Inversion Season

November 17, 2008

Snapshot The last couple of days show that we've moved into inversion season, although we're clearly right on the "edge" of inversion weather.  Valley temps today struggled to get much above 50 degrees AWAY from the Columbia River Gorge.  In fact Hillsboro only made it to 49 degrees.  PDX was only 2 degrees short of the record (61) for the date.  Somehow, with a light southerly wind, Eugene made it to 70.  Not nearly as surprising was the summer like 75 degree high at Redmond.  That blew away the old daily record by 9 degrees!  The family and I stayed the night over at Warm Springs last night and drove back over Mt. Hood between 8-10am.  Quite a change in temps as we went in and out of the warm air.  At one point it rose from 37 to 50 in just a couple miles.  West of the Cascades the cool Valley air appears to be quite shallow, maybe just over 1,000' thick at most in the Tualatin Valley.

I find these temperature variations fascinating when we have slow winter time weather.  I didn't always feel that way.  WAY back in 1992, in the second year of my career I was working for a company called Micro-Forecasts in Hood River.  We forecast on the computer (no internet yet!) and phone line for windsurfers in the Gorge at the time.  Erik Moldstad, who still forecasts weather up in Washington, came to work for the company and about the same time I had to make a move from the Portland area out there.  So two weather geeks had to decide where to live in an exciting new climate (to us).  We had both grown up in dreary westside climes and yearned for something new.  The choices we made were vastly different.  I wanted SNOW…as much of it as possible without too long of a commute.  So I rented a place 17 miles from Hood River in the Upper Valley (near Parkdale) around 1500'.  Whew, cold nights up there in winter, although I moved back to Portland to work at KOIN sometime in mid-January so I didn't get to see a full winter.  Erik was really big into temperature variations…which I thought was very strange and boring.  So he chose to rent a place 20 miles upriver in Dallesport.  He wanted to watch the temp go up and down dramatically.  I also found wind pretty interesting, but he hated it because it didn't allow much of a diurnal temperature change.  The point of this is:  each of us weather geeks finds a different part of weather or climate most fascinating.  Some of us HATE hot weather, others like it.  Some HATE wind, others stay up all night posting pressure gradients. 

So there is no great point to that last little bit.  But I do find that as I approach the twilight, the closing book, the final act, the last hurrah…of my life (almost 40), that I find almost any sort of weather interesting.  I suggest you try to do so as well…Mark Nelsen