Blog-o-rama: Dancing chimps, ninja wings and good tequila

Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, is getting some attention because there may be some water beneath the surface. PHOTO COURTESY NASA.

This week we feature a new Breck eatery, a local photoblog, dancing chimps and news from deep space. We are in the blogosphere!

Wings with a ninja kick
Every week we take a gander around the blogosphere to see what folks in Colorado have on their minds. We start in Breckenridge, where Ashley Dickson, who blogs as the Gypsy Journalist, checked out a new eatery recently and reported that Northside Pizza dishes up some tasty pies at reasonable prices, along with wings that pack a ninja kick.

Here’s an excerpt from her post, describing her boyfriend’s first encounter with the wicked wings:

“Jake had talked a lot of game before the wings arrived, and after he shoved one in his mouth, he went completely silent.

“This is just wrong,” he pleaded. “My whole body is sweating. I feel messed up. Look, I’m shaking. Who would do this to themselves?”

No amount of water or bread could cool the fire, and I watched the boys writhe in agony as they waited for the heat to subside. I admit, I was laughing at their pain, and I couldn’t help but think of the guy from Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. No wonder that show has garnered such a fan base. it’s kinda fun to see grown men cry over chicken wings.

The bartender wouldn’t reveal the secret mix of spices that gave the Double Black Diamond their ninja kick to the gut, but he admitted that the peppers registered into the hundred thousands on the Scoville heat scale. To put that in perspective, a jalapeno pepper comes out to 5,000 on the scale.” Read the rest of the blog about Northside Pizza here.

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Weatherblog: ‘Natural’ cloud seeding in Colorado

A graphic showing the natural cloud-seeding effect.

Who knew? Icy high-level clouds can boost snowfall in the lower atmosphere with snowflake seeds

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A moist northwest flow could bring some new snow to the mountains of Summit County in the next few days, especially with “seeder-feeder” dynamics in the atmosphere that could enhance precipitation.

I’d never heard that term until I called the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service this morning to ask if we really are going to get some snow. No promises from the forecasters, but I did get a quick lesson about this natural version of cloud-seeding.

It occurs when a layer of high-level clouds drops tiny ice crystals into the moist air closer to the ground. Those crystals will help form nuclei for larger flakes, helping enhance snow in the northern mountains and around the Steamboat Valley, according to Ellen Heffernan, a Grand Junction-based forecaster with the National Weather Service.

More on natural cloud-seeding, the forecast and avalanche info after the break.

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Feb. 8 weatherblog: Stellar beauty

One of the images from the collection of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley.

New snow:

Monarch: 6 inches

Wolf Creek: 1o inches

Powderhorn: 8 inches

Crested Butte: 7 inches

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Only the tiniest smattering of snow on the Summit Voice weather deck this morning, but what was lacking in quantity was made up for with crystalline beauty, with almost each flake standing out in stellar perfection.

Maybe it’s a year to appreciate the wonder of snow with an homage to Wilson Bentley, of Jericho, Vermont, who dedicated a big part of his life to capturing microscopic images of snowflakes and helped pioneer the field of microphotography at the same time.

Rather than worrying about how many inches piled up each day, Bentley occupied himself with capturing enduring images of more than 5,000 individual crystals. His fascinating story, and many of his stunning snowflake images are catalogued at this web site.


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40th annual Frisco Gold Rush photoblog

A frosty beard goes well with Nordic skiing, especially at the 40th edition of the Frisco Gold Rush!

Frisco and Breckenridge Nordic Center operator Gene Dayton said conditions were ideal Sunday for the 40th Frisco Gold Rush Nordic races, and he was hoping for a record turnout for the 5, 10 and 20k events. Check back later for more photos.

The Gold Rush is Colorado’s oldest, and one of the biggest, Nordic events, featuring 5k, 10k and 20k classic and skate races, along with snowshoe events, demos of new gear and family fun. Get more information on Nordic skiing in Frisco and Breckenridge here.

Here’s an excerpt from the Nordic Center blog:

“We are gearing up for the 40th Anniversary Frisco Gold Rush events beginning tonight with a Bonfire at the Frisco Marina at Dusk and Fireworks at 7:30 pm, and with 6 events for Nordic and Snowshoeing and a kid’s Treasure Hunt at 11:30 am at the Frisco Nordic Center on Sunday, Feb 7th …

We are open at both locations with great snow conditions (new snow this week and still trying today) for groomed cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Lessons, Clinics, Wax Shop, Retail, Ski & Snowshoe Tours, self-guided mapped and marked trails, destination huts, private, public and White River National Forest permitted trails …”

Mark your calendars: Feb 21st, 2010 at the Frisco Nordic Center…party, with games and kid’s festival, sledding, food, drinks and more. Get more of the blog here.

Get more info on upcoming Frisco events here.


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More pictures after the break …

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Most avalanche victims have some training, safety gear

A competitor in A-Basin's Beacon Bowl skates out of the starting gate on his way to try and pinpoint a buried avalanche transceiver in the search area. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN. Click on the photo to link to some historical pictures at the Westwide Avalanche Network photo page.

Report on avalanche deaths in the past 10 years  profiles victims, accidents and highlights some ‘reckless’ would-be rescue efforts; more pictures from the Beacon Bowl at the end of this post

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Most of the people who died in snow slides the past 10 years were wearing beacons and many of them had at least some training in avalanche safety procedures, according to Dale Atkins, who recently analyzed avalanche fatalities between 1999 and 2009 and compiled the results in a paper that paints a vivid statistical portrait of recent trends. More statistical information is compiled at the Westwide Avalanche Network.

During that 10-year span, 280 people died in 232 fatal avalanche accidents. Ninety percent of the victims were men, the mean age for all victims is 33, with the ages of victims ranging from 11 to 67. About 72 percent of the victims had some level of avalanche awareness training, and about 30 percent had a significant amount of training, Atkins said.

“For years it was thought these … people possessed little or no avalanche awareness training, but this is no longer true … (M)ost victims’ avalanche training generally lags far behind their activity skill level,” Atkins said. Continue reading

Copper’s 2010 Sunsation lineup includes Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys and Pepper will rock Copper Mountain's Sunsation this year.

Los Lonely Boys, Pepper, Perpetual Groove and Paton Banton on the stage, while the Red Bull 1976 Games and College Slopestyle Championships highlight on-snow action at Copper Mountain’s season-ending Sunsation festival

SUMMIT COUNTY — Copper Mountain’s Sunsation, a spring fling with music and much more, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with Pepper, Los Lonely Boys, Perpetual Groove and some reggae from Pato Banton.

Copper Condos still has plenty of lodging available for Sunsation, including several platinum-rated units at The Cirque and a sweet, spacious Copper Junction 2-bedroom overlooking all the action the Burning Stones Plaza.

Pepper, in their first Sunsation appearance, will headline Saturday, April 10 bringing their melodic and accessible blend of alternative pop/rock, punk, and reggae to the Sunsation stage. The fun continues April 11, and then the following weekend, April 17 and April 18 with music and much more, including the Red Bull Games. More, including links to the bands, after the break. Continue reading

Feb 5: It’s National Weatherman’s Day!

A big storm moving in from the west, but forecasters say it will split, bringing only a few inches to Summit County late in the weekend. Let's hope they're wrong.

Good snow for Gold Rush weekend, new tender slabs in the backcountry … snow Sunday?

SUMMIT COUNTY — El Niño continues to play tricky, as the storm that swept through the area Thursday evening delivered more goods to downtown Frisco than to some of the nearby ski areas.

But that’s not all bad considering it’s the weekend of Summit County’s biggest Nordic event, the Frisco Goldrush. It’s also Colorado’s cross-country ski and snowshoe competition and the trails at the Frisco Nordic Center should be in great shape for the Feb. 7 races.

Read Caitlin Row’s nice Summit Daily story on the history of the event here. And get more information from the town’s web site, including times for the 6th annual Spontaneous Combustion community bonfire here.

New snow reports around the area include 1 inch at A-Basin (3 in the past two days), 5 inches at Eldora and 2 at Winter Park, showing the Front Range- upslope component of the storm, and 3 inches at Wolf Creek. Keystone also reported 3 inches, with 1 to 2 inches at Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Vail.

Feb. 5 is National Weatherman’s Day, commemorating the 1744 birthday of John Jeffries, who started taking daily weather observations in Boston and took the first balloon observation in 1784. Get more information here.

