NWS: Lots of high clouds will allow for filtered viewing or glimpses of tonight’s supermoon eclipse

National Weather Service
posted by Barry Parr
Sun, September 27, 2015


Sharktoberfest at the Presidio, Saturday, Oct 17

posted by Barry Parr
Thu, September 24, 2015

Shark Stewards, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary,
& Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association invite you to:


Saturday, October 17th, 11 am - 4 pm

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center
991 Marine Drive, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129

Celebrate the Annual Return of White Sharks to the Gulf of the Farallones


• Shark Science
• Shark Experts
• Shark Art
• Shark Films
• Shark Conservation
• Costume Contest
• Beer, Food, Live Music - and more!

3 pm – Come in Costume for our “Ocean Life Parade”

SPECIAL PROGRAMS ($5 a person)
Registration Required!!
Register today: sara.heintzelman@noaa.gov
12:30 pm & 2:30 pm – “Sharkitechture”
1:30 pm – “Anatomy of a Shark Attack” 

Event information:


Region needs an improbable 190% of its usual rainfall to edge out of its drought

NOAA climate.gov
Percent of normal precipitation required in the upcoming water year (October 1, 2015-September 30, 2016) in order to mitigate 5-year rainfall deficits. (left) Precipitation needed to emerge from the "bottom bracket"—the 20th percentile, or lowest 20% of values, for all 5-year periods in the historical record. (right) Precipitation needed to be restored to the middle of the historical pack (50th percentile). Maps by NOAA Climate.gov, based on analysis of Climate Division data by Rich Tinker, NOAA Climate Pre
Maps by NOAA Climate.gov, based on data from the Climate Prediction Center.
Chances of possible temperature (upper map) and precipitation (lower) outcomes for December 2015-February 2016: above normal, below normal, or near normal. Above or below normal means temperatures in the upper or lower third of the range of historical temperatures. White does not mean "near normal;" it show places where the chances for above-, below-, and near-normal temperatures are equal.
posted by Barry Parr
Sat, September 12, 2015

The Bay Area needs to receive more than 190% of its typical precipitation in order to be considered out of its drought. In this case, out of the drought means out of the bottom 20% of all five-year periods in the historical record. And the odds don’t favor higher-than-nornal precipitation in northern California.

According to climate.gov, “This is a ton of rain/snow.

Also, there is only a 33% to 40% chance that winter will be wetter than normal this year, because El Niño is experienced much more strongly in southern California than in the middle of the state.  The probability may be even lower than that, because the Bay Area is on the edge of that probability zone.

The jury is still out, though, on northern California. In the past, the connection between wet winters and El Niño has been less reliable in the northern part of the state than the southern part. But according to a new analysis by the NOAA Drought Task Force, the odds for a wet winter across the entire state improve the stronger the El Niño event is, and the 2015-16 event is currently forecast to remain strong through winter.

There’s a lot more information in the linked article.



First annual Half Moon Bay Fish & Fleet Festival, Sunday, Sept 27

Press Release
posted by Sabrina Brennan
Tue, September 8, 2015

Come to the first annual Half Moon Bay Fish & Fleet Festival on Sunday, Sept. 27 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at Pillar Point Harbor (map).

Enjoy amazing seafood from local fishermen, craft beer, and live music—while hanging out with family and friends.

Commercial fishing is a risky business. Come meet local fishermen and learn about their historic profession. Let’s celebrate small-scale sustainable wild fisheries and the fleet’s teamwork as they navigate this highly regulated industry.

The festival is organized by the Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association. This commercial fishermen’s collective is working to support the industry and the community. They are based out of Pillar Point Harbor, and represent producers of all gear types and all local target species.

Support local fishermen and their families, and buy fresh seafood from Pillar Point Harbor.


Animation Compares 1997 vs. 2015 El Niños Side-by-Side

posted by Barry Parr
Mon, September 7, 2015

The California Climate Blog has a great video comparing this year’s El Niño to 1997’s:

Those similarities and differences matter because they can affect how an El Niño’s typical impacts on global weather — from drought to deluges — shape up, the reason it receives such rapt attention. ...

“I was a little shocked just how closely 2015 resembles 1997 visually,” Rehme said in a statement.

But as any El Niño researcher will tell you, no two El Niño events are alike, and the impacts from this one aren’t guaranteed to be just like 1997-1998.

The most obvious difference between this year and that event, clearly visible in the animation, is the “blob” of warm water off the west coast of North America, a symptom of the relentless high pressure pattern that has kept the West hot and dry over much of the last few years and led to the deep drought in California.

Right now, it is unclear how this warm patch will interact with the typical El Niño impacts (which aren’t guaranteed to materialize). That warmth could mean that any storms that hit drop more rain instead of much-needed snow that could help replenish depleted reservoirs.


