Longview Tornado

October 23, 2014

7pm Update:  NWS says it was an EF-1 tornado


It’s been a year and a half, but today it was time for another tornado in the FOX12 viewing area.  This time it was in downtown Longview!  Multiple videos we’ve been showing on-air and those you’ve probably seen on social media.  We’ll find out this evening what EF rating it will get; the NWS is up there right now doing a storm survey.  From the damage it appears to be similar to what hit Aumsville in December 2010, maybe a little weaker.  Here are the last 3 tornadoes we’ve seen in our area




Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Wettest Day in 2+ Years: Stormy Saturday Thoughts

October 22, 2014


1.89″ of rain so far in Portland today, that’s our wettest calendar day since January 19th, 2012!

Luckily tomorrow we’ll see just frequent showers with sunbreaks mixed in.  Still wet, but not as gloomy.

I’ve been running way behind all night since I’ve been training a new employee and doing 3.5 hours of news from 8-11:30pm. Doesn’t leave much time for blogging!

I’ve checked out all the models for Saturday when there are hints of a surface low pressure system possibility shooting up the coastline and giving us a south wind of some sort.  The 12z GFS had shown a major windstorm for our area, but following runs are much weaker.  The 12z ECMWF was pretty windy. The 00z NAM and 00z GFS are splitty and weak, nothing to see with those runs.  The 00z Canadian is windy but nothing too crazy.  The new 00z ECMWF is noticeably weaker, but the low is doing almost exactly the same movement from SW to NE.  Here’s the 11am, 5pm, and 11pm Saturday.




The storm moves quickly, from off Cape Blanco to Puget Sound in 12 hours!  But it weakens from around 983mb to 990 at the same time.  If you want a good windstorm you want a deepening low to move quickly.

The wind gust forecast shows 50+ kt gusts at 11pm over SW Washington. ecmwf_uv10g_nw_14  There is no image between 5pm and 11pm, but I think it’s safe to say the ECMWF would show 50 mph gusts over the Willamette Valley based on this.

I’m not real excited for now (yet), and I’m hoping for model solutions that are much closer tomorrow so we can make a coherent forecast without a bunch of words like “possible, could be, watching, not sure, undecided etc…”

I do like that the ECMWF has shown two runs with pretty consistent solutions.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Downpours Have Arrived: Rough Evening Commute Ahead!

October 22, 2014


There are going to be some spots of local flooding during the evening commute in the urban areas.   Just some spots, not everywhere, but allow extra time to get to your destination!  At this point there are no flood warnings or advisories, or any weather warnings for that matter.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if the NWS issues a small stream flood advisory soon.

Take a look at rain so far…


At PDX .93″ has fallen just since 11am.  The rain has been particularly heavy on the west/southwest side of the metro area too. In my experience, when you get several hours of .30″ or more, that’s when local flooding issues start popping up across the inland valleys.  Portland saw .38″ in one hour from 1-2pm.

The HRRR model says we could see another 1/2″ or more by midnight, most of that before 7pm as the last real “wave” on the front over us moves by.  After that time we turn more showery and the threat for local ponding/flooding will pretty much end.

Thursday is a showers/sunbreaks sort of day, but still a pretty good soaker.

I’m working on the forecast right now and taking a very close look at the Saturday forecast.  Some models are producing a lot of wind in the afternoon…others not so much.

More later…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

A Soaker For Wednesday

October 21, 2014

Let’s get this out of the way right now…

There isn’t a major wind or rain storm of any sort heading into the area the next 24 hours

That said, it sure is going to be a wet day Wednesday and windy at times too!

So why do you see BREAKING WEATHER ALERTS, STORM TEAM COVERAGE etc…on TV and splashed across Twitter and Facebook?  Or why does your weather radio suddenly go off on its own at 5am?  Well, it’s the first windy and wet system as we head into the rainy season and we news folks have a lot of pent-up weather energy.  We need a good storm!

Here are the wind details:

  • Gusty south wind picks up the next few hours at the coast…gusts to 60 mph are possible in the windier spots
  • Southerly winds pick up around daybreak in the valleys.  Southerly gusts 30-35 mph possible in the morning; about what we saw a week ago

MarkWarnings_Wind_Coast_Valleys1 MarkWarnings_Wind_Coast_Valleys

How much rain?  Our RPM model says almost an inch by sunset tomorrow.  Note the PRECIP ACCUM column.  web_RPM_Text_00z_PDX_4km

A big soaker, but nothing that would cause anything more than temporary ponding on streets or highways.  Of course in the fall any storm drain blocked by leaves can produce a quick local pond can’t it?

It looks like another inch could fall from that time through Thursday evening, so we could see two inches.  Our RPM tends to be a little heavy, but here’s what it shows:


Yesterday it was pretty obvious that this is the beginning of our wet season…take a look at today’s ECMWF meteogram for the next 10 days:


The rain sure isn’t very heavy further into the extended forecast, but there is no really good dry period.  Also notice we are done with 80s and 70s too.  Temperatures should be much closer to normal for the next ten days.  The average high in Portland 10 days from now is 58!

Stay dry tomorrow!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Sunday…A Spectacular Day!

October 19, 2014

Bright sunshine and temperatures well into the 70s on October 19th; no wonder I saw a lot of people outside today as I found the end of the Springwater Trail!  At 3pm the temperature is 74 at PDX, likely headed for a high of 75-77.  The record for the day is 78 so we probably won’t hit it.  Still, it was great to bicycle outside in the sunshine as if it was summer.  At least this will make winter come a bit faster mentally.

As for the Springwater Trail, that’s the paved bike/walk/hike path that goes 22 miles from Downtown Portland to Boring.  The last 2 miles or so were just paved withing the last couple of years and were especially smooth.  My son and I rode from Gresham out to Boring this afternoon.  Officially the trail ends there…for now, and the trail becomes the Cazadero Trail at that point. The next 3 miles of the old railroad bed are an improved gravel surface which was really easy on mountain bikes, actually a bit better than my driveway.  IMG_0593  It heads downhill along the north fork of Deep Creek.  You only pass 2 or 3 homes otherwise you are in the woods.  At the 3 mile mark the trail suddenly ends at a dropoff.  There used to be a railroad trestle at that location; all that’s left is the concrete abutment.IMG_0592  At this point you are only 1/4 mile or so from Hwy. 224 at Barton, just above Barton Park.   Obviously it’s not going to be cheap to get the trail down to the highway, but from what I read online, the plan is to finish the trail to Estacada or a little beyond to one of those dams.  For now you have to turn around and go back uphill to Boring, which was only about 300′ up in elevation.  It’s also interesting that when bicycling the 6 miles from Gresham to Boring, you really don’t notice that you’re going uphill, but you can sure feel it coming back…significantly faster.  Reminds me of my big bicycle ride last year from Elgin to Joseph.  In 35 miles you climb around 2,700′, yet it’s just barely noticeable…mostly you just feel like you’re getting a little lazy and pudgy.

I hope you all were able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather because the chance of us hitting 70 degrees again is pretty slim.  Take a look at the 12z ECMWF meteogram…lots of wet and much cooler as temperatures really fall off over the next 10 days.  KPDX_2014101912_dx_240

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

A Record Long Growing Season; At Least in One Spot

October 16, 2014

Have you noticed what is missing this October?  Frost!  Not here in the metro area, but elsewhere.  Only the higher parts of Central and Eastern Oregon have seen frost so far.  It hasn’t even been close west of the Cascades.  Considering we have lots more above average nights in our 7 Day Forecast, that means many areas that should have had a frost by now are seeing an unusually long growing season this year.

Tim Dearden from Trout Lake WA (north of Hood River) says there has still been no frost since April 28th at that ~2,000′ location.  He looked up the records and found that Trout Lake Ranger Station is already 15+ days ahead of its longest growing season ever!  He too noticed that nights have been much warmer than normal during the summer and early fall.  If you’ve ever been to Trout Lake, troutlake it should be obvious to you that there is no urban heat island in that location!

Tim took the numbers and plotted out the growing season length over the past 90 years.


Isn’t that interesting?  It appears the growing season IN THAT LOCATION is averaging 2-4 weeks longer than 100 years ago. I don’t have the time to research it, but I’m wondering if it’s mainly the fall dates that are changing the past 30 years at least and not the spring dates.  I was thinking it might be related to summer warmth that seems to be spreading into early fall more often.

I’d love to see how the numbers look for a few other rural locations, like maybe Corvallis, Aurora, or Hillsboro (still mainly rural at airport).  Someone get to work on some spreadsheets!

A Windy Day, And A Tornado That Never Was

October 15, 2014

The gusty southerly wind showed up as expected this morning, with peak gusts in the 25-35 mph range for most of us.  PDX hit 35 mph.  That of course prompted some scattered power outages, but those were pretty much gone by early afternoon.

Around 4pm we got an email from a viewer that thought a tornado may have gone through the part of Woodburn just west of the Outlet Stores.  So we sent a reporter down to check it out.  I assumed it probably wasn’t much, but you never know.  In the past I’ve found that unless several viewers call/email/tweet from a populated area like that, there’s a good chance that it wasn’t a tornado.  So I was surprised when I read two tweets (from other news organizations) that said there was a small tornado in Woodburn.  I said “What?”, fearing I had fallen woefully behind in the information business.  I checked the “pre-2010″ channels of National Weather Service information, which involves checking Public Weather Statements and Storm Reports…Nothing.  So then I went to the “pre-2000″ level…I called the NWS.  Of course they said “What?” too, noting they sent a team down to investigate but as of that time (5pm), there was no tornado.

Sure enough, damage pictures came in from our reporter Laura Rillos…

Woodburn Tornado 3 Woodburn Tornado 1

and showed what the NWS told us in a Tweet around 6pm…”Storm survey concludes down tree limbs on Butteville Rd (west of Woodburn Outlet Mall) was from 30-40mph straight line winds & NOT a tornado

It was just a heavy shower that sent out a strong straight-line wind.  A lot of drama for that, but it sure made two hours of TV pass quickly!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 300 other followers