Weather junkies, here's a new destination worth a look: WeatherSpark.com. Key among its features: Historical weather patterns for every day of the year for any global weather station in its mix—4,000 so far, with more, ideally lots more, to be added.
WeatherSpark is the brainchild of 2 former Stanford engineering whiz kids, Sweden native Jacob Norda and former Wisconsinite James Diebel. The site collects data from 3 sources—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and a fee-based forecasting service, World Weather Online—and arranges them so visitors can chose from 3 points of view: present, past or future.
Norda and Diebel have assembled a nifty mix of maps and graphs to that can be customized to provide forecasts and histories on up to 4 locations. At first glance the heaping helping of information can be a little daunting to digest, but with some practice you should be able to uncover features of particular interest to you.
For outdoor types, I'm guessing the Reports tab will get a workout. If you live in the East and wonder what the weather might be like in July for a backcountry trip in some part of the West, search for a station near your destination. You'll get a detailed historical overview of weather patterns most commonly experienced for any date you choose.
The site is still in beta, so don't be dismayed if you encounter a glitch. I found I could only view the Reports page using Firefox, for instance.
I spotted no reporting stations within U.S. national parks among the 4,000 WeatherSpark offers. So if you're seeking info on Great Smoky Mountains NP, you'll have to count on reports from airports in Louisville, Tenn. (McGhee Tyson Airport, 30 miles south of Knoxville), Asheville or Franklin, N.C. The closest stations to Yosemite are not terribly close: Mammoth/June Lakes, Bishop Airport or Madera Municipal Airport (62 miles away).
"We are planning on expanding the station set," Norda tells The REI Blog, "but there's a host of technical reasons why this is not easy. Not all stations were created equal. But soon…"
Speaking of Yosemite, the park has been pounded with huge snow storms all week—so much that the park was closed for 3 days due to blocked roads and fallen power lines, leaving park buildings with no electricity. The park posted the following update on its site Friday morning (March 25):
"It is now possible to enter Yosemite via Highways 140 and 120 from the west for day use only, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; chains required. Existing overnight lodging reservations will be honored. All park campgrounds will remain closed until Monday, March 28, when the park anticipates returning to full operation."
The photos accompanying this post were taken by Yosemite videographer Steve Bumgardner at his home base in neighboring Sequoia National Park (at 6,700 feet). On Thursday he shared a photo of his partially excavated truck bearing a 27-inch layer of snow. That happened 2 days after he dug out for a 4-foot layer of snow. Just how much snow had filled the park? On Thursday Bumgardner tweeted: "My arm is sore from helping my neighbor shovel snow OFF HIS ROOF!" More snow is forecast for the Sierra through Saturday. Whew.
Photos courtesy of Steve Bumgardner (aka Yosemite Steve). Upper photo: View of Bumgardner's truck on March 24 beneath a 27-inch coating of snow. Lower photo: His truck beneath a 4-foot layer on March 22.