Windy Weather 

Conditions out at the Cape Edgecumbe buoy are fierce today. Could be worse though, the other day I saw there were 50+ foot seas south of the Alaska penninsula during a storm there.

I often wonder what it would be like to see waves crashing in on the headlands of the outer coast on days like this.

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Cloud Break

Today barely dawned at all. Officially, sunrise was a little after 8am, but the day seemed slow to rise from under the heavy blanket of clouds. These were brought in by a potent low pressure system that gifted us with a high wind warning and plenty of rain.

As the rains came down, the tides came up – but they were only indirectly related. We’re near the peak of the new moon tide series, so the high tide was around the middle of the day. The graph showing the tides (predicted and actual) reflected the dropping pressure as the red line (representing measured values) diverged from the blue line – going from only a couple of inches above the predicted value on the previous high to over a foot above predicted on the mid-day high.

Though I spent most of the day inside, I did get out for a little bit this afternoon. Mostly I wanted to see if the Townsend’s Solitaire that had been over at the airport last week might still be around.

As I drove cross the bridge, I noticed a break in the clouds. Instead of revealing blue sky, I saw something more interesting.

As best I could tell, I was looking at a higher layer of clouds. It was brighter gray, and there were long brighter tendrils, almost like a filtered sun was catching some of the lowest cloud bases. I was intrigued, and wanted to take a picture, but the middle of the bridge is not such a great place to stop in a car.

Before finding a place to stop, I swung by the wastewater treatment plant to see if the solitaire was on the fence there. As I swung back around and looked for a place to park where I could see the sky, I realized the clouds had been changing faster than I expected.

This is a lesson I should have learned by now – clouds often move just slow enough to give the impression that they’re not really moving at all.

The picture that leads this post was all I got. You can see the ragged edges of the daker gray clouds, but the window is all but shut, and with my eyes I could see only the faintest hint of the lighter tendrils in the upper clouds – not even that really shows up in the photo.

It’s not the first time I’ve missed documenting something, and surely won’t be the last. Hopefully in the process of writing about it, I have given the memory of what I saw a little more staying power.

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Snow on Bear Mountain

Although I spent a fair amount of time watching for it during the day, I never saw the Townsend’s Solitaire (and as far as I know, no one else did either).

Temperatures dropped and with all the precipitation that fell, it looked like a nice layer of new snow on Bear Mountain.

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Sitka Nature Show #119 – Andrea Pitz and Henry Hagood

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The 27 November show featured a conversation with Andrea Pitz and Henry Hagood – we spoke about some of their work and adventures, including creel surveys, snorkeling, spear fishing, and getting up into the mountains.

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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Middle Sister with Snow

I spent more time along old airport road hoping to see the Townsend’s Solitaire again. I only got a brief look at it on the fence at the wastewater treatment plant parking lot (thanks to Connor’s sharp eyes), but no photos.

There was a single Lapland Longspur that I took a shot of along the old road. It seemed fairly committed to foraging in the gravel there. I’m guessing it was finding seeds, but I’m not sure what kind (maybe alder?).

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Break in the Cold

Picture of frost from last January – frost I noticed on windows during this cold snap was not so intriguing.

Today the recent cold weather finally broke.

I noticed the official temperature was over 30F when I checked the time on my phone first thing this morning, but a short time later I saw my outdoor thermometer was reading 21F. This surprised me a bit, as my house is only a couple of miles from the airport. It does tend to get a few degrees colder here at night during weather like we’ve been having, but 10 or more degrees seemed a bit much.

My dad left to return to Idaho today, and when we went to the airport, I saw it was much more breezy there than it had been at my house. Recently in the text synopsis forecast for Southeast Alaska, there was a mention that temperatures could be quite different depending on whether the wind was blowing (warmer) or it was still (cooler). I wondered if that might have had something to do with temperature differential.

As the day went on, temperatures warmed to near 40F. As I am writing this, there’s still not been any rain, but the radar is showing precipitation off shore. The forecast is for 100% chance of rain tonight, so presumably some will move on shore before long.

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