The Big Day

July 29, 2009

8:00 am:

So will today be the “big day”?  The day we tie our all-time record?  We’ll see, but I have a feeling it’s going to be close.  I’m up very early (for a bedtime after midnight at least) due to some live hits on KXL again.  Just for fun I took a drive at 7:30am to check out the temps and wind.  Microclimates can be amazing.  It was 65.1 degrees at the bottom of the little canyon I live in, then one mile up the hill (about 400′ elevation gain) the temp rose to 75.9 as I entered the “east wind zone”.  It continued rising until Women’s Forum Park overlooking Crown Pt. & Vista House.  It was exactly 80 degrees up there.  East wind is blowing maybe 15 mph with gusts to 30…just an estimate.  It appeared to be blowing some (lightly) downon the river at Rooster Rock as well.  Feels like a Hawaiian morning down there, and a beautiful sight to enjoy alone.  Apparently tourists don’t get up and going at 7am.  The last time I stopped there was December 19th as the blizzard started.  It was about 18 degrees that time with the wind gusting to 50 mph or so;  I prefer today.

There is a  real lack of weather observational data this morning.  All the non-NWS observational sites are down.  I got a message from our data provider (WSI) stating that MADIS is doing some data/server work until noon our time.  That’s apparently why there is no MesoWest info.  I think MADIS is the overall “gatherer” of non-NWS observations…or something along those lines.

11:00 am:

Things still look on track.  This is a classic summertime hot east wind day.  Looks like easterly flow has made it to most areas east of I-205.  And so far it isn’t too strong…just average 16 mph at Troutdale.  It’s perfect to mix down the warmest temps this afternoon but not get too windy.  At 11am PDX is running one degree above yesterday, but some other spots are 2-4 degrees warmer.  I think there will be sudden and dramatic jump at PDX at noon or 1pm as the drier air above (and maybe an easterly breeze) surfaces.

Some bad news for me.  I had suggested to my bosses that I should do a live shot early this summer about hyperthermia deaths in vehicles.  Basically sit in a car for 30 minutes to 1 hour and see how fast the temp rises, and more important, what effect that has on a human body.  Well, someone thinks TODAY will be the best day for that.  I was thinking more of an 80-85 degree day.  But apparently I’m locking myself in a closed car at 5pm today…with medical folks standing by.  I sweat A LOT, so it could be interesting…personally I think it’s more of a “sacrifice the weather guy to the gods” thing

10:00 pm:

Today went very fast, probably due to hanging out in a sweltering car…more on that in a minute.  So it was a big day, only our second 106 degree high in history here in PDX and Vancouver/Seattle broke their all-time high temp records (107 & 103).  But I REALLY wanted to see at least 107, preferably 108 at PDX.  We were almost in the sweet spot for easterly flow but PDX was just a little too much into the east wind zone.  A bit too much mixing, a bit too breezy, at PDX.  Too bad.  But hey, the big picture says we were only 1 degree off our forecast high;  any other time it wouldn’t matter.

As for the car thing.  It didn’t go quite as expected.  First, I had a, let’s say, “negative” reaction to the paramedics inserting an IV before the 5pm news started.  That would be partially on the makeup room floor.  But after a quick recovery I was back in the car with windows up.  It was amazingly hot, but for the first 20-25 minutes I actually felt fine.  I’ve never sweated so much in my life.  The water seemed to be just pouring off my face.  My heart rate went way up after 25 minutes, as if I was riding my bicycle hard, yet I wasn’t even moving.  It’s amazing that the human body works so hard to cool the body, but depressing that it can only last for a certain period of time.  Once you run out of sweat you go downhill very quickly.  Well I didn’t and then after the last hit I quickly got out of the car…big mistake.  I felt all clammy and let’s say I had a “negative” reaction again which involved a gurney and me wheeling into the station.  30 minutes later I felt fine, but the boss insisted I go home.  All is good now though, I’ve been drinking constantly.  The whole experience was good though in that I had no idea how quickly intense heat can take down a healthy person.

Vacation time now until the 10th of August, I’ll check in if we get good thunderstorms later next week (most likely when I’m gone!).  Otherwise I’ll be mainly out of touch somewhere on the east side of the state through midweek.

Chief Meteorologist – Mark Nelsen