Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Skies

Colorado blue is definitely my favorite color, and I do miss it so, but I must confess, it has been very fun getting familiar with a whole new set of skies and weather patterns.  

Several years back I had become very interested in watching the skies in order to see if I could tell what the weather had in store.  This was born out of necessity as I was wanting to play outside and was tired of off the mark weather forecasts.  The difference of it raining at say 6 in the evening, as opposed to 3 in the afternoon, is huge in this regard, and yet, the typical weather forecast only tells you 'afternoon showers'.  So I learned by observing, and if I do say so myself, I became quite good at close range forecasting for Aspen.  

For example, I could tell when riding my bike to work in the morning if the wind direction was 'backwards' or not ... indicating likely inclement weather on the way.  Or things like when it was 'warmer than it should be', which I linked to the leading edge of turbulent systems that would push hotter air in front of them.  And I could pretty accurately tell from the wind if the clouds and rain hanging over certain valleys were going to be headed my way.

I didn't spend hours on the google machine studying meteorology like I do with nutrition and exercise.  No, I merely observed.  I paid attention.  And in doing so, I learned more than just about the weather, I became more connected to the land itself.  I discovered places where the wind naturally divided or split in some of the valleys.  I was keenly aware of where the sun rose and set relative to the mountains throughout the year.  I could tell whether the wildlife would have enough natural food in the mountains by watching the trees and shrubs in the spring (and if they didn't it meant they were more likely to be rummaging through town in the Fall).    It was all quite fun really, and like I mentioned, I'm looking forward to doing the same here as well.

Some of my initial observations are that the typical winter skies here are a 'monochromatic grey'.  Kind of like we're right in the middle of a cloud with no relief in color to be found.  

Grey skies
To be sure, there is a lot of drab and fog, but to my delight, it's not as dark as I'd imagined.  If you have natural light coming in some windows and make sure to get yourself outside, it seems to be bright enough.  And the sun does pip in and out, more often in the afternoon.  Heck, we've even had a few flat out sunny days, like this past weekend.  I think it will be more challenging predicting the immediate weather around here as there aren't as many natural landscape features to break things up, but I will be looking for patterns every time I check out the skies.  (I know, you're saying just predict rain and you'll be spot on most of the time ... I'm looking at you mom!)

Let me give you an example of how my weather observation skills are spilling over already.  As the end of December was drawing near I suspected that it had been a very dry month for this area.  Very, very dry.  Nobody told me this, I just knew that winter is the wettest time of the year up here in the PNW and something unusual was happening (it was also colder than usual and this WAS something that everybody was talking about).    Anyway, long story short, I was able to find stats saying that last month was the second driest December on record for the Portland area. All the while, my family here was clueless about it.  
So all of this blabbering does really come back around to health, and in a big way.  You see, it's all about observing.  Not just the weather, but taking time to become aware of what's going on around you in everyday life.  Being more in the here and now.  And Lord knows, we could use more people in the here and now.

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