overnight SWE (snow/H20 equivalent) Hwy. 550 corridor ~ 1st day of spring, 3/19/20


Red- 9.5”@ 0.9”

Monument: 4”@ 0.35”

Molas 12”@ 1.”

Coal Bank 13.5”@ 1.2”

Road will be open soon.


Greenland lost a near-record 600 billion tons of ice last summer, raising sea levels

An Arctic researcher sets out to retrieve oceanographic moorings and a weather station over meltwater topping sea ice in northwest Greenland during the 2019 melt season. (Steffen Olsen)

March 18 at 12:01 PM

Greenland’s unusually mild summer in 2019 caused the world’s largest island to lose 600 billion tons of ice in just two months, rivaling the summer of 2012 for the most ice mass lost in a single melt season, according to NASA data released Wednesday.

“We knew this past summer had been particularly warm in Greenland, melting every corner of the ice sheet, but the numbers are enormous,” said lead author Isabella Velicogna, an Earth science professor at the University of California at Irvine and a senior scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a news release.

The mass loss from Greenland alone was enough to raise global sea levels by 2.2 millimeters, the study found.

Study confirms new satellite mission is working

The data, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also find measurements from a new satellite system, known as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission (GRACE-FO), are consistent with the previous incarnation of gravity-sensing satellites, known simply as GRACE, which went out of service in 2017. This extends the satellite-based ice mass loss record to 17 years, beginning in March 2002 and including a minor gap in data sets.

The GRACE-FO satellites are able to sense tiny changes in Earth’s gravitational field caused by ice sheets gaining or losing mass and have proved useful in studying groundwater storage worldwide.

Between 2002 and 2019, across the full time series of both satellite missions, the study finds Greenland lost 4,550 billion tons of ice, or an average of about 261 billion tons per year.

In an interview, Velicogna said the data clearly show 2019 was a major melt year in Greenland, and what distinguishes it from previous big ice-loss years is the significant melting that occurred in glaciers in the northern and northeastern regions.

“There is a significant [melt] component also coming from the north and northeast of Greenland. And so, basically, we have the loss all around the ice sheet,” she said.

Yara Mohajerani, a study co-author from UC Irvine, said persistent high-pressure areas, as well as low cloud cover in northern Greenland, caused ice losses there to spike last year.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Oil and gas companies want to drill within a half-mile of Utah’s best-known national parks ~ The Washington Post

An oil drilling rig operates outside Richfield, Utah. More than 230 lease requests have been received for land covering more than 150,000 acres in southern Utah.
An oil drilling rig operates outside Richfield, Utah. More than 230 lease requests have been received for land covering more than 150,000 acres in southern Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Tensions Growing Within National Park Service Over Coronavirus Pandemic ~ National Parks Traveler

By Kurt Repanshek on March 15th, 2020


Tensions are rising among Park Service staff over how the coronavirus situation is being managed by Washington/Rebecca Latson file

Editor’s note: This updates with precautions against coronavirus being taken at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Though a few more units of the National Park System were closing Sunday in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, and outwardly it was business as usual across the National Park System on Sunday, behind the scenes tensions were growing over the situation.

The official list of closures Sunday included Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, Lands End Lookout, the Nike Missile site, Point Bonita Lighthouse, and the Muir Woods National Monument bookstore and entrance station at Golden Gate National Recreation Area; Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, the Old Post Office Tower, and the Washington Monument. On Monday the list was to expand to include the Presidio Visitor Center, the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, and Fort Point National Historic Site, all at Golden Gate.

National Park Service officials in Washington, D.C., continued to point to the statement that their Office of Public Health was continuing to monitor the situation and was in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as to how to move forward.

“Visitors can be  assured that  facilities and services in national parks, including lodges, restaurants, and shuttles, continue to monitor conditions and maintain high standards related to the health and wellness of  staff and visitors,” read a statement on the Park Service’s Public Health website. “Park and concession staff are working to maintain clean and healthy facilities in parks in accordance with CDC guidance.”

However, park superintendents were said to be growing frustrated by the situation and lack of control they have over their operations. David Vela, the Park Service’s deputy director who is its de facto director, told the superintendents that they don’t have discretion to close facilities if they deem them to be a health hazard to visitors or employees. Guidelines sent out to superintendents from Washington stated that “all operational changes in parks (cancellations and closures) must be made through the proper NPS leadership channels.”

“Political leadership puts messaging before field people,” one superintendent, who asked for anonymity in discussing the politically hot issue, told the Traveler .

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Cold War


Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 4.37.03 PM.png

One night earlier this winter, the only road out of Alta, Utah, was closed down. At ski lodges, signs warned guests to stay inside or face fines. Already that season, twenty-two feet of snow had fallen, and, the day before, a storm had dropped thirty-three inches; another foot was predicted by morning. The most dangerous time for avalanches is after a rapid snowfall, and three-quarters of the buildings in Alta are threatened by a known avalanche path. A standard measure for danger on roads, the Avalanche Hazard Index, computes risk according to the size and frequency of avalanches and the number of vehicles that are exposed to them. An A.H.I. of 10 is considered moderate; at 40, the road requires the attention of a full-time avalanche forecaster. State Highway 210, which runs down the mountain to Salt Lake City, if left unprotected, would have an A.H.I. of 1,045.

Just before 5 a.m., a small group of ski patrollers gathered at a base by the resort’s main lift. Dave Richards, the head of Alta’s avalanche program, sat in the control room. Maps and marked-up aerial photographs hung on the wall next to what looked like a large EKG—that season’s snowfall, wind speeds, and temperature data plotted by hand. Clipboards on hooks were filled with accounts of past avalanches.

Forty and bearded, with tattoos on his arms, Richards has the bearing of a Special Forces soldier. He wore a vest with a radio strapped to it and held a tin of dipping tobacco, spitting occasionally into the garbage can beneath his desk. He objects when people say that he works in avalanche control; he prefers the term “mitigation.” Sitting nearby was Jude, his English cream golden retriever, named for the patron saint of lost causes.

Jonathan Morgan, the lead avalanche forecaster for the day, described the snow. He wore a flat-brimmed cap and a hoodie. “Propagation propensity’s a question mark,” he said. “Not a lot of body in the slab. . . . Dry facets, two to three mils,” he continued. “It’s running the whole gamut of crystal types—wasn’t ice, by any means. Rimy, small grains.”

At ski resorts like Alta, large avalanches are avoided by setting off smaller ones with bombs. On the walls above the maps were dummy mortar rounds. Above Richards’s desk were binders marked “Old Explosives Inventory.” The idea, Morgan explained, was to “shoot the terrain we can’t get to.”

Richards started considering their targeting plan. The ski resort is cleared from the top down: first by artillery shells, then with hand charges. Before any shots are fired, paths leading to the mountains are closed. Because not all skiers keep to groomed trails—backcountry adventurers seek out remote areas—the Utah Department of Transportation also checks the roadside for tracks. Sometimes it scours the mountainside with infrared cameras before giving the all-clear.

“So we’ll go fourteen for Baldy?” Richards said. “Doesn’t include a shot seventeen.” Baldy was one of the resort’s mountain faces, at which they planned to fire fourteen shells; seventeen was a spot on its ridgeline.

“Seventeen wouldn’t be the worst idea,” Morgan concurred. “You got a seven in there?”

“When was Baldy shot last?” Richards asked. “Forty inches ago?”

“Open up for the cleaning crew.”

“Yeah, Friday morning.”

Richards and Morgan repaired to the mess hall—dark carpet, pool table, a deer head on the wall—for breakfast. At five-thirty, the ski lift opened. As Richards walked out the door, Liz Rocco, another ski patroller, mentioned that she had prepared some of the hand charges they would be using that morning. “And I will light them, and throw them into the darkness,” Richards said.

