Monday, July 4, 2011

Putting Going to the Sun's delayed opening into perspective

Posted By on Mon, Jul 4, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Tristan Scott reported in Saturday's Missoulian that Glacier National Park's Going to the Sun Road won't open by July 4 for just the third time in the park's 100-year history.

The other two delayed openings occurred in 1933, the year Logan Pass debuted to the public, and in 1943, when the war caused staff reductions. This year's delay —which could last a few more weeks — is entirely weather related.

Scott reports that the Big Drift is estimated to have between 50 and 60 feet of snow, a "depth normally seen on Memorial Day weekend." When I was at GNP last week a park ranger said surveyors could recently only see the chimney of the Logan Pass visitor's center.

So, how do we put this rare delay into perspective?

Here are a few other things that have only happened three times in the last 100 years:

Industrial nations tap oil reserves. This happened last week.

A president bounces back. Three times in the last 100 years a president has presided over a loss of Congress in their first midterm election, and each time that seemingly deadbeat president has won reelection two years later. The examples: Harry Truman in 1948, Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, and Bill Clinton in 1996. Barack Obama has a chance to be the fourth next year.

A Newt Gingrich candidacy. He infamously stated earlier this year: "It's going to take a while for the news media to realize that you're covering something that happens once or twice in a century, a genuine grassroots campaign of very big ideas.”

A baseball team has scored in each of its nine at-bats. And each time, it was a National League team. Gotta love baseball stats.

Brits see the Corrugated Crab. This is a big thing on the other side of the pond, where the native nocturnal swimming crab is in recovery.

People magazine has a repeat winner of its Sexiest Man Alive contest. The last repeat winner was Johnny Depp in 2009. The others were Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

So, what does the rare occurrence mean? Maybe nothing. Although Bill McKibben says it's time to start making the connection between historic weather events and climate change.

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