Weekend Outlook

June 30, 2010

Here’s a surprise for most of you…we haven’t had a “rainy” 4th of July in 10 years!  Doesn’t it seem that we’ve had lots of clouds the last few years?  Definitely not.  Check out the numbers above.  2 out of the last three holidays have been hot.  That won’t happen this year though.  At WORST we’ll see lots of cloud cover and high temps around 70.  At BEST, it’ll be totally sunny with temps in the upper 70s.  I’ll go with morning clouds breaking up in the afternoon and a high somewhere around 75 degrees.

Before we get to the 4th we have two weak systems moving through tomorrow and Friday.  They are so weak that rain is unlikely…more likely a few drips here and there each of the next two afternoons.  Still, more clouds and cooler temps (65-70) both days.

24 hours after the previous post the big warm up is still on for next week.  Monday should be the first real warm day…into the 80s.  Then Tuesday and Wednesday should be the warmest.  The ECMWF and GFS actually have a thermal trough developing west of the Cascades (easterly flow over the mountains) for both days.  Add in 850mb temps in the +20 to +22 degree range?  My July chart shows a high between 93-98 degrees!  I went a bit lower than that since there are still variations in the models over strength of the ridge, thermal trough etc…  But they do all agree on the summer “switch” flipping to “ON” starting the 5th of July.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Summer on the Horizon

June 29, 2010

A cool evening out there with a chilly airmass and some spots clearing out.  If we get much more clearing the outlying areas will easily drop into the 40s.  Tomorrow looks real nice with clouds breaking up quickly.  After a weak system dropping through Thursday, Friday should be a bit better.  Overall cool late June weather is on tap through at least the early part of the Holiday Weekend, if not all of it. 

One thing I don’t see is a chance for any sort of rain (other than a sprinkle or two Thursday???).  I had hardly noticed, but we’ve seen very little rainfall in almost two weeks.  All of .03″ at PDX in the last 13 days!  After all that excitement about a record wet June, it sure ended dry.  When we look back at the records we’ll see the “faucet shutting off” at mid-month as the dry season began.

So the first part of a typical Pacific Northwest summer has begun, but what about much warmer and sunnier weather?  Well, models the last 2 days have been pointing towards a significant change in our pattern at some point between Sunday and Tuesday of next week.  The NWS folks have put the entire northern and western parts of the country into the “Above Average” category for next week (and beyond).  This is due to models all shifting the weak July jet farther north.  We don’t get a massive sharp upper-level ridge, but 500mb heights rise up to the 582-590dm range.  That’s classic warm-hot July weather.  Some models even have periods of weak offshore flow in there around Tuesday-Wednesday too.  Both the ECMWF and GFS imply temps at/above 90 those days.  Actually I suppose the GFS could push us well into the mid-upper 90s, but let’s assume it’s erratic behavior lately will continue that that won’t be the case. 

The BIG PICTURE shows a general change towards regular summer weather beginning around…the 5th of July!  That’s always a joke of course, but apparently it may happen this year.  Because of that (and last of the season seeds on sale at Freddies), I decided to try planting corn in my garden for the 3rd time this season.  Did that today.  We’ll see if it makes it before mid-September!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Mt. Hood At Sunrise

June 28, 2010

This is what it looks like up on Mt. Hood when it’s shadow is 50 miles long at sunrise!  Click on the pic for a better view.  Photo by Scott Withers on Sunday, June 27th.

It’s Not Just the Beach!

June 27, 2010

The broadcaster’s conference is all over now, plenty of time left to sit in the airport and blog.  Now you might think this is just a travel junket for the tv weatherman…not quite the case, in spite of the great view out the window.  By the way, the ocean is 85 degrees, and when you get out you don’t even get briefly chilled!  That never happens in Oregon, even on the hottest summer day.  It is a hot and sweaty climate, which I don’t like; however, it’s real nice in the early mornings and the evenings when the sun goes down.  Warm breezes after dark are great, and a walk along that beach path at 7am was wonderful as well.  I suppose that’s why they invented the Siesta?

