Tuesday, June 30, 2015

El Niño Near Long Valley Creek, Lassen County, CA

I've got a few more pictures from that rainy May day, the 21st, when MOH and I were on what was really the first leg of a trip to Colorado and back.
A downpour over unnamed hills just off the north end of the Bald Mountain Range and just south of Beckwourth Pass. Photo taken May 21st, 12:44 pm.
Looking up Dinwiddie Arm (of Long Valley Creek?) into the area of Roberts and Coulee Canyons. Mount Ina Coolbrith, with summit at 8051 ft (2454 m), is the long sloping mountain in the mist; Little Haskell Peakat 6135 ft (1870 m), is the dark hill on the far left.
More hills in the foreground, more peaks of the Bald Mountain Range in the background, as the downpour continues.
Note in these pictures how green everything already was! It's been a green spring because of the unusually rainy May, though I haven't noticed any particularly unusual areas of high wildflower density. It is starting to brown up now, with the halogeton and tansy mustard being the last to fade to brown, although bushes such as sagebrush, rabbit brush, and fourwing saltbush are still plenty green.

These particular photos are all from Long Valley in Lassen County, and they were taken from the south-bound lanes of Highway 395 between Hallelujah Junction, CA, and Border Town, NV.

Related Posts:
El Niño at Honey Lake
The Beginning of an El Niño Trip: North-Central and Western Nevada

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Watering Hole Bites the Dust: Water Hole #1

Water Hole #1 in Golconda, Nevada — a bar made famous in the late 1970s by an industrious pig, Waterhole Ike — closed sometime within the last two to three years, before I had a chance to stop by and check out their beer collection.
Water Hole #1 and attached grocery store in March, 2015.
The bar and store during better times: June, 2012.
Zooming in on the bar.
Note the boarded-up windows.
A view of part of the motel next door.
The rest of the motel.
Part of the motel in June, 2012.
Read more about Golconda and Waterhole Ike:
A Visit to Often Overlooked Golconda - Backyard Traveller, Rich Moreno
Waterhole Ike - Howard Hickson's Histories
The illustrious past of Golconda - RGJ.com
Mike's Water Hole - FB page

And, by the way, the stories about Waterhole Ike remind me of a story told by a former colleague of mine, who — back in the old days — once saw a pig walk into a bar up in northern Idaho (or maybe it was Montana? or Colorado??). The bartender or a friend of the pig grabbed a beer (can or bottle, I'm not sure which; brand, I'm not sure of that, either), opened it, and held it for the pig, who immediately guzzled it. The colleague, rather dumbfounded by the incident, asked about this phenomenon and was told that the pig saunters in to the bar about the same time every day and has a beer. (Story verified by another former colleague.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

El Niño at Honey Lake

After our brief stay at The Nugget during the first part of our journey last month, we made a brief foray north on Highway 395, then quickly retreated southward along the same road. When we stopped at the Honey Lake Rest Area, it was raining hard in a localized but intense shower.
Looking across the partly muddy Honey Lake toward the Skedaddle and Amedee Mountains; May 21st, 11:56 pm.
Well, no that looks like a bit of hail!

As a bit of reference, the next photo was taken two weeks later when things had greened up and clouds were still prevalent (they are currently mostly out of the picture--it's summer!). That's the same mountains, same tree, different phone pole.
Photo taken June 4th, 2:38 pm.
The nearshore part of the lake in its northwesternmost lobe is considerably greener than usual in these pictures. Beyond the nearshore green swath, which grades into a brown, muddy-looking patch, a dark line and another green patch marks an area where water has been standing off and on this past year.
Photo taken June 4th, 2:37 pm.
A seagull poses for its picture, May 21st, 12:02 pm..

