Monday, December 20, 2010

Hecka Weather

We've had a terrific storm over the past few days, with more to come. It started raining Friday and has stayed wet since; Yosemite Valley has had more than 8 inches of precipitation (20% of the year's average total) in the past 4 days. Until this morning, it's all been rain, with high snowline; even Badger Pass got a soaking. This has brought up the waterfalls and flooded the Valley meadows. The gully below Cathedral Spires again surged out into Southside Drive. Sentinel, Ribbon, Eagle, Horsetail and Royal Arch Creeks (but not Indian Creek) are all flowing into the river. Wosky Pond is full and connected to the river. The river itself never approached flood stage, as had been threatened in earlier forecasts.
It was cold enough this morning to have frazil ice forming in Yosemite Creek; unusual for this point in the season. The Valley got over 6 inches of snow today, and Badger's gotten a lot more than that. The picture shown is from a walk up to the Vernal Fall Bridge this morning.
For more than a year I've been looking forward to tonight's astronomical coincidence of the winter solstice and a full moon - with that moon showing a total eclipse over North America. On top of that, the peak totality for our part of earth will be just after midnight, providing the potential for a nice long show. Now it appears that clouds over Yosemite will eclipse the dark orange midnight moon for us. As always, a lunar eclipse only happens with a full moon. A full moon always rises near sunset, is highest near midnight and sets around sunrise. That this full moon (and eclipse) happens during the longest night of the year and with totality close to midnight/overhead is just a happy accident. Whether we see the moon or not, winter solstice means that the days will start to lengthen toward summer - indeed an important date in the calendar.

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