We rode the lift up in the moonlight. Snow was falling on the fir trees. Richards spent his childhood at Alta: his father was a ski patroller for thirty-three years, and his mother, who later became a university administrator, worked the front desk at the Rustler Lodge. Richards started his career as a professional skier, then worked as a heli-skiing guide, before joining the patrol full time. “The thing that makes it for me is the snow,” he said. “Working with a natural material that can be—” He paused. “It’s light and fluffy and soft and downy, and it’s everybody’s favorite thing in the world. It’s also one of the most destructive forces in nature. Under the right conditions, that soft, wonderful little snowflake can tear forests out of the ground, throw cars through the air, flatten buildings. And you get to watch that.”

At the top of the lift, we started hiking. A voice crackled over the radio. “Copy,” Richards said. “Just give me a holler when you pull the trigger.” A moment later, the radio crackled again; Richards ducked and covered his head, and an explosion went off somewhere nearby. We resumed hiking. After a few minutes, we arrived at a two-story shed. A garage door opened onto a pair of hundred-and-five-millimetre howitzer cannons, of Second World War vintage, installed on semicircular tracks. The gun barrels were pointed at the mountaintops. A crew was loading bags of gunpowder into the undersides of artillery shells—enormous bullets, six inches wide and two and a half feet long. Richards wrapped a rag around a large stick and jammed it into a gun barrel, to clean it. “One Sunday morning,” he began singing to himself. “As I went walking . . .”

The patrollers donned foam earplugs and large over-ear headphones; Richards and his co-gunner walked around one of the weapons, checking locks and bolts. They turned a crank, and the barrel swung toward its first target.


~~~  CONTINUE  or LISTEN  ~~~

“They’re worried about martial law, they’re worried (about) protecting their toilet paper.” ~ The Colorado Sun

Unknown.jpeg       images-1.jpeg


Toilet paper. Hand sanitizer. Canned soup. And guns.

Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check numbers between March 10 and Monday indicate firearms are flying off the shelves the same way groceries are in the state.

In that seven-day span, the CBI received 14,604 background check requests, compared to 7,357 during the same timeframe last year. That’s a 98% increase.

“Just as other states have recently experienced, CBI InstaCheck has recorded a high volume of requests for background checks for firearms transfers,” CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina said in a written statement Monday.

CBI is working to process the surge in background checks in a timely manner, but is also trying to keep its employees safe to ensure they are practicing social distancing.

“We’ve been slammed,” said Paul Paradis, of the Paradise Sales gun store in Colorado Springs. “It’s been that way for three days now.”

Paradis said the biggest seller has been ammunition — 9mm, to be exact — though he has seen an uptick in actual firearms sales, too.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~


Italians Find ‘a Moment of Joy in This Moment of Anxiety’ ~ NYT

Under lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, song breaks out from rooftops, balconies and windows.

Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times


ROME — It started with the national anthem. Then came the piano chords, trumpet blasts, violin serenades and even the clanging of pots and pans — all of it spilling from people’s homes, out of windows and from balconies, and rippling across rooftops.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, a nationwide round of applause broke out for the doctors on the medical front lines fighting the spread of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

“It was from our hearts, to say thanks and show that we can get past this,” said Emma Santachiara, 73, who came out onto the terrace of her apartment in the Monteverde section of Rome to clap with her granddaughters.

Italians remain essentially under house arrest as the nation, the European front in the global fight against the coronavirus, has ordered extraordinary restrictions on their movement to prevent contagions.

As of Saturday, the virus had infected more than 21,000 Italians and left more than 1,400 dead, according to national officials — the worst toll reported anywhere outside of China. Italy has closed all of its schools, bars and restaurants, and restricted movement for anything other than work, health or the procurement of essentials.

But the cacophony erupting over the streets, from people stuck in their homes, reflects the spirit, resilience and humor of a nation facing its worst national emergency since the Second World War.


Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

%d bloggers like this: