to be a plane. At the library, he discovered it was, in fact, a massive, four-engine B-24 bomber that hit the hill in a snowstorm in 1944. “After that I was hooked,” he said. He began tracking down sites through government archives and reels of microfilm newspapers. He got so good at aviation history that he was hired to work at the museum at Peterson Air Force Base. Eventually, he hooked up with a handful of guys who called themselves wreck chasers. They hunted for crash sites all over Colorado, Wyoming and the Southwest. These days the chasers go by a slightly more respectable, and longer, name: the Aviation Archaeology wing of the Colorado Aviation Historical Society. “It suggests that we’re more about documenting and less about just collecting cool artifacts,” said Wallace. Collecting robs later chasers of the fun of discovery. It’s sometimes a crime, since any wreckage older than 50 years is protected on public land by the Antiquities Act. So chasers, for the most part, just investigate. Think of it as CSI: World War II. They start with official crash records, then see whether they jibe with eyewitness accounts and crash debris. “Often they don’t. It’s always a mystery,” said Wallace. Wrecks chalked up to pilot error or navigation error sometimes turn out to be mechanical. To close the case, some chasers get in touch with survivors. For the dedication of a plaque at a downed B-17 Flying Fortress near Estes Park, the chasers tracked down survivors and convinced one to return, 55 years later, for the ceremony. “At one crash, there were no survivors,” said Sumonia, “but we invited the widow of the navigator and the brothers and sisters to come see it. For 50 years they had felt this guilt because they thought it was the navigator’s fault that all the men died. We were able to tell them it wasn’t. The crash happened at night in a snowstorm; there was nothing a guy could have done.” Any wreck chaser who has spent time in the field can appreciate the challenges of navigation. Wallace visited the mountains above Trinidad three times before he found the B-24 bomber. He had been back twice since then, and now, he was having trouble finding it. “I don’t know if it’s up there or over there,” he said, gazing into the featureless forest. He led on, stepping over an alarmingly fresh and large pile of bear scat, and scrambling up a hill. He usually carries a GPS receiver, but he’d forgotten it. “Wait, what’s that?” he yelled to a group spread out in the trees. “I see metal ahead.” To the untrained eye there was nothing, but then, a few steps on, there it was: torn aluminum skin from the flank of the plane. Then a few steps farther: a huge Boeing engine with its bent propeller still attached. Beyond it, more pieces glinted in the woods. Time and growing trees had tried to hide them, but the wreck chasers had made careful notes, so that even after the last witnesses have died, the history will live on. The chasers are working on a national database for all crashes. The work is far from done. In Colorado, dozens of undocumented sites wait on forbidding mountain slopes. Beyond the United States, in jungle covered World War II hot spots such as New Guinea, wrecks number in the hundreds. Right now, an expedition is heading to the South Pacific to search for what may be the most famous wreck of all, Amelia Earhart’s lost resting place. Most wreck chasers love the thrill of tracking a decades-old mystery and the peace of tramping around in the wild. But the big draw, many say, is connecting the living to past loved ones. “It’s the people. It really is,” said Wallace. “The great satisfaction is working with families. We’ve given them answers, sent dog tags back home. That means a lot.”

Uh … summer?

Whiskey Tango

Whiskey Tango

My CT trip is coming up, and we are still getting rain/hail daily below 9000 ft, and snow everywhere else. The snow was up over the Pikes Peak webcam at http://www.cograilway.com/Summit/summitcam.jpg last week. I cannot remember the last time there was this much snow on Pikes Peak this late in the year … weird. I guess I will just have to accept the fact that I will be postholing and getting sunburned for long stretches of my hike.

Yeeha

yeeha3
 

Evans Lessons (yes, that easy-ass mountain)

1) I broke my rule and did not bring a topo map. This won’t happen again.

2) My watch compass was not calibrated. Be sure to calibrate it and possibly have another compass.

3) Know the route. Know in advance where the trails are and what to expect. Because we didn’t plan Evan’s I did not know the route in advance and I trusted the instructions of a park ranger to take a longer class 2+ route.

4) Know what the summit looks like, and what to expect of there. Is there a registry? In a white-out this is extremely useful.

5) Be careful who you trust and who you follow. I was given bad information by at least 3 different people/groups.

6) Be very careful to avoid summit-fever when I have other less capable people with me.

7) Make sure Jade has warm gloves. Her hands are always cold.

8) SPOT issues. Develop a CONOP for friends and family so they know what to expect, and how to react to duress situations. Know the meaning of the success failure code colors, and keep that cheat card with me.

9) When things go south, relax, sit down, think things through. Take an inventory of what you have and come up with plans for the worst case scenario. Know before the hike when it is acceptable to press the red button.

10) Be sure to eat and drink more when things aren’t nominal.

11) Take the 10 essentials.

12) Bring my down puffy coat. It is tiny, and lightweight and it worth the extra 7 ounces after August.

13) Take 2 pairs of hand-warmers. They aye lightweight and extremely useful.

14) Be wary of falling mice.

15) Be sure to have the right camera settings.

16) Never underestimate a whiteout.

USMNT Vs. Costa Rica

costa rica USA 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Commerce City_ Colorado-1780738

Find the Soccer Players

I was fortunate enough to take Jade to the World Cup qualifier game between the US Men’s National Team and Costa Rica this last week. It was literally the coolest sporting event (no pun intended) I have ever attended, and I have been to some Duesenbergs. The forecast called for a few inches of snow, however since Daniel, Jade and I froze our asses off at the last home football game at the Academy we came prepared this time. I had no idea what we were in store for. It was a spectacle. The game was almost called and by the last whistle several inches had already fallen with another 6-10 on the way (depending on who you ask). Again … thanks Dan. The gallery is located here.

 

 




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