Peak Wind Gusts

January 26, 2007

This post is for MEASURED strong peak wind gusts (over 20 mph), no estimates.  Only speed & location is needed.  I’ll keep it up while we are in our east wind episode this last week of January…Mark

Wind Arrives Tonight

January 25, 2007

Snapshot_10A dramatic change in progress at this hour, although you sure can’t tell if you look out the window.  East wind is just arriving at the west end of the Gorge and will push out into the metro area by daybreak.   The pressure gradient through the Gorge from PDX-DLS has gone from +2.0 millibars (westerly) to -2.4 mb (easterly) at 11pm.  Models show a good 6-8 millibars by tomorrow morning, which should give us enough wind to wipe out the fog and low clodus in the metro area.  That should be the last of the gray skies for quite some time.  I put the image to the left in for your viewing.  It shows clearly how the Columbia Gorge wind really is a "gap" wind.  If you drive from Gresham to Sandy you’ll notice the east wind almost always disappears around Boring.  Same thing on a drive from E. Vancouver or Camas up to Battleground.  The wind remains close to the river, especially right where it exits the Gorge.  This also shows that when Battleground or Sandy gets a strong easterly wind, it’s clearly coming down off the Cascades, not coming around from the Gorge.

Pattern from tomorrow through day 7 at least has a sharp and strong ridge sitting just offshore of the West Coast.  Cold northerly flow remains well to the east into the middle of the country, but close enough to keep surface high pressure east of the Cascades.  This should give us a long period of gusty east wind and low dewpoints/relative humidity.  00z GFS is a little "waffley" on the ridge later next week, but ECMWF & GEM are more persistent with ridging.
One interesting question to be answered will be; is this the beginning of a many-week long "El Nino" pattern?   Or for the rest of the winter?  Or is it just a short intermission in our stormy winter?  Anyone have any ideas?  Mark

Fog, Frost, & The Future.

January 24, 2007

Snapshot_9This is how it looks at 11pm as the dry offshore flow is giving way to developing fog in the south and western parts of the metro area this evening.  I expect all spots west of I-205 to see the dense fog by morning.  There is an area of stratus (low clouds) that has moved up the Columbia River to Kelso/Kalama, similar to summertime, but I don’t think it’ll make any further progress south towards the metro area.  Pretty slow weather continues the next 7-10 days with strong ridging over or near the West Coast.  GFS is pretty insistent on keeping a residual upper level low trapped near the NW coastline the next 3-5 days.  I hope it is wrong and the ECMWF is correct not having the low.  An upper-level low lingering nearby would complicate forecasting quite a bit = very bad!
By the way, it’s not a big secret since it showed up on Oregon Media Insiders website, but I’ve renewed my multi-million dollar contract here at…oh, wait, there’s nothing in there about a million dollars… Anyway, I’ve re-upped at KPTV for another 4 years by signing a new contract.  It’s a great place to work; I have bosses here who value quality weather information going out to our viewers and they keep us updated with the latest technology in the Portland television market.  The next 4 years will be very interesting for TV stations as more and more "content" goes out in other forms.  Podcasts, Internet, Cell Phones and of course we are only 2 years away from the end of analog broadcasts as HDTV takes over.  It should be a fun 4 years!  Mark

Another Quiet Night

January 23, 2007

Snapshot_8Another busy night in the weather center…well, if that includes critical tasks like remaking the labels in the file cabinet, cleaning up area behind the wall, throwing out old weather maps etc…  Oh, the weather itself is REALLY slow.  Nice little inversion has developed trapping pollutants in the lowest 2000′ of the atmosphere.  One change this evening is that a weak easterly flow has developed through the Gorge.  It’s 2 millibars PDX-DLS at 10pm, if it exceeds 4 millibars that should be enough to get rid of most of the muck across the metro area by midday or so tomorrow.   00z MM5 brings precip inland with a dying system Thursday, our RPM model and 00z NAM does not.  I’m very thankful that it’s not 25-30 degrees the next 2 days.  No one cares too much if we get light rain Thursday, UNLESS it’s 32 degrees or under.
The long range pattern continues to show strong ridging over or near the West Coast through the first few days of February at least.  If it was 4 weeks from now, I’d say the chance for a (another) cold snap this season is over.  BUT, as we found out last February, we can still get an arctic blast through the 3rd week of next month.  It does appear that January 2007 is going to go down as a dry and cool month…Mark

The Weather Takes a Break

January 22, 2007

TucsonA nice little look at winter this evening from Tucson.  This is how it looked early today in the city after 1-3" snow overnight.  Bob & Elaine  sent the picture from their winter hangout.  They headed down there to escape the cold in the Northwest!
As for our weather…wow, it sure looks s-l-o-w the next few days at least.  A ridge sits over/near the Northwest over the next 7-10 days in one form or another.  All models try to bring some sort of closed low or weakening system near or into the Northwest around Friday…how that actually occurs is up in the air, so I left rain out of the forecast for now.  Since we have several frontal systems moving by to the north, it’s keeping surface high pressure from building east of the Cascades.  That means no gusty east wind for now.  Models develop a bit more easterly flow Wednesday and Thursday with the low approaching from the southwest.  This won’t be a cold high for now since it’s so mild in the Columbia Basin.  We’ll see about next week.  If the ridge were to sharpen over us or back off slightly to the west we would see cooler air develop at the surface.  The big picture though is…do something else for a few days….you won’t be missing much on the weather maps.  Maybe the weather action will return for February…Mark

Back to Work

January 19, 2007

Portlandsnow6years_3A good break from the usual grind for the last 4 days…unfortunately it would have been a fun & wild grind for at least 2 of those days (Monday and Tuesday).  So obviously we need a 6-10" snowfall in the next 5 weeks or so to make me feel better.  Of course it would be nice if it was forecast too…

No such thing this weekend with a cold front crossing the metro area right now.  Interesting that it’s having no net effect on our temperatures in the metro area.  The snow level has slipped from around 5,000′ this afternoon down to less than 2,000′ within the next few hours.  If the warm air had worked down to the surface we would have been around 50 today (Salem/Eugene were close to that).  But the cool air has been trapped in the metro area all day though.  Now that the "cooler" air above has arrived with the cold front, our current cool temperatures are about what you would expect with that arriving airmass…so no significant change with frontal passage.

Building ridge overhead the next few days will attempt to shut off the precipitation.  I’m a bit concerned that bad model preformance the last few days will continue through the next 4-6 days.  Basically I’m afraid the ridge could be dirty, allowing moisture through at times.  No strong offshore/onshore flow the next 3 days also means it’ll be hard to get rid of low level moisture, clouds, and fog.  So we can all take a break for the weekend (as I will)…and don’t worry about the weather.

I’ve included an updated snow chart for the last 6 winters here in the metro area.  Looks like it’s the 2nd snowiest of the decade…amazing what 3.5" can do!  Mark

Nice Little Snowstorm

January 16, 2007

All done with weather sessions for today…once again I can’t believe I’m stuck in Texas and missing the great snowstorm.  That’s not only for professional reasons, but personal as well.  I love seeing a good snowfall too just like the rest of the weather fanatics.

What a bust…but when the forecast calls for "up to an inch" of snow (NWS) or 1-2" (me, unfortunately via blog only) it shouldn’t be an incredible surprise that 1-3" falls.  Unfortunately it appears that it was 2-5"…so, obviously a bust.  And most important is the public perception which I assume will be "the best snowstorm in 3 years and no one called for it".  It is good that some of you did better than I did on snow amounts.  Of course I have to remind you that there were at least several times this winter that forecasters on this blog expected snow and it never materialized, so that works both ways…just a gentle reminder of course.  I really wich I could be there for the "after storm" discussion on the other stations to see what the other weather folks say…we can’t get defensive and cranky after these sorts of busts.

I don’t have much to say about the next few days since I haven’t looked very far ahead.  So enjoy the snow…Mark