Yesterday was the  field trip to AOML and NHC/TPC.  The first was the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.  That’s a sister research organization to PEML in Seattle.  They do lots of different things.  They explained how hurricane research is done (they get 700 hours/year of flying time for example).  The little  dropsondes that are dropped into the hurricane to get all sorts of meteorological data from NOAA aircraft?  $700 a pop!  Something akin to those $600 toilet seats.  There was also a talk about water quality and how that’s going to change in the future…the 3rd stop was a global map showing how we are finally just now beginning to study/understand our oceans and their affect on weather.  Consider that 3/4 of the globe’s surface is covered by water and until recently there was very little in the way of instrumentation.  Now there are thousands of buoys, drifting buoys, ARGO instruments and ship reports coming in daily from all over the globe.

Then it was on to the National Hurricane Center.  This is THE spot you see on newscasts and The Weather Channel when storms threaten the USA.  Pretty neat to actually sit in the chair the NHC folks use for all their national live shots.  There’s a blurry image here of my hind end trying it out.  They sat all 150 television meteorologists down and there was a question/answer session with Bill Read, the director of the NHC.  Real personable guy running a very critical part of the NWS.  Here’s something for you…have you ever heard that Anthropogenic Global Warming would cause more and stronger hurricanes in the future?  Not quite true.  Research shows that that actual NUMBER of tropical cyclones may actually go DOWN with a warming ocean/climate.  The reason is models forecast stronger shear in the tropics which would tend to inhibit formation.  However, storms would likely be a bit stronger…one study says 3% higher windspeeds.  So no, there is no forecast of “catastrophic” storms in the future.  That was interesting.  Also, they really want TV meteorologists to focus more on the storm surge…that’s the big killer.  For example in Hurricane IKE (Galveston/Houston), the surge went 40-60 miles inland up the ship channel.  People down there assume they’ll be just fine if they live a few miles inland.  Of course none of this affects us, but good info.

There was a talk yesterday about future  satellite improvements.  The current line of GOES satellites is about to come to an end.  Or more accurately, the first of a new series of satellites will be launched in a couple years.  They will have more sensors, higher resolution (both spatially and temporal).  For example, the current 1km visible imagery will go down to 1/2 km!  4km IR imagery will go down to 2km.  Water Vapor will improve as well.  Right now we get 15  minute imagery from each goes satellite; that will improve to 5 minutes.  Those satellite loops are going to get smoother.  The one big change will be a new optical lightning sensor.  Not sure how, but for the first time lightning will be detected from orbit.  That’s cloud to cloud (don’t know about cloud-ground).  So we’ll be able to see lightning strikes over the ocean and remote areas.  That should be neat with our incoming Pacific systems.

Alright, that’s all for now, about time to head home.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Weather Conference

June 24, 2010

Here’s a nice shot of part of downtown Miami from an island in Biscayne Bay.  That’s where I am for 4 days, along with about 170 other television meteorologists for the AMS Broadcasters Conference.  It’s a yearly event held in different parts of the country.  These events are always educational where ideas are traded and minds are refreshed.  We also get training on our respective weather systems too.  Tonight was a social event down at Bob Baron’s timeshare house; he’s the great guy that owns Baron Radar systems in Alabama.  They are in charge of upgrading all the USA NWS radars the next few years, and supply radars to TV stations as well.  A nice view from the dock don’t you think?  The funny thing is you can cross the whole country, then end up talking to two other weather people from Portland more than you do when you’re only 5 miles from them!  I think that’s because there are no distractions of work, family, etc…at a conference.  It’s ungodly hot during the day here…around 90 with baking sunshine and extremely humid (ocean is 85 degrees!).  Evenings are perfect with a quick drop down to lows around 80 degrees.  Nice with a gusty easterly trade wind.  No thunderstorms yet, which is unusual for late June.  This is their wet season (9″ for the month).  The people watching is incredible in Miami Beach…pretty much the variety that one would expect!  Last June the conference was in Portland, next year is either Norman, OK (radar!) or Burlington, VT.

Looks like I’m missing the arrival of summer at home, at least it’ll still be there on Sunday when I get back!   Enjoy the nice weather.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Finally Some Sun!

