Author Topic: Weather experiences and extremes enjoyed in the USA - April to June 2007  (Read 7789 times)

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Offline Harley Pearman

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Dear all

While touring the western third of the USA, the tour I undertook had allot of weather related experiences where world weather records have occurred and never surpassed. These places are worth reporting as a separate weather related item. These extremes do not occur here. Enjoy.

Heatwaves - Death Valley (Visited May 2007) (Located in Eastern California)

In 1922, a place called Badwater Basin scored a temperature of 57.1 Celsius or 134 F. This is now recognised as the hottest official temperature ever recorded. The average July temperatures is 52.6 Celsius and recently 56.9C has been recorded at the official weather station at Furnace Creek. In 1922, this place experienced 43 days in a row where 49C or greater was recorded.

It is so hot here because heat gets circulated daily. Wedged between the Panamint Mountain and the Armagosa Range, the heat lies trapped and builds on a daily basis. The overnight minimums commonly reach 38C during July. The average annual rainfall is less than 25 mm but there is an area that gets just 9 mm.

It was 41.6C when I walked out onto Badwater Basin in an environment where life is unable to survive and the glare of the alkaline salts is blinding white. My water bottle was cooked by the heat. I was able to walk half a kilometre into this environment before the intense heat sent us back to safety. Too dangerous for a longer visit.

Wind - Point Reynes (North of San Francisco California)

The windiest point in the USA. Winds commonly average 100 km / hour. The walk to the light house was closed due to gales 90 km / hour or stronger. I experienced gales approaching 100 km / hour.

(Record snow) - Snowiest location in the world (Location - Paradise Mt Rainier - Washington State)

In the winter of 1970 and 1971, this place at an elevation of just 1,648 metres recorded an astonishing 31.105 metres of snow during the snow season. Located on the southern side of the 4,392 metre high Mt Rainier volcano, moisture from the SW is forced to rise and massive snow dumps occur that resulted in a world record snow fall in 1971. When I was there, the snow depth in late May was 3 metres. Mt Rainier has a volume of snow exceeding 1 cubic kilometre and supports 23 glaciers.

Mt Rainier is regarded as a weather maker because it makes its own weather.

Rain (Seattle)

It rained in Seattle. Seattle averages just 55 fine / sunny days a year. Seattle lived up to its reputation as the drizzle capital of the United States. It rained during my visit.

Sunniest place in the world (Location California / Near Yuma Arizona)

As part of the tour, we went to Imperial Sand Dunes. This region averages around 91% sunshine per year. Out of a possible 4,455 hours of sunshine per year, the locality averages 4,055 hours of sunshine annually. Average annual rainfall is 25 mm per year. It was sunny during our visit although a light sand storm was occurring across the sand dunes.

Snow (Reno Nevada in summer)

Reno at an altitude of 1,420 metres despite being in the desert had a rainfall event the night we stayed there. On the hills just 300 metres higher, snow fell.

Later that day we went up to an elevation of 3,034 metres (10,000 feet) at Tioga Pass, light snow was occurring. Effectively we went from desert to snow in a couple of hours. Being on the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it was snowing in June (Summer) on Mt Dana (This mountain towers 3,979 metres high). We were 900 metres below the snow wreathed summit.

Snow in the desert (Location Seligman and Grand Canyon)

Located in Arizona, I saw a first. While crossing the desert, we experienced snow showers. It snowed in the desert in May. I took a photo of the snow occurring at Seligman (Arizona).

While at the Grand Canyon later that day (Elevation 2,200 to 2,300 metres), I took several photos of snow falling across parts of the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Actually, we were looking down on the cloud bases.

Powerful whirlwind captured on a volcano (Location Mono Lake)

While at Mono Lake (Elevation where we were - 2,400 metres), I photographed a powerful whirlwind crossing a volcano crater. Mono Lake is a volcano situated at the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada. It may have had something to do with wind descending from mountains 4,000 metres high (Foen winds).

Steam whirlwind captured on Grand Prismic Spring (Location - Yellowstone Caldera)

While at Grand Prismic Spring (World's largest hot spring, I was treated to an unusual phenomenon. A powerful whirlwind was raging across this hot spring. Hot winds were rotating on the spring and the whirlwind crossed the entire hot spring before dissipating. I took some photos of it.

Fog - San Francisco

On numerous days San Francisco City may be clear in one part but often the western half of the city is shrouded in heavy fog. It can blow in at any time of the day shrouding the Golden Gate Bridge but may not reach Oakland across the bay. An interesting phenomena. It is a summertime phenomena and it occurs regularly at Big Sur.

Finally there was a bushfire occurring at the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada south of Reno yet on the crest of the mountains snow was falling above an elevation of 3,000 metres at the same time. Amazingly, no clouds could clear the crest of the mountain range (Too many peaks towering to 4,000 metres or higher). The Sierra Nevada was living up to its name as a rain watershed. Wet on the western side and the desert is on the eastern side.


Harley Pearman