A message from the intern

September 19, 2006

Hi, this is Kim.  I’m hanging out (er, working) here in the weather center a few days a week as Mark’s weather intern (what else?).  I do a few things, like the Bend weather graphics, some of the 10 and 11 o’clock graphics, and random little assignments he (sometimes) thinks up for me.  No, the graphics aren’t rocket science, as evidenced by the fact that I can do them even though I’ve only been here about two months.  I certainly do enjoy myself here, and I’ve learned a lot about both TV weather broadcasting and behind-the-scenes TV "life" as well.

Since you get a lot of weather information (usually) on this blog, have a little info about myself.  I’m currently a physics major at OSU (go Beavs!) and will be starting my senior year there next week.  Physics doesn’t generally denote an interest in meteorology, so to clarify, I’m planning on going to graduate school next year to get a master’s in this field.  Before I entered college I was told that having a physics degree would provide a solid foundation for the study of weather, which is why I’m on this track today.  I’ve been interested in the weather, particularly the severe kind, since I was a little kid (about 12 years ago, to be precise, since many people still see me as a kid, unfortunately).  I definitely get excited every time there is even a hint of a thunderstorm, much to the amusement of friends and family.

Well, I think that’s enough about me as it sounds like I’m writing a book by this point.

– Kim

Back to Summer?

September 19, 2006

Showers ending this evening, I just set a timelapse for one of the last few stragglers coming down the hills from Scappoose towards Northwest Portland at 4pm.  Hopefully that will make for magical TV moments at 10pm (more than the usual magical moments at least).  Then we wait for a vigorous little system to come through tomorrow night.  Nice northwest flow behind this one so it should be a sharp wind shift type front; from southerly to northwest.

After that I HAD been expecting a weather system brushby later Saturday or Sunday with flat westerly flow over us.  But as you folks have discussed in the previous thread, the GFS and ECMWF are now in agreement on upper-level ridging sitting just offshore from Friday through early next week at least.  The trend is solid, even if 36 hours ago the GFS was not showing it, so I’ll go with it and do some major surgery to the 7 Day forecast in the next hour.  Nice offshore flow Sunday-Monday too, probably enough to push us up past 80 again.

By the way, I see NCEP will release the monthly long range forecasts on Thursday.  That should be interesting to see how their latest El Nino forecast changes the winter outlook…Mark

Monday Evening Thoughts

September 18, 2006

A nice mellow evening on the weather deck.  Little system moving east into Idaho and another good burst of rainfall later tonight.  We should hear the pitter-patter of rain in the 3am-6am hours as a line of showers move inland.  More instability behind this arrives midday tomorrow so I think thunder is possible around midday with forecast lifted index near 1.0  This upper-level trough overhead shifts east a bit through Thursday, with one last chunk of energy coming through Thursday morning.

After that we have some disagreement…once again for the weekend of course.  The good news is that 18z/00z GFS along with the ECMWF hold off rain quite a bit longer and have a sharper ridge Friday-most of Sunday.  If so, my high temperature forecasts will be low for Saturday/Sunday, but hey, there’s always tomorrow to revise upward (or maybe in time for the last hit at 11:25!).

It’s nice to turn off the watering and I see my lawn is beginning to show green again with the combo of cooling/rain.  Unfortunately only 1 of my 3 kids’ pumpkins is orange so far, so we could use some more warm weather for that.  Plus I still have eaves on the house to paint and I’d like to get that done before mid-0ctober too. I’m not ready for Fall rains yet!   Enjoy the rain tomorrow…Mark

By the way…it DID hit 73 today, I missed it on the climo report…happened at 5:16pm.  I should be severely beaten by a roll of February 1989 weather maps for that error.

El Nino?

September 15, 2006

El Nino is back apparently…here is the NOAA special advisory:


So what does it mean for this winter in the Northwest?  Each El Nino produces different weather here, but in general we tend to be warmer and drier than normal.  That’s due to the storm track often shifting to the north over the western part of our continent.  Or it will split at times, sending some systems into California.  An enhanced subtropical jet tends to move north too, impacting California with heavy rains.   

Here’s a good link that our state climatologist has for El Nino’s effects on the NW:


As for this weekend, tough call with an annoying little system coming in now tomorrow night and Sunday.  Looks like the GFS was a bit too dry a couple days ago, but the ETA was too wet.  Maybe next week’s forecasting will be a bit simpler.

