Happy Birthday: 5 Year Old Weather Blog

November 30, 2010

I almost forgot!  It was 5 years ago tonight that we started what has now become the largest (only?) gathering place for Oregon and Washington weather nuts to get together and discuss weather. 

The Fox12 Weather Blog began on November 30th, 2005 right here.  We started it, by chance, on a day when a Winter Storm Warning was up for the Metro area and stations were trumpeting the “big storm” on the way.  Some were expecting 2-6″!  I disagreed and was all alone.  It didn’t even seem close to me.  As I recall it was significantly warmer in the Columbia Basin that night than what we see over there right now.  My boss kept coming in and saying “are you sure???”.   The pressure was on big-time.  We even did something we have never done since.  Wayne put together video and forecasts from the 3 other TV stations and did a comparison of the wildly different forecasts.  Viewers just loved it, like a one-stop forecast.

I had a sleepless night;  but Portland woke up to rain showers with a dusting on the top of the West Hills (at best).  It never snowed.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

On to Slower Weather

November 30, 2010

Things worked out well the last 24 hours forecast-wise.  Strong wind at the coast but not damaging…most gusts in the 50-60 mph range at best.  Plenty of snow in the mountains, actually a bit more.  Looks like 12-18″ will be the storm total up there.  A good dump of snow in the central and eastern Gorge too.  5″ or so in Cascade Locks/Stevenson area and 6-8″ in the Hood River Valley.  I haven’t heard how much fell up in the Upper Valley in the Parkdale area, but I bet it was in the 8-10″ range at least.  And finally, some freezing rain at the west end of the Gorge above about the 700′ elevation.  I drove through this at 1pm today east of Crown Pt. (the picture above).  Thickest accumulation was about 1/2″.  BUT, with the easterly gradient down to less than 2 millibars through the Gorge this evening, the cold air layer is now less than 1,000′ thick.  I see the temp at my home has jumped to 43 degrees…warmest in about 10 days.

Looking ahead…it’s dullsville through the next 5-6 days west of the Cascades.  Some cool easterly wind Saturday-Monday; pray it’s enough to keep the fog at bay.  Those of you down the Valley can expect lots of fog this weekend.  Clear areas should all see lows in the 20s though.  East of the Cascades a very nice snowy system moves northeast on Thursday.  Another round of snow in the Blues/Wallowas, and John Day/Burns areas too.

Models all point to a renewed and very wet Pacific Jet Stream getting established again about 7 days from now.  Maybe we can get some REALLY windy systems…after all…it will be early-mid December!

I recorded a half hour segment on weather and the outdoors for the folks over at Keene HybridLife Radio today.  It’ll be on at 1pm Wednesday (tomorrow) streaming over the Internet. at the link I just highlighted.  I answered lots of questions about searching for signs in the sky, weather myths (a pig gathering wood means rain???), and even successfully navigated a surprise global warming question.  Those were good times on a gloomy Tuesday morning.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Weather Action Tonight; But Not Too Crazy

November 29, 2010

A brand new week, December is just two days away, and we have a nice Pacific warm & cold frontal system headed inland tonight.  Here are my thoughts:

1.  For the Metro area, nothing too exciting.  A good soaking starting with the commute tonight and continuing through most of tomorrow.  No strong wind here due to easterly Gorge wind converging with the south wind running up the Valley.  We won’t see excessive amounts of rain or wind.  Too warm for anything frozen too.  Easterly flow increasing through the Gorge today isn’t quite cold enough to bring freezing rain all the way into the east side of the metro area like it did Friday A.M.

2.  High Wind Warning at the beaches?  Marginal again, I really wish the NWS would be reserve these for stronger wind events.  Last High Wind Warning (about two weeks ago) I think one spot had a peak gust of 58 mph.  Steph and I were discussing that afterwards.  Similar tonight with peak gusts in the 50 to 60 mph range.  Remember that High Wind Warning criteria is peak gusts to 58+ mph.

3.  Winter Storm Warning is up for snow/ice in Gorge and snow in Cascades.  Looks good for both.  I just checked forecast soundings and cross-sections.  It’s marginal for snow/frozen precip. at freeway/river level in the Gorge, but probably still a decent dump of wet snow from Cascade Locks eastward (in the colder airmass east of the Cascades).  Maybe 3-5″ at the lowest elevations, a few more inches in the higher Hood River and White Salmon Valleys.  It’ll change to freezing rain by daybreak though as much warmer air moves in aloft.  So I’d avoid I-84 until midday tomorrow.  At that time temps should be at least 35 or so down at the lowest elevations.  West of Cascade Locks the freeway should be fine.  Likely some freezing rain in the hills east of Washougal and the Corbett area up above 500′ overnight before it warms up tomorrow. 

After the cold front passes through Tuesday evening/night, the weather pattern really slows down until about 7 days from now.  We sit in a cool trough the rest of the week and another system slides up through mainly Eastern Oregon Thursday/Friday.  Watch out in the Blue Mountains for that one.  Winter has started early this year over in northeast Oregon! 

