Urbin Report

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Record cold recorded

First, in California, where it is threating wine grower's grape crop.

A record cold snap in Mendocino County over the weekend caused little damage to wine grapes but chilled the hearts of farmers who already have suffered huge losses this year.

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Temperatures dropped to 31 degrees in the Ukiah Valley on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, the coldest Oct. 12 morning since record keeping began in Ukiah in 1893, said Troy Nicolini, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Eureka. The previous record was 34 degrees in 1916.

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Farmers in Redwood Valley and other cooler regions in Mendocino County reported temperatures as low as 27 degrees.

An estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of that county's wine grape crop had yet to be harvested when the frost hit, killing the tops of unprotected vines and effectively freezing the ripening process.


Next is Alaska, where glaciers grew record amounts this year.
"In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound," said U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia. "On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying, located at about 1,500 feet elevation, did not become snow free until early August.

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Never before in the history of a research project dating back to 1946 had the Juneau Icefield witnessed the kind of snow buildup that came this year. It was similar on a lot of other glaciers too.