Sunday, November 3, 2013

How To Change Your Weather

For those of us who live in the mountains, there's a variation on the weather jokes. Don't like your weather? Go up or down a thousand feet.
On a quick road trip up I-5 to Seattle last week, I noticed that the snow on Mt. Shasta came down to approximately 7000 feet of elevation.
Mt. Shasta in Northern California

 Farther north, I noticed that the snow on Mt. Hood came down to approximately 6000 feet.
Mt. Hood in Northern Oregon
We expect this, of course, because it gets colder as you go north.
If instead of going north, we'd gone south the same distance from Shasta we could have been to Mt. Whitney. There, the lowest snow level would have probably been around 8000 feet.
So I wondered if there is a regular relationship between where you are on a north/south basis and where you are on an elevation basis. After a little research, I found out that there is, and it matches what I noticed on the way to Seattle.
All other things being equal, going 300 miles north changes your climate approximately the same as going up 1000 feet in elevation.
Of course, in most scenarios, all other things are not equal. If you go farther from or closer to the Pacific Ocean, which is a huge modifier of climate, that will change things as much or more than anything else.
But it is still an interesting comparison. Going 3000 miles north is like going up 10,000 feet. So if I were to start in Sacramento, which is near sea level, and go to the northernmost reaches of the Canadian arctic (3000 miles), my temperature change in any given season would be similar to going from Sacramento to the top of Heavenly ski resort at 10,000 feet.
Useful information?
Maybe not. But fun!

No comments:

Post a Comment