4 Jan 2009, 11:22am
Climate and Weather
by admin

Brass Monkey Wedder

by bear bait or someone like him

Not wedder to somting, bot wedder like in snow and cold. So the forecast high for Fairbanks today is -28F, and the low -40F…

Nobody goes out in weather below -20. Trappers go to bed and try to keep a fire going in very small spaces, and watch their breath make icicles on the ceiling.

The brass monkey never sees that kind of cold. The brass monkey was the casting on a man o’ war that was the base for piled cannon balls at the gun port. When it got really, really cold at sea, and sea water from rough seas ran over the piled cannon balls, it would form ice on the brass casting and in time displaced the cannon balls, allowing them to roll about on the gun deck doing damage. So when it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, it was frozen salt water and loose cannon balls on the gun deck. Cold, hard work, that cannon ball recovery on the gun deck of a man o’ war in the 18th and 19th centuries…

But never as cold as it is in Fairbanks or the Arctic interior today. The frozen sea is no place for a ship of war, or any ship for that matter. You can get mighty hungry on an icebound boat. Bad for crew morale. Captains tended to avoid that kind of thing, and sailed south when the sea ice started to form. So it was much warmer, actually, than Fairbanks today when the brass monkey made ice and forced the balls onto the rolling deck in a big sea.

Ol’ algore is going to have to explain this weather anomaly that we have this year. Record snow fall in December, not only for Portland but for North Dakota, too. Ayup. Most total snow in NoDak in recorded history. Frozen buffalo weather. Huddle up and hope weather. Appreciation for a chubby wife weather. Appreciation for a chubby husband weather. Probably a baby boom in September. Brrrrrrrr.

One of the things I have seen is that alder stands took a big hit in many areas. The young and old alder stands all look like a giant mower went through and lowered their total tree heights. The 20- to 40-year-old doug fir and hemlock stands are missing tops on many trees, too. It is snow break weather we’re having. That rotten spot inside the soft wood logs indicated by the jog in the tree, where it looks like someone offset the top 30 feet from the bottom 70 feet. Snow break. Take two feet above it and 4 feet below it when cruising. It will be rotten and cull.

I have been looking at our local 5 day deal, and it could get dicey again. I expect more of this kind of weather. It’s a pattern that’s set in, not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. The Pacific Ocean has cooled way down off the coast here. Not moderating the cold like it use to. Loverly…

There’s plenty of sea ice on the continental shelf… where the white bears live. That is an indication that things are well and normal in the Arctic. It might shut up the doomsayers for a while. Maybe. In the jargon of the late Emily Littella of Saturday Night Live fame so long ago, “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.”

I am just glad we had some cooler weather to slow the melt and lessen flooding. That was the weather miracle so far this year, and well appreciated by me. The Corps are letting water out of the Willamette Project dams as fast as they can, and the Willamette is still right at flood stage. It will be up all winter at this rate. Before flood control dams, the rivers would go over the banks for a couple of days and then go way down. The force of the flood would spread water far and wide, but it was only an inconvenience for a while. Only in town, where developers are allowed to build in flood plains, is there ever a problem. On the farms the houses are built above the highest ever recorded flood stage, and the people sat in their houses-become-islands and watched the lake form for a couple of days, and then went about their business when the waters quickly receded. Today the river rarely gets that high, but due to dam releases it takes weeks to recede. If at all. High water at almost a flood all winter.

Ayup. The big chill is back. You kiddies haven’t experienced it but we old timers remember. Gather ’round while I tell you sprouts about the Freeze of ‘79, when you could drive a Chevy across the Columbia. We had an eclipse that winter, a total eclipse of the sun, and I was there on the Path of Totality. It was 10 below on Macintosh Hill when the Sun disappeared behind the Moon… — bear bait

4 Jan 2009, 1:23pm
by Frozen Tuchus

Sleeping with the buffalo. Works on many levels.



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