Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Photosynth Fun

I had to go North again today and always enjoy seeing the awesome beauty of Mount Shasta. This picture was taken from highway 97 about 15 miles from Weed. Click the picture to enjoy the "Photosynth" version made up of eight separate photos, one as a closeup. Photosynth lets you scroll left and right, zoom in and out, run a slide show, look at the individual photos and you can also grab the photos with your cursor and move them around (similar to navigating a Google map)

Redding Fire in Town

UPDATED: Redding fire under control, power back for most customers.
A wind-whipped wildfire charred 130 acres in the heart of Redding today, burning within 20 yards of the Sundial Bridge and causing evacuations along Hilltop Drive.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 customers lost power this afternoon while Redding Electric Utility crews worked to reroute electricity from the Sulphur Creek Substation, at the bottom of Market Street near the fire, an REU spokesman said. By this evening most had power restored. Swirling north winds — with gusts up to 30 mph clocked at the Redding Municipal Airport at the time of the fire — fanned the flames from where they started at about 11 a.m. on Sulphur Creek Hill across the four lanes and a median on North Market Street.

From there the fire spread up toward homes, apartments and condominiums on Hilltop Drive and into the Turtle Bay Exploration Park’s McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, and prompted the evacuation of Turtle Bay Elementary School where classes were in session. The encroaching fire also caused the evacuation of residences along the Hilltop Drive’s west side as it winds above the Sacramento River. Crowds gathered at vistas along Hilltop to watch the fire’s fast spread below as it pushed toward the Sacramento River and the Sundial Bridge.

Fire crews had the fire contained by 4 p.m., five hours after it started, he said. More than 300 firefighters and 45 fire engines, as well as air tankers and helicopters in the air and bulldozers on the ground, fought the fire.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Latest Photosynth

I had a chance to get some nice photos of Mount Shasta today from Hiway 97 just north of Weed. I used 5 photos to make the images in my latest application of Microsoft's new Photosynth toy. It seems to do a pretty good job. You can get a full size viewer by clicking the little icon on the bottom right corner of the image on the Photosynth page. There are seven little icons in the upper right hand corner of the image screen. One lets you zoom in and another zooms out, see the pictures used to make the photosynth (grid view), watch a slide show (bottom icon), and move left and right.
Click here to play...

Beautiful Views

My route went North again today and my last stop was off of O'Brien Mountain Road in Lakehead, California. Quite a steep drive (can't wait for the snow and ice), but what a beautiful view of the Lake (which is quite empty now, it is only 36% full) and you can see I-5 southbound between the foliage on the lower part of the picture. It is the Pit River arm of Lake Shasta that you can see from the deck of the house. (Click image for larger picture)

Rock Formations

Yesterday my route extended well past Alturas to Davis Creek, CA (at least I was still in California). Some nice rock formations on the top of this hill look like fort walls guarding the area. (Click image for larger picture)

I used Microsoft's new Live Labs Photosynth to create the interactive 3D pictures: here

Friday, August 22, 2008

Airport Run

They had a couple more of the big helicopters at the airport tonight. One from Evergreen and another from Air Crane.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shasta Sunset Dinner Train

I had some deliveries in McCloud today and had one for the chef of the Dinner Train. Notes from their brochure:
"Dinner aboard the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train is just what one would expect aboard the finest dining cars in history. Ivory linens, fine china, polished silver and sparkling stemware accent the four course dining experience, elegantly prepared by our gourmet chef and served by our impeccably trained service staff. Choose a selection from our extensive wine list or simply gaze out the window as the train winds its way through the awe inspiring scenery of pristine, uncrowded Northern California."

If you want to stay overnight in McCloud, this Bed and Breakfast is just down the street... (naturally the Stoney Brook Inn would be on "Stone Roads")

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Changes in the Weather

It has cooled off a bit the last few days and clouds have been appearing again. These layers of "flat bottoms" are beautiful and seem to go on forever. I took this shot on Monday on the way back to Alturas from Likely.

Yesterday I went to Weed and Tulelake for some deliveries and the summer thunderstorm up by Yreka reached far enough south to drop some fresh powder on an almost snow barren Mount Shasta. Very beautiful with its own little cloud covering also. (Click picture for larger image)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Interactive Map of California Wildfires

Interesting map that uses satellites to detect heat (fires). Currently tracking all active fires in California. Information is updated from agency servers hourly. ENPLAN assumes no responsibility for its accuracy.

click image to view "live" interactive map.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Temperature records broken in Redding, Red Bluff

Another triple-digit day on tap Saturday, but cooling should begin. Redding and Red Bluff both set top temperature records Friday as a three-day heat wave peaked. Redding was the northern Sacramento Valley hot spot, hitting 112 degrees some time between 4 and 5 p.m., preliminary National Weather Service figures show. That reading roasted an 88-year-old record for the date of 110 degrees.

Friday, August 15, 2008

My route went up to Mount Shasta and Weed with a stop in Dorris also. Dorris is a small town with a population of about 880 only 20 miles or so from Klamath Falls, OR. All traffic from Klamath Falls to California travels through Dorris. Dorris has the tallest flag pole west of the Mississippi at 200 feet. They also have a cute little City Hall.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slow Motion Lightning

We wonder how so many fires could have been started this summer by lightning. On Earth, there are 50 to 100 lightning strikes every second and the bolts burn hotter than the surface of the sun.

We’re both afraid of it and mesmerized by it. This video shows lightning as you’ve never seen it. You’ll see a lightning strike in slow motion. Something that usually takes a split second unfolds over nearly 30 seconds. It’s a rare look at the entire life of a lightning bolt. You’ll be amazed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shasta Lake level continues to drop

With the numerous fires in the news for the past month or so I have not given much attention to Shasta Lake. The lake level continues to drop as we have had no rain of significance for some time. It will also be a few more months before the rainy season begins. Right now the lake level is at about 944 feet which is down about 123 feet from a full lake. (1067 feet - distance above sea level). The lake level is dropping about 8-10 inches a day and will continue this pattern as the water is drawn off for irrigation.
(Obviously I took this picture last year as the snow on Mount Shasta is almost gone right now.)

Click picture for larger image

Historic note: During the drought in 1977 Shasta Lake was at its lowest level ever recorded. In September of that year Shasta Lake was down 238 feet from the top.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fire helicopter crashes

Sad news today as the firefighters are still working hard in the area.

JUNCTION CITY -- A helicopter assigned to a Trinity County forest fire crashed and burned Tuesday night, leaving four fire personnel in critical condition. The victims with burn injuries were flown to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, according to medical dispatchers.

"We don't know the extent of those injuries at this time," Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokesman Mike Odle said Tuesday night.

There was no word on the number of people on board the aircraft or what they were doing.The Sikorsky S-61 helicopter, which was assigned to the Iron Complex fires, went down at the north end of the 15,848-acre Buckhorn Fire, Odle said. The crash site is about 15 miles northwest of Junction City in Trinity County. There were no known fatalities, Odle said.

UPDATED: (Updated 01:34 p.m., August 6, 2008)
Eight firefighters, one crew member believed dead in Trinity County helicopter crash -
Eight firefighters and one helicopter crew member are missing and believed dead in Tuesday's helicopter crash on the north end of the Buckhorn Fire in Trinity County, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said today.

The Buckhorn Fire burns in Trinity County next to what is believed to be the crash site, where a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter crashed Tuesday night while transporting firefighters. The presumed crash site is based on GPS coordinates provided by the U.S. Forest Service. Eight firefighters and one helicopter crew member are missing and believed dead in the helicopter crash, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said. The helicopter pilot and three fire fighters injured in the crash were flown out and are in hospitals in Redding and Davis. Jakob Schiller/Record Searchlight

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prather Ranch

Today part of my route extended up into Macdoel, CA to Ralph's Prather Ranch. Prather Ranch is a 34,000 acre operation located on a high mountain butte Northeast of Mt. Shasta in Northern California. Over the years, they have developed a dry-aged certified organic beef program.

Beautiful scenery and plenty of cattle.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait.

On Mondays my route goes from Redding, through Bella Vista, Burney, Fall River, etc. on to Alturas and usually to Likely. This was special news for me when I read it in Sunday's paper:

"Construction resumes at four locations between Redding and Burney beginning Monday. State Department of Transportation projects are near Bella Vista, Round Mountain, Montgomery Creek, and east and west of Burney, all on Highway 299.

One-way traffic control will be used at four of the locations between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. Drivers should anticipate a delay of up to 45 minutes at locations on Monday and Tuesday

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Smoke significant on 24 July days

July may have ended Thursday with sunny, reasonably blue skies. But for much of the month, the far northern Sacramento Valley and surrounding mountains endured a stinking, eye-stinging, lung-searing smoke shroud that felt downright post-apocalyptic.

The Redding Municipal Airport reported significant smoke or haze on 24 days last month, thanks to freak thunderstorms that ignited north state forests June 21. At times, the forest fire smoke was as thick as fog, cutting visibility at the airport to a half-mile, National Weather Service figures show.

This noxious sooty brew often turned the sun blood red and spiked pollution to unhealthy levels 19 days in July.