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Beginning of an El Niño Trip: North-Central and Western Nevada

An El Niño has supposedly set in (starting when, exactly, I'm not sure). And if precipitation continues to be anything like it has been during the last several weeks, I hope it's here for the the long haul, that is, into the winter.
Rain shower in the northern part of the East Range near Winnemucca, NV, looking SW. Photo taken May 17th, 12:03 pm. The highest, roundish mass on the left is probably Dun Glen Peak.
Rain showers in the Eugene Mountains to the east of the East Range, looking west. Photo taken May 17th, 12:10 pm.
The low hills of the southern Pah Rah Range, as seen from the JA Nugget, looking NE. Photo taken May 17th, 4:35 pm.
March 2015 ENSO discussion: El Niño is here
NOAA, March 5th.

Scientists Suggest a Strong El Nino Is Possible. Why Should You Care?
The Weather Channel, May 14th.

El Nino Delivers Drought-Busting but Flooding Rain to Texas; California May be Next
AccuWeather.com, May 19th.

With El Niño likely, what climate impacts are favored for this summer?
NOAA, May 28th.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Siberian Haze in North-Central Nevada

It is often — more commonly than in the past, IMO — hazy or dusty in north-central Nevada where I routinely work and often travel, here and there across basins and over ranges. And in summer and fall (and probably much earlier this year than usual due to the abnormal Californian and western drought) the basins will often fill with thin and wispy to thick and dense smoke from wildfires. I was a little surprised though, when I noticed little wisps of what looked like smoke coming from the northwest early on the morning of April 18th.
In this view of the Owyhee Bluffs and Jake Creek Mountain, the reddish sunrise looks a little smokey to me. Photo taken 18Apr15 from Location 1.

For all photo and a few geographic locations, see the map embedded below.
In this next, closer view of the same cliff and the Midas Trough to the south (the lowlands to the right of the highest cliff), the possible smoke is harder to see, though the lower part of this sunrise photo shows the same red-orange glow as the first photo.
Mostly gratuitous sunrise photo, taken 18Apr15 photo from Location 2.
Here, below, is a similar view of the Midas Trough in denser smoke, taken from a bit farther away on the next afternoon — the first photo was from 26.5 miles, the second from 14 miles,  and this third is from 20 miles. By this time, I knew that a broad bank of smoke had moved in...but from where?
Photo taken 19Apr15 from Location 3.
I turned around (below) at the same location, impressed by how much smoke was hanging in the air between the Sonoma Range and I. That's Sonoma Peak at 9396 ft (2864 m) in the center.
Photo taken 19Apr15 from Location 3, looking southwest. It's about 16.5 miles to Sonoma Peak as the raven flies.
I'm not sure which day I found out that the relatively dense smoke was coming all the way from fires in Siberia, but I surely knew by the 20th (and probably knew on the 19th). Read a little more about smoke from the Siberian fires herehere, here, and here.

I took a few more pictures on the morning and afternoon of the 20th, then settled into a few more days of working inside, with the smoke staying about the same as you can see in my photos below. The first shot is a crudely stitched-together photo I took from Location 3, which shows the Osgood Mountains on the left (northwest) and the plateaus and cliffs north of the Midas Trough way to the right (northeast).
Photo taken 20Apr15 from Location 3, looking to the NNE. The bright light in the center is most likely a vehicle coming back from one of several (4-5) mines. It's that time of the morning!
And to get that photo stitched I had to finally figure out how to get Photostitch (Canon's program) downloaded onto this 8.1 computer. In the mean time, I had tried several free downloads and online programs, and Microsoft ICE, and none of them could do a thing with my poorly shot photos. (Surprisingly enough, I still don't own a copy of Photoshop, even though I had an early Mac version several years back, when it was a very simple and straightforward program.)

