Spring Wind Arrives

March 31, 2009

Snapshot Quite a cold front swept across the region today. That combined with a jet streak (a maximum wind speed area in the jet stream) passing overhead to let strong wind surface in some areas.  Some spots in Deschutes county had gusts of 60-75 mph…mainly around Sisters.  Quite a few downed trees and some power lines down in those spots today.  Spring and Fall are the usual time for strong west wind behind cold fronts in the eastern part of the Gorge and Columbia Basin.  As summer moves in during June, the more consistent summer west wind in the Gorge is more often confined from The Dalles westward.

I went to exercise tonight, then came out of the gym all sweaty…whew!  That was cold!  Felt like February out there with temps in the low-mid 40s by sunset and a breezy northwest wind.  Snow levels are falling this evening as well.  As overrunning from the next system arrives around daybreak tomorrow, snow will probably stick as low as 1,500'.  Maybe even lower in the Coast Range valleys (Vernonia).  It's a warm front that's going to hang over us ALL DAY tomorrow.  In fact both tomorrow and Thursday look very wet and very cloudy.  Chilly again too.  In general we have two more "indoor" days ahead.

Quite a disagreement in the details Sunday and beyond.  We get into a brief "Rex Block" for awhile.  The center of an upper-ridge is somewhere just to our north or northeast.  If it's closer to us, that forces a system approaching the coastline to split and head well to our south.  ECMWF likes that and has +5 to +8 deg 850mb temps Sunday through Tuesday.  That would produce 65-70 degree highs with offshore flow.  The GFS doesn't have nearly as much splitting, sending the rain back over us by midday Sunday or so.  That would keep our high temps back down in the 55-60 degree range.  Drew and I took the middle road, slightly splitter than the GFS, but not as warm as the ECMWF…Mark Nelsen

More Chilly Weather

March 30, 2009

Snapshot  So I did some searching through the weather records today.  It has been very chilly, as we all know.  Looks like the last time we didn't make it above 61 degrees in either February or March was 1955!  We are in historic territory again with a cold start to Spring.  My peach and nectarine blossoms still show almost no sign of life, the apple and pear trees are still, well, brown and waiting for February weather to end.  Of course we also all know that things could turn around quickly and April could end up being mild.

A short post tonight because I'm headed out to a little celebration for a co-worker that's heading upstairs.  It's either a longer post or relaxation and libations.  For now I'm going to choose the latter…Mark Nelsen

A Little Weather Action

March 27, 2009

Snapshot  Today is the anniversary of the big Alaskan earthquake back in 1964.  It's been 45 years since a 9.2 quake hit just offshore the southern Alaska coastline.  That sent a tsunami across the Pacific.  I remember my parents saying the lights were swinging in their church in Hillsboro that night, so apparently it was felt even here.  Then 4 hours later the tsunami arrived along the Oregon Coast, killing 5 on our beaches and in coastal towns.

I've been a bit negligent posting this week, but the weather has been really slow.  Of course I could Twitter the weather instead…haha!  Actually if I hear that name again I'm going to vomit.  I can't stand fads and I don't really care what others are doing in their private lives.  Although maybe you are interested in mine?  Maybe I should do that instead of blog.  It's quite possible I'm just getting old and cranky…but remember Atkins diet???  Everyone seemed to be doing that and then it suddenly disappeared.  

