Usually, when I go to Mount Rainier, there’s no time for diversions. Which is sad, because I’ve wanted to see Mud Mountain Dam ever since I found out about it a few years ago. Every time, I plan to swing by, and every time, it just never works out. Until now.
This trip to Mount Rainier hadn’t looked promising. After scorching heat all week, the weather took a turn for the Pacific Northwest. We’d intended to go down on Sunday, but the forecast changed to snow showers. Snow. I’m not doing snow on a volcano in a Honda Civic. So Merideth and I switched our plans, moved the trip up to Saturday, and decided we’d play it by ear. We didn’t think we’d see any volcano, but there are plenty of things to do around the base of Mount Rainier. And hey, since the National Park Service was celebrating its centennial, we were going to get in free anyway, so if the trip turned out to be a bust, no big deal.
I had Mud Mountain Dam on the wish list again, but since we got a leisurely start and stopped for a proper lunch, I’d changed my mind. I wanted to get Merideth to Longmire for some hawt hot springs action, and since we were coming in from the north, it was going to take quite some time. But as we passed the sign for Mud Mountain Dam, I decided to hell with it. We’d try for it. I couldn’t remember how far off the highway it was, but figured we’d turn around if it was too far. Continue reading “But Why Mud Mountain?”
So, my friend Merideth and I went down to Mount Rainier on Saturday. The weather didn’t start out promising, but it put on such a fantastic show for us once we got there! Look at this lenticular cloud the mountain is wearing!
There’s a whole lot more where that came from. To get a sneak peak at trip highlights and unedited photos, hop on over to my Facebook feed. Everything’s set to public, so everyone can enjoy!
Betcher wondering what that password-protected post below is all about, aren’t you? For the answer, click on over to Rosetta Stones. There, you’ll get a tour of the Discovery Lab, plus a puzzle and a password!
At long last (and before the Games are over, even!), I have got the story about the geology behind (and beneath, and over) the Rio Olympics. Rio posed some interesting challenges to the engineers and architects tasked with making the Olympic Village come to life in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Go check it out!
I’m contacting various emergency management agencies to see if I can get a solid response on the car question, but in light of the fact that so many flash floods are going on in the United States over recent weeks (with more in the forecast), I’m going to go ahead and publish this here. An updated version will make an appearance on Rosetta Stones next week. If you have any safety tips to add, let me know!
The eleven European tourists exploring Antelope Canyon on a fine summer day in 1997 probably never considered drowning in a desert slot canyon to be a possibility. They may have known that water carved those sandstone walls into fantastical curves and angles. But it wouldn’t have seemed like an ongoing process. Why would anyone be thinking of water, standing on dry sand, with shafts of sunlight spearing through from the narrow opening above? Despite it being the height of the Arizona monsoon season, it wasn’t raining.
It started with the sandy silt on the canyon floor leaping six inches into the air. Tour guide Pancho Quintana and his group heard a roar so loud it drowned out screams. The solid rock walls shook. They began running, trying to find a place to climb out. And then they were hit by a wall of water that filled the canyon to a depth of eleven feet. Bodies were thrown into the walls. People might find a grip for a few seconds before debris or other bodies hit them and tore them away, tumbling them down the canyon. Pancho was the lucky one: despite the water and rock tearing off his clothes and skin, he managed to get a foot wedged in a crevice. The rest of the people with him, his tour group and another, were swept out of the canyon and into Lake Powell. Some of their bodies have never been found.
How? How could water suddenly appear from nowhere and end almost a dozen lives in a few minutes?
People who grew up in the high deserts of Arizona were well aware of the potential for disaster. We were warned about flash floods from the time we were little. We knew that those dry washes and canyons could end up filled with water without warning. We knew that the sun could be shining and the ground bone dry where we were, while a thunderstorm dumping water a hundred miles away could be sending a sudden flood our way. We knew. That knowledge didn’t always save us.
Floods are the second deadliest weather hazard, and flash floods are the deadliest type of flood worldwide. In the United States, deaths by flash flood are increasing, while deaths by other hazards are decreasing. And they can happen in places you don’t expect. Desert denizens are well aware of the potential, but flash floods can happen in urban and suburban environments where more runoff is generated than the infrastructure can handle. They can happen in mountain valleys and streams, especially if rain falls on snow and causes unusually fast snow melt, or if rain falls on a recently-burned area, or where ice jams have backed up water. They can happen in areas that are perfectly flat, if a lot of water gets dumped with nowhere to go. They can happen downstream of dams that partially or completely fail. They can happen in any environment.
And they’re only going to get more frequent and more intense as global warming continues.
With the recent flash floods happening in Arizona, Utah, and Yemen, it’s time for us to discuss what to do. Flash floods are hard to prepare for and even harder to escape, considering they’re defined by the fact they happen quickly. But there are steps you can take that will minimize your chances of being caught in one, and will help you survive if you are. Continue reading “Instant Peril: Flash Floods (and How to Survive Them)”
After the absurdities of ACE and the travesty that is Bob Jones University’s idea of the earth sciences, it is almost with relief that I turn back to A Beka’s Science of the Physical Creation. Oh, granted, it is also full of creationist crap – but there were some useful, even educational, bits, and I hope to find more.
Alas, my hopes are dealt a blow by the introduction to Unit I: Meteorology and Oceanography. Beneath the facing photo of sailboats, Psalm 115:16 sez God gave humans the earth, and the first sentence of the chapter is, “God created the earth’s atmosphere…”
Let us pause here to observe just how such a statement can send you haring off in the wrong direction. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IIIa: In Which A Certain Atmosphere is Created”