News for the week of December 18, 2014
ALTURAS received a good dusting of snow on Monday, creating some issues for drivers and deer. The snow levels in the mountains looked a little better as well.
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Mountains are getting good snow
The long line of wet storms has perked up attitudes about the drought, but it’s still way too early to get too excited, according to weather experts.
This week has been wet and the weather pattern stays that way though the weekend. The good new this week is the increasing snow levels in the mountains.
Cedar Pass has gone from three inches at 7,100 feet last week to nine inches this week and more predicted. Dismal Swamp now records 27 inches, up from 18 at 7,000 feet. Adin Mountain records eight inches of snow, up from six. On Tuesday, Crowder Flat had three inches, up from none.
December is turning out to be a better month for precipitation. As of Tuesday, 1.52 inches of moisture has been measured this month, well above the normal to date of .53 inches. The full month average for December is 1.71 inches.
Board agrees to purchase of courthouse elevator
The effort to have an elevator installed at the Modoc County Courthouse took a big step forward Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors accepted a bid for the elevator itself, in the amount of $82,470.
The low bid came from National Lift Company for a LULA elevator manufactured by SAVARIA.
Modoc County Chief Administrative Officer Chester Robertson said the construction phase of the project is now out for bid and those bids should be in and opened just after Christmas.
The elevator will go on southeast portion of the Courthouse and the engineer’s design has it blending into the structure. The engineer’s estimate for the construction phase is about $170,000 putting the elevator project cost estimate at $262,470. The funds come from a state Parks and Recreation grant. Robertson said the deadline for completion is March 23.
Fed budget has some good news for counties
The strange federal budget passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed this week has some good and bad news in it, but it does have some needed funding for counties.
The House passed a sweeping $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations package on December 11 following a tense, protracted debate over the inclusion of several controversial policy riders. The Senate passed it this week.
According to the County Supervisors Association of California, CSAC, in a major win for California's counties, the final spending legislation provides $372 million for the Payments-in-lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) program. The funding, combined with the $70 million for PILT that was included in the Department of Defense authorization bill (HR 3979), will bring total PILT funding for fiscal year 2015 to $442 million (slightly more than the fiscal year 2014 level of $436.9 million).
SV playa cracks getting more study
One of the most viewed points of interest in Surprise Valley has been the huge cracks that are developing on the playa north of the causeway.
Nevada State Geologist Jim Faulds suggests the cracks could be forming as the result of several reasons. He talked to John Bell, a fellow scientist and expert on fissures. After looking at photos of the cracks, he commented that “These are fissures and there could be several possible causes: tectonic, groundwater/geothermal pumping, or giant desiccation cracks. One would have to evaluate each possibility. If tectonic, they could be evidence for a seismic strain, which I have suspected in a couple of cases. If pumping related, one would look for nearby activities and subsidence. If desiccation, they would generally parallel the margin of the dry lake or form giant polygons. Large cracks like these on playas are fairly common, but I would not rule out tectonic strain with all the earthquake activity that has happened.”
Gail Mahood, a geology professor at Stanford University has been studying calderas east of Cedarville for approximately 20 years. She was in Cedarville recently and wanted to examine the cracks.
Hiking out on the increasingly wet playa, she pointed out some small cracks and likened them to the larger ones.
“If you look at the small cracks that are forming in the drying puddles you notice they’re polygonal in shape. Then take a look at the larger cracks, they’re also polygonal. My guess is that nature is repeating the dessication cracks on a much larger scale,” said Mahood
She explained that the drought and irrigation pumping caused stress to build up below the surface and the recent rains are acting as a lubricant to set loose the stress and form the cracks.
Larry Edward Birge
Larry Birge was the eldest of four children born to Ernest Edward and Dorothy Helen (Metcalf) Birge, on September 11, 1942 in Berkeley, CA. He died November 29, 2014 in Reno.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 2 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Alturas, CA.
Mary Rice of Alturas passed away on December 11, 2014 in Alturas at the Warnerview Convalescent Hospital. She was born on August 12, 1940.
A celebration of life will be held on December 20, 2014, at 1 p.m., at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall on So. Main Street, in Alturas. A potluck will follow the services. Mrs. Rice’s obituary will follow in a future issue.
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