March 30, 2014

Rainy day as seen through a windshield with wiper blades at work.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Parts of Maryland received well in excess of 4 feet of snow during the “Winter” of 2014-quotation marks are used because it has officially been Spring for over a week and snow is forecast for tonight into tomorrow morning for some parts of the state.  (It is snowing in parts of Pennsylvania as this post is being written.)  These are the highest snowfall totals for 4 years.  What will become that snow is now falling as heavy rain.  Parts of the state have already received over 2″ or rain so far this weekend.

Trees in Spring 2014 snow storm.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

UPDATE:  Not very long after I posted the original blog, the snow started, so the above photograph was added.  The following is the rest of the original post.

Locally, all of this precipitation means that the reservoirs are topped off.  It will be interesting to see what this looks like in August and September.  (A current photograph will be posted soon.)

Rainfall is also a precipitating factor in the massive mudslide in Oso, Washington on March 22.  Heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family members and friends.

As per the previous post, this winter would still be considered “weather” as it may be a short-term anomaly and the past 4 much warmer, drier winters may be the norm, which would be more indicative of the longer term impact of climate change for this particular area.  From a semantic standpoint, some appear to use the term “global warming”  and think that the planet will end up becoming hotter and drier.  While that is certainly true for some parts of the world, the Sahal region in Africa is an example, others will become cooler and wetter, and some may get both-the UK, for instance.  Hence the term “climate change” because that more accurately describes that the longer term overall warming of the planet will lead to regionally-experienced differences from what had been the norm.  As greenhouse gas levels rise, both the air and the seas warm causing air and ocean currents to change tracks.  This, in turn, leads to modifications in weather patterns and the need for human adaptation.

The areas of the planet in which millions of people live, work, and play face significant changes as both weather and climate change over time.  While it is not possible to say that climate change caused the Oso mudslide, being able to live, work, and play in that area will be affected for quite some time.  It has already been argued that building in that area was a risk due to previous slides.  Evolutionary Psychology studies what are referred to as “adaptive problems”-issues that occur repeatedly and the solutions to which impact the reproduction of a species.   Finding answers to adaptive problems allows for the development of other life-enhancing behaviours and tools that are staples of life in the post-modern age, according to those who support this view of human behaviour.  Climate change appears to be just such a problem.  The past 10 years or so have brought witness to some of the most devastating storms in human history:  Hurricane Katrina and SuperStorm Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan and the Moore, OK tornado are just a few.  The economic cost has been, and will continue to be, enormous-the human toll is just not measurable.

Adaptations to climate change have been implemented in some areas; the Make It Right Foundation’s work in New Orleans is an example-for others, solutions are being discussed.  For example, it has been proposed that New York City build flood walls and storm gates around Manhattan, at a cost of around $1.5-6.5 billion depending on the project.  This is a local solution to the problem of climate change.  Should climate change result in the melting of all the ice on earth, this project will be of no use-please take a look at this-216 feet is a very high wall.  And what happens to countries that do not have the funds for such a project?  Former President Mohammed Nasheed points out in The Island President that the Maldives can not afford such an effort.  (Last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference appears to have provided some potential relief in this area:  richer, industrialized countries are to help pay for adaptation/mitigation efforts for poorer, less industrialized nations.  The details of this initiative have not been worked out and would most likely not take effect until 2020 anyway.  Parts of the Maldives could well be under water by then.)  Others argue for a far more encompassing solution:  geoengineering.  Such measures may well have unintended consequences (or “dysfunctions” according to sociologists who support Functionalist theory).  All of these are certainly adaptations and can have an effect on the survivability of some peoples.

It is clear that our lifestyles are precipitating factors in climate change.  Therefore, another adaptation would be making individual adjustments to our lifestyles to reduce our impact on the planet-lowering our personal carbon footprints would be a start.

Heady thoughts for a cold, rainy, Spring day.

Take care.

P.S. This is a much longer-than-usual post and is reflective of my stream of consciousness about the topics contained herein.  Many thanks to those who hung in and read the whole post.


March 29, 2014

Pattern of warmer ground with less snow.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last Saturday was the Spring we have been waiting for:  the sky was blue, the sun was out, and the air temperature was in the 60s.  Not much more to be asked for there.  It did not, however, last.  Sunday the sky clouded over and the temperature dropped into the 50s and kept sliding.  By Monday, we had yet another snowfall-this time about three inches or so.

Those warmer days, though, allowed the ground (and asphalt) to store enough heat so that the snow really did not last that long.  In fact, the arc of the sun across the early Spring sky became readily apparent as the snow was unable to gain a foothold on those areas that had received more solar exposure.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has a wealth of information regarding the interaction between weather, climate, and frozen material.  This link explains the fundamentally important difference between weather (that which occurs over a short time) and climate (that which occurs over a much longer time).  Because the ground and pavement are dark, they absorb more heat-areas that are lighter, reflect more heat and therefore stay cooler.  The individual weather event that was last Monday would appear to serve as a microcosm of the larger climate event currently taking place.

As the NSIDC points out, the climate is changing-the earth is getting warmer.  This, in turn, is melting the snow and ice of the glaciers and polar regions of the planet.  As more land in uncovered and the surface areas of seas increases, less heat is reflected by the diminishing whiter snow and ice and more heat is absorbed by darker ground and water.  It would be useful to read the rest of the information contained in the NSIDC link for more information about this important, and far-reaching, dynamic.

