February 10, 2011

Major Weather Change and A Request

Although temperatures only rose into the upper 40s today over western Washington, it felt a bit like spring with the bright sun, light winds, and temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. Crocuses are pushing out of the ground, plum trees are flowering, and trees and bushes are heavily budded. The sun is clearly higher in the sky and more intense and the length of day have increased by 1.5 hours over the dark doldrums of late December. Each day we get about 3 minutes and 15 seconds of daylight more.

As shown in the temperature plot for the last month (below), the recent clear skies have brought a large diurnal (daily) temperature range, with frost in many areas in the morning. In fact the morning minima have been well below normal the last two days. And we have been dry this month....about 1 inch below normal so far. But this is going to change--more normal conditions are right around the corner. The strong ridge of high pressure over the eastern Pacific system is going to weaken, troughing will develop in it place, a wet period in in store. Sorry.

Friday is going to be the last dry day, but with increasing clouds, followed by precipitation overnight into Saturday. Here is the forecast 24h precipitation ending 4 PM Saturday. You could escape the rain that last day by heading to the eastern slopes of the Cascades or southern Oregon, and the rain on the windward side of Vancouver Island and the Coast Mountains of BC will be substantial.

Weather Folklore: Wise old meteorologists of our area have noted that the FIRST sign of an incoming weather system is a "cap" on Mt. Rainier and the higher volcanic peaks..the logic being that the upward motion on these mountains will produce the first visible clouds as moisture starts to stream in aloft. Today, you could see it happen...some nice mountain wave clouds on Rainier were apparent this am before moisture started streaming in, made evident by cirrus later in the day. Want to see it yourself?--check out this video from the roof of my building: click here. Some folk wisdom is true.

Urgent Issue

As you know from my past blog, I and others are very worried about the State's adoption of the untested and expensive Common Core math standards. As I noted, these standards are inferior to what we have in place, will be controlled by others, and will cost our state at least 100 million dollars. The Common Core math standards--which have never been evaluated anywhere in the country at this point--will be adopted here if the state legislature does nothing. Right now the only tool to delay this standards is House Bill 1891, which has been submitted by a bi-partisan group of our representatives. This is not about Democrat versus Republican.

( To read this bill click here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2011-12/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/1891.pdf)

Now the problem for which your help is needed. The chair of the house education committee, Representative Sharon Santos is not allowing this bill to get a hearing..which would effectively kill it.

Not the way things should work in a democracy.

Let the bill have a hearing and a vote in the committee. The people of the state deserve better. If you agree, please leave a message for Representative Santos (37th district, near Lake Washington between Capitol Hill and Renton) at the legislative hotline--1.800.562.6000 or email her at santos.sharontomiko@leg.wa.gov Or call her directly: (360) 786-7944 (Olympia) and/or (206) 587-5549(Seattle office). You don't have to be in her district to let her know about our concerns.


  1. Thank Cliff: I'll try to spread the word locally and see what my community can do to help.

  2. Cliff--

    I work in a legislators office as an intern and I want you to know that giving out a representative's office number is the LEAST effective way of getting your message to count.

    Worst case (for your cause), a few calls trickle in and are, essentially, marked on a tally sheet. "Best" case is a flood of calls that tie up the rep's office phone for hours and make the staff really, really angry--you can imagine what this does for your cause.

    You are MILES ahead to give out the legislative hotline--1.800.562.6000--where there are several dedicated operators who type up each message and forward it to the representative as an email.

    This has substantially more impact, in a positive way, and the staff are much more likely to respond, as well as be able to have a meaningful understanding of your movement.

    Good luck getting your bill heard!

  3. Cliff--

    I sent an email to Representative Santos. Thanks for alerting us and for all your information on math standards and textbooks. I don't have children but that doesn't matter. This issue is important to everyone.

  4. I contacted my representatives and state senator when you first posted and I received a call back from a staff member. I sent another email this morning regarding bringing the bill up in committee. Thank you for making us all aware of this issue.

  5. I too have interned in a legislator's office, and I agree to some extent with Peter. Letters and emails make more of a mark, and phone calls just end up as a mark on a tally sheet (though I don't remember getting angry at all the calls, just thinking it was funny when the phone rang off the hook all day with people saying silly things). All in all though, I am a bit disenchanted with the idea of even contacting them, because it sure seems like they have their minds made up and there is little swaying their opinion. In this case though, I hope it works.

  6. "Each day we get about 3 minutes and 15 seconds of daylight."

    My, that's depressing. ;)

  7. I emailed her and told her that it should not get a hearing. This is how democracy works

  8. I meant 3 minutes and 15 seconds MORE of daylight...fixed

  9. Thank you, Cliff, for keeping this important issue in front of people! A word to the wise: when I phoned the hotline, they would only accept my comment if it was directed to the legislators from my district. I had to phone Representative Santos' office directly. When I did this, the staff person answering my call didn't even ask for my name or contact information, but basically politely said "Duly noted."

  10. Sent off an email to Ms. Santos...thanks for the link!

  11. Each model run gets better and better.... Dear God, I hope this isn't the same epic fail that we had back in January.

  12. Emailed this to Ms Santos:

    "I am a mother of four kids ages 11 to 21, all of whom are Washington State students. I hold a degree from the UK in Electronics, and have worked in the US as a software engineer for 8 years, and now as a small business owner. I volunteer teaching math in my local elementary school to do my part to boost math skills having been rather disappointed at the standards of math skills here in the US compared to the UK.

    The idea that the already-too-low expectations could be further watered down is extremely concerning to me. Let's make Washington State a leader in math education--such an appropriate goal given the strong reliance on engineering by our biggest companies. PLEASE allow a hearing on HB1891.

    Liz Chalmers
    BSc Electronics, University of York, UK
    Mother of four
    Small business owner
    Microsoft alumnus
    American citizen

  13. I emailed Rep Santos and am also concerned because my son will be entering school in another 2 years (Issaquah). As a former atmospheric science student and having several classes with Cliff, I trust his case 100%.

  14. Cliff, I thought you and your readers would enjoy this one!

    How to get rid of those Unsightly Sun Dogs:

    see http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/11feb_sundogmystery/

    Be sure to watch the video.


  15. Cliff, I am as concerned about education standards as anyone.

    I take issue, however, with your claim that HB 1891 "has been submitted by a bi-partisan group of our representatives. This is not about Democrat versus Republican."

    In fact, HB 1891 is sponsored by six Republicans: Reps. Klippert, Angel, Hargrove, Rivers, Orcutt, McCune. It does not have a single Democratic sponsor.

    Rep. Santos, on the other hand, is both Education Chair and Democratic Majority Whip.

    It seems quite a stretch to call this a bi-partisan bill. I would be interested in your rationale for describing it as such.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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