Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Northwest Music: Typhoon - "Rorschach"

Typhoon came back to the Pacific Northwest and visited Seattle at the Crocodile. The tour is associated with their latest release, Offerings, a very ambitious and thought provoking double album. I am in the crowd at this Portland show:

Good complex music and lyrics that takes time to digest. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Non Bare Earth Lidar

Lidar (light detecting and ranging) is a landscape reading tool that I use whenever the imagery is available. I have frequently posted lidar derived imagery. The ability to have bare earth imagery with accurate elevation has been a huge change for geologists. But the non bare earth imagery is also a powerful tool.  

Lidar image showing electric high voltage power lines, forest, pastures and homes

The image above has not gone through the computer program that removes the trees and thus does not show the underlying bare earth features very well. But in this case I wanted to see the areas of forest cover; Where are there big trees? I was able to compare this 2013 lidar image with Google Earth images to assess if the a stand of large trees was still present. At issue was the role large trees play in intercepting and partially routing debris floods and debris flows on alluvial fans. Having the imagery of where large tree stands were located versus just brush helped my analyses.   

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Our Gun Experiment Should be Discontinued

Part of my work sometimes involves long drives. On such days I get a good dose of news - maybe too good of a dose. Yesterday's news of yet another mass shooting at a school was heart rending. Market Place, and NPR show on market/economic issues, mentioned the shooting at the start and end of the show with a repeat of a statement the program made in 2012 and in 2016 that there are more places to buy a gun in the United States than there are Starbucks (marketplace.org/final-note, 2016)  One could quibble over details of what it means to be "a place to buy a gun".

My own thought on this policy issue is that we have essentially performed a giant experiment regarding guns in this country. The results suggest that we may want to call an end to this experiment and try something different. Then again, this may have little to do with policy but a lot more to do with making money.

Monday, February 12, 2018

More Snow Geese

I participated in the annual raptor count on the Skagit and Samish Flats. That is mostly I tagged along with a couple of folks who knew what they were doing. We counted 53 raptors in our section. While doing the count we observed a large flock of Anser casrulescens (snow goose) flying into area a bit west of us just north of LaConner. So after the raptor counting was complete we detoured out to check out the geese. I recently posted on this population HERE

The vast majority of the geese are mostly white, but there is a gray/blue morph. 
The blue phase goose is just to the left of center with head down 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Swirling Hole in The Clouds

I have been traveling and saw this on my return flight. 

I am inclined to believe this cloud pattern is the result of a localized low pressure system, but have not thought through alternatives. The cloud layer is a thin essentially elevated fog layer over cold ocean water with relatively warm air, but in this case appears to have some circulation taking place.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

White Russians in Northwest Washington

Over the past few years the winter fields of the Skagit and Samish Flats have become progressively whiter. 

Our winter snow geese breed on Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic and travel down the Pacific coast to winter on Flats as well as on the lowlands of the Fraser and Nooksack Rivers as well as the lower Stillaguamish.

The number of snow geese has been increasing appreciably (WaterfowlPopulationStatusReport17.pdf) and the results have been noticeable in the fields of the Skagit and Samish Flats with multiple large flocks visible on most drives I make across the flats. The above picture was just west of Bayview Road north of Highway 20.

The population has recovered and surpassed the planned population goals. Past over hunting and weather factors had reduced the population, but the number of birds is now causing habitat damage in both the Arctic and on the farm fields. Washington State has expanded goose hunts and has partnered with a number of farmers to allow hunting access on private land as well as the Fish and Wildlife lands (https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/snow_goose/)

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Few Comments on the Rattlesnake Ridge Slide

I got a chance to see the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide as I has some work in Yakima. Not really much I can add to understanding this well news covered and monitored slide. However, I will comment that the agencies involved, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Department of Transportation and the Yakima County Emergency Planning have been proactive and communicative with this slide. The precautionary approach and scenario planning is how this slide should be managed and that is what is being done.

The Seattle Times (seattletimes.com/can-experts-predict-collapse-at-washingtons-rattlesnake-ridge) has a good article on how the prediction method that is being applied with good quotes from geologists that shed some light on why the date of predicted failure is shifting. Precise predictions of the future tough in any field!

The New York Times also had an article: nytimes/washington-rattlesnake-ridge-landslide

I did have one quibble with NYT article "Even the name of the town, Union Gap, is testament to natural violence: It refers to a huge gash in the ridgeline carved thousands of years ago by a colossal flood from ancient Lake Missoula.".

The "huge gash" is a river gap where the Yakima River has incised through Rattlesnake Ridge. This gap was formed well before the ice age floods. Some of the largest floods did back up into Yakima through this gap, but the modification of the gap by the ice age floods would have been relatively moderate.

I did like the end of the NYT article. While various scenarios as to the size of the slide have been considered, Steven Slaughter with the DNR notes that one scenario would be the slide stopping. In that scenario the slide would be a lingering potential threat.

WDOT did assess deformation on the steep slope above Thorp Road and the Interstate and noted 5 feet of bulging on the steep slope. Given that the slope is essentially at an angle of repose, that 5-foot bulge will likely lead to a fair bit of slope ravel and rock fall towards Thorp Road.

The consultancy that is working fro the rock quarry at the base of the slide has developed three time lidar images of the slide that if looked at carefully show that westward bulging.       


arrow point to change area of bulging slope, but the overall movement measurements are that the sliding is moving toward the quarry in the foreground