Snarky Seattle KOMO TV commentator Ken Schram snipes:

First: To all the people who’ve sent me e-mails ragging on Governor Gregoire for her remarks about the drought.

She was telling people how we’d all have to conserve; take shorter showers; flush toilets less and “…brush only every other tooth.”

For all of you who took the Governor seriously: You have the IQ of an Altoid.

Please, do not have children.

We face a frightening summer of fire and dust and dying animals in the Northwest:

“Barring a miracle,” the Corvallis [OR] Gazette-Times editorializes, “it looks as though the Northwest could be facing a drought the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the Dust Bowl.”

Worse yet, we have a worldwide drought crisis. For example, in Thailand’s province of Loei, elephants “are descending from their mountain homes to raid villages for food, as the north-eastern province becomes firmly gripped by drought.”

And so the story goes on, around and around the globe, which we’ll partly traverse in this diary.

In Montana, where Gov. Brian Schweitzer is pleading with the Pentagon to return troops from Iraq to fight the expected forest fires, the story of “this winter’s drought is writ large upon David Madison’s left hip, composed boldly in purple tending toward yellow, a tale the size of a grapefruit. …”

“I was cruising down the face” of the Big Mountain ski resort, Madison said, “when I hit this sort of puddle. One ski just stopped.”

Physics took over, and Madison pitched forward.

“They can’t mark all the bare spots,” on the mountain, he said, “because there’s just so many of them.”

Skiers who usually brag about “face shots” (those moments when deep powder spills over their heads) are now talking up “pond shots” (those moments when they skim across meltwater puddles and the spray is blinding).


     Facts about Montana:

– the Natural Resources Conservation Service pegs “statewide snowpack at roughly half the historic average, considerably less than half west of the Continental Divide”
– even if “it started raining tomorrow and kept up at an average pace right through spring, summer streamflows would still be lucky to hit 50 percent”
– because “global temperature is higher now than it has been in 1,000 years,”
and because the hottest year in a century was 1998, the 2nd hottest in 2002, and the third hottest in 2003, Glacier National Park — “home to 150 glaciers in 1850” — now has about two dozen. “The 100 square kilometers of ice measured among the park’s peaks a century ago have melted to fewer than 19.”


150 glaciers in the year 1850. 24 glaciers in the year 2005.

100 sq. km of ice in 1905. 19 sq. km of ice in 2005.

The good news: Elephants are not indigenous to Montana.

     A fact about Arizona and New Mexico:

– “Millions of acres, whole forests of pinyon and ponderosa pine, are dying of thirst after living there more than 10,000 years”

The good news: Glaciers are not indigenous to Arizona.


     Facts about Washington State:

– Governor Christine Gregoire, on March 11, declared a drought emergency, warning of a “tough summer”
– Early dust clouds are forecast for Eastern Washington
– The drought declaration “has Washington’s billion-dollar nursery-and-landscape industry worried that it could suffer if customers downsize gardens out of a desire to save water or a fear of losing new greenery to possible watering restrictions.” (“Jens Molbak, CEO of Molbak’s nursery in Woodinville, lobbied Gov. Christine Gregoire not to declare a drought, believing that the resulting concern among gardeners would hurt the state’s nursery industry. The declaration was made anyway.”)

The last time:

– Fire “tore through 227,000 Washington acres”
– “Millions of baby salmon died in streams and rivers that were too warm and too shallow”
– “Farmers and orchardists lost entire crops”

“Conditions this summer promise to be even more dire than the drought of 2001 for businesses, freshwater ecosystems and blaze-prone wild lands, scientists and state officials predict.”

The good news: Mostly Republicans live in the dusty part of the state.

Also good news: Although the lack of precipitation has been a disaster for ski resorts, it has proved a bonanza for golf courses in February and March. The West Seattle Golf Course has recorded “4,200 rounds since Feb. 1 … up nearly 65 percent from 2,550 rounds during the same period last year.”

::: To Be Continued :::

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