Here's another shot of the Midas Trough from that same old standby location, Location 2. This is one of the best places to stop to take photos along S.R. 789 and the Getchell Highway as far as getting out of road traffic is concerned, but there is a lot of roadside junk to shoot around, and there are always the pervasive power lines.
Photo taken 20Apr15 from Location 2. The bright light to the left is a vehicle on the Midas road, probably coming back from the mines.
On this morning, my sunrise photo shows a lot of the reddish orange glow reported in the northwest and elsewhere in the western U.S., although my photos are nowhere near as spectacular as those shown here at the Siberian Times. In fact, it seemed that the density of the smoke was wiping out the sunrise I was seeing, but maybe I was too early that day, and I didn't have time to wait for the sun to peak through.

Later on the 20th, I took this picture of Jake Creek Mountain through very dense smoke from about 14.5 miles away.
Photo take 20Apr15 from Location 4.
Below, I've stopped at my favored Location 2, at the junction of the Midas and Getchell roads, and taken one more shot looking off toward the Midas Trough. This very hazy photo was taken with the same focal length as my second photo, and not only can you just barely see the cliffs and lowlands, you can barely see the power line wire in the foreground!
Photo taken 20Apr15 from Location 2.
Off in the distance to the southeast (next photo, below), I could barely see the outlines of the Valmy Power Plant (North Valmy Generating Station), couldn't see the Shoshone Range beyond Battle Mountain some 60 miles distant, and could barely see the outline of Buffalo Mountain, which is a kind of northern splinter of the Tobin Range beyond the low eastern hills of the Edna Mountains (far right) and beyond the long flat of Pumpernickel Valley (hidden from view). In the original, pre-stitched photos, the vague outline of the Valmy power plant is clearer, and a ghostly mountain beyond the horizon down that long dirt road can be seen: Battle Mountain. Note: Wikipedia shows this mountain as the Battle Mountains or Battle Mountain Range, but the semi-circular mountain is officially known as "Battle Mountain" — see the USGS TNM 2.0 map here — and everybody in Nevada, at least those north of Tonopah, knows this. Also note, if you click through to view the topo map of Battle Mountain the mountain, you'll notice the central, highest peak, Antler Peak. Antler Peak gave name to the Nevada-famous, late Devonian to Pennsylvanian(?) Antler orogeny.
Photo taken 20Apr15 from Location 5.
Just a few miles down the road, I was impressed enough to take one more picture, this time of the Sonoma Range and Sonoma Peak from a pullout overlooking the Humboldt River near Preble. In this shot, Sonoma Peak is about 13.5 miles distant. The snow fields surrounding Sonoma Peak are harder to see in the closer shot than they were in Photo #4 from 3 miles farther away!
Photo taken 20Apr15 from Location 6.
When I left the area on the 23rd, the hazy smokiness was still in full swing, and I was getting quite tired of it. During this time, the haze was fairly dense, but a strong smoke smell was generally absent. One or two days I wondered if my eyes burned just a little, but it wasn't like last summer during the densest smoke, when it was hard to work outdoors, or even indoors without A/C. I figured that this time, because the smoke (or most of it) was coming from so far away, we were getting mostly the extreme fines, not any of the larger particles that cause breathing and eye problems (at least in me, IANAD).

When I came back less than a week later, I was welcomed by a great clearness, one that isn't seen in the northern Nevada desert that often these days, what with more wind than I'm used to anywhere but in the Mojave of southern CA. A large T-storm or Pacific front came through, and the air was fresh and clear. I drove to work, sans camera unfortunately, and thought I'd take some pictures the next day from the same spots, to show how these shots would look on a day rivaling the clearness of the 70s or 80s — but on the next day, the 30th, haze began to move back in, and I once again wondered whether it was all from the northwest (reported Oregon fires), or if it was partly or entirely from Siberia. Were the fires over there still going?

It turns out that they were, so the haze that persisted into the next week and a half, until at least May 5th or so, was at least partly from continued field burning in Siberia, China, and Korea, as noted here, here, and here. NOAA first reported — on their HMS Fire and Smoke page — about this second band of incoming smoke on April 29th, and continued reporting it through at least May 7th.

And so it goes...

View Midas Trough and Siberian Haze in a larger map.