Avalanche forecaster Jerry Roberts and I are riding in his orange welfare rig. We’re on our way to check storm boards for recent snow accumulation totals. It’s the middle of the night. Our tires leave tracks several inches deep. Snowflakes in the air stop, eerily, strobe-like, in each sweep of the yellow flossing light on the roof…..
“3-Mary-14, this is 3-Mary 51. Come in Doug.” “Ya, Jerry, this is 14. I’m over in Ironton Park on my way up. It’s snowing pretty hard. Visibility is pretty poor. See you on the pass.”
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the plow drivers,” Jerry says working the defroster to keep the wipers from icing up completely. “Man, that’s a lonely, hateful job. Ninety percent boredom and 10 percent terror.”
January 19, 2023
David Crosby, a prominent figure of the free-spirited 1970s Laurel Canyon scene who helped bring folk-rock mainstream with both The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, has died at 81. His publicist confirmed the artist’s death to NPR; no cause of death was given at the time of this report.
Crosby had long dealt with serious health problems, including multiple heart attacks, diabetes and hepatitis C, for which he had a liver transplant in 1994. In spite of those challenges, the veteran musician enjoyed a creative hot streak in recent years. He added five solo albums to his catalog between 2014 and 2021, and toured frequently with two sets of collaborators, the Lighthouse Band (which featured Snarky Puppybandleader Michael League) and the Sky Trails Band, featuring his son, James Raymond, on keyboards.
David Crosby, an icon of American rock, has died at age 81
Crosby’s focus on touring stretched all the way back to his early professional days, when he was a nomadic folk musician honing his performance skills on the road. In the late 1950s, Crosby started performing at coffeehouses in Santa Barbara, Calif., but soon began traveling around the U.S., popping up in southern Florida, Chicago and Boulder, Colo. Crosby also spent a formative period in Greenwich Village, where he teamed up to play at the then-new Bitter End with Chicago musician Terry Callier.
His long and successful solo career notwithstanding, Crosby thrived on collaboration — a trait he discovered as a young child, after being mesmerized by a symphony orchestra performance. “The idea of cooperative effort to make something bigger than any one person could ever do was stuck in my head,” he wrote in his 1988 autobiography, Long Time Gone. “That’s why I love being a harmony singer, why I love being in a group.”
Crosby’s first big successes came as a founding member of expansive California country-folk troupe The Byrds. The group hit its commercial peak during his tenure, earning two No. 1 singles — covers of Pete Seeger‘s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and Bob Dylan‘s “Mr. Tambourine Man” — and reaching the Top 20 with the stormy classic “Eight Miles High.” Crosby co-wrote the latter, and penned several other memorable Byrds songs, including the lilting, jangly “Lady Friend.” He was instrumental in helping the group develop its harmony-rich vocal approach and kaleidoscopic sound, which incorporated psychedelic rock, jazz and twangy folk, and has taken credit for introducing bandmate Roger McGuinn to the music of John Coltrane and Ravi Shankar.
In 1967, Crosby was fired from the Byrds over growing personality and creative conflicts (although he later returned to produce and perform on 1973’s Byrds). At loose ends, he immersed himself in sailing, one of his childhood passions, buying a schooner for $25,000 with money borrowed from The Monkees’ Peter Tork. The boat would be a source of solace and inspiration for decades; he wrote songs including “Wooden Ships,” “The Lee Shore” and “Page 43” while on board.
Crosby was born Aug. 14, 1941, and grew up in Southern California. His father was cinematographer Floyd Crosby, who won an Academy Award for his work on 1931’s Tabu: A Story of the South Seas, as well as a Golden Globe for 1952’s High Noon. (Crosby himself would influence another notable corner of Hollywood: He often saidthat Dennis Hopper took inspiration from his look and attitude for 1969’s Easy Rider.)
As a kid, Crosby fell hard for The Everly Brothers, the genesis of his lifelong fascination with close harmony, further cemented by his family’s regular sing-along sessions. His older brother, Ethan, introduced him to jazz, a genre he would touch on throughout his career, including with his late ’90s / early ’00s band CPR and on a ruminative 2017 solo album, Sky Trails.
Crosby’s formative influences became more prominent in his partnership with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, with whom he explored novel ways of expressing harmony. In Long Time Gone, he deconstructs their unique vocal approach with typical concision, noting the group sang “nonparallel stuff” influenced by classical music, late ’50s and early ’60s jazz and the Everlys. “I did some of my very best work being subtle, moving the middle part around in internal shifts that kept it happening,” he wrote. Crosby’s ocean-clear tenor meshed seamlessly with the voices of Stills and Nash in hushed and haunting ways, particularly on his own “Guinnevere.” His songwriting contributions also pushed the band in new directions — in particular, the rhythmic cadences of “Déjà Vu” and the loose arrangements and boho instrumental tone of “Wooden Ships.”
As a trio, Crosby, Stills and Nash was both commercially and critically adored. Its self-titled 1969 debut led to an performance at Woodstock and a Grammy for best new artist, while 1970’s Déjà Vu — by which point Neil Young had joined, adding another letter to the band’s name — touched on both the comforts of tradition and the seismic generational shifts that were underway. Months after Déjà Vu‘s release, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young would become a leading voice of the nation’s anti-war movement, recording the Young-penned “Ohio” in response to the May 1970 shooting of four students at Kent State University.
Over the years, Crosby — who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of The Byrds and of CSN — continued performing with various collaborators, with Nash serving as his steadiest foil well into the mid-2010s. Ever opinionated and brutally honest, he was an open book about his personal flaws and failings, as well as how he felt about his peers. This no-nonsense personality made him both endearing and prickly, especially as a bandmate — CSNY’s internal disagreements were legendary. But in later years, it made him a natural for the concise and quippy nature of Twitter. Crosby shared wide-ranging thoughts about politics and music on the platform, and answered fan questions, both about his own career (he told one fan he “was not the right guy for the job” to when asked whether it was true that he was supposed to have worked on Leonard Cohen’s second album) and about those in his orbit (“Was Jerry Garcia a tenor?” Answer: “Tenor/baritone.”). Such lovable terseness even landed him an advice column in Rolling Stone.
Crosby’s career was marked by countless reinventions and second chances. Years of well-documented substance abuse led to tumultuous relationships in and out of music, multiple arrests and a nine-month stint in a Texas prison in the ’80s. Remarkably, his voice remained strong and unweathered, a fact Crosby himself found inexplicable, as he explained to Cameron Crowe in the 2019 documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name. Yet the film also reflected plenty of humility, portraying a musician facing his mortality by trying not to dwell on the past.
“I’ve hurt a lot of people,” Crosby told Here & Now, the midday news show from NPR and WBUR, in 2019. “I’ve helped a lot more. I just have to be able to look at it and understand it and learn from it. I’m not beating myself up about any of it. Truthfully, I’m actually pretty happy with the guy I am now. I’m trying real hard to be a decent human being. And I like it.”
Remembering folk-rock legend David Crosby, who died at age 81
January 20, 2023
NPR’s A Martinez talks to Michael Walker, author of Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood, about David Crosby’s legacy.
There are no clear signs that the pattern will support a near-term change to colder weather and more snow
January 6, 2023
Following a spike in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in November, many long-range forecasters sounded the alarm that it could foreshadow a cold and snow-filled winter. But pulses of record warmth in North America and Europe have thwarted snow accumulation and, in some cases, depleted what’s on the ground.
Now, Northern Hemisphere snow cover is near historical lows for midwinter.
The lack of snow has forced some ski resorts in Europe to close, while many areas in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States have far less terrain open than they typically do at this time of year.
Snow cover isn’t down everywhere. California and the intermountain West are having one of their best snow seasons in memory because of a parade of storms from the Pacific Ocean. But, overall, the snow situation is more famine than feast.
What the data shows
Data from various snow cover trackers have highlighted the rapid decline in Northern Hemisphere snow in recent weeks following a mid-December peak.
A multi-sensor system that has tracked snow cover for nearly two decades shows current levels at a record low:
A separate weekly snow cover analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Rutgers University — with 57 years of data — also shows a sharp decline in the past several weeks. Early in the winter, levels were well above the long-term average but have dropped well below:
Much of the recent dip is because of recent melting in Europe from the record-breaking warm spell to start 2023.
The Northeast United States has also lost much of the snow during a similar spell of record warmth earlier this week. As one example, the snow depth in Buffalo fell from 28 inches on Dec. 27 to zero inches on Wednesday.
Normal swings in weather take a big toll in a warming world
Some of these snow cover swings are a normal part of winter, but climate change is making them more significant.
“Snow cover is pretty volatile … and large swings occur all the time,” Judah Cohen, visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and forecaster with Atmospheric and Environmental Research, wrote in a text message to The Washington Post.
But a warming climate makes it harder for places that are losing snow because of natural swings in the weather to bounce back from such thaws, Cohen said.
That’s the case in parts of the French Alps. Take the small ski resort of Le Praz de Lys-Sommand. It’s a lower-elevation resort where temperatures are frequently only marginally cold enough for snow. Warm spells like the present are devastating.
Christine Harrison, a vacationer to Le Praz de Lys-Sommand for the past 25 years, told PRX’s “The World” she’s never seen it like this. “You can’t ski. Literally there is no snow,” she said. “There’s just grass.”
The managing director for the national body representing ski resorts in France said half of the 7,500 ski slopes in the country were closed, according to CNN.
