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

Weather Questions?

March 18, 2009

Snapshot  Another nice and warm spring day…that's two within a week!  That's a bit more like it.

I don't have anything deep to discuss tonight.  It's a bit of a chaotic weather pattern from the upcoming weekend into next week.  My "favorite" forecasting time of the year is arriving…great.

This weekend is looking drier than 24 hours ago and we may get a break at some point the middle of next week too.  As you can see from the graphic, the mountains are doing just fine.  Like that 0" of snow on the ground in late March 2005 at SkiBowl?  That was a warm spring.

Okay, someone suggested this a few days ago;  about 2 years ago I did a few posts on slow weather days in which I answered questions you folks had.  Let's do it again for fun.  The rules are…well, not really any rules.  Just nothing obscene…slightly obnoxious is always okay in my world though.  If you've read this blog long, you know I have a good sense of humor.  This can include weather questions, tv questions, and mildly personal questions (I'll save you some typing…it's briefs not boxers).  Oh, and let's keep it to one or two questions per person too.

Leave any weather discussion on the previous post, questions only here…Mark Nelsen

Spring Starts Cool

March 17, 2009

Snapshot  I spent a few minutes looking up old weather data…one of the finer pleasures in life I have to say.

  We've had one day at/above 60 degrees so far this late winter/early spring.  Last year we had 7 so far, in 2007 we had 5 as of this date.  You get the idea.  Each season is clearly different looking at the image here that I used during the weathercast.  Remember 2005?  That was a really warm one…up until March 15th, then it cooled off quickly after that.  2004 didn't have an obscenely large number of warm days through March 15th, but then the rest of Spring was quite warm.  As I recall the strawberries, blueberries, and other early season fruits were way ahead of schedule that year.  Apparently that won't be the case this year.  My peach trees are barely even showing color, and everything else in my yard/garden appears to be fully dormant, as one would expect in late February…even up at 1,000'.

Drew and I talked about it a bit this afternoon.  I think we agreed that the occasional warm starts to Spring raise our expectations for following years.  But then our hopes of a nice and warm spring are smashed like a molding pumpkin against a rural mailbox.

Not a whole lot to talk about weatherwise.  A springlike day tomorrow since we'll be inbetween weather systems, then more rain or showers each of the following 5-7 days.  Right now there is no sign of warmer weather and ridging of any sort.  Heck, I'd be happy with just split flow that we had back in February.  Just some 60-65 degree days would be nice.  I see the GFS and ECMWF are quite cold at two different times in the extended forecast; 850 mb temps drop in the -5 to -8 degree range.  The two models aren't together on the timing, so I'm not too excited for any low elevation snowfall.  But remember last Spring Break?  Snow fell several different mornings in the hills and even briefly in the Valley…Mark Nelsen

The Good Old Days

March 13, 2009

Snapshot It looks like quite a soaking this weekend along with gusty south wind at times.  In fact I see very few breaks in the rain the next 2 days.  So yes, it'll be a classic Pacific Northwest Rainy Season Weekend won't it?  Keep the fire going and line up the movies an popcorn.  Oh, and I still think I'll try to paint the living room ceiling…how much fun can you have in one weekend?

Actually this post needs to be quite short because as all of you BSG fans know, tonight's episode is the 2nd to last of the season (and series!) and I need to focus my mental energies on that and my job instead of the blog.

The wave on Sunday afternoon should be watched closely.  Right now it doesn't look strong enough for high winds here in the Valley, but once again something to keep an eye on.

More rain all of next week, although more digging well offshore Wednesday through Friday throws up higher heights and warmer temps over the West Coast.  So we'll go from cold rain early in the week to warmer rain later. 

Just for fun, I did some analysis on this blog:

1.  We started this the last day of November, 2005.

2.  We average 2400 hits per day over the last 3 years.

3.  Page hits per year have gone from about 500,000 in 2006 to 1.7 million in 2008.

4.  The all time peak was December 14th, 2008…the day the arctic air arrived here.  58,000 hits in one day!

Mark Nelsen

A Guest Post

March 12, 2009

I got busy this evening with the Oregon Chapter American Meteorological Society meeting held here at KPTV/KPDX.  We had what I think was the largest turnout to a non-winter weather meeting in several years.  The Saturday to Tuesday period looks very wet.  In fact the wettest we've seen since the first week of January.  Since my time was limited this evening Bobby Corser, our AMS President, offered to do it:

The Oregon AMS held its march meeting at KPTV this evening. We had 48 people attend! Steve Pierce and Mark recapped this amazing past winter. Maps, pictures, and a whole lotta snow were discussed. It was really interesting to look back and see how the models handled the arctic air. We discussed the gorge wind event and the amount of damage it caused. Thanks to everyone who showed up tonight. I do appreciate it. Onto the weather this evening! Sunny skies will continue tomorrow as the ridge remains. Rain returns this weekend. Its a return to more of a normal weather pattern. Again thanks to everyone again who came the meeting tonight. See you in April ! (Bobby Corser)





Blue Skies Return

March 11, 2009

Moonset_LarryFilz  Larry Filz sent me another very nice picture today…he was up early (at least for my schedule).  He caught the early morning full moon setting behind the West Hills as just a few puffs of stratus or fog floated above the Willamette River.

Today was a great day with tons of bright sunshine.  I still had 3" of snow at my home this morning, so it was a bit blinding inside the house with the sun plus snow cover.  A dry east wind is blowing as expected, bringing dewpoints down into the lower 20s and teens.  No significant changes for tomorrow except a warming airmass should push our temps up 8 or 10 degrees.  A few more degrees of warming for Friday as the east wind dies down.  In fact the wind goes light southerly late in the day.

The big change is Saturday as clouds and solid rainfall move in.  This is a change to wet southwesterly flow.  Models disagree on how close the new Western USA ridge will be to us.  The ECMWF has it closer with much higher heights…warm enough to give us a 70 degree day.  The GFS insists that the conveyor belt of moisture will sit over or just north of us.  We have decided to stick with that solution in our 7 Day forecasts.  Either model  is mild though…Mark Nelsen

Sunny, Then Wet Ahead

March 10, 2009

Mt Hood From Upper Bowl 1  Since we have some sunshine and I couldn't find a decent picture, I pulled this one out of the "archives".  That means I have a directory with a bunch of viewer pictures in between on the junk on my PC desktop.  Technically that's a Meredith Corporation PC, not mine, but you get the idea.

Hans Wipper, operations manager up at Mt. Hood Skibowl took this picture in late September 2007 from the top of Upper Bowl.   Notice how little snow is on the mountain that time of year.  Maybe I'm just wishing for some sunny and warm weather…I am.

Up until 9pm I was getting worried about the chance for clearing tonight.  Low level drier air is arriving through the Gorge right now, evidenced by Stephanie Kralevich's wind blown hair (still looked good though!) in the 10pm FedEx story.  She was standing out there in Troutdale.  So no chance for fog or low clouds developing overnight.  The cloud deck over us now is up around 6,000' or so and now it appears to be thinning from the south on the IR satellite loop.  So I DO feel we'll be clear by daybreak.

Easy forecast tomorrow through Friday…sunshine!  It'll be slow to warm up with a very chilly modified arctic airmass east of the Cascades, but even so I think we'll make it to at least 60 degrees Friday.

The weekend?  Very Wet!  The 12z/18z/00z GFS have consistently shown a trough coming through Saturday, quickly followed by the next large trough sitting offshore.  That sets up a mild southwesterly wet flow.  The 12 and 18z were wet, but the 00z goes nuts with a flood-producing pineapple-express bullseye of 11" rainfall in the next 7 days!  We'll see about that, but either way I have a feeling Saturday through Tuesday is going to be a mild soaker.  In fact I'm so confident that I bought some paint this evening to paint the ceiling in the living room this weekend…it'll be an indoor (and wild!) weekend at the Nelsen home…Mark Nelsen