Monday, February 14, 2011

Upcoming Lowland Snow and Mubarak-Style Tactics in WA

We are going to have some memorable weather this week. Today we "warmed up" with a powerful front that brought heavy rain and winds gusting to 60-70 mph on the coast and 40-50 mph over some locations in the interior. Power outages hit tens of thousands of customers today, and lots of trees and branches were taken down. On the way home from the UW I saw a few bright flashes--surely due to transformer fuses blowing as lines got shorted out.

But the real excitement comes later on Thursday. There is a significant chance of snow over the lowlands, with the upper level pattern looking very much like the canonical snow configuration. (see upper level forecast below).
Temperatures are a little on the warm side, so the snow might be a tad wet, or turn to rain at sea level near the water. Yes, there is plenty of uncertainty, but folks let me assure you...this is a pattern to worry about. Here is the model snow forecast for the 24h period ending 4 AM on Friday.

The cold sticks around and there is another possible shot of snow on Sunday.

I plan on doing another NOWCASTING experiment on Thursday if the snow threat remains. That means I will try to provide very frequent updates during the day.

Mubarak-Style Democracy in Washington State

One could not help be enthralled by the democratic revolution in Egypt. How disappointing when one sees Mubarak-style anti-democratic tactics used in our own state legislature. State Legislator Sharon Santos, chair of the house education committee, is blocking a hearing on House Bill 1891, which would delay the state's adoption of the Common Core math standards. If she can block it until Thursday the bill will die.

This is a very important piece of legislation. As noted earlier, our state has just adopted new, A-rated, math standards in 2008, and spend over a hundred million dollars in its development, training, and associated textbooks. Now we are going to throw that all away for national standards that HAVE NEVER BEEN TESTED IN A SINGLE CLASSROOM and for which NO ASSESSMENTS HAVE YET TO BE CREATED. Standards that are so difficult to read that Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn was to PAY to get them rewritten. We would jerk around our teachers, producing chaos in the classroom. OSPI estimates it would cost $192 million to switch to the Common Core in math and English. This is money our state does not have. AND WHY THE RUSH anyway? This does not make any sense.

Back to Representative Santos. She is denying this bill a chance for a hearing. Is this what we expect from one of our elected representatives? Truly an embarrassment for those who believe in free discussion on critical issues.

Why is she doing this? Perhaps she believes in some theoretic advantage of national standards--even ones that are completed untested. Perhaps she believes, like so many in the education community, in the "quick fix." I do know who is pushing this--textbook publishers who stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars with such a major standards/textbook switch, the consulting and training industry, who must be licking their chops for lucrative contracts to help districts figure out the new standards and how to train teachers, and finally the lobbyists for these two industries.

But the bottom line is that her obstructionism will result in the state spending at least 192 million dollars (OSPI figures) and our kids being guinea pigs for completely untested new standards, ones rated inferior to what we have now in math.

Want more information?: check out the web site on this issue:

But lets not give up yet. Please call or email Representative Santos and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp immediately, asking them both for a hearing and their support for HB 1891.

The legislative hotline is 1.800.562.6000

Email Representatives Santos and Frank Chopp and tell them that Washingtonians don’t want democracy to be denied.


jpj said...

Hi Cliff - Check out the radar between 4am and 7am on Tuesday morning just south of Kennewick. Weird, stationary, small region of very heavy rain and/or thunderstorms. (25mi x 10mi). Upper level winds seemed WSW. Upslope? Downslope?

kDavid said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Cliff. We're on it.


Anonymous said...


I have the greatest respect for your work, and I think you're probably right about the state math standards debacle, but comparing some nasty politics around these to a regime that "disappeared" and tortured dissidents is surely an instance of Godwin's Law.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog said...

I just can't agree. What can be worse than a powerful legislator deciding on her own that an issue should not be considered by others...that she has the right to suppress debate and discussion about an important issue. This kind of tactic is corrosive to the very workings of democracy and undermines the credibility of our democratic institutions. In short, I do think this is serious, irrespective of the math issue itself...cliff

Kiara Buechler said...

There is some good news regarding HB 1443. The committee adopted an amended bill removing the adoption of Common Core. I have no doubt this was due in part to your work. THANK YOU!

elmendez said...

I'm getting married on Sunday 2/20. I was hoping for the sunny weather we had last week.

I'll be wearing my gloves and my relatives from California wearing their parkas. ha! Love your blog, I will stay tuned on Thursday.

skye said...

I too greatly enjoy this blog, however I agree with Eldan that there is an important difference between Santos and Mubarak.

"What can be worse than a powerful legislator deciding on her own that an issue should not be considered by others...that she has the right to suppress debate and discussion about an important issue."

Being tortured and beaten is far worse, I would think.

But in any case, thanks for your highlighting this issue & supporting democracy here too.

Bob said...

Adopting the Common Core Standards that are controlled by a small group of unelected people in Washington DC is a historic and deplorable event.

There has never been a specific vote by the legislature on this issue. Rep Santos is trying to make sure that there will be no vote. This is certainly democracy denied. This decision is one of the most important decisions ever made about education in this state and Rep Santos is allowing no discussion, no debate, and no vote on the issue.

The CCSS will especially hurt poor and minority students. Rep Santos needs to decide who she will put first in her district; the children or the Governor!

Josh said...

Seems like when a cell moves towards Bellingham or a squall line the islands between here and the Olympics dry them out on the backsides amd reform toward furtherinland.

I agree with you on the math. Fallow the money!! It's to bad we are asleep from the fairy godmothers (sleeping beauty) spreading dust of,wii's,ipads,reality t.v, and Zoloft among our kingdom.


Urbancowgrrl said...

Is it too far out to get an idea what's in store for Monday? We are supposed to be flying out to sun down South and though I've been cheering for snow (especially since we recently moved into the "convergence zone") I would be very disappointed if SeaTac had to cancel our Monday flight. :(

Evanheaven said...

I agree with Eldan. The Mubarak comparison was way too extreme- a ridiculous comparison.

smokejumper said...

I looked into the radar thing and it was just an overestimation of higher reflectivity. I dunno why radars do that. Perhaps melting giant snowflakes.

But observations ranged .25 to .5of precipitation while radar storm totals are over 3 inches. Bend to Condon areas picked up about a foot of snow so levels were low.

Corie said...

Welcome to what teachers have faced forever...its frustrating isn't it! Nobody ever asks us what we think should go on in the classroom. It is always the people who "know better" who make those decisions. This is another example.

Annette said...

Cliff: thanks for providing the email addresses and background info to make it easier for me to prepare the emails to Santos and Chopp that I just sent. Please keep pushing this issue on your blog. I'm a busy mom of a first grader, but also an engineer who values math education. I would not have known about this nonsense in Olympia without you blogging about it.

Justin said...

Thank you for alerting us to the snow and the math issue. My mom is a teacher and is pulling her hair out the past few years having to be constantly be learning new curriculum (detrimental to students not to mention a huge time sucker for her with no extra pay of course). I am outraged at what is going on and in every way and you are right about the Mubarak comparison. Our $ is being wasted and at our kid's expense. Maybe start a facebook group and we'll all head down to stage a rally on the capital steps. ; )

Sarah said...

I sent my letter to Chopp and Santos. Thanks for pushing for sanity.

w7dhc said...

Thanks, Cliff.

I appreciate your insight into weather issues and found your book, "The Weather of the Pacific Northwest," invaluable in helping me to understand the weather here in the Pacific Northwest.

More importantly, I appreciate your illuminating the flawed political process in our state. We have fallen victim to rigid political dogma with legislators failing to engage in anything more than political gamesmanship designed to get them re-elected.

How can this state not take seriously the education of the next generation? It baffles me. As a sociaty, we seem blind to the fact that a well-educated populace is the foundation of the future.

How this legislator can, at the same time, partipate in a legislative process that is crippling our educational institutions with mindless budget cuts while, at the same time, proposing to spend an additional $192 million on untested math standards is baffling.

All this "no new taxes" and "let's roll back existing taxes," plus "let's make it harder to raise taxes" mentality will come back to bite the next generation, who proponents claim they are protecting.

Keep the faith! Let's keep education the next generation properly. Thanks for speaking out.

Fat Fanny said...

I am a voting democrat in Santos'district with a son in 1st grade who will be directly impacted by her undemocratic foolishness. I have sent letters to her, the other elected officials for my district, Frank Chopp, the Seattle Times and my entire network of friends and family.
Anything else to do at this point but wait to see what happens before Thursday?