On to the weather…a nice deepening low pressure moves through Washington tomorrow.  It's nice to see a deepening low move right past us; that hasn't happened much this winter.  So we get a warm front in the morning, then a sharp cold front closer to sunset.  The cold front should be a good rainmaker…it's definitely going to be an indoor day with the rain and wind combined.  Actually a bit stormy by late March standards.  Much calmer Sunday and then one dry day Monday.  The cool and wet pattern will continue into the first week of April though…Mark Nelsen

Snowy Mountains

March 25, 2009

Snapshot  Another snowy day up on Mt. Hood today;  I was a bit surprised to find the monthly total already at 84" at Government Camp.  That's the highest since 1977 for March.  It's interesting that Portland rainfall is slightly below average at the same time.  This is quite similar to what happened last Spring…drier than average in the lowlands (and chilly), but wetter than average in the mountains.  This is due to strongly orographic weather patterns through the spring.  For example, did anyone notice the rainfall totals today?  .01" at Hillsboro, about .15" at PDX, .35" at Troutdale, and .90" or so at Sandy.  So much heavier rainfall (and eventually snow) was squeezed out as the northwest flow ran into the foothills and Cascades.

There's no indication of any significant change in the weather during the next 7 days.  Three more strong troughs drop through the Pacific Northwest after riding over the top of an east Pacific ridge.  They arrive on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday (of next week).

We do get a nice break tomorrow and Friday as a warm front lingers nearby.  That gives us a lot of cloud cover, but I think we'll mostly avoid rainfall both days.  With such thick cloud cover temps likely stay below 60 degrees.

This blog has been REALLY quiet the last two days, which makes me wonder if most of us are just tired of the current cool and wet weather pattern.  I have a feeling most of us would prefer warmer and sunnier weather, or at least stormier conditions.  Or maybe Oregon's Spring Break has disrupted the usual web-surfing activities?  Mark Nelsen

Gloomy Monday

March 23, 2009

Snapshot Drew made this graphic for our 5pm show.  You've probably heard that Redoubt Volcano erupted late last night and today, sending ash 50,000' up into the atmosphere.  For now the ash is actually headed farther away from us, but as the week goes on, the flow could bring any future ash farther south into Canada.  It's something to keep an eye on since you may remember late last Summer or Fall we had some ash overhead from an Aleutian volcano.

  On to the weather; at least it was dry for a good chunk of Saturday.  I got outside quickly and planted my fruit trees, put up some of the kid's bird boxes, etc. before it rained.  But today was a heck of a gloomy afternoon and evening.  The combination of cold temps, breezy south wind, and rain made for a "January" feel in the air.  I noticed all snow was falling around 4pm on our TV tower at 1900'.  If the airmass over us had been 5-10 degrees colder, we would have had sticking snow in the low elevations this afternoon.  The last few years it seems like winter is never far away…even in March and April.

More gloom is on the way for tomorrow and the first half of Wednesday as two more systems move inland.  The 2nd one on Wednesday is a fun one due to it swinging down from the north-northwest.  This is a heavy snow pattern for the Cascades and especially Blue mountains.  Our RPM model says up to 2 ft. of snow in the Blues between Walla Walla and La Grande.  A cold shortwave trough swinging down from the northwest is always efficient for heavy snowfall over there.  Since the air behind that trough is quite a bit drier and from the north, clearing should occur quickly Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday-Saturday SHOULD be dry, but each model is slightly different on the flat ridging over us.  I see the 18z GFS has a system close enough for rain here on Saturday.  I hope that's not what the 00z GFS decides to do because our forecast says dry.  Have I ever said I HATE SPRING FORECASTING?  Of course I don't mind a big ridge, but the rest is a pain.

Okay, I'm blogging a bit early because I need to go hit the stationary bike.  If you see EMT's rushing towards the 24 Hour Fitness on NW Cornell, they are probably coming after me because I pushed it a bit too hard…Mark Nelsen

BSG: The Finale Discussion

March 23, 2009

Bsg-final1  This is a one-time thing.  I regularly tell you people that it's a weather blog and please don't have long discussions about non-weather issues.  Well, this is obviously non-weather related, but necessary.  For those of you weather geeks who are also sci-fi geeks that followed Battlestar Galactica…discuss the finale here.  I'll give my thoughts in the comments later…Mark Nelsen

Weather Answers: Lighter Thoughts

March 20, 2009

I have a few minutes before the 2 hour finale of BSG begins.  I'll be working during the 2nd half so that'll be this weekend's viewing.  We don't have any significant weather coming up the next few days…the heavy moisture with the approaching large trough heads into California, leaving us with lighter showers, mainly on Sunday only.  My plan is to plant some fruit trees and strawberries tomorrow so it had better stay dry.  Okay, let's do some more answers to your questions.