June 22, 2010

Much better!  The low clouds dissipated quickly around 11am today, revealing the bright yellow orb and blue skies.  Now it’s a bit hazier as some high clouds drift over, but I think I actually began to sweat while driving my car to work.  That was sweet.  Today is the warmest day out of the last 9, and could be the 2nd warmest so far this month…it has been a chilly June!  As of this morning, it’s the 2nd coldest June on record here in Portland, beat out only by 1954.  That year went on to have the 2nd coldest July and coldest August on record here in Stumptown.  Yuck…

We have some warmer nights on the way due to cloud cover and a warmer airmass…around 60 the next 2 to 3 nights.  Still warm tomorrow, then some morning low clouds Thursday should cool us a bit below average.  A big push Friday keeps us near 70, but no significant chance for showers.

Long Range:  A really tough one today.  Instead of a big, bad, cold trough swinging through here Sunday through Tuesday, models have retrogressed the pattern slightly, slowing down the arrival of the trough, plus it just isn’t quite as deep as it comes in.  The “problem” is a hot upper-high building just to our east over the weekend.  We are getting squeezed between the first real heat of the season over the Intermountain/Rockies area and cold showers to our west offshore.  That’s an uncomfortable spot to be in for forecasters, especially when models are not in agreement.  My gut feeling is the trough is going to be closer rather than farther away, but I’d sure love to just see it dig offshore instead!  We took the middle road, with warmer weather hanging in through Sunday (as our new 7 Day shows), then a downturn Monday/Tuesday, but not nearly as bad as what could have been.  Did anyone notice that last night’s 00z GFS showed thicknesses down to 540dm. Monday?  That’s snow to pass elevation; in the last few days of June!  As Steph and I were talking about a few minutes ago, a slight movement east or west of the forecast pattern could either put us right into cold showers early next week, or very warm weather.   Once again, we took the middle ground for now.


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Your Thoughts Needed

June 21, 2010

Let’s make this a discussion about the blog only, keep discussing weather in the previous post. 

As ANYONE who comes to this blog know, occasionally we have outbreaks of “verbal violence” in the comments, as you can see again yesterday evening and this morning.  In the past, if someone was truly offensive, posted porn links (it’s happened!), or threatened others I generally put them on “moderation”.  That means they can post in the comments, but I have to hit the APPROVE button before it makes it in.  In fact that’s how the blog worked the first few months in 2005.  I definitely won’t do that again since it totally stifles discussion of current weather.  BUT, I do get tired of the same person/people causing the same issues.

What I want to know is…how does it affect your experience here?  I don’t mean just the regulars who comment all the time, but I know lots of other people come on and read the comments, but don’t participate in the discussion.  Please spend the 10 seconds and punch one of the buttons…you only get to vote once per IP address.  If an issue comes out of the poll (which I’m expecting), then we can move forward from there.  Feel free to comment down below too.  Please DO NOT mention names, because I think anyone who gets on this forum will know exactly who this poll is aimed at.

Okay, now for the input you all gave the last 24 hours.  Thanks so much!…I’ve never seen such a long chain of very good thoughts from all.  And quite a volume of emails on the subject that arrived in my inbox too.  Several regulars gave me their thoughts this way.  In fact I didn’t want another post just about the issue.  As you can see from the results of the poll, a majority of folks think several people cause some trouble on the blog comments (whether intentional or not). 

1.  NO ONE suggested we moderate ALL comments.  I totally agree and that’s not going to change.  You only get moderated the first time you comment from a new computer, or just plain first time ever.

2.  Really, considering it’s been 5 years with OPEN COMMENTING, it’s amazing how civil it is in here.  Big blowups only happen about every 3-5 months.  One about two weeks ago, but before that it was January!  I did put one of you on moderation after the blowup two weeks ago due to a very rude and mean comment.

3. There was definitely some agreement (a majority) that this involves the same 2-3 people  each of the last few times we have had a “blow-up”.  Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that those 2-3 people are always in the middle of it for whatever reason.  Several of you pointed out that it then spreads to others jumping into the argument.  Quite a few suggested I ban all three of those folks.  I won’t do that for now.  Because it’s Jesse & Rob.  Jesse you start it and then Rob explodes…geez, regular and predictable as clockwork.  You two contribute far more to the blog than anyone else, yet you’re also dragging things down here once every few months.  Could you just stop???  So I guess this is a public warning;  the rest of you can make sure I follow through when it happens again and hold me accountable.  Next time you two get in an argument which turns into an explosion that’s it.  The rest of you please let me know if it happens again.  I can deal with the 3rd person I mentioned earlier in this paragraph separately, LOTS of you are tired of his rantings.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen