Friday, April 29, 2011

And now...Mt. Adams

Photos of the northern half of the pair of stratovolcanoes that straddle the Columbia River Gorge.

It's hard to get a sense of scale for Mt. Adams, even when in its presence. It's 11,000 foot sister, Mt. Hood, would fit completely inside, with plenty of volume to spare.

You almost have to see it from the air or look at it on a map to realize a it has a footprint that could contain a major metropolitan area or small Medieval European kingdom. The tallest peak in this photo is actually a false summit, set well forward of the highest point on the mountain, which is farther to the north.

Between the the storms and wet cold weather of this La Niña year, it's been a pain trying to line up a day when the mountain was actually visible. Even in a normal year this can be something of challenge here in the gray and misty Pacific Northwest. We can go for weeks during the spring without seeing any of these glacier-sheathed spires, which would otherwise dominate the horizons of both major and minor urban areas. And this spring has been a cold and dreary mess.

However, the meteorologist and ocean climate people are saying that the current La Niña thermal osculation in the Pacific Ocean is drawing to an end, and that temperatures should climb back into a normal range. A change that probably can not come soon enough for the inhabitants of the tornado-rampaged Midwest and southern states, this year. The low pressure created by that mass of shifted cold water off the west coast of South America is what's drawn the jet stream south to feed its energy into those amazingly violent storms.

While the month of May will probably just as bad, there's hope that next years tornado season will be milder without the current thermal configuration that's driving this one. And in the meanwhile, I'm certainly ready for some heat and warm weather. One of my favorite aspects of life in the Northwest are the seemingly infinite summer twilights spent walking around the warm city or the countryside, or on porches and rooftops with a book, a beer, or a glass of wine.

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