Friday, March 27, 2009

Dance results

My WeatherDance brackets are looking a little beat up now. Three of my Final Four teams are still alive, though. My worst pick yet was projecting Kansas as being warmer than Dayton on Sunday, March 22. It wasn't even close: it was 28 in Dayton and 48 in Lawrence, Kan.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting wilder

An additional wilderness area likely has been created in the Midwest. A land management bill passed the House yesterday and now has been sent to President Obama's desk. It includes a provision to create several new wilderness areas including one in Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (above). Official wilderness areas ban motorized equipment, are largely roadless and prohibit oil and gas drilling. In other words, they're perfect.

Icy reception

Great Lakes ice cover is diminishing during the past 30 years or so, according to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that also was picked up by The Associated Press. Scientists say less ice is a result of global climate change and also regional forces--some years are icier than others. I don't see the comments section on the PD story now, but when it was live it was incredible how many people uniformly said the story was a bunch of palaver--an Al Gore-derived scam by a group of shady scientists. That anyone who believed this was being duped.

I'm not sure why the commenters think they know more about ice than ice research climatologists.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Warming trends

Twenty-six of 32 after the first round of WeatherDance. California vs. mid-Atlantic school matchups have been confounding. I missed on UCLA versus Virginia Commonwealth (based in Richmond) as VCU was actually warmer. But I picked Maryland over Cal, and Cal was warmer. Someone has all 32 right already in the Dance.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bracket weather

Based on my WeatherDance Final Four, this is an exercise in moderation. I winnowed away schools located in areas of extreme temperatures (Arizona and North Dakota State quickly were eliminated) while keeping schools in nondescript climates. My Final Four is West Virginia, East Tennessee State, Chattanooga and North Carolina (which likely will be in the real Final Four). I have East Tennessee State topping the Tar Heels in the final--a preposterous outcome on the basketball court, of course, but not impossible in the wacky world of WeatherDance.

Dance card

Few people would pick No. 16 seed Chattanooga over Connecticut in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, but I plan to do so in my WeatherDance bracket.

WeatherDance combines the best of March Madness with the madness of March weather. Winners are determined not on the court but based on warmer weather at campuses on game day. Hence Chattanooga a likely lock over Connecticut. It'll be interesting to watch for upsets. Will a weird heat wave actually lead Boston College to victory over Southern California? Is Akron actually warmer in March than Spokane, Wash., and Gonzaga? Follow the action at WeatherDance.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring fever

And some still say climate change is an illusion. It's 59.5 degrees right now, chives are already sprouting out of one of our pots and rivers are approaching flood stage. Consecutive 65-degree temperatures hit last Thursday and Friday, which has only ever happened in March in the past 35 years--basically never before we went crazy with fossil fuel consumption. We do get a reprieve from spring tonight when temperatures plunge way below freezing. Highs in the upper 20s tomorrow!

Another sign of the disturbingly early spring: I heard a killdeer today outside my place of employment.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Iced over

Last May, I marveled at the ice we saw on one of the Pictured Rocks during Memorial Day weekend. The guide on our sea kayaking trip told us that one Memorial Day several years ago, he had to pick a route through ice floes to get anywhere--there was that much ice still on the lake. In May. Amazing!

Well, this might again be one of those icy Mays along Superior's shore. The big-shining-water is almost completely covered in ice, as evidenced by this incredible satellite photo.

Hog wild

The animal kingdom has gone crazy in the past few days. Another mountain lion is skulking around Wisconsin. One correction to the story, though: the Milton, Wis., cougar wound up on the North Side of the City of Chicago and not in a suburb.

Second, canada geese are now flocking to the old site of the Cabrini Green apartments in Chicago. Some local kids have sadly set some of the canadas on fire.

Third, feral pot-bellied pigs are on the loose in west-central Minnesota.

And for those scoring at home, at least two crows continue to roost outside our front window each evening.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Loyalty unrewarded

I received notice of my dividend today from outdoor outfitter Acronym. It's a whopping $3.91. I'm not sure why it's so low as I recall spending quite a few bucks at Acronym during 2008. At least more than a yield of $3.91. I'm not sure if I should even bother redeeming the dividend. It could maybe get me a carabiner or a Powerbar. Perhaps a box of waterproof matches or lantern mantles. If you have thoughts on how I should spend the $3.91, please leave a comment.

This is actually the second in a string of woes I've had with outdoor retailer loyalty programs. Another outfitter, let's call it Ungulate Mandible, is screwing over its customers by keeping it's rewards site "downsville" for months on end. I could have cashed in an Ungulate Mandible hoody by now, but instead I'm sitting on a ton of points hoping the business doesn't fold. Can't imagine outfitters and their mostly superfluous wares selling much these days.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sinking coyote

An odd story from the Chicago lakefront today. A coyote was stranded on the ice out in Lake Michigan. Thinking it was a person or pet, someone called for rescue help. Then the helicopter hovered over, messed up the ice and sent the coyote into the lake. The rescue was abandoned when it was realized it was a wild animal. The story has received 88 comments at the time of this writing, including one from someone who concocted a whole Wile E. Coyote back story.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Subliminal spring

There is hope: today is the second day of meteorological spring (it's 21.6 degrees right now). Sandhill cranes are moving into northern sections of Illinois (winter finches are still hanging around). February wasn't even that snowy (we had a couple inches of lake-effect snow to welcome March last night). In places like New York City, there are bulbs pushing up out of the ground (there's about six inches of snow there right now). The Cubs and White Sox have kicked off exhibition play (there's a whole lot of ice on Lake Michigan still). The average high at this time of year is a balmy 45 (that's still way too cold to fire up the grill). I haven't worn my winter boots in a couple weeks (I'll be wearing gloves on my way to work until May). Highs may reach 60 later this week (it will definitely be cold again for a long time after that).

(Winter really isn't over yet.)

RZA ornithology

Winged Migration meets Straight Outta Compton? Pure bliss.

Although, the sight of a blue jay so close to a cardinal is scandalous.