Warm Spring Evening

April 30, 2009

Snapshot I'm getting old because I can still clearly remember the day we hit 90 degrees here in Portland 11 years ago.  A gusty east wind was blowing in the Gorge and it had been a bit hazy as well.  I could have the date wrong, but I also think this was the warm spell where we had a ton of Chinese dust in the air…the stuff that crosses the Pacific occasionally in the spring time and ends up here.  We had several days of extremely hazy conditions with no apparent source and a dry east wind blowing.

We sure didn't get much (hardly any) easterly flow during the daytime today, but still made it to 68 degrees.  But I see offshore gradients are picking up now and several spots have light east wind blowing, including here at the station in NW Beaverton.  We often get some easterly wind down off the West Hills in patterns like this.  The dewpoint is down around freezing as well.

IF we were to have solid sunshine tomorrow, the big chart we use shows a high temp in the mid 70s.  Instead, all models insist thick high cloud cover moves in soon after sunrise and lingers most of the day.  The first wave of an approaching upper-level trough just brings a few sprinkles to southern Oregon, but then the 2nd wave should give us some very light showers by daybreak Saturday.  The main surge of moisture this weekend looks like late Saturday and very early Sunday.  There may even be a break during the day on Sunday and possibly for the first part of Monday.  But then a wet westerly flow is still on for early next week…Mark Nelsen

A Temporary Dry Spell

April 29, 2009

A brief post tonight, because once again I got busy with a few other projects.  Plus, there isn't too much to talk about.

1.  2 nice days on the way with much warmer temps.  Decent offshore flow kicks in tomorrow, which should give us a nice 10 degree temperature jump.  Then  the offshore flow looks very strong on Friday.  I see the WRF-GFS has 45 kt easterly wind late Friday evening.  That's unusually strong for May, due to the combo of high pressure to the east and the approaching low to the southwest. 

2.  Saturday's forecast is the only real messy part.  Still some disagreement on how much rain falls and when it starts.  Our 00z RPM only has .02" by 5pm on Saturday.  So it may just be a mostly cloudy day with a few sprinkles.

3.  Early May Soaking:  It sure looks wet early next week.  The GFS keeps showing a very wet west/southwest flow from Sunday through the middle of the week.

Mark Nelsen

2 Hours of Work

April 28, 2009

How many of you saw that movie The Weatherman?  I clearly remember the scene where the weather guy is telling people that he really only works 2 hours a day.  Several times he is shown just sipping water by the water cooler looking bored.  You may have suspected as much, but that's not quite reality.  Especially the last few years, but even in the past, we keep busy most of the time.  That point hit me again this evening when I spent 50 minutes on the phone from 7-8pm.  It was with a customer service person trying to solve a minor problem on our "Prism" program.  It's a piece of software that exports imagery from our weather computer to the internet, and sometimes to other spots on our network as well.  I took a brief break then tried to do some diagnosis myself around 8:45pm.  All of a sudden now it's 9:15pm and I feel like I've done hardly anything useful since 7pm.  I don't have a whole lot to show for those two hours of work.  Sometimes days go like that in here…other times it can be really slow.

There is some good news to report related to this blog!  We will be switching over to WordPress soon (in a few days).  The basics of the weather blog will not change…you will still get to comment and discuss weather.  But a quick glance at their features shows a bit of improvement.  For one you can have an avatar…a picture that represents you.  I think there is also a tool for polls, which should be lots of fun.  The links you put in your comments will also have little "snapshots" showing the web page you are directing us to read.  In general it should be a significant upgrade.  The biggie for me is that I don't want to lose all the past posts.   I like to be able to look over the last 3 years for images and my thoughts in severe weather situations.  I'll let you know when it's time to move over.   Mark Nelsen

Wet Monday Evening

April 27, 2009

Lightning1 A few lightning strikes across the region today as heavy showers developed over the Cascades and other hilly areas.  Now they've popped up just about everywhere west of the mountains.  At 8pm a batch of very heavy showers are right over the middle of the Metro area.  Please put your rain totals in the comments below this evening if you are getting soaked at home. 

As you can see, as of 8pm there were no cloud-ground strikes in Oregon, only Washington.  Mesoscale models handled the heavy evening showers pretty well too.

Not much change tomorrow as a cold upper-level trough sits right over us.  Several waves of moisture pinwheel around the main system, which means timing of showers tomorrow and Wednesday is going to be very tough.

Medium and long range model solutions are a mess beyond Friday.  The amount of moisture coming in from the west and undercutting an upper level ridge to our north is the debate.  With a bit of ridging (such as the ECMWF), we get a very warm weekend, well into the 70s.  But the GFS has been much wetter.  Since we already had rain in the 7 Day forecast for the weekend, we decided to leave it in until the details become a bit more clear.

Not much else to report…things are still chugging along at the big 'PTV.  We are in the May ratings period right now, which means at any moment Armageddon could hit (breaking news!).  You better be watching!  These periods always raise tensions just a bit because advertising rates a tv station charges are based on the number of viewers watching.  These ratings periods will soon come to an end, or will at least be far less important, as ratings will be collected all year long here in Portland television market beginning late this summer…Mark Nelsen

Vacation Wrap Up

April 25, 2009

Snapshot The weather is still relatively slow this evening with a cool and mostly dry northerly flow coming up for the next 5 days, so I have a few thoughts from my recent vacation.  The family and I flew south to visit 4 not to be named theme/water parks in Southern California.  My kids are 8 & 7, and I've avoided going down there for that whole thing because I didn't think they would get much out of it at a younger age…now I know that was the right choice.  We had no mental or emotional breakdowns even on an ungodly-hot 12 hour day in 95 degree Anaheim…whew!  But you should have seen the screaming beet-red kids and even louder parents at times.  By the way, there are hardly any crowds in late April, a perfect time to go unless you hit the heatwave days.  Here are a few other highlights:

1.  A crazy place to drive…just make sure you go really fast at all times.  Who would have thought I could be going 70 mph and get passed by a SmartCar on the freeway doing at least 80?  Who even knew they could go that fast?

2.  In a water park in Palm Springs on one of those kid attractions where water is pouring off of swing ropes, slides, and chutes.  So much water everywhere that you can hardly talk, but a man yells at me that the slide on the other side is closed.  The guy is Pete Ferryman!  That was a "what are YOU doing here?"  moment for both of us.  Apparently we both took vacations the same week.

3.  Other than the pleasant, warm climate, the Pacific Northwest appears to be a much better place to live.  The OC isn't quite what it's made out to be on TV. 

4.  Why are we still pumping our own gas in Oregon?  Weird, and I've lived here my whole life!

5.  TV weather forecast was pathetic.  But I didn't have high expectations for a place that doesn't get much weather though.

6.  And the best part of the trip?  Steve Pierce's friend was a flight attendant and was able to get me a free drink.  All those bazillions of emails Steve sends every winter have finally paid off!  Sure our Outlook server is now broken, but I had a few relaxing moments at least.

Mark Nelsen

Another Warm Day Ahead!

April 21, 2009

Ecm_sfc_2So yesterday we were within 1 degree of the record high. Today we should break it, if not tie it.  Back in 1982 it was 77 at PDX today.  I am supper happy with the models over the last  week,  I was able to forecast 80 degree temperatures 7 days ago and it actually happened… I know it does not seem like a huge feat but after the spring we have had, its nice to have models that are tracking well. 

Anyways, we are in for a big change tomorrow with temps nearing 15 degrees lower than today.  We will start to get a decent marine push bringing in clouds and some breezy winds tonight that will cool us off.  As for rain… I think it will be mainly dry, if anything does fall in the Portland area the best chance is Thursday.  The last few model runs have been going from mostly dry, to vary dry, then back to mostly dry… does that make any sense? 

All the models are showing a little upper level trough coming through Thursday and a lower level thermal through as well.  Its a pretty basic pattern.  Now with the HUGE temp drop, remember that our average high this time of year is only 61 🙂

Go out and enjoy one last day of summer action before we are just… average… again

Rob Martin

Vacation Time

April 16, 2009

The weather is still pretty slow this evening…just an approaching cold front that's weakening.  We get a shot of rain in the morning, then some drier afternoon weather.

No changes in the 7 Day forecast over the last 24 hours.  It warms up over the weekend with a strong upper level ridge, then cools down Tuesday.  By the 2nd half of the week a chilly trough is back over us.  Wow, it doesn't get more spring-like on the maps than the next 7 days does it?  Up and down, up and down…

For kicks I looked up the 1956 warm spell maps.  We had two days at/above 80 degrees at PDX, peaking out at 84.  Hillsboro and Forest Grove hit 88 that day.  There was a closed upper level height contour of 576 right over us, with a deep upper low offshore.  A slightly warmer pattern, but not much.  If we were to get decent easterly flow Monday with the forecast +13 to +14 degC 850mb temps, our chart says 85 IS possible but that would be the upper limit.  80 degrees is still a very good forecast high!

I will be off on vacation until Saturday the 25th.  So most likely no new postings until that time.  Everyone behave for the next 9 days!  Mark Nelsen



Monday – LIVE interview with astronauts on the Int'l Space Station! Tune into Fox 12 at 5:45am this Monday to see it live!!! -Rob Martin