Vacation Time

June 25, 2009

I have a few days off (well, actually more than a “few”) starting Friday, so no blog until Thursday the 2nd.

Now often we seem to have exciting weather while I have time off, but I really don’t see anything that could give us any sort of blizzard, ice storm, thunderstorm, or flood.  It IS the slowest time of the year in the weather center and also here on the blog I notice.  Seems like just a few comments trickle in each day, but that’s good because you should all be outside enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  That reminds me; at this week’s weather conference I kept hearing over and over about how beautiful it was here.  Many participants did the Gorge-Mt. Hood Loop and/or drove to the Coast.  Don’t ever take our wonderful part of the world for granted…but don’t let any of your friends move here;  it’s getting too crowded!

The GFS and ECMWF keep hinting that we may see ridging retrograde slightly closer to us late next week for our first hot spell of the season.  For now I don’t trust them, sensing that the offshore upper-low will be a bit closer to us than models show.  As always…we’ll see.  Obviously if the 00z GFS verified we’d have highs 90 degrees or above.

Mark Nelsen

AMS Broadcasters Conference

June 22, 2009

ams_logoI spent most of today at the 37th Annual AMS Broadcasters Conference with other TV weather people from around the country.  Generally there is one of these conferences each year and usually they are held in late June.  This one will continue through Thursday.  This is also the first year that the conference has come to Portland.  About 6 years ago Seattle hosted the conference, but usually it’s much farther away.  That’s for good reason;  the vast majority of TV stations are east of the Rockies.  Television markets to the east are generally smaller so there are more of them.  The most obvious thing today was the light attendance.  Less than 100 meteorologists when the usual total is around 200-300!  The economy is mainly to blame.  TV companies are making cutbacks just like others.

I always get a bit fired up after several days of sessions because we get to learn about all sorts of new things at these conferences.  For example, today we learned that the new GOES-R satellite (not coming for a few more years) will have an optical lightning detector.  So 24 hours a day over oceans and land all lightning strikes will be detectable, including cloud to cloud.  That should be fun to see.  Gene Norman from Houston talked about Ike’s arrival and the ensuing mess down there last September.   I can’t imaging being without power down there for two weeks during the summer heat/humidity!

This Portland conference was fun today since quite a few local TV (and ex-TV) folks showed up.  Matt Zaffino, Bruce Sussman, and I gave the opening “Welcome to Portland” presentations about our local climate.  Rod Hill, Dave Salesky, Rhonda Shelby, Drew Jackson, Stephanie Kralevich, Dave Sweeney & Stephanie Ortmann were there as well.   Imagine getting a big hug from Salesky and Shelby in the same day!   Good times just keep on rolling, I almost had tears in my eyes…okay, to be serious I didn’t.  But it REALLY is nice that just about all the weather people in the Portland Television Market get along so well when we see each other.  It’s a friendly group of people.

These sessions are not open to the general public, but the LOCAL Oregon Chapter of the AMS has a meeting on Tuesday evening in the same location.  I can’t make it because I’ll be working, but I do recommend trying to get there if you can.  Details are here:

Mark Nelsen

A June Soaker!

June 19, 2009

snapshotWhew!  Quite a bit more rain this afternoon/evening than I expected.  Well, at least for the middle and northern part of the Portland Metro Area.  I have had 1.38″ at home…saving me a week or so worth of watering.   Heavy showers developed after about 1pm along and behind the cold front.  According to this evening’s job shadow, Scott Pillette, this is the wettest June day since at least 1999.  He did a fine first job at perusing through years of weather data.  We broke the record for daily rainfall of course too.  I doubt we’ll have the big downpours again either tomorrow or Sunday.  But temps sure cool down.  I see Timberline is down to 39 degrees, heading for a low temp around freezing or a bit below.  Just in case you didn’t see enough snow last winter up in the mountains, you could find a fresh dusting for the first day of Summer tomorrow up at 6,000′.

By the way, I notice my calendar at home says that summer arrives on Sunday.  That’s because on the East Coast it does arrive at 1:45am Sunday.  For those of us out West, the solstice is at 9:45pm Saturday; thus the confusion.

Enjoy the cool weather this weekend!

