Forecast Catastrophe Update: Monday Morning

Cold and drier east wind is pouring through the Gorge this morning, nicely shown by the “new” Vista House wind sensor…more on that at the end of the post.  Nice that at least one thing can work out forecast-wise.  The sand box is closed because there is hardly anything to argue about anymore…we’re going to have a brief wintry precipitation event tomorrow night, then it’s on to a very warm and wet pattern through the weekend.

I almost started laughing while looking at the models for the next 48 hours yesterday evening, then I think I actually did this morning as things look EVEN WORSE if you want a big winter weather event here.  Do you realize that in 4 days we’ve gone from a surface low tracking south of Portland and a possible massive snow/ice storm to now a “normal” low moving onto NORTHERN Vancouver Island for Wednesday?

I tried to look at the maps this morning as if I had no pre-conceived notion of what might occur in the next 72 hours.  If you look at it that way, you get a brief period of freezing rain or sleet tomorrow evening/night with no snow.  So when I get in to work early this afternoon I’m probably headed that direction.  With a low pressure system so far north, our region gets flooded in warm air quickly overnight tomorrow night, mainly above the surface.  Models are still holding off a surface arrival of southerly wind until at least 4am Wednesday, so anything that does fall through most of the night should be freezing rain.  It’s just too warm above for snow.  Plus, precipitation may start rather slowly, which is never that great for evaporational cooling.

Crown Point Wind Sensor

This has been a little pet project of mine since around Labor Day.  I’ve always thought there should be a wind gauge up at Vista House, and apparently there has been in the past.  But they get destroyed by the bad ice storms.  The opportunity came up to try out there since I replaced the Corbett Elementary School sensor Vantage Pro with a Vantage Pro2.  The process has been very slow.  The Oregon State Parks people have been great to work with as well.  I suggested we try something temporary to see how it goes this winter.  It has to be out of there the first week of March.  Link is below:

Here’s what I did:

-No one is going to be drilling into a historic structure to put up a wind gauge for weather geeks!  I assumed that from the beginning.  And nothing can be accessible to the public or it’ll get vandalized.

– I poured 3 bags of concrete into a box (120lbs!), with a 2″ metal mailbox post embedded.  The Vantage Pro (old model) wind cups are mounted about 6 feet up on the pole.  We dragged that block up to the “catwalk” on Vista House last Friday.  My back was sore Friday afternoon.

– It’s a wireless unit, and those of you with the VP know that the range of the older ones is quite weak.  In fact it’s barely making it over the top of the concrete wall, then down into the basement through one of those skylights in the concrete.  Luckily there is DSL in there for the security cams and friends of the Vista House.  I took an old computer of mine and loaded up WeatherLink that outputs to CWOP.  It’s set to reboot when the power goes out…happens a lot out here.

– The first 2 days the signal was so weak that it hardly worked at all, but then I notice last night it started working much better for some reason.  Something to do with the colder temps???  I have no idea.   Either way, radio signals obviously don’t like to go through concrete.

– If the sensor survives okay, then this summer the Parks people MAY spring for a new VP2, which would have no transmission issues…they can transmit much farther.

– I think it’s a good setup (for almost free).  If I put in a new system with those folks, a destroyed wind gauge only costs about $110 to replace.  So maybe every other year one will break?  We’ll find out.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

145 Responses to Forecast Catastrophe Update: Monday Morning

  1. Andrew Johnson says:

    New post guys…

  2. Josh "The Snowman" From Everett, WA says:

    Hey Mark? How sorry are you that you told Sophie to say “a foot” on the air the other night?

    Man, what a debacle this has turned out to be. Why does that southerly push always happen?? It’s disgusting me that even us up here are screwed on this deal.

    They are now calling for maybe 1-4 inches with a quick changeover to rain…RIDICULOUS!!!

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Sophie and everyone else on KATU, KOIN, and KGW.

    • Ben (Beaverton - 775 ft.) says:

      It is ridiculous! How is it that the models have no clue what will happen this year until it’s literally 2-3 days away?

  3. pgiorgio says:

    How does a PNA near 0 correlate with a Northern jet domination at all? How about even a meeting place between Pacific moisture and Arctic air.

    It seems the PNA has to dip below negative 1 for Cold air to reach northern Oregon. With a mean near 0 forecasted 7 days in advance by the gfs PNA index, could that have been an indication of this happening?

    Even though the models were forecasting a low to dip south of PDX 3 days ago, the PNA index was forecasted to be neutral at this time. How often does a neutral PNA give northern Oregon cold weather?

  4. HVMOM says:

    May have hit my high of 40.4 at 12:58. Down to 39.0 .

  5. David Mall205 says:

    MARK…I am working on the well stewed crow for you it should be ready in a few days….on the real though it is a huge letdown that the “event” sizzled out. I now own a 400 dollar snow blower that was suppose to be worth 800 dollars this week, any fellow bloggers who want to join me there is room for all of you to chain up to it before we take the plunge…..

  6. Roman~Snow-Zone says:

    Hey Rob. This is off topic. But I saw you post yesterday that you were taking a break from the weather and might go “work on music.” I was just curious what you meant by that.. do you have any musical skills/talents? If so that’s awesome!

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      I create Bass Music. Various styles with extended low frequency tones 130hz – 10hz. If you’re a Car Audio Enthusiast or into that style of music and have a system, then my music might be for you. I’m sure it isn’t most people’s cup of tea. I’m in the process of being signed under a label and they are sending me a contract soon. Assuming everything goes smoothly in February with the Producers and Mastering my CD, it is set to release at Spring Break Nationals the World Largest Car Audio sound off in Daytona Beach, Florida. I hope everything goes as planned because this is a positive step I need in my life.

      If anyone is interested this is one of my music pages.
      Sound quality isn’t ideal yet, that will come after Mastering. Again, it isn’t for everyone.

    • Roman~Snow-Zone says:

      Wow that is pretty awesome Rob! Sounds like you got something goin that will be fun. Hope for the best for you on this! I my self am a drummer. And have been one for 7 years now. Its a great hobby. Would be neat to be in a band. All I mostly do is play at home either by myself or with my dad who plays guitar and bass.. and my bro who plays tenor sax. I also play at Church…

    • umpire says:

      Oh, Rob, say it ain’t so!!!! Your music will soon be in one of those cars that always seems to rumble by my house around 2:30 in the morning, with the bass so high the windows rattle! And, the dog thinks an earthquake is happening 😉

  7. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    18Z NCEP/NWS Pacific Surface Analysis

    Look how much further the low is offshore.. Heading for Queen Charlottes? Is any moisture even going to push onshore with that track? I wonder how much now.

  8. pgiorgio says:

    Oh, and anything frozen tomorrow night will turn to wet within 1 hour as soon as the south wind hits the valley. Mb a few hours of lame freezing rain and then wet pavement. Wow

  9. poolsidemike says:

    If, just if, things change and the models are wrong, it will be hilarious to watch how quickly and who tries to pull the “told you so” line!

    Models/schmodels….I still say that the only thing we know is what hasn’t happened yet. The old days were almost more fun….forecasting in these parts was done more on a little science and a lot of hunch vs. almost all computer modeling and minimal hunch (Mark being one of the few pro’s who still let’s his personal hunch and knowledge of our uniqueness play into his forecasts).

    As I have said many times before, I don’t know much about weather but love lurking in here and watching the good and bad from all of you guys and gals.

    Fingers crossed for a surprise….I would be happy with a “middle of the road” event…2 inches of snow, 3/4 inch of ice, and a warm up Wednesday late in the day.

    • W7ENK says:

      If, just if, you happen to be right, I will gladly eat crow, on the air for all the FOX viewing Portland public to see, but ONLY if Mark gets me the hook up! A little intro, BBQ going in the background, should only be a 90 second spot, so it couldn’t possibly be that hard to fit in???

    • W7ENK says:

      To clarify, that applies to your “Middle of the road” event – 2″ of snow, 3/4″ of ice, MUST INCLUDE MILWAUKIE!!!

    • Ryan (Walnut Grove) says:

      I for one never thought we would get a significant snow event. I was thinking 6-12 hours of snow. So I missed on that. I never bought the early monster storm the models advertised.

    • Darver says:

      Excellent job, Ryan. What a pro! The only thing more endearing than your pessimism, is your “ability” to publicly congratulate yourself for said pessimism.

  10. Josh "The Snowman" From Everett, WA says:

    Hmm…been off and on snow showers with some enhancement happening right now up here. Must be the interaction of the colder NNE winds with the lower level SW flow…?

    This was not forecast for today and is a complete surprise to anyone up here. Why couldn’t tomorrow be a surprise too?

    Looks like models are about 75-100 miles off with the track of the low, at least from where it looks like it sits at the moment.

  11. W7ENK says:

    Okay, so at risk of sounding like a Boob… (oops, there’s only supposed to be one O in that, my bad!)

    As I’ve been saying for the last day and a half now, I still think it’s going to be 35 degrees in Portland at the onset of moisture tomorrow, and that’s after evaporative cooling brings the temperature down from the low 40s, that’s the best we’ll be able to do. Anything lower than a high of 40, there’s the possibility of seeing ZR out away from the Gorge east of I-205, but most likely any frozen precipitation will be confined East of Multnomah Falls.

    There are several reasons why I think this:

    1) The airmass in the Columbia Basin being drawn through the Gorge into Portland is currently not as cold as expected, which will also be the case tomorrow. The progression of the arctic air East of the mountains simply did not materialize as projected.

    2) Strong Southerly winds will push back or cut off any cooler air coming out of the Gorge. Normally, it would take Southerlies some time to erode the colder air down to the surface, however this time, it’s just not going to be that cold to begin with. The cool air that does filter in won’t be very deep, since it hasn’t been accumulating for very long before the Southerly push. This will be especially true if S Winds shape up the way Mark was talking last night – G30 to 40 in the Valley?

    3) Unless we clear off tonight and the clouds move in at sunrise, capping any solar heating (similar to 12/29/2009) the surface will warm too much during daylight hours, and when the clouds finally do move in and cap, they will keep the heat here. Temps would have to drop into the mid-20s in the city to have any chance at staying below 40 with the warm push coming in.

    FWIW – we’re already a few degrees above the forecast high for today, with many areas firmly above 40, and that’s with an East wind coming out of the Gorge. I have no reason to think tomorrow will be any different.

    T minus 29 hours to “Epic Snowfail 2011”.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      And I will say that I noticed your posts a couple days ago too…mostly a good job, but I still think you’ll be a little warm with the forecast.

    • W7ENK says:

      Thanks, Mark! 🙂

      We’ll see about those temps tomorrow… I’ll be watching them like a hawk. I still think I’ll come in early tomorrow so I have the option of leaving ahead of any commute-carnage, just incase! 😉

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Columbia Basin isn’t rising past the low to mid 20’s for the most part with dewpoints in the 0’s and 10’s.. My DP is under 25, so I suspect the Gorge to be colder tomorrow quite a bit… I still think I get ZR, unsure how much.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      I should specify. Pasco, Moses Lake, Ephrata, etc….

    • W7ENK says:

      You’ll be one of the lucky few, Rob.

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