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Freezing Rain In The Gorge

November 26, 2010

I’ve been real quiet on the weather blog for a few days…been “under the weather” for the first time in two years.  Somehow I picked up a deathly illness late Tuesday and yesterday was the worst.  Thought I was near the end as I drove the two hours back from Thanksgiving Dinner early, but probably just some sort of severe “man-cold”.  Hopefully I’ll start snapping out of it later today. 

We DID get out of the cold air without a big transition event (that would be today).  So always remember that we can and do occasionaly leave an arctic airmass without a big dramatic event.  Of course that weak warm front brought the flurries and spots of freezing drizzle Wednesday evening, but that was it.  With the transition today, there is plenty of freezing rain and ice pellets in the Gorge.  I have maybe 1/4″ ice here at 1,000′ east of Corbett, at 29 degrees right now.  Some very crunchy snow on the ground.  It’s a very thin layer of cold air in the Gorge and the Columbia Basin too.  I love it when Troutdale is sitting near freezing and the rest of the Metro area is in the 40s…here’s a great map showing the local obs.   Now if we would have had a low pressure area approach from the southwest, then freezing rain would have been widespread across the Metro area.  But models consistently showed the low up to the northwest and lower pressures to the north (4-5 days ago), so that’s why we never had any sort of frozen mix on the 7 day forecast for Thursday and Friday.  The southerly wind up the valley overnight and this morning saved us.  And it sure was a short arctic blast wasn’t it?  Two days with highs around 30, then right back up to 40 yesterday.

The Columbia Basin is totally snow-covered after Monday-Tuesday’s event;  that really made the difference in getting freezing rain through the Gorge this morning and into the far eastside of the Metro area since it’s keeping low-level temps very cool over there.  It’s interesting that looking at the maps I don’t see a big surge of westerly wind to wipe out the cold air in the basin.  In the next 72 hours it’ll stay chilly eastside (at least below about 2,000′).  The inversion with warmer air aloft will go away as cold air overhead moves in later tonight and through the weekend.  But without a good mixing, the snow cover probably won’t melt.  So there will probably be another round of some sort of frozen precipitation in the Gorge when a stronger system approaches on Tuesday.

Westside, we’ll have relatively low snow levels over the weekend…not a ton of precipitation, but snow sticking down around 1,500-2,000′ again.  Similar to what we had before the cold blast Monday P.M.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2010

Is it cold out there or what?  I’ve got 17 degrees at my home…with maybe 2″ of snow on the ground.  I didn’t look at much weather today, since I spent the entire day getting some scheduled computer training.  My eyes are toast and my brain is fried from all the exciting weather.  I won’t be in until Friday afternoon again, so enjoy Thanksgiving.

I don’t see anything too interesting the next 48 hours.  Another cold day tomorrow, with maybe just a few degrees warming from today’s 30 degree high.  Lots of clouds, but it’s going to be tough to get anything other than a flurry (at most).  Solid cloud cover tomorrow night should keep us around 30 degrees, then a  switch to a southerly wind Thanksgiving Day pushes us up around 40 or so.  The cold air should make a quick exit then, but if we get moisture on schedule Thanksgiving Evening, the Gorge will probably be cold enough for a snow/freezing rain mix.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

11:30pm…Wrapping Things Up

November 22, 2010

What a long day…it’s been 12 hours and time to drive home (slowly).  Not much to talk about for the next 24-36 hours.  We’ll see about the Wednesday snow possibilities tomorrow.  Not a lot of moisture and none on some models.

Then it’s on to a quick switch to southerly wind Thanksgiving Day.  That can warm us up quickly.  Remember in the middle of the 2008 cold spell when a low pressure are formed to the north?  We went from teens at 10pm one night to 39 by noon the next day with a breezy southwest wind.  It does happen.  Especially since we have no cold Gorge wind to keep us cool this time around.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

9:30pm Update: Snow Showers Continue

November 22, 2010

Some real nice bursts of snow showers this evening as the colder air has moved in.  Speaking of cold air moving in…models just nailed it.  I would have never thought I would see a gusty west to northwest wind and a temperature of 31 here at our station in Beaverton.  Arctic air always comes in from the east (through the Gorge) here in Portland…well, apparently not always.

No change in thoughts about a Trace to 1″ for most areas.  Of course more up in Kelso/Longview since you folks already had snow coming down all day long.  Some snow now also in the Valley with a dusting in Keizer, Salem, Dallas, Monmouth etc…  Once again, anyone can get some light accumulation.  Even the north Coast is getting in on the snow action. 

Edge of the dry arctic air (the arctic front) passed reaching Longview/Kelso about 1/2 hour ago.  Dewpoint dropped from 27 to 21 in ten minutes as the wind went from gusty west to gusty north.  That should reach a good chunk of the Metro area by 11pm to midnight.  That’s when everything freezes solid.  Watch out if you’re driving around after 11pm!

I know there are a lot of new people reading the blog tonight…since we’ve had 70,000 visits today.  That’s far more than any other day in the 5 year history of the blog.  Welcome to you folks!  This is a place to discuss weather (really the only one in Portland), and notice the archives go all the way back to 2005.  Feel free to check it out the “past issues” if you get snowbound by our mega 1″ snowstorm…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen