Thursday, November 5, 2015

Phenomenal waves and exploding lows; watching snow melt

This was all white yesterday.
Sitting here watching the snow go away. It's kind of like watching paint dry only with a negative rather than a positive outcome. After a decent snowfall last week that left 2 to 3 inches on the ground, the weather stayed cool enough to maintain the world in white. But overnight last night the temperature never went below 40, a chinook wind picked up and now there are spots of grass here and there. The last leaves in the trees blown away by the fresh wind dance across the remaining snow, like birds poking around for feed.

Of course we complain with a big snowstorm and then we complain when there's no snow, but this is getting old. It wasn't until March before there was enough snow last year to get to the East Pole. With a big expotition planned in December rain and warm temperatures in November aren't offering an optimistic outlook.  No snow, no go; it's as simple as that.

I will never call anyone a pansy 
again. These guys were under
three inches of snow for a week.
The wood stove received a good cleaning yesterday in preparation for the winter, but it won't be needed for a while after this. And the wind continues to blow.

Remember the line from Gordon Lightfoot"s "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald:" "… when the storms of November come early…?"  Well, it's early November. I heard the most frightening weather forecast in my life about one of those November storms. It came to mind today when I stumbled across a facebook post about a new boat with video about how it functioned in Sea State Five. I had not been aware of a schedule of sea states so I looked it up. Turns out there is one called the Douglas Scale which categorizes seas from 1 to 9. State five has waves 2.5 to 4 meters high. The official description of that level is "rough." What caught my eye, though was sea state 9 with the descriptive word, "phenomenal."

Imagine being at sea exposed and hearing a forecast for "phenomenal waves." That raised the memory of the most frightening weather forecast I had ever heard. We had waited patiently for a three-day weather window to cross the Gulf of Alaska in late October. It came when the forecast called for a low pressure system near Kodiak to weaken and dissipate. We took off from Valdez, sailed through Hinchinbrook Entrance and were halfway to Cape St. Elias when a new forecast came across. Within that forecast was this phrase: "… the low near Kodiak has deepened explosively." Deepened explosively! Holy Crap. Among three of us on the boat, none of us had heard that expression before. We managed to beat that storm into an anchorage in Icy Bay just east of the cape where we stayed buttoned down for two days. Even on the third day when the seas had dropped to maybe 5 or 6 feet and we went out in that chop, we only made 50 miles in nine hours because the temperature had dropped into the teens and the boat started icing up from the spray.

We kept going slower and slower until we finally made Yakutat where we had to sail over the bar in breaking waves with a very top-heavy boat. We stayed there another couple of days knocking ice off the boat and rearranging the cargo to provide better stability.

Sometimes when a storm blows through here, memories come up about those trips and about those souls currently out there on the ocean when "the storms of November" come early, even if that is a Great Lakes condition. Exploding lows and phenomenal seas are just that whether it's salt water or fresh water and the dangers are the same. But the warm winds that come with them across the land mass do nothing except frustrate Alaskans waiting for snow. Even so, I guess I'd rather be watching snow melt than getting pounded by phenomenal waves in an exploding low pressure system. The stories aren't nearly as good, though.

The Douglas Scales
State of the sea (wind sea)[edit]
Height (m)
no wave
Calm (Glassy)
Calm (rippled)
Very rough
Very high

No swell
Very Low (short and low wave)
Low (long and low wave)
Light (short and moderate wave)
Moderate (average and moderate wave)
Moderate rough (long and moderate wave)
Rough (short and heavy wave)
High (average and heavy wave)
Very high (long and heavy wave)
Confused (wavelength and height indefinable)

If you are interested in seeing where this happened there is a map on this story.  Singin' them songs about them storms at sea  Cape St. Elias is at the tip of the narrow island that sticks out in the gulf between Hinchinbrook and Yakutat. Ice Bay is just to the east of the cape. Incidentally, the waves in this story I now know were officially "phenomenal."

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve