The Answers III

August 23, 2006

One more set of questions for tonight, but first some weather.

I often feel as if I live in a rain forest.  Not so much the last 2 months but that feeling returned today.  I awoke to steady light rain this morning (not just drizzle, but actual rain) and ended up with .07" at my home at 1000′ above Rooster Rock park (no it’s not a mansion).  I see Camas had .03", but PDX & TTD only got a trace.  I’m sure it was caused by that disturbance that moved through Central Oregon this morning.  Probably just enough lifting of the marine airmass to give us showers up against the Cascades.  Same thing may occur tomorrow as another disturbance moves through the Northwest, keeping the thick marine airmass in place.

I’ve bumped up weekend temperatures a bit since ridging is pretty strong on both ECMWF & GFS.  850mb temps peak around +20 on Sunday.  Not a good east wind event, but light easterly flow especially Saturday.  We are crossing into the time of year where we need a decent east wind over Cascades/through Gorge to really max out our temperatures, since it gets tougher to break the nighttime inversions in September.

So…2 more questions:

Q.  How often do you interact with other forecasters on the other stations?…Charlie

A.  Depends on who it is.  Obviously the forecasters I’ve worked with I already know and I’m much more likely to pick up the phone to chat (Rod Hill, Jim Little, Pete Parsons).  Others I may see from time to time at Oregon Chapter AMS Events or maybe the national AMS Broadcasters Conference or even local media karaoke midnight events (those DO actually happen).  I haven’t met 3 or 4 of the local weather people.  Maybe we should just have one big wild weather party?

Q.  When you cover the big snowstorms, are there beds/showers at the station, or do you go home?…Charlie

A.  There is a couch and shower in one room and KPTV does have the newest station in town so it’s not too gross actually.  And during the big ice storm event in January 2004 I did that for one "night", which consists of about midnight-3am sleeping.  But the station always just pays for a room at a local hotel here in the same business park, even if it’s just for a few hours.  You just have to make sure you bring enough suits, ties, & undies.  Of course I prefer to go home unless it’s a short overnight turnaround.  I’ve driven the 37 miles from Beaverton to the Gorge in an ice storm and it’s never taken me more than 1 hour, mainly because there are NO other vehicles on the road at midnight during a storm…Mark

The Answers II

August 22, 2006

A bit more free time tonight, so let’s catch up on more questions.

First the weather;  there’s not much to talk about, more onshore flow tomorrow, then it weakens as we go into Thursday.  Friday-Sunday are either northerly or northeasterly flow for temps back up close to 90.  We are likely done with 100 this season since we’ve only hit it 2 times beyond the period of our 7 day forecast.  You can see the slow change on the maps today.  Look at the 18z GFS 500mb fcst. on my personal weather page and you’ll see the increasingly deep polar lows as northern latitudes already start cooling down.

So, here are a few answers…

Q.  what is your opinion on the fall/winter outlook? Think we might see a better winter this year or stay on our average of the last 8+ years of having not so great winters….Josh (The Snowman) & Andrew in separate questions

A.  I have never issued a fall/winter outlook because I really think it’s a crapshoot.  Or am I just no fun???  We just seem to have milder winters lately, but even if our climate is slowly warming, what if that 1950 pattern sets up again or the 1979 one?  Instead of 4 big snowstorms in a month we might just have 3.  I have no idea, but I’ll once again state this fall that we’re overdue for a major windstorm (70+ mph gust at PDX).

Q.  don’t mean for this to be personal but where do you like to vacation? As in do you go chase storms ever or anything when you take a vacation? If you don’t want to answer that its cool with me.

A.  That’s not too personal.  I just didn’t want to give out my address, weight, or kid’s pictures.  I actually like to go to warm tropical places (Hawaii in March anyone?).  I would LOVE to go on a storm chase and my wife has even offered to join, but maybe when the kids are a bit older.  The last few years my family & I have had great times staying in fire lookouts in the Northwest.  They are cheap, there is often lightning, and no people (of course I love all our viewers here at FOX-12, but you know what I mean).  We just stayed at Thompson Peak near Missoula last week.  I missed the lightning by one day, but what a night to leave the windows open with the stars shining and town lights miles away and half a mile straight down.

Q. Besides Portland, what city would you find most interesting to forecast for?

A.  I have a friend doing TV in Wichita, KS and it’s crazy weather there.  Anywhere in the Midwest from the Rockies to Indiana or so would be pretty busy much of the year.  Fall is slow everywhere.  There are places that would be interesting but I would never go to.  That includes the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Coast states (not counting Maine).  Too hot or too many people in those places.  Northwest works just fine for me since it’s home anyway…Mark

The Answers I

August 22, 2006

A bit slow getting caught up tonight.  But some good questions during the week I was off.

Q.   I know you grew up in this general area, so I’m wondering when you actually became a weather fan? At least that earliest you remember being crazy about the weather.  My second question, what was your favorite childhood weather event here, as far as the most memorable to experience/follow? I can think of any number of crazy weather events here from the late ’70’s through the ’80s, so I have to wonder…Dmitri

A.  I don’t remember exactly when, but sometime around 1978 maybe?  Those ice storms in the metro area didn’t get my home near Mt. Angel, but the TV pictures were very cool for a 9-10 year old.  The November 1981 windstorm was a biggie, but I clearly remember being interested in weather before that time.  As for most memorable, that’s probably it, along with the 1985 Thanksgiving snowy period.  And that weird January 1985 dry spell too.  We were under an inversion almost the whole month.  I would consider the February 1989 cold spell more of a "young adult" memory since I was already around 20 years old at that time.

Q. What’s the craziest weather you’ve ever seen?

A.  Tornado over Kitsap County in 1991, spotted WHILE IN FORECASTING CLASS 20 MILES AWAY at the University of Washington!  It was April or May and there were a few thunderstorms around, but none in North Seattle.  We were busy plotting our weather charts on the 6th floor of the Atmospheric Sciences building.  As always, I was staring out the windows, not doing my work.  I looked to the east and noticed a dark gray "shelf-ish" looking cloud at least 10 miles away.  Then I looked back about 10 seconds later and noticed there was something hanging out of it.  I made a joke like "wow, looks like a tornado over there".  Of course no one listened to me (always happens).  But within 5-10 seconds it suddenly lowered and appeared to be a tornado forming.  Pretty small from that distance but it was somewhat obvious.  Me & Steve sprinted down the hallway, and up the stairs to the roof.  Just as I crested the roofline you could see a chunk of water or vapor suddenly swirl up the vortex.  KING-TV had video of that and I would assume that KGW (sister company) got that video back then too, so maybe it showed up here in Portland too.  What’s the chance of seeing a tornado in Seattle, while in a meteorology class???

Let’s forget weather for tonight, it’s late and we just have a stronger push the next 2 days, then back to warming this weekend…no rain in sight…Mark

Weather Questions Only

August 11, 2006

Okay, so I’m headed out on a few days (alright, maybe a week) vacation.  Let’s try something different. 

Post any questions about weather or television weathercasting you have on this thread and I’ll attempt to answer when I get back.  Anything goes except for detailed personal questions.

Example #1  "what is that little thing you hold in your hand at the weather wall?" (okay)
Example #2  "how many kids do you have and is your wife good looking?" (inappropriate, but "2" & "yes")


The Big Picture

August 10, 2006

I was just noticing tonight (and mentioned on-air) that we’ve had no hot weather during the peak of the Northwest dry season.  We’ve only hit 90 once since the heat wave ended July 24th.  Considering the 7 Day Forecast, it seems likely that we’ll go about 3 weeks with little or no 90 degree weather.

The reason is that the big ridge that sometimes gives us hot weather has been well east of us.  We’ve seen several weak troughs move over or nearby the last couple of weeks too.  This adds up to a regular presence of a thick marine airmass west of the Cascades.  Not too many of us complain of course, especially after the excessive heat of mid-July.  But it is a bit strange after such a warm start to summer.  I suppose it lends support to the truth that weather usually averages out to "normal" in the end…Mark

Pretty Slow Weather

August 8, 2006

A shorter post tonight since I’m running behind…

All big convection has moved east into Idaho this evening, but many thousands of lightning strikes in Oregon during the last 24 hours.  Several severe storms developed over Baker, Union & Wallowa counties.  Back in Northwest Oregon a dying cold front gave Astoria a few drips this evening as clouds moved a bit farther inland.  A 2nd trough moves through Thursday-Friday for more cooling.  Then it’s back to a warmup starting Saturday.  All-in-all a normal August pattern.  I don’t see any good chance for rain, thunder, or temps above 90 in the Portland Metro area the next 7-10 days…Mark

Thunderstorm Update Monday

August 7, 2006

Drew did a very good job forecasting the extent of the storms this afternoon & evening!  Several storms tried to develop over the Valley, but only a strike or two near Amity & Corvallis.  All other lightning strikes were over the Cascades today and I expect it to stay that way overnight.

Much more impressive is the massive marine push in progress.  North Bend to Portland pressure gradient peaked out at 7.5 mbs. this evening!  That’s similar to a strong south wind situation in winter.  And the North Bend to Spokane gradient jumped from 3 mb. yesterday evening to 11 today.  Obviously it’s going to be much cooler tomorrrow.

The upper-level low kicking out to NE Oregon tomorrow evening should put most of the big storms up there by afternoon…Mark