Take care.





March 25, 2014

Sink outside a remodeled building in Ocean City, Maryland.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Ocean City, Maryland is a popular vacation spot located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  According to this article, Ocean City received about 8.1 million visitors in 2009, with about 3.6 million arriving during the summer months. These numbers appear to be declining as reported in the article. (Interestingly, the statistics are in part determined by the amount of waste water generated.)  Even though it was not summer and just barely Spring, this past weekend provided an opportunity to go “down the Ocean”.

Empty parking lot in Ocean City, Maryland.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Upon arrival it was quite windy and decidedly chilly.  It is important to note just how un-sharp the above photograph appears.  A gust of wind provided enough force to result in a less-than-ideal capture.  However, this is still photography-the only way to convey motion is to allow for a bit of blur and it is for that reason this image has been included.

Ocean City, Maryland-43rd Street looking north.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was however, a beautiful night.

Ocean City, Maryland-43rd Street looking south.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Come summer, Coastal Highway will be jammed with vehicles of all types and enough traffic and pedestrian noise to dismiss the quietude that comes from being in such a popular destination during pre-season.  For me, this is the ideal time to be in Ocean City.

Take care.

One Shopping Cart

March 24, 2014

An abandoned shopping cart by the bay in Ocean City, Maryland-looking from the front.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A quick search on the internet yielded approximately nine different companies that manufacture shopping carts.  It also appears that it would be difficult to estimate the number of carts currently in use in the United States as there are so many stores that provide them for their customers.

An abandoned shopping cart by the bay in Ocean City, Maryland.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This one of them.

An abandoned shopping cart by the bay in Ocean City, Maryland-looking from behind the cart.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Customer use while shopping no longer appears to be this one’s primary purpose…

An abandoned shopping cart by the bay in Ocean City, Maryland-looking at the front wheels.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

which is perhaps just as well.  This particular cart appears to have spent far too much time being rolled over surfaces not as smooth as the floors found in most stores.  Given that shopping carts are used for more than just shopping and the wear-and-tear incurred from such use, it was heartening to see that there is also a market for recycling shopping carts.  National Cart Co. reports that it “…recycles over 100,000 shopping carts per year…” and that these are also available for purchase.  Perhaps this cart could be refurbished if it is not as yet beyond salvage. 

Take care.


March 20, 2014

Shopping cart on its side stuck in a snowbank.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today, at 12:57 p.m., Spring officially began.  The Winter of 2014 seemed to have come from all possible angles and left behind much debris and sore muscles.  This day was crisp and clear and tomorrow is to be sunny and in the 60s.

It is interesting to look back over the past few winters.  The last major snowfalls came in 2010-between then and now were much warmer than usual temperatures and much lower than normal accumulations for the Mid-Atlantic states.  It was easy to begin thinking about the possibility of a “new normal” for milder winters.  The one just ended sure changed that perspective and leaves one to ponder if it will be the standard going forward.  Time will tell.

Speaking of both time and the future:  we will not as yet talk about what is forecast for the beginning of the week.  No, it is best to stay in the moment and enjoy.

Take care.

March Winds

March 15, 2014

The upright frame of a fallen billboard against the sky.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We have had much snow during the month of February…

Part of billboard and frame with a major road in the background.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…and with March has come much wind.  The other day wind speeds were clocked in excess of 50 mph with steady winds exceeding 30 mph.

Billboard flattened by high winds and laying in a field.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

With a structure as large and flat as a billboard, the power of the wind won out.

Take care.

The Signs of Winter

March 10, 2014

Road sign bent over concrete abutment.

Copyright 2014 Kevin p. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The winter of 2014 dropped over 30 inches of snow on the Baltimore, Maryland region.  Along with this powder came no small amount of ice as well.  Indeed, due to the generally warmer and moister air coming up from the South and being met by very cold air temperatures coming from the North and West, that snow often had a high moisture content and was very wet as is usually the case in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Those cold air temperatures also account for the amount of freezing rain and ice that accumulated as well.  As a result, the roads were often slick and certainly needed to be plowed on a number of occasions.  Whether through the impact of a moving vehicle or a large amount of heavy, plowed snow, it was a tough season for road signs.

Road sign bent parallel to the ground.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

According to the Baltimore County Maryland Department of Public Works:

“There are about 250,000 signs in Baltimore County to inform motorists. The sign shop installs approximately 6,000 signs per year and stores about 2,000 signs. They also perform road painting and marking using white and yellow paint, on approximately 2,700 miles of painted lines roads in Baltimore County.”

 Those pictured here are three of those approximately 250,000 signs that are now less able to perform their intended function.

Road sign broken and laying on the ground.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

With regard to the weather, this has been a winter of contrasts: according to The National Climatic Data Center, January 2014 was the fourth warmest on record.  And yet, as a result of the polar vortex, February was much colder and was the month when we received so much of the snow and the much colder than normal temperatures. (The NCDC has not as yet released its February 2014 data.)

It is too early to tell which of these will be the dominant weather patterns moving forward.  What does appear to be clear, however, is that the winter of 2014 has been an expensive one-these road signs are just one example of that.

Take care.