Boring Start to February!

February 1, 2010

I actually didn’t look at weather maps or future model runs very closely over the weekend.  I think I was in the “snow day” mode like a little kid, hoping I could come in Monday afternoon and find some surprising change.  But apparently it’s too much to even ask for a tiny,  miniscule nugget of weather fun.  Check out the 144 hour GFS 200mb. height forecast from the 18z run, then the 300+ hour map, which takes us into and slightly beyond the middle of the month…not much change is there?  Check out that subtropical jet spanning all of North America!  A strong jet stream well to the south continues through the entire period, leaving us in no man’s land here in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s as if we are stuck in the “baroclinic zone graveyard” of the Pacific.  No energetic storms have a chance to get close to us…just leftovers from the south and west.  One would think we could get very chilly in that pattern with cool air over us, but as in most of January, there’s no sign of chilly arctic air (high pressure) surging south into the Rockies.  In fact that part of January was very strange.  After the first week when we had that one strong intrusion of cold air and gusty east wind, the Columbia Basin was mild the rest of the month with no significant cooldown at the lowest elevations.

If this pattern comes to fruition and indeed we have a dead two weeks ahead, we can kiss goodbye to any chance for a big arctic blast again this season…it’ll PROBABLY be too late.  Of course I was reminded again by some older folks yesterday about a big gorge snow/ice storm back in the first week of March in what I think was 1960.  Several feet of snowdrifts out in the Gresham/Troutdale areas and several days below freezing out there.  We’ve seen wet snow off/on the last few years in March at the lowest elevations too, but in the first 12 years of my career here (1991-2003) that never happened.  In this El Nino winter & early spring I think it’s especially unlikely.  Far more likely is a gradual morphing of our pattern the next few weeks into one of warmer daytime temps 50-60+ as the sun angle increases, and a settling in of a “false spring”.  I would be very happy if we saw a repeat of 2005.  That year temperatures were consistently in the upper 50’s to lower 70s for a 4 week period from mid-February to mid-March.  The payback was that from mid-March to mid-May (the next 2 months!) the rains were with us constantly.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen