Frustrating Forecasts

SnapshotWhat an interesting day it has been.  For the first 14 hours of the day, a stationary front and it’s associated steady, heavy precipitation was draped across Northwest Oregon.  The back (western) edge of this snow-producing band was along a line from Troutdale to Salem to Corvallis.  All areas east and south of that line had significant accumulations of snowfall.  In fact it WAS the big snowstorm of the winter for those spots.  It was probably the heaviest snow in years for Lebanon, Sweet Home, & Albany.  Maybe Sandy too.  At my home in Corbett it was the heaviest snow since the 2004 Ice/snow storm.  BUT, east of that line we’ve seen little to no precipitation now for 12 hours!  Does everyone realize that if the back edge would have been 25 miles back to the west, we would have had FIRST LIVE LOCAL weather coverage all day???  The 5" of snow that "no one predicted" would have been the refrain.  Once again location is everything.

Radar shows showers still moving onshore, but they are weak and not really making it over the Coast Range.  That’s too bad since we now have the coolest atmosphere overhead and it’s cold enough to snow anywhere inland.  That’s why I’ve taken out references to elevation in my forecast graphics.  Which reminds me…didn’t I go on a rant in Friday’s blog about forecasting the snow level (200, 300, 500′)?  Today illustrates the point perfectly.  No snow at 1,000′ in the West Hills, yet 5.5" at 300′ in Mulino.  Always remember that snow level is not only dependent on temperature, but precipitation intensity as well.

Moving on…I see no reason that we’ll get anything other than light flurries overnight, EXCEPT for one thing.  The insistence by models that the weak surface low moving down the Washington coastline will be over PDX about daybreak as it weakens.  There should be some lift with this feature, plus no wind of any sort to screw things up.  That tells me that even a few brief showers will turn things white.  That’s how I get my forecast of a Trace-2".  If we don’t get at least white ground by morning, then I’ll admit defeat for this weekends big "BEST CHANCE FOR SNOW IN THE CITY YET" promotion on my Friday weathercast.  I was pretty wound up about the chances.

After tomorrow morning, I don’t see a situation quite as good temp-wise through the next 5 days or so.  The amount of snow at/above 1,500′ is going to be incredible a week from now!  But it’s going to be tough to get the snow level much below 1,000′.  Lots of south wind and no arctic air involved.  Of course tomorrow evening’s system will move moving into our already-chilled airmass, so it’ll be close again.  Most likely a lot of snow in the air, but only sticking up around 1,000′.

On another note, I notice a lot of bitterness, angry words, and general crankiness on the blog today.  It’s obvious that we’re all tired of the "near-misses".  But remember that we all read (or write) on this blog because we have the same interest in weather.  I suggest taking a break for a day or two.  Hard to believe, but you CAN get burned out on weather.  It happens to me after several long days of active weather.  Pray for a Trace to 2"!

One more thing, to many of you this blog has become a place to "hang out" weatherwise.  I appreciate the help that you provide to me as well.  There have been many times this winter where I read the comments quickly during a newscast to see who’s getting what.  Thanks again. …Mark Nelsen

579 Responses to Frustrating Forecasts

  1. HVMom/Elev 700 ft says:

    Great. The NWS curse. Grrr. Where’s Jacob ?
    Had a high here of 41 and quickly plummeted with the graupel shower. Sitting here at 35.8 now.

  2. ALERT: NWS has issued a new Snow Advisory for the Willamette Valley ABOVE 500 feet for tonight.

  3. Keith says:

    Another strong storm system could bring more snow to the Portland and Vancouver Metro areas Monday night, creating a white Tuesday morning, according to meteorologists.
    “Tuesday morning will likely be a carbon copy of this morning,” KGW Meteorologist Dave Salesky said
    The National Weather Service reported one to two more inches possible on the valley floor Monday night.

  4. josh"fromEverett,WA" THE SNOWMAN says:

    Looking pretty good up here in Everett though :).

  5. Keith says:

    38.7 Here

  6. qwerty--NE seattle 180' says:

    Maybe…we will probably start out as snow, but change over sometime during the night. It’s looking pretty iffy as to whether it will actually stick with these temps.

  7. -100F says:

    Are you guys in Seattle supposed to get snow tonight?

  8. kcteach – that’s exactly what they looked like! Temp at 34.5

  9. qwerty--NE seattle 180' says:

    37.6 here and falling slowly, not that you portlanders care.

  10. Andrew---Ellensburg, Wa and Portrland, Or says:

    KGW calling for snow again for portland tonight.

  11. temp is dropping up here…down to 33.7 from 35.5

  12. kcteach says:

    Very heavy sleet (graupel?) shower here in Gresham. Looks like airsoft pellets. Barkdust turning white. Temp went from 40 to 37 in 10 minutes.

  13. Tyler in NW Vancouver (Hazel Dell) says:

    Still snow left on the ground here…in the shade, but even on pavement. The area with the most snow left on the ground between here/Longview was around the 502 interchange project.
    Not sure about snow tonight, it is 41.9 right now…awfully warm.

  14. Keith says:

    Temp going down again 🙂 and getting dark. If it keeps this up I could see snow tonight. I HOPE!!

  15. Yes: Here it is.
    Snow showers prefrontal passage. Snow level right around 500 feet. When the front goes thru, snow level drops a bit. NAM Sounding supports snow from now until early morning. GFS supports snow after the sun goes down until about 1am. I’m going to play it safe because its still very up in the air. Once 00Z comes out, I’ll make my final evening cast. Look for it about 9pm.

  16. Temp still falling to 34.2 now. I see blue sky…

  17. Anonymous says:

    Do you have a forecast for tonight and tomorrow TV?

  18. Cougs in Camas (on Prune Hill) says:

    Big hail storm here right now… 37 degrees.

  19. Jordan-Kelso says:

    True, the further north you are the better tonight.

  20. Temp is falling, south winds are picking up? Something there doesn’t make since.

  21. Well, I guess we are lucky – because the temp is 36 and we are getting snow, not rain, not rain mix but snow. Very light though.

  22. Katrina,
    Mystery solved. The colums of snow falling from the sky are coming off the TV towers and being blown by a south wind. Here is video of it happening the last time I was up there.

    Glad to help out. Its very cool to see.

  23. Mback (TTD) says:

    I have a buddy who lives in Moscow, Idaho, about an hour and a half S of Spokane area, and he has about 5 feet on the ground now. I’m with you WeatherGirl, roadtrip!!! Of course, probably would get stuck before we got there.

  24. Abbie (with diana) says:

    ok… these little round snow ice balls thingy mabobbers are falling from the sky…. and they hurt if you stick your tounge out to catch them.=[

  25. From the NWS afternoon discussion, regarding tonight’s storm:
    models still vary on snow levels but think
    the snow level will vacillate around 500 feet tonight with a few
    hundred foot rise ahead of the front Tuesday morning then a fall back
    down in the Post frontal air mass. Willson
    I posted this visualization before, but just so people have an idea how close a call 500 feet really is, the KOIN Tower is 509 feet. An error of a couple or few hundred feet makes a vast difference when the majority of the valley is above 150 feet. Just food for thought. Always holding out hope for a surprise 🙂

  26. We just had a downpour of ??? not sure what it’s called, kind or like little round snow? ice? not really hail…something! Very heavy for a few minutes, still falling at a steady pace. Temp has dropped to 34.7

  27. I guess I am gonna have to stick to my guns for the sake of sticking to them now 🙂 That way if I win, I can gloat for a long time. But if I lose I have to anti-gloat.
    Been a while since i have been optimistic for such an event.
    Katrina: I say a likely cause is that there are almost three different directions of wind, on the ground we have strong S wind, just above we have W wind, and in an hour or two, above that we will have N wind, often in these types of situations there are “up-drafts”, basically snow starts to fall from an upper level, and instead of falling up, a draft carries it higher (snow is lighter than rain) and many flakes stick together, once it becomes heavy enough, the whole bunch of them falls as the draft can no longer support the weight of the now massive flake of death. There is a term for this but I am unsure. It is a very spotty occurrence and usually only happens near very hilly areas such as a small valley.
    Hail is a similar phenomenon but not quite.
    Someone can correct me if I am wrong.

  28. Camas~Mom says:

    B1900 – Yes, the extra coal they burn will go up high into the atmosphere and get dumped all over us.

  29. Keith says:

    =) Frozen precip HEAVY at times just got done falling. Left a dusting of hail. Temp dropped lots now sun coming out and temp going up.

  30. B1900 Pilot Bethany, OR (400') says:

    Blog Topic: Will the remarkable cold snap in China have any affect on our weather here in the long term?

  31. WeatherGirl - Troutdale says:

    We had a light dusting of snow at our house this morning (Troutdale)- it was snowing very hard in the wee hours, but just not cold enough to stick. A little bit ago we had blue sky and sunshine, now there’s some darker clouds moving in.
    I have family in Spokane and they are getting dumped on! Record snowfalls and it is BEAUTIFUL. Check it out at – there’s some good stories and photos. I am SO jealous of their winter wonderland! Schools are closed up there today for the first time in 10 years (for weather). More snow expected – anyone for a road trip???? haha

  32. Probably came off of the radio towers or the guy wires.

  33. B1900 Pilot Bethany, OR (400') says:

    Katrina — Could be ice accumulated off of the wings of aircraft descending into PDX. The leading edge of the wing gets covered in ice when flying in clouds and as the plane descends below the freezing level the ice “chunks off” sometime. Would have been a very low plane or lots of ice on the wing, but that’s a possibility. Airplanes tend to fly over Skyline before hanging a right toward the airport.

  34. Jethro says:

    Cold shower rolling through here (South of Canby) dumping a mix of frozen and non-frozen precip. Was at 43.5 before the shower hit, and dropped to 38.8 in short order. Starting to look like a regular old Oregon winter day out there…

  35. Anonymous says:

    Showers continue to build and dropping snow. If you turn off the clutter filter on the radar, the clouds themselves are producing snow. Not just the ones showing up on the radar with the filter on. Temp continues to drop. Unfortunely there is just enough of a break in between showers that most of it melts away. I’m just glad Washington is starting to see some precip. fall. Seems we’ve been out of the loop this whole weekend. Off to work. Lets hope more come in tonight. NWS is showing lower snow levels the further north you are from Portland, so we might have a good shot at something sticking if the moisture makes it here. 500ft. is the norm and breifly makes it to 1000 ft. tomorrow before it heads back down to 500 or less.

  36. Camas~Mom says:

    PFFFT! That shower just disintigrated in North Plains. Maybe it gets back some steam…..

  37. Ryan (Swan Island) says:

    We all know what happens when there are a lot of “if’s” and the forecasters are playing down everything right?
    We should wake up to 6″ of snow in the totally unexpected snow storm 08′ 🙂

  38. Katrina,
    That sounds very intriguing.
    I am unsure…. The only thought I had is maybe Delta Airlines did a mid-air flush en-route to PDX?
    I hope someone does know because I’m likely incorrect.

  39. EA_TTD says:

    Anthony- love your optimism but if the tower temp’s continue to rise pre front, we’re looking at rain, the non-chunky kind at that. 40 in Troutdale, up from 38 at 1:00 and a strong SSW wind, guessing 15-20. I have to side with Rob on this one. Pattern still holds so we’ll flirt with low snow levels for at least the next 5 days, if not longer.

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