We Corner People - A documentary about building a bridge in Nepal, Friday, Sept 11

Press Release
posted by Joe Devlin
Mon, September 7, 2015

The Half Moon Bay Film Society presents We Corner People, a documentary about building a bridge in Nepal.

Near Nepal’s border with China sits a small village that is breathtakingly beautiful, but oh so isolated. The inhabitants call themselves the “Corner People”, living as they do with their backs up against a mountain without benefit of electricity, roads, a doctor’s office, or even a single store. They are proud of their 3-room school, but that just goes up to 3rd grade. The nearest town with a store, customers to sell their bamboo weavings to, or a school for older children is a 4-hour, round-trip hike away.

The path to the stores and customers crosses a river that can be easily leapt in a single bound during the dry season but grows to a raging torrent during monsoon season. Everyone in town mourns the loss of at least one individual who slipped and drowned while attempting to cross the angry river.

Now the local government has raised the money to build a bridge over the river and sent supplies and an engineer to supervise the construction. No power tools have been provided to string the heavy metal cables across the river gorge or to lay deep bridge foundations. Large gangs of locals must work together in harmony to do this hard work.

“This subtle, multi-dimensional film tells the story of a bridge, not as a monumental or heroic achievement of development, but as an event that occurs within a local social history… The portrait is holistic ….a story of a participatory development, told entirely without romance, false egalitarianism, or teleological overtones.” Dr. Stacy Pigg, Simon Fraser University

Friday, Sept 11 @ 7:30
Coastside Sr. Housing/Sr. Coastsiders
925 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA
Donation $5.00 adults— $3:00 for kids —Donations for Nepalese earthquake victims will also be collected


Letter: LED Lights update - Please attend and speak up at MCC, Weds, Sept 9

Useful light and light pollution from a typical pole-mounted outdoor luminaire. Note the glare zone beyond the zone of useful light.
posted by Deborah Lardie
Mon, September 7, 2015

The LED lights project for the Coastside is still in process and will be discussed at the MCC meeting next Wednesday.  While the county seems to be leaning towards the amber colored lights they have not agreed to diffusing covers or shields to prevent overflow to adjacent homes and yards.  The proposed solution for the overflow and glare into homes and yards is to hand manufacture and install shields after the fact, when requested,  despite availability for factory installation.  There will be no diffusing covers to soften the glare.

A couple of MCC members support the existing lights. Others do not.  Many comments and letters to Don Horsley or on the county comment web page have stated that the existing lights are too bright and glaring.  They are noticeably emitting more glare than the existing lights due to the lack of covers.  The MCC has informally requested a dimmer sample light be put up and considered as a mitigation for the glare.  The county has not responded to this request.  The MCC will be discussing a formal letter on this issue.

The County is claiming there is little public interest in this issue.  Despite the request for public input,  letters to DH have not been acknowledged by his office and there is no way of knowing they were received or read.  I received no reply to a long letter I sent early this year until I inquired weeks later.  While comments made on the County website are on the mcc website, there has been no comprehensive gathering of all public comment.  I know several people who wrote directly to Supervisor Horsley and did not comment on the county webpage which required a multistep registration and was problematic.

To influence this decision It is critical that we have speakers at the MCC meeting next week at the GSD office.  Please come and speak up for dark sky and soft light in our rural community.  I personally have a light next to my home and yard that will pollute my night sky views unless it has a shield. The current fixture has a bulb that directs the light away from the property.  Anyone else near a fixture will be impacted by this.  Also while the County asked for public input,  the numerous complaints about the glare have not responded to with an effective solution.

Please let me know if you have any questions and whether you will be at the meeting.

Deborah Lardie


NASA says west coast sea levels could be poised to rise

posted by Barry Parr
Fri, August 28, 2015

KQED reports that the west coast has gotten off easy on sea level rise so far, but that may be about to change.

“In the next five or ten years, I think the west coast of the United States is going to catch up,” says Josh Willis, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. He says a major ocean phase known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is in the midst of a big shift.

For about the past two decades, the PDO, which Willis describes as “El Niño’s bigger, slower, brother,” was “piling up” warmer water on the far side of the ocean, exacerbating sea rise there. When water warms, it expands.

“So we’ve actually seen a slight drop in sea levels off of our coastline because of the rearrangement of heat within the oceans,” Willis explains.

That rearrangement could mean an acceleration in the rate that seas rise long the West Coast, eventually overtaking the pace of sea level rise on the East Coast and elsewhere.



Testing LED lights on the Midcoast

Barry Parr
LED from 100 ft north, same side of street
Barry Parr
Existing light from 100 feet west, same side of street
Barry Parr
LED from 100 ft west, opposite side of street (sorry about the focus)
posted by Barry Parr
Fri, July 24, 2015

At 10:25 on Tuesday, July 21, I took a look at the amber LED light at 6th and Main in Montara.  Dave Olson of the MCC went out independently and we compared notes.  Our observations were strikingly similar, although I don’t think Dave agrees with my conclusions. 

