A Warm Ridge

Snapshot  The weather may be boring, but for those temperature freaks, lots to talk about!  A very strong valley inversion has developed across the Pacific Northwest.  As you can see from the image, some spots in the 2,000-4,000' range made it close to 70 degrees today while the valleys sat in the 40s.  The layer of cold air is pretty shallow and has become a bit shallower this evening.  I see the temp on our tower at 1,800' has jumped to 60 degrees at 10:45pm. 

     This is all being driven by a strong upper-level ridge centered over SW Oregon.  Nothing changes the next few days except the center of the upper-level high moves north over Washington by Saturday afternoon.  850mb temps are astounding for mid-January.  They peak out in the +16 to +18 deg C. range.  For kicks, I pulled out the warm season "magic charts" for May and March.  For one, there are no temps that warm for the month of March.  For May, those temps plus easterly wind would get us up to about 90 degrees here in Portland!  So then you might think "we're going to get east wind the next few days, how come the warm air doesn't mix down?".  Well, between now and late February, the east wind is coming in through the Gorge BELOW the inversion top.  It's just bringing in cool air from east of the Cascades, not mixing down warm air from above.  This generally makes forecasting high temps at PDX simple in east wind events in the dead of winter (now).  Except for maybe the 1st day the wind arrives, you can add about 10 degrees from the DLS high to get the number.  Better to remember that in January you're not going to get much above 50 degrees on a good east wind day (except for maybe that 1st day).  45-50 is most common unless/until a good cold pool develops eastside.  I don't see that this time around, so I kept high temps at/above 45 degrees through early next week.

Looks like the surface high is now strengthening quickly in the Intermountain region.  The PDX-DLS gradient has gone from around 2 millibars late this afternoon to about 6 millibars now.  The wind hasn't made it to the Troutdale airport yet, but I would guess it's started blowing a bit up above in "upper" Troutdale and Gresham.  If not, it'll arrive soon.  6 millibars is enough to push wind all the way to downtown Portland by tomorrow afternoon.  With lower dewpoints spreading across the metro area, I have a feeling that tonght's patchy areas of fog will be the last until sometime early next week.  Lots of sunrises and sunsets will be seen from the Portland Metro area through the weekend!  Mark Nelsen

112 Responses to A Warm Ridge

  1. Mike-Mult Villige says:

    Wrath,
    Thanks for all you do. I guess we’ll have to depend on microclimates to entertain us until we get the next big event.

  2. Tetraforce says:

    Did you know Red Bluff has broken records for 3 days straight and are on their way for another shot? and Enterprise had a high of 81F?
    It’s like the middle of spring there.
    It’s very freakish warm there. Goes to show how strong/stubborn this pattern is.
    “I’m looking at 500mb maps and I see a lot of splity flow comming into PACNW from 120-192hr-no cold scenario so far.”
    http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/namer/gfs/00/images/gfs_500_192l.gif
    Posted by: Mike-multi vill | Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 08:34 PM
    That is a normal flow during an Elnino event. This is an Elnino in a Lanina stage. ?????????????? The atmosphere is confused.

  3. Atmospheric Wrath aka Gradient Keeper - Elevation 300' -Far S.E. Portland- says:

    The east wind is confined east of I-205 for sure. It is like a switch is turned on once you approach that area. Once you get east of 162nd it’s raging and the winds are similar/identical as well in Gresham and Troutdale. It is a shallow layer yes, but it is roaring strong. Any time the Columbia Basin becomes socked in with low clouds/fog due to a strong inversion the winds can be fierce and in this case with a record type ridge overhead it is only adding that much more to it.
    [Surface gradients]
    As of 10 PM——-| +/- Hourly Change
    PDX-DLS: -9.4 mb | 0.1mb Increase
    TTD-DLS: -10.2mb| 0.1mb Increase
    Well need sleep if the wind lets me. Good night all and want to say again thanks for all your kind words and support…. If the wind wakes me up I’ll surely be back.

  4. Heisson Rob (750') says:

    geo – no discussion about the rest of the winter with any predictive value behind it. A lot of hoping winter isn’t over and concern that it might be. The presentation was extremely well done on the weather inputs to big-fire prediction. I was glad I was there.
    And it was good to meet you, Tyler.
    I think I trailed you up the road (had to get gas). Perfectly clear south and over the river, then the fog hit right on the ridgeline at Mill Plain. Thickest just on the north slope of the ridge, enough to cause cars to slow down. Foggy off and on through BG.

  5. Mike from Orchards says:

    Must be a shallow layer of high pressure on the east side. No winds here at all. Seems like a “gorge” event only as of now. Think that might change this weekend tho…maybe more widespread east winds then….certainly a big cross gorge pressure gradient now:
    http://wxweb.meteostar.com/meteogram/link_pdiff.shtml?choice=KPDX+KDLS

  6. high gust in the past hour is 13.0 i want 30mph

  7. Mike-Mult Villige says:

    Here is a comment from Ed Berry tonight regarding the current pattern,
    You are correct about the models struggling with what is likely to be a GWO/MJO 7-8-1-2 transition leading to PNA retrogression. The details are unclear, and maybe until it “practically occurs”.
    I think the initial westward shift will be linked to the Indonesian forcing, with perhaps a more robust western USA trough once the MJO comes back into the Eastern Hemisphere. The former will be in ~7-10 days with the latter ~week-3. The MJO signal is well into the Western Hemisphere with South America and S. Africa becoming active and the SPCZ shutting down.
    I am not at all surprised by the central and eastern USA cold. I did discuss this possibility in earlier postings since I thought our La-Nina would not be as strong as 2007-08. However, I did not anticipate the strength of the current MJO, which has contributed the current cold regime. While currently significantly perturbed, the La-Nina is also a bit stronger than I would have thought.
    Ed
    7:02 PM

  8. geo says:

    maybe accuw was right after all about the high winds this week.

  9. Scott says:

    Chris – I appreciate the candor and the tongue and cheek. I have yet to see a “highly unusual pattern” this year. A pattern of eastern troughing is quite usual as well as troughing in the west. I am sure many years reflect similar patterns.
    What makes the LRC unique is that we believe there is a cycle and a flow to the patterns. For those new to the LRC, I am very aware of the disbelief, as I had it as well for several years.
    Of your post, I found this amusing – “things that have not been shown to be useful”. Perhaps not useful to you or others new to it, but has been quite useful for those using it for some time.
    Here is a bit that I found interesting about the MJO and its acceptance…
    “Until the early 1980’s little attention was paid to this oscillation, which became known as the Madden and Julian Oscillation (MJO), and some scientists questioned its global significance. Since the 1982-83 El Niño event, low-frequency variations in the tropics, both on intra-annual (less than a year) and inter-annual (more than a year) timescales, have received much more attention, and the number of MJO-related publications grew rapidly. ”
    http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/cwx/notes/chap12/mjo.html
    Look, I understand the doubt. I don’t have a magical formula or some whizbang tool to drop in your lap. [though we are working on it] I do try to show similarities using maps as remotely, that is about the best way to see it.
    We realize that 99.9% of the world has not even heard of this, and for that we gladly accept the critique. To be objective, I welcome anything that works to disprove the theory. Opinions are fine, but give me something with teeth that I can work with to better explain it.
    In the end, using map analysis is just one way..but consider the genesis of any upper level map, it is a visual representation of quantitative data. The expression is qualitative. I have heard an axiom from stat and math experts that in first trying to show any correlations, if you graph it and it doesn’t visually jive, likely there is not going to be a mathematical correlation. If the human brain can see a correlation, then likely there is.
    Anyway, I love the feedback. If I didn’t I wouldn’t participate. I hope ongoing more and more can be learned, shared, and synergized moving forward!

  10. geo says:

    At this ams meeting tonight, was there any discussion on the remaining balance of this winter.

