Approaching Storm

March 1, 2011

Nice curl of low pressure moving north well off the Oregon Coast this evening.  This is the storm that at one point was forecast to come right up along the Washington Coastline, giving a windstorm to even the inland Valleys.  Instead it’s tracking right along 130W Longitude.  High Wind Warning is up for the Coast.  Peak gusts maybe 60-70 mph…about what we saw yesterday morning out at the beaches.

Last night was real interesting.  At the end of a low elevation snow event (down to 1,000′ or so), we then had what I call the “Forest Grove Effect”.  We totally lost the southerly flow and easterly wind began blowing out of the Gorge in the 10pm-2am period.  I was surprised at the snow/rain mix downtown (around midnight) as I passed through, then it changed to all snow at Troutdale and into the west end of the Gorge.  Most interesting was that the temp of 32-33 didn’t change from sea level (Columbia River) all the way up to 1,200′ near my home.  A very isothermal atmosphere in the lowest couple thousand feet.  You could see the KPTV Tower temps were right around freezing at 1,800′ as well.  That easterly flow was getting shoved up against the east slopes of the Coast Range and the east side of the West Hills/Tualation Mountains.  That gave near sea level snow to Scappoose/St. Helens too.  By the way, the drive home last night was one of the most slippery I’ve done.  Up around 1,200′ there was a good 3-4″ of heavy, wet, unplowed snow on the road, plus trees hanging way down into the road with branches falling too.  Looked neat, but even studded tires slide real easily on that layer of “snow on slush”.  Anyway, I’ve babbled enough.   That easterly gradient has ramped up suddenly this evening.  A peak gust of 54 mph just about 5 minutes up in Corbett and 48 mph at Crown Point.  Makes me think having that sensor right up against Vista House on the “upstream side”  might give a weaker speed than on the side?  Anyway, I thought we were probably done with the strong east wind for the season; but at least this won’t stick around more than 6 hours.

A series of cold fronts move through the next 7-10 days.  Temps stay a bit below average.  A typical high temperature this time of the year is in the lower 50s, and we should see temps in that range or a little below.   Yuck…I think most people will be ready for SOME sort of Spring weather by mid March.  Maybe just a couple 60 degree days???  Will that be too much to ask?   Most likely.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen