Weather Answers: Deep Thoughts

March 19, 2009

Yoga 001 I've been really busy answering some emails tonight and making future plans, but now it's time to answer some of your questions from last night.  First though, we need to relax and meditate on the weather and Dirty Dining.  Just kidding about that, but I know you folks would really love this picture.  What the heck is going on in the FOX12 Studio???  Well, our company, like many others, has figured out that healthy employees are happier and more productive employees.  So they've undertaken many initiatives to help us live healthier.  One of those is a weekly Yoga class in the studio from 1-2pm.  Now this is more like "corporate stretching"…and most of us had never done it.  I knew I needed to be more flexible so I signed up.  It's actually pretty relaxing and a bit challenging at times.  So here's a picture from this week.  I have no idea why some bizarre heavenly flash appears to be sitting on my biceps.  Maybe my shirt was shiny.  You see Rob Martin and Drew Jackson from the weather department to my right.  So now you know what goes on inbetween shows!

Okay, let's answer some questions:

1. From Paul 0. in Eugene: Mark, If there were money for computing power to extend your model out to say 7-10 day would this make a significant difference in your local forecast? This kind of is part of Heisson Rob's question but more specific. I have noticed your model is 'spot on' much of the time.  Our RPM model is a "WRF" model, similar to the UW one that many of us on this blog look at.  That's part of the reason it does so well.  If some rich person decided to buy us the computing power to extend the RPM out to that length of time, it would probably have the same problems the other models have.  So I doubt it would make much difference beyond about day 4.

2. From Annie in Vancouver:  What else do you do for fun besides geek-out on the weather? Also, do you get recognized and stopped by a lot of strangers while you're out and about? If so, does it bug you? I enjoy just about anything outside.  That includes hiking, gardening, any sort of yard work, bicycling etc…  Don't laugh, but my favorite job after this one was driving pea combines out in fields all day up in Lewis County for 6 summers in high school and college.  Sure it was boring sometimes but I loved being out in the weather from sunrise to sunset…and sometimes from sunset to sunrise too.  That was brutal.  As for getting recognized, it depends on the situtation.  I know it happens far more now than 5-10 years ago.  Costco seems to be a hotspot for Mark sightings, so is Home Depot.  My wife says I love the attention since I was the kid no one paid attention to when I was young.  I never mind talking weather with people.  One thing I try to avoid is if someone makes a big deal out of me visiting a business (a restaurant).  Once I seemed to "suddenly" move way up in the queue while waiting in a long line at a local restaurant.  I felt like hiding my face as I walked past the others.  Pride goeth before the fall right?  I don't believe any one person is better than another, so I'm always willing to wait in line.

3.  From RUNRAIN: If you could live in your "ideal" location for weather, where would that be? I always thought Denver would be an interesting place to live weatherwise.  Yes, Denver would be fun.  IF family and love of the Pacific Northwest didn't matter (but it does!), that would be a fun climate to forecast in too.  Actually the Great Plains would be best…farther east areas like Topeka, Wichita, Omaha, Fargo are very invigorating, but not too extreme with heat or cold for months on end.  If weather didn't matter and it was all about comfortable climate?  Definitely the Hawaiian Islands.  Always between 60 and 90 degrees.  But none of this matters because I like the Pacific Northwest best and all my family (on both sides) is within 6 hour's drive.  I DO get tired of the gloominess in the late Fall and Spring.  I can handle winter because it's dark anyway, but any long periods of rain/clouds in May and June REALLY annoy me.

3.  From BOYDO3:  Mark, did you play Doogie Houser MD (the TV show)?  No, but Reed Coleman at KOIN used to call me that all the time (Doogie), on the air once as I recall too.  I think he's slightly younger than me.

4. From Boring Larry:  Mark…just wondering… what kind of music do you like, and dont.  That's a tough one!  Once again, don't laugh, but I hardly listen to any music at all.  In the 1990s I was big into Country music, but not really any more.  For example, when I painted the outside of my house a few years ago, I spent morning after morning painting.  No music, just the birds chirping, wind moving through the leaves, and the water from a creek down the hill.  I find that most relaxing.  My wife prefers to have music on when cleaning, but I like dead silence…weird eh?

5.  From Aurelius: What are your personal, educated views on global warming? Man made? Stoppable? Where do you fall politically?  My thoughts on global warming are on my web page, about 3/4 of the way down.  As for politics?  I'm just very unhappy about our current political (and now financial) system in general and my mixed views on things don't seem to fit very well with any group.  In fact I'm not a member of ANY political party.

6. From Tornado Aly: Do you read every post on the blog and do you laugh at some of the crazy "wishcasting" or at how naive most of us are? I assume you mean every comment on the blog.  Yes and no.  I scan them regularly to see what's "going on" on the blog.  But when the weather gets really busy I don't have time to look at all of them.  There is a LOT of wishcasting that goes on here, but that's okay.  Here's the biggie: The amount of knowledge by all of you has increased dramatically in the last 3 years.  I'm amazed that several times this past winter mirrored what I was thinking in snow situations.  If you have a love for weather and forecasting, you can easily learn the basics of forecasting.

7.  From Big_D: Mark, how have you managed to look like you're 12 years old throughout your broadcasting career? Is it something you do, or is it some sort of camera trick? A combination of both perhaps?

I have always looked a bit young.  I believe it held me back in my 20s at KOIN, but now it's an asset.  I'll be 40 in about 6 weeks!  My dad is 75 and looks only about 65 if you ask me.  No camera tricks, but makeup keeps us all looking young!  Plus, you can't take life too seriously…I try not to stress about anything.  I eat relatively healthy foods (except for the minor sugar addiction), and I don't drink much.

8. From Heisson-Rob: How many restraining orders has Steph K taken out on bloggers?  None, you get to be the first!  2nd can be J in LO and David-Mall205 after those questions…

9. From TetraForce: How come you dont' cover Salem weather and small amounts of news since they are the CAPITAL of Oregon?  This SOUNDS like a whiny question, but I need to give a good solid answer to this one.  One of the most common questions over my 16 year career in Portland TV is "how come you don't talk about "XXXX" town or city much?  Lots of people live in "XXXX" and we wish you would".  You can insert any small town name in there and I've heard it.  We have 3 minutes or so in any weathercast.  Approximately 83% of our viewers live in the western valleys between Longview and Salem.  And Salem is in the current conditions, highs, and forecast pages.  Maybe 10% of our viewers live in the Gorge and east of the Cascades, which leaves maybe 10% out at the Coast.  We divvy up coverage in the same way.  So this may sound harsh, but we have to spend the majority of our time within 50 miles of downtown Portland (it's weather).  When there IS big weather in other parts of our viewing area and it's quiet here, we definitely focus on that.  That's why you'll see me tracking severe thunderstorms over Condon in summer, which has nothing to do with Portland weather (which is usually sunny at the same time).

Okay, that's it for tonight…I'll answer a few more tomorrow…Mark Nelsen