Mark Nelsen

Updated Snow Chart

June 18, 2009
Portland Snow History; Includes This Past Winter's Data

Portland Snow History; Includes This Past Winter's Data

Sorry about the horrible fonts that you can hardly read…but here is the updated “snow chart” for the Portland Area that I was working on this evening.  I see last winter’s amazing 23″+ snowfall has brought our average up to 4.6″ a year.

I’m busy working on graphics for a presentation to the Broadcaster’s Conference of the American Meteorological Society.  It is here in Portland next week;  the first time ever.  Too bad the weather will be cool and showery to welcome all those tv weather people.  Although maybe the ones from down south and back east will welcome the break from the heat?  We’ll see.
Mark Nelsen

River Temps

June 17, 2009
River temperatures have warmed up quite a bit over the last month.

River temperatures have warmed up quite a bit over the last month.

Drew made this graphic Monday, and I personally experienced it yesterday.  We had a healthy snow pack this past winter/spring, but the peak of the spring melt has now passed and rivers are receding.  My 8 year old son and I took a little kayak trip on the Columbia River around Sand Island at Rooster Rock SP yesterday.  Looks like the river has dropped 3-5 feet since the peak a week or so back.  The highlight of the trip (other than a buck-naked couple lounging on the beach…don’t stare Andrew!) was finding a pair of high-quality sunglasses just barely poking out of the sand.  Someone must have lost them in the last few weeks because they were unscratched with no rust.  What a deal!  I did notice the water temp was chilly, but not ice cold, so real summer weather can’t be far away!

The Summer Solstice is Saturday evening here in Portland, and just in time a large upper-level trough once again settles over the Pacific Northwest.  This one has colder air than any we’ve seen this month, so a few days in the 60s (for highs) are likely.  I notice that there is still no dramatic change towards higher 500mb heights as we wrap up June.  Lots of clouds this month (so far), so daytime highs have been a bit cool at times, but the very warm nights have given us an unusually warm month.

Mark Nelsen

A Sweaty Evening

June 12, 2009

Dewpoint Temps Have Jumped To Around 60 This Evening Due to the Showers

Dewpoint Temps Have Jumped To Around 60 This Evening Due to the Showers

I took a bike ride this evening and made it back just before the larger raindrops arrived. It was definitely a bit humid so those clothes will be heading straight for the washer in the morning.  Some showers made it over the the Cascades and moved down into the Portland Metro Area this evening.  They’ve generally been weak, but one very small cell southwest of Forest Grove appeared suddenly and spit out about 5 cloud to ground strikes according to our lightning data.  The next closest strikes to the metro area were around Zigzag and Welches…lots there between 4:30-5:30pm.

Dewpoints have jumped to near 60 degrees, in fact I’ll probably mention it during the 10pm newscast, even though the bosses generally cringe when they hear the word.  It is a complicated concept, but just remember the higher the number the larger amount of moisture in the air.  The reason I don’t like to use relative humidity is that it’s…well…relative.  It goes up and down dramatically each day while the dewpoint only changes when the actual amount of moisture in the air changes.

Looking ahead:  Pretty slow weather next week…a bit of warming with higher upper-level heights early in the week then some sort of lower heights with some more moisture (from the west this time) later in the week.  Enjoy the weekend because it looks like a decent one for mid-June. 

Mark Nelsen

Slow Weather

June 10, 2009
All Lightning Strikes Remained in the Cascades Again Today
All Lightning Strikes Remained in the Cascades Again Today

Another relatively slow day in the weather center; especially considering that there was plenty of convection around the region.  The problem was that it was all over and east of the Cascades…even with easterly flow.  All storms died as they headed west of the Cascade crest and ran into the cool marine air in place over us.

We are in a very messy forecasting pattern through the weekend.  An elongated upper-trough is basically straddling Oregon, giving easterly flow in the upper atmosphere overhead and westerly flow across the lower half of the state.  Low level onshore flow continues in Oregon with very light flow up in Washington.  I see western Washington has now had two days of very warm temps, Seattle tied a record high of 76 degrees.  Of course one wonders how the record is only 76 degrees, but it is a cooler climate up there in summertime.
I don’t see any significant changes through Saturday although maybe we’ll have a more organized area of showers move through late Friday or Saturday.  Models seem to be hinting at that.  As of now though I have no great appreciation for the intricacies of mesoscale modeling of our current situation.
Mark Nelsen


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