July 26, 2012

Summer SuperFog

 Coal Train Update

     Last night (Thursday) Professor Dan Jaffe, myself, and some students took observations of particle levels at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline on the bridge over the track.   The goal was to determine what was coming off the coal trains.  We sampled several freight trains and one coal trains.  A video showing this fun is found at: http://www.king5.com/video?id=163980306&sec=549122

Thanks so much for those providing information about coal train passage.  We are going to do this multiple times and will let you know what we find.  For those living near the tracks, how often are there trains in the morning?


It is relatively unusual, but we have late July dense fog over the south Sound...dense enough that it delaying some flights at Sea-Tac.   Here are the latest observations at the airport. Quarter-mile visibility on the runway. 

Here is the latest Sea-Tac cam shots:

Says everything, right?  Or the view from the KING-5 tower cam on Queen Anne Hill.   Poetic.

Even the roadways are being affected...here is I5 near S 200th St.

You can see the low clouds and fog from the latest visible satellite image.   The clouds are covering the cost and much of the lowlands...head up and you are out of it....or just go north of Seattle.

The low clouds and fog will rapidly burn off this morning.

By the way, if you are really into low clouds, the National Weather Service has a marvelous new web page showing cams along the coast (http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/bars_mover.php).  As you mouse-over locations you see the cams along the coast.
You can get you fill of low clouds from the comfort of your home.


  1. How much of this is still Asian Haze as mentioned yesterday?

  2. Is the Asian haze acting as condensation points for fog droplet formation?



  3. It seems that the pudget sound area has been having a relatively frequent low cloud layer that only extends to a few thousand feet. As a hiker it would be nice to know how high. Is there any way to figure this out from forecast resources.

  4. Yes, Cliff, what resource is there to get live info as to where clouds are and aren't? I guess just the light level gives one a sense of their depth, but still it'd be nice to get some better idea of where the cloudtops are. Used to be a pilot reports recording one could call by phone years ago but there must be something better now.

  5. Cliff, you may be interested in an article published in the American Economic Review that determined that the harm done by coal is twice the price of electricity.

    Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy, August, 2011.

    UC/UCLA legal blog summarize:

    It is important to note that the above analysis does not include the cost of climate change or lost landscapes.

    As far as coal dust goes, the coal terminal in Hampton, VA has been there for decades and they are still arguing with the community about putting up a dust collection fence, around the piles of coal, to prevent the wind from blowing coal dust all over the city.

    There is no point in Washington State constructing the greenest building in the world, the Bullitt Center while at the same time embracing the most polluting industry in the history of humanity.

  6. regarding your question about coal train timing, please see my post on previous thread ("wet day and hard forecast". when you say "morning" i am guessing you mean... 7am-11am? at richmond beach? i would say, it is VERY RARE a coal train would come through at this time. if you want to do something midday, wait for the VERY RELIABLE coal train that leaves auburn 9am-1pm (but usually 9am-11am) and should be through Richmond Beach 11am at the very earliest, more like 12:30pm-1:30pm. i would say this train MOST TYPICALLY comes past seattle amtrak 11:30-12:30pm but PLEASE HEED: there are no certainties in the world of freight trains! contact me for more info if you like, i can probably help you!

  7. If one of you goes hiking, could you take my tomato plants along with you? Thanks!

  8. Good gosh, Cliff,

    Long time Puget Sound area residents KNOW it has been a lousy summer when 68 degrees seems HOT.

    Like today. In West Seattle.


    P.S. Don't get too excited over the emissions from the locomotives hauling several hundred intermodal containers PER TRAIN. Imagine the emissions from the trucks that would be required to haul that...

  9. Cliff we have a very similar coal truck/train debate happening here in Port Alberni.

    Are you taking speed measurements of the train as it passes as well?

    Would love to see your results when you are done? When do you anticipate being finished?

    Thank you so much for EVERYTHING you do!


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

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