An Amazing Sight

Snow that was forecast for our area for midnight to 10 AM this morning did not materialize. This did, though:




At about 2 PM yesterday during a period of heavy wind and rain, the precipitation changed to sleet and then to snow. According to NWS Phoenix, the snow level suddenly and unexpectedly dropped to 2,000 feet. We are at 2,100 feet and Voila! My wonderful wife’s parents live 9 miles away in terms of driving distance and are at 1,800 feet, but all they received was rain. It snowed here for almost an hour.

The temperature at Sky Harbor airport fell into the upper 30s, but our temperature was not much above freezing, hence the snow. The micro-climatic variations in this area can be most amazing. In this part of metro Phoenix, snow is not unheard of. While Scottsdale Airport is 1,500 feet above sea level, some parts of the city are 1,000-1,500 feet higher than that. Remember that the average dry, adiabatic lapse rate (change in temperature with elevation) is 5.38° F per 1,000 feet. (Sky Harbor is about 1,100 feet in elevation.)

You won’t believe this, but more than once before we left the mid-Atlantic for Arizona I told my wonderful wife that we would see snow our first winter in the desert. Oh, two hours after it stopped the snow was all melted. If anyone wants to see more pictures or video, let me know and I can publish those at a later date.


Happy 60th to The Great One! No, Jackie Gleason is no longer around to celebrate any birthdays. Today is Wayne Gretzky’s 60th birthday. Yes, that makes me feel very old.

I was a hockey fan from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s. I was a huge fan of Gretzky and followed his exploits as best as I could in a city that didn’t have an NHL team. I made my mother buy the Baltimore News American newspaper (now defunct) instead of or in addition to the Baltimore Sun (the city’s leading newspaper) because the News American printed NHL boxscores and the Sun didn’t. I had to stay current in terms of Gretzky’s goals and assists. (Don’t ask me how I actually read the newspaper because newsprint literally makes me gag. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy.)

If you’re not a hockey fan it’s difficult to understand Gretzky’s impact on the sport. When the sport you’re playing changes the rules to stop you (like the NBA did to slow down Wilt Chamberlain’s prodigious scoring in the early 1960s), you know you’re transcendent.

I don’t follow hockey anymore and I understand the game has changed quite a bit since Gretzky’s heyday. Anyway, here is a snippet of Gretzky’s bio on the official NHL website:


“Every superlative has been used, many strung together, to describe the otherworldly talent of Wayne Gretzky, who commonly is regarded as the greatest hockey player ever.

Based purely on statistics, there is no argument — the man is without peer, nor will he have one in the foreseeable future. He owns many records from the ranks of peewee hockey to the NHL, sitting atop every meaningful offensive category, often miles ahead of the players ranked second.”


He was the last player for whom the waiting period for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame was waived and his number 99 has been permanently retired for the entire NHL. “The Great One” actually seems like an understatement.


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16 thoughts on “An Amazing Sight

    1. From Wikipedia,

      “In June 1985, as part of a package of five rule changes to be implemented for the 1985–86 season, the NHL Board of Governors decided to introduce offsetting penalties, where neither team lost a man when coincidental penalties were called. The effect of calling offsetting penalties was felt immediately in the NHL, because during the early 1980s, when the Gretzky-era Oilers entered a four-on-four or three-on-three situation with an opponent, they frequently used the space on the ice to score one or more goals. Gretzky held a press conference one day after being awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy, criticizing the NHL for punishing teams and players who previously benefited. The rule change became known as “the Gretzky rule.” The rule was reversed for the 1992–93 season.”


  1. Sadly I was watching Ellen’s Game of Games with my 9 year old daughter and a 30 some year old contestant had no idea who Wayne Gretzky was. Neither did my daughter. The question was what NHL great one was once a baby sitter for Robin Thicke, son of Alan Thicke. At first I thought how does that work out mathematically. It must have been about 1977 or 78 when Robin was a baby. Gretzky was a rookie in 1979.


  2. At one time, 70’s to early 80’s, I did follow hockey as I played that in high school. Gretzky had the same effect on the game as Bobby Orr did roughly 10 years earlier. They both set standards for the position they played and it would have been great to see them go head to head in their prime.

    As to feeling old; when myself and my dad go to a restaurant (it has been over a year since we have) and we BOTH get the “senior” discount………


  3. I have a cousin in Michigan whose 8 year old daughter plays hockey. My cousin is the daughter of my first cousin.

    There was a little snow here in Tucson overnight; but then it started snowing around 10:00 am and the flurries lasted for about an hour.


  4. My cousins (the son of my grandmother’s eldest sister and his family, as well as my grandmother’s youngest sister and her family) moved to Arizona in the mid 1960s. I remember when they came back to visit (and I was a youngster) being amazed that it did snow at times down there. We visited them in Mesa one year in the late 1980s, I think it was late fall/early winter. The chill in the morning air (I think high 50s/early 60s?) made me think “yeah, I can understand how it might snow”.
    I watched all of Gretzky’s career. Of course early on I hated him, as any youthful fan does of an opposing player, especially the very good ones. As a hockey fan I came to realize his greatness and importance to the game. Without Gretzky, and especially without the trade from Edmonton to LA, you simply do not end up with 3 teams in California, and teams in Arizona, Dallas, Florida, Nashville, etc. It wasn’t only his on-ice performance, he was truly a great ambassador for the game. I mean, he is human, he wasn’t perfect, but he really embodied the joy of hockey, the typical kid growing up, skating in a backyard rink or playing street hockey.
    Most will say the 3 greatest were Howe, Orr and Gretzky (usually the order depends on when you watched the game). It’s true, rules were created to even the playing field for the rest of the league. I think some of the best measures on Gretz are these…
    when he retired he owned or shared 61 NHL regular and post-season records, and
    he has over 900 more career NHL points than 2nd place Jaromir Jagr… more than 47% more than Jagr, and played about 250 fewer NHL games than Jagr. Of course, arguments can be made about the era each played in (Jagr did not play in the explosive 80s), and about quality of teammates and quality of opposition (advanced metrics I am not as familiar with). But, to see a player outdistance their peers, even the entire history of players in the league, by such a wide margin… it’s astounding.


    1. Thanks for offering your perspective on today’s post. Glad you added the info on Gretzky.

      I used to really like hockey, even before HD TV made it easier to watch. I even played a statistically-based table game called Statis-Pro Hockey when I was in my teens. My first topic for my Masters Thesis was an application of path analysis to determine the Marginal Revenue Product of NHL players. I switched to a similar analysis of baseball’s labor market as the data sources were so much better.

      Addendum: I believe Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Larry Robinson are the only three players in NHL history to have a seasonal +/- of +100 or higher. I don’t know how far back Plus/Minus has been recorded.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know +/- is regarded as relatively new, I’d imagine it came into use in the 60s or 70s. I still follow a few people on Twitter who are into analytics, so I know +/- isn’t regarded as highly any more. Things like line changes on the fly, goals scored just after a power play expires. And, I believe the thinking has expanded to include chances at the net – because they track all that now, not only shots actually on net (goals+goalie saves) but shots that are blocked and shots directed at the net but not on net (including posts, which aren’t shots on net because by hitting the post means it never had a chance to go in). I am not good at this kind of analytics, and I know you would understand it very well, but in a nutshell I guess the idea is to determine what players are driving offence, or preventing it, and +/- (as it tracks only players (except the goalie) on the ice when even strength goals are scored) is far too narrow a descriptor of performance.
        Still, I believe stats are simply information that describe situations and to do what you describe Gretz, Orr and Big Bird did, it says something positive about their play.


      2. You know infinitely more about hockey than I do. Suffice to say that given how the conversation has moved past Batting Average, HR and RBI for hitters and Won-Lost record for pitchers in baseball, it is no surprise that analytics have advanced in hockey. I would still like to know the plus/minus figures for the players on the 1955-56 Canadians, though. That was the first of five consecutive Stanley Cup champions, set the NHL record with 45 wins and, I believe, was the first team to reach 100 points (Win = 2 Points, Tie = 1 Point) for a season.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Watching live hockey is always exciting even when you do not have the chance for instant replay from TV. On a trip with our son to the USAF Academy for him to see the school for which he had applied, we got to see a hockey game between the Cadets and the Dartmouth Bulldogs. College level hockey is not on the level of the NHL, but watching the kids play the game for the love of the game is thrilling. This is the reason I prefer college sports to the pros any day of the week.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw photos of snow on the Superstition Mountains after the storm rolled through. In ten seasons here, I’ve only seen snow on our nearby White Tank Mountains once, but over the years, I’ve seen images of snow in Scottsdale several times. Welcome to the “high desert.” 🙂


    1. Thanks, JS. This kind of snow doesn’t really bother me. My wonderful wife and I do not have to leave the house and the snow melted rather quickly. However, this morning on our way to pick up breakfast (our fridge has given up the ghost and is now freezing everything that’s NOT in the freezer) we had some amazing views of mountains that were still snow-covered juxtaposed against mountains that were not. Unfortunately, I was not in a position to get too many good pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry to hear about your fridge. Funny I had the opposite problem with our fridge in Fargo. The freezer worked fine, but the fridge wouldn’t get colder than 55 degrees.


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