The Boulder office of the National Weather Service says high pressure will build into our area today, but moisture slipping underneath the ridge could fuel a chance of showers in the mountains, with generally light accumulations of less than 1 inch, although a few mountain slopes could pick up a bit more from a locally heavy snow shower. Better chances of snowfall late in the weekend. Here’s the outlook from the NWS:

THE WEATHER WILL TAKE A TURN SUNDAY AND SUNDAY NIGHT TO MORE SNOW AND COLDER TEMPERATURES. THIS OCCURS AS A MORE SIGNIFICANT UPPERLEVEL TROUGH MOVES EAST ACROSS THE DESERT SOUTHWEST AND AT THE SAME TIME AN UPPER LOW IN THE NORTHERN STREAM DROPS SOUTHWARD ACROSS THE NORTHERN HIGH PLAINS STATES.  THE UPPER TROUGH TO OUR SOUTHWEST APPEARS TO PRODUCE DEEP AND AT LEAST WEAK Q-G ASCENT OVER THE FORECAST AREA DURING THAT TIME PERIOD…WHILE THE NORTHERN BRANCH ENERGY WILL PUSH A STRONGER COLD FRONT SOUTHWARD ACROSS THE PLAINS WITH DEEPER AND STRONGER UPSLOPE FORCING.  THE COMBINATION OF THE TWO SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT TO PRODUCE WIDESPREAD SNOWFALL…SO INCREASED POPS FURTHER FOR THE SUNDAY AND SUNDAY NIGHT PERIOD.  AT THIS TIME…NOT EXPECTING A BIG SNOWFALL BUT ENOUGH TO CAUSE SLICK ROADS AND TRAVEL ISSUES GIVEN THE COLDER TEMPERATURES DEVELOPING BY SUNDAY NIGHT.

The snow from Thursday night is forming tender new slabs atop an already fragile snowpack, so the Colorado Avalanche Information Center is maintaining the danger level at “considerable” on north through south-facing slopes near treeline. The danger is listed as moderate in other parts of the zone. Many people are caught in avalanches under the moderate rating, which tends to build a false sense of security in backcountry travelers. Click here to familiarize yourself with the rating scale, and take the time to note that a moderate rating still includes the potential for dangerous slides.

Check in with the CAIC for daily bulletins or call the local hotline at (970) 668-0600 before heading to the backcountry.

Feb. 1 weather: January precip half of average at Dillon

A satellite image shows an unseasonable tropical storm-like formation near the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Click on the image to read the Wunderblog weather post about the unusual event.

Dillon precipitation only half of average for January, but a few inches of fresh at local resorts this morning

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Passing clouds from a storm over Montana dropped a few inches of snow in the area, with Copper and Vail both reporting 3 inches, 2 at Beaver Creek and Breckenridge, and 1 inch at Keystone and A-Basin.

But the more interesting weather story  today is far out over the Atlantic, where a low pressure system with some characteristics of a tropical storm has formed near the Canary Islands, according to Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog. Is it El Niño or global warming? Who knows, but maybe that’s what messing up our winter weather here in Colorado. In any case, the Wunderblog has some interesting satellite photos of the unseasonable weather event online here.

More weather info after the break ………  Continue reading

Jan. 31 weather: Oh winter, where art thou?

Temperatures across the Intermountain West were well below average in December — in some cases as much as 6 to 12 degrees, according to the Western Water Assessment. The graphic shows departures from average by degrees.

December temps well below average across much of the Intermountain West; read the December summary in the second half of our daily weather story

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s a brilliant morning in Summit County, but forecasters are still calling for increasing clouds with a chance for a few inches of snow — we’ve all heard that before, right?

Nevertheless, the National Weather Service says there is a “fair amount” of low- and mid-level moisture associated with an upper-level low pressure trough moving southward over Idaho and Utah and forecast to swing eastward over Colorado later this afternoon and tonight.

Widely scattered showers are already falling over Utah and western Colorado, and with a favorable orographic flow, mountain slopes above 9,000 feet could see up to 4 inches of snow by Monday, with only a trace in the valleys, and maybe a few more showers Monday before the flow shifts back to the southwest for the middle part of the week, ahead of another system moving in off the Pacific.

Read more, including a December roundup of Western weather, after the break. Continue reading

Breckenridge snow sculpting, day 3: Taking shape …

The final stages of this year's snow sculpture championships in Breckenridge will coincide with a full moon. Be sure to make the trek to the Riverwalk Center to view the finished art work Saturday evening.

Victory ... but don't stop fighting!

SUMMIT COUNTY — What a difference 24 hours makes.  Wednesday, there were only rough outlines and shadowy shapes. Today, finite angles, curves and lines started to appear  from the great blocks of snow lined up outside the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center.

A massive reindeer head carved by a Chinese team as part of their Happy Herder sculpture; a group of western chorus frogs taking shape under the skilled hands of a team of Idaho artists; a powerful hand, two fingers spread in the universal gesture of peace  … or in this case “Victory,” as depicted by the Lithuanian team to express the fragility of victory and the need to keep fighting for what has been gained.

Art and mountain culture can transcend political and ideological boundaries, and the 2010 Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships are a living expression of those ideals.

We’ve updated our photoblog with some fresh images at this link.

Click here for official event information.

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