Now discuss amongst yourselves…Mark

Evening Update

September 14, 2006

What a busy weather afternoon.  Numerous thunderstorms with downpours and hail popped up across the region today, mainly west of the Cascades here in Oregon.  1 strong cells moved right across central Clark County, another along the I-205 to Troutdale area, and a 3rd from Wilsonville-Oregon City-Eagle Creek.  With the loss of daytime heating we’re back to "lightning-free" showers for the rest of the night.  Tomorrow should be similar.  Models claim there will be less lifting as the upper-low sinks south, but I’m confident that this cold/moist airmass should be able to fire up a few storms with September sunbreaks.  I notice the record (low) high for tomorrow is 57, so I think it’s unlikely we’ll stay below that.

Then the weekend…hmmm.

I was afraid to look, and I shouldn’t have; the new 00z ETA is even wetter, with 2.32" of precip in the next 84 hours (now-Monday morning).  That’s nuts, but why it continues to generate so much more rain and flatter westerly flow is a mystery to me.  Once again we’ll see what the 00z GFS shows around 9pm when it arrives.  Hopefully it won’t veer towards the wet stuff or else the weekend forecast will need major adjustments.  Fingers are crossed….I have to say that it’s rare models are so different this close to the zero forecast hour…Mark

Refining the Forecast

September 13, 2006

Everything is right on track forecast-wise through the next 48 hours (tomorrow/Friday).  Nice dry cold front passing through tonight and as expected it looks like most precip for most of us in the lowlands will fall with afternoon convective showers tomorrow and Friday.  Upslope areas such as Cascade Foothills and Coast Range will see showers develop overnight though as strong westerly flow is developing behind the cold front.  It doesn’t look like the snow level drops below 5,000′ until tomorrow night.  Maybe flakes down to 4000′ and sticking snow to 4,500′.

Everything is NOT on track beginning Saturday.  New 00z NAM-WRF shows little to no ridging now Saturday-Sunday so a system plows right into us Saturday and lingers Sunday (oops!).  If so, a cloudy and wet, but mild weekend.  Obviously this doesn’t jive with my current partly cloudy and warm forecast so we’ll see what the 00z GFS shows.  It seems to do much better than the NAM-WRF generally.  Major adjustment due at 10pm if it suddenly shifts the flow farther south too…just another "refinement" to the forecast right?  Mark

9:20pm:  00z GFS has the ridging stronger this weekend…hmm, glad this isn’t a snow/no snow forecast.  That would be a REALLY tough one.  I’ll roll the dice and keep it dry Saturday/Sunday

Tweaking the Forecast

September 12, 2006

That’s what meteorologists do quite a bit each day while forecasting.  New information comes in and you have to decided if the new data is enough to change your initial forecast numbers.  I frequently like to use  a saying I got from Randy Querin.  He said we are "constantly refining & improving the forecast".   That’s much more positive than saying we have a bad forecast and need to change it.

Anyway, a few thoughts on our little upcoming cold snap:
1.  Within 48 hours there will be a big cold trough sitting right overhead.  The first strong shortwave is west of Juneau this evening.  That’s the one that drops straight south, carving out a nice curved trough.
2.  No organized cold front steady rain with this system.  Just a deep marine layer tomorrow-Thursday AM, then a destabilizing atmosphere as cold air arrives Thursday (and continuing into Friday).  So I think we’ll see showery weather, not steady rain.  Mainly Thursday & Friday afternoons and each morning in the usual upslope areas (my house).  Of course thunder is possible too during this pattern.
3.  Not a ton of snow in the mountains, and probably not much below 5000′ either.
4.  The big trough kicks out Friday evening and we wait until Monday for another wave to come in not from the north but from the west. 

The "tweak" I’ve made to the forecast is that the low kicking out is followed by briefly strong ridging ahead of the next system Monday.  18z GFS fell into line this afternoon with the 12z ECMWF.  They both show nice offshore flow Sunday ahead of that next wave.  75-80 is the result in mid September with an 850mb temp near 10 or so in the afternoon.  So we have a nice weekend coming up after a chilly Thursday-Friday…Mark