Showing posts from December, 2014

Breaking Records:  Barometric Pressure

Yesterday, December 30, 2014, a weather record was broken in the Pacific Northwest.  At 11:00 AM Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle recorded an atmospheric pressure of 1045.5 hPa or 30.87 inHg if you prefer.  This exceeded the previous record of 1043.4 hPa (30.82 inHg) set just three years ago on December 1, 2011.  You can read more details about the event here . Between 9:25 and 10:25 AM my station , located 2 miles/3 km east of Deception Pass, recorded a pressure of 1045.2 hPa (30.86 inHg).  My barometer is about 40 feet (12 meters) above sea level.  The cause was a high sitting over British Columbia.  The result was chilly temperatures, but beautiful sunny skies.  I went hiking in Deception Pass State Park. Image:   Chelsea Clock

Skywatch Friday:  Shades of Gray

December 15, 2014, 7:36AM, Temp 35.2° F, Dew Pt 31.1° F, Hum 85%, Wind Calm, Bar 29.92 inHg Usually, gray skies in the Pacific Northwest mean overcast and rain.  During this sunrise over Skagit Bay, the camera caught a moment of grays in a cloudless sky.  I added a bit of vignetting to make the sunrise pop.  Other than that, the photo appears as shot.  Winter skies here are always the most interesting.

Took the New Lens Out for a Spin

I have been waiting and saving up three years for this.  Canon finally released the new, long-rumored 100-400mm II telephoto lens.  I preordered one from Amazon on November 10th.  After a bit more waiting, it was delivered last Friday December 19th.  Yesterday was the first opportunity I had to try it out.  I went over to Kiket Island in the Kukutali Preserve .  Since this is a lens built for wildlife, I was sure I would find something over there to point it at. The full name of the lens is Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM .  It replaces the venerable 100-400 released in 1998.  No one can accuse Canon of rushing to market with new products. I was hoping my first shot would be the Bald Eagles that often perch on the east end of Kiket.  They weren't there, however, so this is the first shot with the new lens.  It is either a Glaucous-winged or Western/Glaucous-winged hybrid gull swimming in the pocket estuary.  I am posting it only because it is the first, not neces

Skywatch Friday:  After the Storm

You could not tell from the photo that a major windstorm blew through here the night before.  All is calm now in the late afternoon December sun.  The storm did kick up some driftwood and debris that the tides are now washing into northern Skagit Bay. This is the same storm that delivered high winds and more than 3 inches/8 cm of rain to the San Francisco area.  It moved up the coasts of California , Oregon and Washington before crossing Vancouver Island into British Columbia, Canada. South Fidalgo Island was spared the worst.  Peak winds at my station only reached 34 mph (55 kph), significantly less than the 65 mph (105 kph) that was predicted.  We didn't even lose power which is unusual for this neighborhood.


After all of the dire warnings, last night's windstorm turned out to be rather average on South Fidalgo Island.  We didn't even lose power.  Nobody is complaining, of course, it's just that this was one of the locations predicted to be hit the hardest.  How these storms affect a particular spot can be highly variable.  It depends to a large extent on the specific course the storm takes and the geography of the area.  My weather station recorded a peak wind speed of 34 mph (55 kph or 29.5 knots) at 15 feet (4.6 m) off the ground.  That is a significant wind speed, but not the 65 mph that was predicted. Today, the wind has literally been dead calm.  The photo above was taken at about 9:30 AM, just before high tide.  It looks like a lot of driftwood and debris was shaken loose by storm and it is now washing in with the tide.  Most of this comes from the flooding Skagit River.  It flows into the bay about 5 miles (8 km) to the southeast .  It then comes swirling up with th

Flagstaff Tombolo Erosion

A tombolo is a natural sandbar that connects an island to the mainland, or an island to another island.  The latter is the case with the tombolo between Kiket and Flagstaff Islands in the Kukutali Preserve .  They are built by wave action and currents flowing along the shoreline.  A large driftwood field has formed on the south side (left in the photo).  Broken clam shells marked the pathway along the sandbar.  This is a traditional place of food gathering by the Swinomish people .  A history of this activity is preserved by the broken shells. As you can see in the photo, significant erosion has taken place.  The clam shell path now veers off onto to the beach.  This is recent, occurring sometime between November 16th and December 1st.  The accumulation of driftwood on the right is also new.  This section was previously a clean gravel beach. This is a closer view of the erosion.  A section of the clam shell path has washed away, then picks up again closer to the split rail