No Burns Tornado

April 21, 2010

The NWS in Boise put out this statement about an hour ago…looks like it was just straight-line wind from a downburst over Harney County yesterday afternoon.  I saw some incorrect media reports saying it WAS a tornado.  Could have been something, but damage reports don’t indicate that’s the case.  I changed the important text to blue:

…THUNDERSTORM WINDS AND DAMAGE IN THE BURNS AREA…

ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON BETWEEN 330PM AND 4PM PDT A THUNDERSTORM MOVED
FROM THE SOUTH TO THE NORTH JUST EAST OF BURNS OREGON CAUSING
CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE.

DAMAGE REPORTS FROM THE AREA INCLUDE…
52 POWER POLES BROKEN.
NUMEROUS HOUSES WITH SHINGLES BLOWN OFF THE ROOF.
A MOBILE HOME BLOWN 3 FEET OFF ITS FOUNDATION.
SEVERAL OUTBUILDINGS PARTIALLY DESTROYED INCLUDING SEVERAL WITH
THEIR ROOFS PARTIALLY TAKEN OFF.

ALL THE DAMAGE REPORTS INDICATE THE WINDS WERE BLOWING FROM THE
SOUTH TO THE NORTH AS THE STORM MOVED THROUGH
. THE DAMAGE WAS
REPORTED FROM HIGHWAY 78 WEST OF CRANE NORTH TO HIGHWAY 20 EAST OF
BURNS. ALL THE DAMAGE REPORTS WERE EAST OF BURNS.

BASED ON DAMAGE REPORTS…WINDS FROM THIS STORM WERE IN THE 70 TO 75
MPH RANGE.

SEVERAL REPORTS WERE RECEIVED OF A FUNNEL CLOUD ASSOCIATED WITH THIS
STORM. WHILE A TORNADO OCCURRING WITH THIS STORM IS A POSSIBILITY,
ALL THE DAMAGE REPORTS ARE CONSISTENT WITH STRAIGHT LINE WINDS
ASSOCIATED WITH A DOWNBURST FROM THE THUNDERSTORM.


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


Lots of Driving

April 15, 2010

I headed north today into an area I haven’t seen much of in my life…northern Clark County.  I’ve lived within a 1.5 hour drive of Portland almost my entire life, but today I finally got to see Yacolt, Green Mountain area, and Lucia Falls (sorry Rob…I just missed Heisson Store after taking the wrong turn!).

This wasn’t just an aimless wandering on a sunny spring day.  I had my last 3 school visits of the year.  I think those were numbers 49, 51, and 52!  Probably going to cut back a little next year.  First was Firm Foundation Christian School in Battle Ground.  I had been there last year.  Then Green Mountain Elementary in the middle of nowhere.  That sounds rude, but this place makes Corbett seem like the big city!  Check it out here on Google maps:  Green Mountain School then zoom out and you’ll see what I mean.  I’ve never been to a school that has no town or city within a 10 mile drive.  In fact the road says DEAD END and has no center lane leading up to it.  But it sure was a nice place out in the woods on a sunny day.  No need for Outdoor School for these kids; it really did look like and smell like summer camp.  3rd school of the day was Yacolt Primary.  175 1st graders…very well behaved and nice kids!  I read a book and showed them the tornado video.  Hopefully no one feels I’m racial profiling, but I’ve never seen so many blonde kids in one room in my life!  I’m fascinated by history so I had to look that one up on Google.    Apparently a high percentage of Finns settled in northern Clark County and have a very tight knit religious community…who knew?  Not this German/Danish mutt married to an English/Native American.  Maybe I should get out more.  Anyway, to cap off the visit…7 different classes snapped pictures.  It was like those long photo sessions on wedding day.  Lots of fun, but then a long drive back here to the station on the west side of the Metro area.

Pretty quiet weather the next 3 days…just weak waves giving us clouds and maybe a shower or two tomorrow and Saturday.  Then Sunday is the day BEFORE a wet cold front for Monday.  Even next week just looks showery at times…very typical April weather.  I sure don’t see a long period of wet weather ahead.  No real chilly weather either, just seasonally cool next week (highs 55-60?).

This picture has NOTHING to do with today's post. A Flat Stanley made it to KPTV from Wolf Creek Elementary in Aurora, IL. I figured I should let him help out at the Chroma-Key.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


A New Face In The Weather Center

April 14, 2010

From time to time we have weather interns here in the weather center.  Depending on how many credits they are earning at their college, they spend a few hours to a couple days a week…generally for about a two month period.  Today we’ve got a new one…Yevgeniy Kostenko.  You may recognize the name…he’s a regular here on the blog.  At this exact moment he’s messing around with the radar, watching that thunderstorm near Silver Falls.  But I’ll pull him away and have him write something here.  The picture is from Steph.  The one with her UO Ducks Snuggie didn’t turn out as well, but someday I’ll have to show you all that one.  Apparently it’s been really cold in here lately.