1. From EFLOW: Mark, Can you still derive the omega equation?  No!  I have not used Calculus, Algebra, or Differential Equations for 18 years and don't remember hardly any of it…let's be serious here, I point at a green wall every day and do some simple data analysis at times, plus some statistics.

2. From Mike-Orchards:  Mark, what is your favorite kind of "exciting" weather…windstorms, snow, cold, t-storms?  I would say thunderstorms are the most exciting for me since we don't get them much here.  But extremes of any sort are great.

3. From MCP: Hey Mark, What are your theories on how Battlestar Galactica is going to end?  We'll know in a few hours…but my gut feeling is just a few people will be left on a "new" earth…which maybe is in our past?  The Truth is Out There…wait, wrong show, nevermind.

4. From Jackfrost-Beaverton: What is the tackiest thing or the biggest goof up you have done for our viewing pleasure?  Okay, this is the one I have always felt badly about:  about 10 years ago I was doing a live shot (for KOIN) down at the tulip farm in Woodburn. I was interviewing a great kid who works on his family's farm down there.  I said "don't you think it's kind of a girlie thing to hang out at a flower farm?".  The poor kid (maybe 10 years old?) just got quiet for a minute and I moved on.  But I always felt horrible and REALLY stupid for saying something like that.  Oh, and that was live on-air too.  And as I recall, I had been planting flowers and vegetables in my own garden that spring.  What a moron eh?  That kid is probably 20 years old now.  I got quite a few "pig chauvenist" emails and calls, for good reason.

5. From CNR-VAN-WA: Mark, Have you ever seen a tornado? Have you ever been though a hurricane? Yes, I saw a tornado while in map-drawing class up at the UW in April, 1991.  Strange place don't you think? I did fly with the Hurricane Hunters back in 1998;  they take media on flights.  It was Hurricane Georges and we went through the eye 6 times, then I puked.  It was quite an experience, but don't eat a warm sandwich halfway through the flight.

6. From Karl Andres: What kind of material is the news desk made of. Also how do you get the backround to switch from night to day behind the desk? Ah, an operational question.  News desks, just like hollywood sets, are made to look nice and be slightly functional…nothing else.  So it's plywood, some plexiglass, and faux marble laminate over the top.  The background in the back is a big light box (flourescents inside) that flips on a rod.  The covering is a duratrans (colored, semi-transparent plastic) on each side.  Day on one side, night on the other.  The floor people unplug it and then flip at the appropriate times.

7.  From Yevgeniy-Beaverton: Mark, what is your all time favorite weather moment in the most recent decade?  The big ice/snow storms are fun (2004, 2008, 1998), but there's something about the dramatic onset of our big windstorms.  I clearly remember about 12:30pm on December 12th, 1995. We were finishing up the noon show on KOIN and the studio lights blinked on and off, even though the wind hadn't arrived yet on Valley obs. or downtown.  That was an obvious and ominous "the storm has arrived" moment.  For that reason that day is probably my favorite weather moment.

8.  From Steve Pierce: Please take an educated guess at the following — What do you think is the "median" salary range is for a Portland on-air television Meteorologist? Please take into account all shifts, all days of the week, all backgrounds, all experience & education levels, and all stations. Also, take your best guess at what is the shortest, longest and average length of an on-air TV Meteorologist's contract in Portland? Generally, none of us know what others make, although one can guess right?  I tell school kids in my "career day" presentation that the median might be 80,000 or so.  Seems reasonable, but there's a wide range above and below that (very wide).  Average contract length?  Probably 3 years.  They are almost always 2 to 5 years.