Watching Natural Whidbey

The previous post inspired this post. Glaciers Carved Whidbey, and their effects are felt today; but the story continues and is broader than those ancient ice fields. Future posts may dive into more detail, but here are some things and places to watch now.

Screenshot 2018-05-03 at 13.52.42Geology hasn’t stopped moving and shaking. There are a series of faults that cut across the island. Most of the shaking is too subtle to notice, but the South Whidbey Fault as well as the Juan de Fuca Plate mean geologists have a lot to study. In the meantime, check out the Pacific Northwest Seismic Networks’ Recent Events map for the most recent bumps and shifts.

For something more dynamic and noticeable, and official, the National Weather Service’s site is good for customized forecasts for any spot on the map. Whidbey also benefits from the radar station on Camano Island, Whidbey’s neighbor. For the poets and literary types, poke into the Forecast Discussion. Frequently the discussion is scientifically dry and accurate, but someone there gets literary on occasion. Their weather haiku on Twitter is always welcome.

Screenshot 2018-05-03 at 13.35.55Everyone talks about the weather, and don’t be surprised if they don’t agree. Look at Weather Underground’s map of the island’s weather stations and see why. As I type, it shows a twenty degree temperature difference on the island with the top and bottom being the hottest and the middle being the coolest. Don’t be surprised to find similar differences with wind and rain as storms hit one part while rain shadows protect another part.

Screenshot 2018-05-03 at 13.46.25Want more weather stations? The Washington State Ferry system equips the ferries with mobile weather stations. That may sound silly to some, but to anyone living by or working on the water, getting current condition reports from the middle of the Sound is far superior to trying to guess from land.

Cliff Mass is a local academic who does a great job of describing the details of the forecast, the nuances that will change by region, the likelihood of it happening, and the science behind it. When in doubt, check with Cliff to learn if he is doubtful too.

Screenshot 2018-05-03 at 13.45.56Weather does more than help people decide what to wear and whether to go outside. Winds can knock out power. Puget Sound Energy has a map of the outages around the region, with the ability to zoom in on neighborhoods, get estimates of recovery times, and the number of households affected. Lost power at the house? Pick a town with a library or coffeeshop that has power and maybe hang out there for a while.

One of nature’s most persistent effects are the tides. Depending on the day, it’s possible to have a twelve foot difference between high and low tide. Boaters must take note in the shallows that can vanish. Clammers, crabbers, and anglers need to know where and when to go for their catch. NOAA has a tides and currents site. If you want to see some record flows, watch Deception Pass for fast currents. If you want to see the whirlpools, you’ll have to visit in real life.

Screenshot 2018-05-03 at 13.45.15

It is a quiet day on the island. The first week of May and the world has decided to provide a hint of summer. That may make the maps look sedate, but that’s welcome too. Of course, if there’s a quake during high tide, during a storm, well, get ready to have a lot of tabs open in your browser – as long as the power stays on. See? Sedate is welcome, and island life is definitely known for being sedate.


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