At the moment, it’s a similar story across large portions of Europe. Mountainous countries like Austria and Switzerland have been among those seeing record warmth and not enough snow. While the highest elevation resorts still have snow, and in some cases a good deal, people residing in areas that rely on winter tourism are concerned, as are those watching for snowmelt to keep rivers like the Rhine in Germany and Po in Italy running during spring and summer.
Not doom and gloom everywhere
The situation is dire in places, but it is not doom and gloom across the entire hemisphere.
The western half of the United States has seen round after round of stormy conditions that have delivered an abundance of mountain snow. Following a survey early this week, California officials stated that the “snowpack is actually off to one of its best starts in the past 40 years.”
Snow water equivalents — a measure of the water contained in the snowpack — were as high as 203 percent of normal in the southern Sierra Nevada.
Snow cover is also quite healthy in the Rockies and surrounding ranges. Other than parts of southern New Mexico, snow water equivalents are above average across the entire Intermountain West.
Swaths of the central United States, including the northern Plains and Great Lakes region, have also had a banner winter for snowfall because of multiple blizzards.
The Liske tribe leaving their signatures on foreign lands (Lizard Head)
crédito total B. Liske
hundred Sandhills purr and honk
catching Paco’s attention ~
but not his eye … next time
December 4, 2022
A lenticular cloud was seen Dec. 1 on a hike to Fitz Roy, a mountain in the Andes in Argentina. (Video: Minh Phan)
Mountain chains and the turbulent airflow around them help create some magical and otherworldly scenes.
On Thursday, during a beautiful and otherwise sunny jaunt, hikers in Argentina’s Andes caught a prime example of a stacked lenticular cloud, which appeared to rotate in place like a saucer-shaped top hat. It’s easy to imagine why these phenomena have led to UFO reports in the past.
Minh Phan, a U.S. government meteorologist, tweeted: “I literally lost my … mind” upon first seeing the cloud formation. Fortunately, he was able to capture a mesmerizing time lapse of the lenticular’s silent pirouette over a mountaintop near the Argentina/Chile border.
As air in the mid-latitude flow rushes across a mountain chain — in this case the Andes — eddies form, like horizontal rotors stretched along the peaks, and eventually can become large-scale standing waves. A similar phenomenon can lead to downstream gravity waves, which tend to line up in packed rows to the lee of a mountain chain.
“Lenticular clouds are pretty common in this part of the world, especially with the mountain climate,” Phan wrote in a text message to The Washington Post. “There were many other pockets of lenticular clouds on that hike alone, but this one stood out because they were so stacked.”
These standing waves are often present in mountain environments, even without clouds to show them off. They are a primary cause of clear-air turbulence, and airline pilots will often try to avoid them.
Lenticular clouds become visible when there is increasing moisture aloft. Rather than being truly stationary, the lenticular cloud is continually redeveloping near the crest of the standing wave. The stacked appearance of some lenticular clouds is believed to form because of small variations in moisture concentration at different altitudes.
Contrails from planes are highlighted in much the same way as lenticulars. The presence of either the natural or man-made clouds is a sure sign of rising moisture levels overhead and perhaps unsettled weather to come.
Bill was always on an adventure
in the mountains sharing his birthday with friends
un amigo maravilloso
te amamos querido amigo
Hey Jerry, very, very nice post about Bill Kees.
I wanted to leave this short sonnet I wrote about Bill—and gave to Susan—for the memorial at Mountainfilm. Here it is …
Remembering Bill Kees
We shouldn’t measure lives in years, The only real measure of a life is friends. Good friends add up to a good life, Great friends make it even better.
Bill Kees was such a friend. Bill was a climber, as I had been Years earlier—and I treasured that. We never climbed together
But Bill was the kind of friend You would need, and would trust On the other end of the rope
Ready to catch you when you fell. Bill Kees was just such a friend, There aren’t that many.
Thanks for the reminder re Bill. I didn’t know him well at all but like all of the tribe, connection was easy.
I met Bill in the early ‘70’s as you know when he hosted Jeff Lowe and I when we came down to Telluride to climb Bridalveil. A wonderful man then and a wonderful man on our second encounter decades later.
I sometimes wonder at the brilliant weave of connections that have held our community together for 50 years now. I encounter folks I haven’t seen in 30 years and the conversation picks up as if we saw each other yesterday.
Además, even tribal members within the circle that I’ve never met are like old friends when we meet. So many small degrees of separation mean we “ know“
each other before even meeting.
We have all been extremely lucky to be born into a generation that questioned the traditional American model and it encouraged the often eccentric lives, set in wild spaces all over the globe, that we have led.
A candle indeed, a raised glass to the fallen. All hail living your life however the fuck you want !!