Friday, February 29, 2008

Current winter is warmest of all time in Finland

"It is now official: in most parts of Finland, the ongoing winter has been the warmest ever measured since the beginning of regularly recorded readings.

According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the mean temperature from December through February was approximately 1°C higher than in the previous record mild winter of 1924-1925.

When comparing the present winter with the average of the period from 1971 to 2000, the temperatures were as much as 4 to 6.5 degrees higher, depending on the area."

The rest of the article from the Helsingin Sanomat is here.

Curling rocks!

Each winter, the Division of Atmospheric Sciences takes a day off and goes on a winter recreation day. Leap Day was that day this year. With little snow around, skiing was not an option so people went curling and skating.

I was first introduced to curling when I worked as a forecaster for the National Weather Service at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. We had a TV on in the forecast office that was tuned to NBC so we could get live pictures of the weather at the venues. During downtime, the forecasters were fascinated with curling. About as exciting as bowling when viewed live, the broadcasters on TV made the sport really interesting (and the boring parts were edited out). Ever since, I wanted to try curling. That day was today.

Curling is like shuffleboard on ice. The goal is to get your stones inside the blue circle and closer to the bullseye than the other team. Four players on each team take turns throwing two stones a piece in each round. Games last ten rounds. Here you see Risto Makkonen releasing his stone, and the other team surveying the location of the stones on the other end of the ice to determine their strategy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hotel restaurants worth crowing about

Usually, most restaurants in hotels are not worth getting excited about. Recently, Yvette and I have been impressed by two in Helsinki.

The Hotel Cumulus in Kaisaniemi has a restaurant Huviretki. The best deal is the "select your own steak dinner" menu. Guests get to pick the type of meat and cut, the sauce, and the side dishes.

Yesterday, Yvette and I tried Ristorante Papa Carlo in the Hotelli Fennon. We were one of just two or three tables being served, and the prices were outrageously low. 12-15 euro for the dinner. 28 euro three-course menu. The food was exceptional and the presentation was gorgeous. This will become one of our favorite restaurants in Helsinki.

Both restaurants have had availability, even during the busy weekend nights. Hyvää ruoka!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Warm fronts suck

Yesterday morning we awoke to new snow. And it continued to fall throughout most of the day, accumulating several inches. Could this be some quasi-permanent snow cover for Helsinki? No. By the time the day was over, however, the temperature had risen to above freezing. See the rise in temperature at Helsinki yesterday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Warm January

Snowmen will protest around Helsinki next Tuesday. The reason? Their very survival in southern Finland.

We have had no permanent snowcover this winter. The lowest temperatures were about -10 deg C so far---a far cry from the -26 deg C I experienced several times last winter.

From the Helsingin Sanomat:

"In January, the mean temperature in Helsinki was 0.6°C, which is 4.8 degrees higher than the average for the period from 1971 to 2000.

According to the February forecast by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the weather will continue being clearly warmer than average. Long sub-zero periods will be unlikely, particularly in the southern parts of the country. The temperatures will be ranging from below 0°C to some degrees above zero.

On the winter holiday week, the Greater Helsinki area used to have so much snow that ski-track machines were able to make fairly good ski tracks. Today such machines are of no use, and lie idle.

The previous skiing holiday with plenty of snow was experienced in 2005, when a snow cover of 40 centimetres was measured at the Helsinki-Vantaa weather station. A year ago, the snow cover was just five centimetres thick."

The complete article from the Helsingin Sanomat can be found here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Movin' out (David's Song)

David works in the university
Savin' his pennies for someday
NSSL left a note on the door,
She said,
"David, move out of your office."
Workin' too hard can give you
A heart attackackackackackack
You oughta know by now

Who needs a house out in Norman?
Is that all you get for your money?
And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, If that's movin' up then I'm movin' out.

In January, I returned to Norman to clean out my office at the National Weather Center. The resulting 60 or so boxes wound up here in my spare bedroom.

Christmas in Helsinki, British Style

Exposing me to her family's customs, Yvette made me mince pies for Christmas. Here I am enjoying the final product.

in a convenience store in New Orleans

As seen in the Atlanta airport...

Reality check

On a recent trip in the US, I was rushing to buy a roast beef sandwich in the Atlanta airport before getting on the plane back to Helsinki. The amount was $3.20. I quickly pulled out a $20 bill, but as I was reaching into my wallet for the twenty cents, the person in line in front of me threw down a quarter for me and said, "I won't be needing this where I am going." I was taken aback, and I looked over to see a soldier wearing a big backpack. I was so flustered, I didn't know what to say at first.

I replied, "Well, best of luck to you wherever you are going."

I walked off, stunned, almost leaving my $17 in change behind.

Although I might not agree with my country being wherever that young man was going, I appreciated his gesture and hope for his safety.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Quote from Martin Luther King

On Martin Luther King Day (celebrated 21 January 2008), my colleague and friend John Knox sent the following King quote to me. More relevant now than ever before.

"When a culture begins to feel threatened by its own inadequacies, the majority of men tend to prop themselves up by artificial means, rather than dig down deep into their spiritual and cultural wellsprings. America seems to have reached this point... I think most Americans know in their hearts that their country has been terribly wrong in its dealings with other peoples around the world. When Rome began to disintegrate from within, it turned to a strengthening of the military establishment, rather than to a correction of the corruption within the society. We are doing the same thing in this country and the result will probably be the same..."