Buried Alive

Over the next two days some areas of Colorado Rockies are expecting up to eight feet of snow. Avalanche danger is already high and expected to get much worse. Be careful out there folks.

Being caught in an avalanche is like being buried in cement. You can’t dig yourself out of an avalanche. When buried, you can’t even move. Even if you could move, which you can’t, you wouldn’t know which way is up. And although it may be cold being buried in the snow it is actually suffocation that kills you. Your only chance of survival is if your friends (you are with friends right?) dig you out.

The first person video below gives you an idea of what it might be like to be caught in an avalanche, and being rescued.

The scratching/ruffling back-and-forth sound you hear is his chest rising and falling and the noise that his jacket makes. You can actually hear his breathing become stressed and accelerate, even in the short amount of time he was buried. The intermittent whimpering noise you hear is him trying to swallow and get some air.

He was only buried for 4 and a half minutes which is incredibly short. I cannot stress these next sentences enough; that in and of itself to be unburied in ONLY 4:28 is miraculous if you have any understanding of being caught in an avalanche and what it takes to be found. It could literally be some kind of “world record” just on how good the guide and supporting cast of other skiers was in getting to him.

Have some fun out there but respect nature.

Beginners Guide To Viewing The Persied Meteor Shower

The annual summer Perseid meteor shower is set to display its glory in our skies over the next couple of days. The show comes as Earth passes through the dust trail of the Swift-Tuttle Comet. The meteors that scorch through the atmosphere appear to come from the constellation Perseus. The peak of the show is expected to be this evening, Thursday the 12th of August. The show should be particularly easy to view this year since there will be little light interference from the moon.

If you go outside a little early on Thursday evening, around sunset, you’ll see a beautiful gathering of planets in the sunset sky–Venus, Mars, Saturn and the crescent Moon. It’s a nice way to start a meteor watch. Here are a few tips to help you have the best viewing experience.

  • Check the weather. If it’s cloudy in your area there’s no point to the rest of it. Checking the weather will also let you know if you should bring a coat or warm clothes.
  • Clear Sky Charts are a good way to determine how dark and cloudy your night sky will be. For example, here is the chart for Denver:
  • Try to get out of the city. Your viewing experience is greatly diminished by light pollution: the leftover glow leaked from densely populated cities’ artificial light. Use this website to help you determine the darkest place for viewing in your area.
  • Use this website to help you determine the peak time for viewing in your timezone. The best Perseid activity, no matter the date or location, is usually seen during the last hour before the start of morning twilight, when Perseus lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. This is usually between the hours of 4:00 AM and 5:00 AM for most of us. If you can’t time it exactly don’t worry, anytime after midnight you should see a healthy number of “shooting stars” throughout the night.
  • The meteors will appear to be coming from the near the Persius constellation. So try to find a location with a low horizon to the north-northeast (if you are in Northern hemisphere). It’s not important that you look precisely at the Persius constellation but a goodstar chart will help you orientate yourself to the heavens and give you an idea of what you are looking at. Sky maps can also be found online and for the iPhone.
  • Relax your eyes and let you gaze wander this will allow you to pick up on the quick flashes that are produced by the shower.
  • Things to bring:

    • A coat or blanket
    • Bugspray
    • A flashlight
    • A compass (or a good sense of direction)
    • A folding lounge chair
    • Drinks & snacks
    • A sense of wonder

Most of all it’s important to have fun and enjoy the splendors of nature. If you’re interested in learning more about meteor showers this amateur astronomy website is a good place to start.

1.21 Gigawatts!

Less than two seconds in real-time, this video of a lightning strike in Rapid City, South Dakota is spectacular. The video is slowed down to 9,000 frames per second. ZT Research describes the video as a preceding downward positive ground flash that triggers upward leaders from seven towers, three of which are visible in the video. I love how hundreds of “mini strikes” flicker around the central strikes. ZT Research has more cool lightning strike videos on their site.

Snow Dinosaur

October Blizzard '09

It snowed about fourteen inches at my house over the last two days. This is an exceptional amount of snow for this early in the season. Anyway, while shoveling the sidewalks I looked up at this snow covered tree in my yard. With a littlie imagination I think it kinda looks like a snow dinosaur.

Frigid

Frosty Frost Feathers

It has been cold here in Denver over the past week. Real cold. The photo above was taken last Monday. The temperature that morning was negative 19 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s real cold in my book. It is supposed to snow again today, which is too bad, because I really need to clean those windows.