“Hey guys, it is awesome here in the weather center and Mark Nelsen is awesome. First day here is really pleasant, I think the studio looks a little smaller than expected…but it is still very nice to be here! Everyone here is open to talk to as well, a very enjoyful experience for me to say the least. These next few months here should be fun! …Yevgeniy”

By the way, if you are a college student that is interested in weather AND in coursework heading towards a meteorology degree, an internship might work for you (or us).  Send me a note if that’s the case.

On to weather…some thunderstorms popping up over the Cascades this afternoon.  As of 4:15pm the closest strikes I’ve seen have been right around Silver Falls SE of Silverton.  That storm has weakened.  I’m not TOO excited about the possibility of thunderstorms tonight.  Nice divergence in the upper atmosphere along with SE flow up above too would give us a good chance, but I’d like to see warmer temps here at the surface.  We DO get a nice onshore push this evening coming up the Valley, so that could help.  Tough call.  The WRF-GFS is very impressive with showers turning to a band of solid rain moving north over us overnight.  Our RPM is much more pathetic with the showers.  Considering all the activity going on right now, I’d tend to believe the wetter WRF-GFS.  Either way, keep an eye on the radar this evening!

Real nice weather coming up the next 4 days…good news because I have more spring garden/yard tasks to take care of.  Apparently the upper-level low I talked about two nights ago IS going to stay a little farther offshore, giving us warmer temps.  We should be able to hit 70 for only the 2nd time this season on Friday.  Sunday maybe a bit above???

 


Nightmare Forecasting

April 12, 2010

A casual viewer may have noticed the 7 Day forecasts on local TV web sites (and on the air of course) are all over the place the last 3 days.  Combine that with changing numbers just on our 7 Day forecast and a person could easily conclude that we are just throwing darts at a wall.  They wouldn’t be too far off tonight. 

The forecast is a real pain the next 7 days.  The problem?  An upper level trough, a disturbance in the upper-atmosphere, moves down from Canada to just off Oregon by Wednesday.  Then it backs off a bit, links up with another trough moving across the Pacific, and swings some moisture our way at times through early next week.  The issue is that each model and even runs within models themselves each disagree on where the low is at any one time.  If it’s closer to us we get cooler/showery weather.  If it backs off just a bit, much warmer air surges north ahead of it and we can get quite warm.  24 hours ago models were indicating we could hit 80 degrees next weekend as the low moved well off the coastline.  That’s now gone…we’ll see if it reappears.  As forecasters we can’t just follow each model run in patterns like this.  If we did, our 7 Day forecast would have gone from a high of 80-82 next Sunday to 60 just 24 hours later (a good example!).  So we have to make an educated guess (yes, I said that) based on experience and trends in models.  And we also have to avoid what many of you here are familiar with:  Model Riding.  That’s when your forecast and thoughts change with each model run.  Since many models now come out 4 times a day (all arrive at least twice a day), this can give you whiplash from the amount of weather information flying around.

To make it worse…if it was October-February our viewers wouldn’t necessarily care much…really, a 40 degree rainy day or a cloudy 50 degree day?  Most of us stay inside anyway.  But from later March through the summer the public (me too!) has much higher expectations and wants to get outside.  So any forecast of several days of sunshine and warm temperatures is followed closely.  The viewer REALLY wants that to happen…and extreme disappointment is the result if/when we have to put showers/cool weather back into the forecast.  That would include nasty emails and sometimes rough voicemails too.  So some Springs we get through this with just nice fronts and then ridges of high pressure that give us some sunny weather.  Others are dominated by these annoying lows. 

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


A Few Thunderstorms

April 12, 2010

I don’t want to get Timmy Supercell too excited, but a nice little thunderstorm just popped up near Lowell.  As you can see from the map that’s just southeast of Eugene along that long straight stretch of Highway 58 (on the way to Willamette Pass).  With the nice clearing and warming temps this afternoon, I’d expect a few more to pop up the next few hours.  I just got in about 1/2 hour ago…Stephanie had a pained look on her face as she held the forecast page.  Then I got a headache as I looked over the maps/models too…nightmare spring forecasting ahead the next 7 Days!!!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen