Severe Thunderstorm in SE Oregon

April 20, 2010

An exciting afternoon in Harney County.  Several viewers sent us pictures (and one video) of a strong thunderstorm moving overhead.  Strong wind spread out (probably a downburst) ahead of the storm.  Boise NWS thinks it was probably not a tornado from the pictures they’ve seen.  The video we received was inconclusive…similar to what you see on the left up above except real scary-looking with a nice backlighting from the sun.  Notice the “double-wide” has been moved about 3 feet in the picture on the right!  Now that’s some wind!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Where’s The Rain?

April 20, 2010

Here’s the radar image from 11:45am today.  I’ve been here at home waiting for rain for about 24 hours now.  And it’s still dry outside, pavement & garden.  I planted a bunch of stuff over the weekend, assuming it would get soaked later Monday and that never happened (at least on the east side of town).  Sorry about the lack of posting over the weekend and Monday.  I spent almost all my free time outside over the weekend, which was fantastic (73!).  Then I was at the hospital with my wife yesterday for a pre-arranged operation…no big deal, she’s fine.  But that explains why I’ve been absent.

Obviously there hasn’t been any significant weather the last few days (except for that one lonely thunderstorm over Portland & Vancouver Saturday afternoon.  I see there was all of one cloud to ground strike with it.  Must have been a high percentage of cloud/cloud strikes since so many of you heard thunder.

So today’s pattern is the same as what we had a good chunk of last winter (temporarily this time around).  A deep upper-level trough is digging south into California, giving them unseasonably wet and cool weather.  You can see the core of cold showers moving down the coastline towards San Francisco at midday.  We are in the pathetic southeast flow as the trough approaches right now.  Cold front already went through with a good onshore push, so much cooler today.

Not a ton of rain coming up the next 12 hours…I would bet less than .30″ at PDX, maybe only .15″?  The big soaker is going to be for the folks that really WANT the rain…east of the Cascades.  That southerly flow and wrap-around moisture around the low is very good without the Cascades in the way to block the rain.  Dry land farmers, hundreds of thousands of acres including just about all farmland in north-central Oregon from The Dalles to Pendleton and south to the John Day River, consider April and May rain “gold” I was once told.  That’s because it’s the most critical growing period when the grain (wheat/barley etc…) is really getting going after early Spring and before it dries out in later June/July for harvest.  If they could get 3-4″ of rain in those two months apparently the crop is just incredible.  Of course some years there is less than .50″ and that really reduces the yields.  But occasionally a couple of upper-level lows gives them a nice soaking, and every 10 years or so they get really lucky.

In general we have another nice period of April weather coming up through the weekend.  I figure anytime we don’t have showers/rain for many days straight in April is “good weather”.  Of course we need some showers occasionally from now through September, or else our landscape would look like a desert, but I just prefer to not have a total washout for weeks at a time.  This spring seems just about perfect so far; but I realize everyone has their own opinion.

Mark Nelsen