Saturday, September 15, 2012

Global Warming

I'm sure most of the readers of this blog think "global warming" is just a hoax foisted on the populace by tree-huggers and socialists to stymie development, hurt businesses, keep people from getting jobs, and limit people's freedom.  But it's pretty clear to anyone who goes outdoors from time to time that the weather is changing.  Icecaps are melting, hurricanes are getting stronger, tornadoes are more frequent, storms are getting stronger, and animals are showing up in places where they never used to roam.  A weather phenomenon that has always been a part of Anchorage's wintertime meteorological landscape is the "Chinook":  winter storms sweep into the Gulf of Alaska, moisture-laden winds drop their moisture as snow in Prince William Sound and continue over the Chugach Range, picking up speed as the air is squeezed through the passes.  In Anchorage, we get warm wintertime winds swooping down out of the mountains, often exceeding 100 miles per hour in Turnagain Pass and on the upper Hillside, bringing rain and 30mph+ winds to the rest of the city.  But Chinooks during summer don't really happen... at least not until this year.  Last week, we had a powerful storm that knocked down trees all over town.  Most of the city lost power for at least a few hours and some parts of town lost power for five days.  During wintertime, the ground is frozen and all the leaf-bearing trees have lost their leaves, so there is generally little damage from chinooks except for icy sidewalks, soggy ski trails, and spruce needles and sticks on the ski trails.  But at this time of year all the trees still have their leaves and the ground is soft, so we lost a lot of trees, which ripped out of the ground at root level.

(This person is not on the UAA Ski Team)
(this picture is about the trees, not the dog)

Tonight's weather forecast is for another of these storms.  Predictions are for 110 mile per hour winds on the hillside and up to 65 mph winds in the city.  The last storm took down a lot of trees, but there are still plenty standing, so it's anyone's guess whether we're going to have any electrical power in this town tomorrow. 

The UAA Ski Team's plan was to go for a 2-hour hike on Bird Ridge today, but this is an exposed, alpine area that will get 100mph+ winds later today.  The storm was already starting this morning as we left campus for practice, so we "called an audible" and went to Symphony Lakes above Eagle River for a 2.5 hour run instead.  This trail kept us at the bottom of a valley where there was a lot less wind.  There was rain and plenty of mud, but everyone was dressed for it and it was a lot more comfortable than it would have been on the ridgetops.

Galen of the Mountains at Symphony Lake

Davis took the opportunity to work a few pull-ups into today's run.

I noticed that several of the guys packed extra clothes, and changed into dry shirts at the halfway point - smart!

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