  11. Tyler in Hazel Dell says:

    Wow things in the 10-14 day range on the models look awesome! And we know how the forecasts for days 10-14 ALWAYS come true!!!!!!!!!!! (is that enough exclamation points?)

  12. blowmedown says:

    lol!

  13. Chris says:

    So let me get this straight…
    We won’t know how Geo’s Superbowl Sunday trip will be until we’re within 3-4 days of his trip. However, because we have faith in the LRC we have reasonable confidence that Feb 2-5 will be brutally cold. I have a theory that the atmosphere is dynamic and that highly unusual patterns do not repeat frequently. It’s called the CNRC…Chris’s non-repeatable cycle. Mark hasn’t mentioned the LRC or a return to cold weather yet because he doesn’t inject his forecasts with things that have not been shown to be useful. Kicking around a theory is fine but buying it hook line and sinker is something else. It’s wish casting. Again, maybe the arctic air comes back maybe it doesn’t but that’s beside the point.

  14. Chris says:

    So let me get this straight…
    We won’t know how Geo’s Superbowl Sunday trip will be until we’re within 3-4 days of his trip. However, because we have faith in the LRC we have reasonable confidence that Feb 2-5 will be brutally cold. I have a theory that the atmosphere is dynamic and that highly unusual patterns do not repeat frequently. It’s called the CNRC…Chris’s non-repeatable cycle. Mark hasn’t mentioned the LRC or a return to cold weather yet because he doesn’t inject his forecasts with things that have not been shown to be useful. Kicking around a theory is fine but buying it hook line and sinker is something else. It’s wish casting. Again, maybe the arctic air comes back maybe it doesn’t but that’s beside the point.

  15. Jackfrost (Beaverton) says:

    Geo-That’s more than two weeks away there is no accurate way to tell at this point. It is hard enough to nail things down 3-4 days prior to a storm.

  16. Jesse-Orchards says:

    How on earth would anyone know?
    That is over two weeks away.

  17. geo says:

    I have travel plans superbowl sunday(driving that is). Will it be cold/snowy?

  18. Jackfrost (Beaverton) says:

    Now let’s hold our horses! It’s still 12 days away. A lot can change in a lot less time.

  19. Sandman says:

    Giddy up Trigger!

  20. Scott says:

    Ok..for the 0z, lets try this. 72 hrs for Nov 30th. 102-120 is Dec 1st. 156hrs is a bit squirrely, and should resolve a bit better as we get a few more runs, but would be Dec 2nd.
    192 hrs would be Dec 7th. [thinking the GFS is showing a bit of its fast bias] I would expect this maybe a day or two later than what the GFS is showing, but its possible at 48 days.
    240hrs at Dec 9th
    300 hrs at Dec 13th [GFS speeding up even more – makes sense as far out as this is]
    372hrs tries to be Dec 19th, but is too fast and just a hair off in the EPAC, but does even have some of the smaller features such as the wave in SE Iowa.
    384hrs is way too fast.
    Anyway…just how I see it on the first take.

  21. Scott says:

    Ok..for the 0z, lets try this. 72 hrs for Nov 30th. 102-120 is Dec 1st. 156hrs is a bit squirrely, and should resolve a bit better as we get a few more runs, but would be Dec 2nd.
    192 hrs would be Dec 7th. [thinking the GFS is showing a bit of its fast bias] I would expect this maybe a day or two later than what the GFS is showing, but its possible at 48 days.
    240hrs at Dec 9th
    300 hrs at Dec 13th [GFS speeding up even more – makes sense as far out as this is]
    372hrs tries to be Dec 19th, but is too fast and just a hair off in the EPAC, but does even have some of the smaller features such as the wave in SE Iowa.
    384hrs is way too fast.
    Anyway…just how I see it on the first take.

  22. blowmedown says:

    00z is absolutely beautiful and i will start stocking up once again with the fire wood!!! he we go boys and girls… the ride is just beginning….

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