Monday, February 1, 2010


I haven't seen the final stats yet, but here in western Oregon, as of a couple of days ago, we were in line for the third warmest January on record. On the other hand, I have been repeatedly amazed by the stories and photos of winter weather this year, particularly from Europe and the eastern and southwestern US. The picture below, posted at Red Orbit, is one of the most stunning I've seen. (click the pic for full 1960 X 2500 pixel resolution; there are some great geological and meteorological features that don't show up very well at the scale posted.)
According the accompanying blurb, "This image was acquired by Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on January 25, 2010."

Since my geographical knowledge of this region is not very detailed, I opened Google Earth to get a better idea of what I was looking at... again, click fot larger view.
I also had a couple of quick conversations with a pair of Turkish doctoral civil engineering students that frequent the coffee shop. One of them implied that this a very rare event, the other that it happens every few years. The first said that Turkey's government had been warned by Russia a week in advance that an enormous storm would be heading south. The second said that he had spoken with his family last night, and there were some hassles, and some soccer games had been postponed, but it wasn't a disaster or emergency.

Still, I think of Turkey as being a relatively warm and dry country, though the second student said that the northern part of the country, along the Black Sea, is much like western Oregon: "Rainy all the time." Apparently the southeastern interior is quite arid., but the satellite image doesn't extend into that area. I was sort of startled to see so much snow so far south.

To further emphasize the extent of this cold spell, Der Speigel's "Picture This" feature today was "Frozen Hamburgers," showing citizens of Hamburg, Germany out cavorting on the ice.
The police in Hamburg warned against it. But despite their concern, some 35,000 Hamburgers spent part of their Sunday skating, or just walking, on the frozen-over "Aussenalster," the large body of water in the heart of the city.

Many locals had been hoping for a repeat of 1996, when a frigid winter resulted in a kind of city festival on the ice, complete with mulled wine and grilled sausage stands. This time around, the ice never quite became thick enough -- 20 centimeters is considered safe -- for officials to give the green light. But nobody fell through on Sunday. And they could tank up on treats at stands set up along the shore.
So apparently pretty much the whole of Europe is in a deep freeze. For what it's worth, warm wishes from Oregon.

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