One caveat: I’m not sure we have a common definition of glare. I think it can either mean “unpleasant brightness” in the case of the LED’s or it can mean “too much scattered light” in the case of the existing lights with diffusers.

My observations:

1. The LED lights are much less unpleasant from across the street than they are when you’re on the street itself. When you’re on the axis of the street, the lights are much brighter and IMO very unpleasant. 

2. It matters if you are uphill or downhill from the light. If you’re downhill, the light is much brighter. 6th and Main is a difficult light to judge because you’re downhill in both directions, but the angle is less steep from the north. However, the brightness from lower angles is important, because most of the streets on the Midcoast are on hills.

3. Some of the existing (sodium vapor?) lights in Montara have diffusers and some don’t.  The diffusers are mostly large globes and they scatter a ton of light, which is a problem. I think the existing lights without diffusers are not that unpleasant.

4. I compared the LED at 6th and Main to the existing light at 6th and Farallone, which does not appear to have a diffuser. I observed the LED from 100 ft north on Main St and the existing light from 100 ft west on 6th. From each of these positions, I was slightly downhill from the lights. I’ve attached some photos I took with my iphone. I think the difference is a fair representation of my experience, although I couldn’t control the exposure, so it’s not definitive.

5. I thought there was a lot more glare from the LED light than a non-diffused existing light viewed from 100 ft at roughly the same angle. The LED’s are really unpleasant even at 100 ft. I suspect the range of unpleasantness is wider, but I was unable to check this because a tree obscured the view beyond 100 ft.

6. I found the existing lights look about the same from any angle as the LED lights do from across the street at 100ft. That is, unobjectionable. I don’t think the LED’s illuminated any more street than the existing lights.

My Conclusion:  PG&E is not giving us any real options, so I have no idea whether there are better alternatives to this particular LED fixture. This is not even a Hobson’s Choice, since “nothing” is not a possible option. The manufacturers, PG&E, and the county have no incentive to get this right. I think the LED’s we’re being shown are too damn bright if you’re within 100 to 150 feet of them and on the same side of the street. I suspect they’d benefit from operating at a lower brightness without damaging visibility on the street. An external diffuser would mitigate this, but it would probably result in a lot more scattered light, which is not desirable.


Sharks of San Francisco Bay

A leopard shark at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
posted by Barry Parr
Mon, July 20, 2015

There are more sharks than you might think in San Francisco Bay.

When most people look out on the muddy waters of the San Francisco Bay they don’t think of what lies underneath. They notice the large ferries, yachts, and cargo ships that crisscross its waters every single day, but nothing else. Those brown, turbid waters hold many secrets and many amazing animals.

Among these amazing animals are sharks. No, not the giant, toothy menaces that everyone conjures up when the word “shark” is mentioned. I am talking about the more common, uncharismatic species that inhabit the San Francisco Bay. While it is true that large, oceanic species (such as the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)) have been found swimming inside the Bay, they usually don’t stay long or venture far inside. The sharks that reside in the Bay are usually harmless, smaller species. One such species is the North Pacific Spiny Dogfish (Squalus suckleyi). These slender, brown sharks reach a maximum length of 4 feet and are found inside the Bay mostly in the winter months. During this time, they can form very large schools, usually consisting of a single sex. Interestingly, Spiny Dogfish possess a curved, mildly poisonous spine in front of each dorsal fin, which is used for defense from larger predators.

One of the larger sharks that regularly inhabits the San Francisco Bay is the Broadnose Sevengill Shark (Notorynchus cepedianus), which can reach lengths of about 10 feet! Sevengills are found in our waters mostly during the spring and summer months. During these warmer months there is an increase in the abundance of large, pregnant females, leading scientists to believe that they come to San Francisco to give birth. Sevengills eat mostly fish (including other smaller sharks), but larger ones will eat marine mammals as well. Sevengills also appear to come into the Bay in pursuit of smaller prey species of sharks, such as the Brown Smoothhound (Mustelus henlei), a species that is common in the early spring. Interestingly, it has been shown that the coloration of the Sevengills in San Francisco differs from other locations in California, leading to the possibility of subspecies in Californian waters.

Probably the most abundant shark in the San Francisco Bay is the Leopard Shark (Triakis semifasciata). This medium-sized shark, which can grow up to 5 feet long, feeds on worms, crabs, clams, and small fish in shallow water. The Leopard Shark can move large distances (some move down to Southern California), but the ones in the Bay seem to be mostly residents. San Francisco is a vital nursery area for these sharks, as newborns of the species are commonly found in the safety of the shallow waters found here.


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