30 June 2011


If you had gone back in time and came back to my house on July 1, 2011, you may think you had arrived in 1955, the coldest July 1 recorded in written history (45F).

Or, you may have thought you returned in a different month, say October or April, when the green leaves are intact on the trees, and it rains almost as many days as there are cloudy ones.

Nope.  Today is July 1 and the temperature hit 58F.  It was also dumping rain, which is nice for the garden I suppose.  Unfortunately that doesn't feed us humans the Vitamin D we need.

'Global warming' what?
I am perplexed at the hysteria that Al Gore trumpeted back in 2006 with his global warming crisis.  My husband and I, two conservatives, actually got dressed up, drove to a movie theater, and paid full price tickets to see his documentary, An Inconveinant Truth.  We went with an open mind.  We learned fast we were the ONLY conservatives in the entire movie house.  I digressed.

Let me stop myself right here....

This post is not meant to be political, but rather a rant on this awful, disappointing last three years of weather we have had in the great Pacific NW (albeit green).  So before you take this as being right sided politics, it's not.  I am speaking simply from my observation and what the weather experts and space scientists are reporting.

I also want to point out, where I am speaking from is ONLY based on a limited area: Western Washington, dominantly the King and Snohomish counties (the biggest populations of this entire state).  Because that is all that matters.

Like women, the weather and sun have their cycles
The weather has cycles.  Obviously the ones we see every year, the four seasons:  Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn.  There are also cycles that occur over a period of years.  You may have heard of El Nino and La Nina.  Right now, I really HATE La Nina. I think she's a bitch and needs to be put in her place.

El Nino (the golden boy or "unusual weather conditions") brings our area a warmer and drier year (California ends up getting all of our wet weather with the tropical jet stream moving south. I feel for them. Really, I do).  My friends that live in Eastern WA tend to have a really bad drought, which means empty wells and harsh wild fires.

I really like when El Nino appears, because it makes running outside during October through April all so much more enjoyable.  And come late Spring and Summer, I have a nice tan and can wear my summer clothes!  Last time he came out to play was Autumn 2009 into early Spring 2010.  Of course this was the time I didn't get to run outside because I was in rehab for a pelvis stress fracture.

Editor's Note: I remember this time so clear because there were weekends in January and February that were in the 60s and 70s.  Dudes out running shirtless! 

Now for the bitch:  La Nina. Readers, if you live in Western WA, you can empathize.  Perhaps a light bulb will go off for you.  She is the opposite of golden boy.  She brings colder than normal and wetter months in the year.  Following El Nino is usually La Nina.  So where Nino left off, last summer/fall, Nina picked right up and has left us with the most miserable last 9 months!

Now to understand their cycles!  An El Nino and/or La Nina cycle lasts from mid year and stretches into the first quarter of the following year (9 months, give or take).  They normally only come around once every 3 to 7 years

But La Nina is just 9 months. Why have average temperatures been dropping for the last 3 years?
A recent report from our solar scientists said the sun is going into a "dormant phase". You read that right.  D O R M A N T.

What does this mean?! It could mean the end of the world, but I am going to take the high road (Al Gore) and not scare you before bedtime. After all, I am not the expert. Just a regular, curious Jane reading the reports and trying to make some sense out of them.

The last time the sun went dormant, was during the "mini ice age", called the 'Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715'.

The Frozen Thymes (1677; artist unknown)
Here is an easy translation to sun dormancy: Very little to zero sun spots. In the last three years to current, there have been very little sunspots. Scientists are predicting this phase could last into 2013 or for the next couple decades.

So invest in some good layers folks and visit a tanning bed every once in a while.

When the mini ice age occurred in western Europe, there were 50 sunspots recorded in 1645 to 1715, versus the normal 40,000-50,000 sunspots.

Experience is credible too
Before things started to get chilly the last 3 years, our Spring and Summers were normal. Sunny days, rainy days. Not too depressing. And warm summers in the 70s and 80s.

1) The summers between 2003 and 2007 were nice and even on the hotter-than-normal side (frequent 90s). This was about the time that the global warming debate really picked up. Think about it.... (yeah yeah yeah.. I know the global warming debate has more to do with the greenhouse effect than temps... but seriously, there are weather cycles and it just seems convenient to drum up the global warming debate during those 4 warmer-than-normal years and make a little money.. a-hem... Mr. Gore? Where has your voice been the last 3 years?)

I also remember these years clearly - '03-'07 - because we had just moved in to a home with an air conditioner unit. Aaaahhhhhh.... These were also the years dominated by my physical rehabilitation from a bad auto accident, which kept me from running outside.

2) Then we moved to new, bigger house. Still in the same area. I had rehabed and got clearance from my doctors that I could start running again. This was 2008. I began running outside in my neighborhood. It seemed like a chillier than normal winter, spring, and summer. Lots of overhead clouds and cold wind.

3) Then comes El Nino, who was a warm welcome during the winter of 2009-2010 and spring 2010. But once summer arrived, we were way below average temps.

For the summers of '08, 09. and '10, we were on average in the 60s and this Nordic chic kept adding cardigans to her already super large cardi collection. And all three of those years, I was running the Ragnar NW Passage endurance relay, which takes place the last weekend of July. I would get excited thinking of nice, sunny, and warm weather. But it mostly was cloudy, windy and cold.

And now Ragnar Ultra is approaching fast. I am planning on packing lots of arm sleeves for running and hoodies and sweats for the downtime in the van.

My question to you: Are these colder than normal years from La Nina or the beginning of a dormant sun?

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