Back to Cool Weather

June 21, 2011

I’ve been a bit negligent in keeping track of our weather the past few days.  First the weather was just downright boring late last week, then depressing (Saturday), then a family issue yesterday into today.  Now I’m sitting in the Denver Airport, finally taking a look at the maps…ouch, looks like the cool pattern is going to continue through the end of the month.  Once again, we seem to be able to only squeeze out one 80 degree day at a time this month; a very pleasant 83 degree high at PDX today.  The marine influence returns a bit more tomorrow and really comes in Thursday and Friday, so the morning clouds likely become afternoon clouds for some of us along with high temps back a bit below average.  That would be around 74 this time of year.

Here’s a travel nightmare for you.  I’m on the way to the yearly AMS Broadcast Conference, this year it’s in Oklahoma City.  I change planes in Denver, board a new flight, and everyone is ready to go with baggage on etc…  Then they (United Airlines) announces they can’t find the captain.  We wait another 10 minutes because the “spare” captain was supposed to be ready to go.  After about 15-20 minutes they announce “we’re sorry, but the captain doesn’t begin his shift until 10pm (2 hours from that moment), so you’re free to leave the plane and mill about the concourse”.  So everyone gets OFF the plane and is waiting for 2 hours; of course the silver lining in that cloud is the free wi-fi and thus the blog post. 

Looking at the long range, it appears that the calendar may have switched to summer, but we can look forward to more spring-like weather.  Another upper-level trough swings towards us later Sunday and Monday, which could lead to rainfall again.  Details still a bit sketchy since models have been having issues resolving the movement of the  low.  Note the graphic above is the 6-10 day upper level height outlook plus the dashed lines are the anomaly (compared to average).  The upper-level trough wants to continue hanging on over the West Coast.  Meanwhile the eastern part of the USA will continue to bake, especially the southern Plains.  I have about 1/2 of my garden under plastic, which really warms up the daytime temps, the pathetic little corn shoots are maybe 2″ tall.  Whoever made up the saying “shoulder high by the 4th of July” clearly didn’t live in the maritime Pacific Northwest climate!

Since I have PLENTY of spare time right now…

I’ve been thinking about all the back and forth arguments (the pro Sunny & Warm vs. the Cool & Cloudy types) recently.  It truly depends on what you want to do.  If you want to work outside, hike, ride a bike, or grow lots of green grass, cool weather is definitely best.  It  sure has been nice to work in the yard and garden and not sweat to death.  BUT, if you want to do normal summer activities such as swimming either in a pool, river, lake, or relax in the warm sunshine, 75+ is definitely far better.  So the arguing is probably a bit pointless, although I think a large part of it is also the gloom, not the actual temperature.  I’m always amazed at how my mood goes through the roof when I see sun right away in the morning (today).  I  totally agree with some of you though that would wear off after just a few months.  The constant sunshine beating down in a desert area or parts of S. California would become annoying quickly. 

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Coastal Radar Progressing Quickly

June 16, 2011

The new Langley Hill radar project is progressing rapidly towards completion…Professor Cliff Mass of the UW has a great website here: detailing the progress.

By this Fall we’ll have our first good view of coastal storms via radar.  You folks in Astoria, Seaside, and all the way down into Tillamook County will have far better radar coverage than you’ve ever seen in the past.  Now we just need another one down around Florence or Coos Bay!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Podcast Posted: Interview With Rebecca Stevenson

June 15, 2011


We just recorded a new podcast this afternoon, including an interview with KIRO-TV Meteorologist Rebecca Stevenson up in Seattle.  Interesting to hear her perspective on our weather patterns and the new coastal radar.  Plus I’ve met her a few times and she’s just a real nice genuine person.  Stephanie joined us as well, plus find out why I think Hood River has the perfect climate.  It’s here:

Is Spring Getting Colder & Wetter?

June 13, 2011

The short answer is no, in general our springs are not getting colder west of the Cascades, but the last 5 April-May 2 month periods have been either average or below.  The data above is from all western Oregon inland stations…basically all areas between the Coast and Cascade Ranges.  Note the 100 year trend shows no significant change.  Warmer springs in the 30s and 40s, then colder springs in the 60s and 70s.  Back to warm springs again in the late 1980s through the mid 2000s.  Are we back in a 10-20 year period of cool springs?  Time will tell I suppose.  By the way, for those of you worried about a “bleedover” into cooler summers?  Definitely not, the trend is significantly warmer both for July-August and July-September.  Summers are getting warmer (maybe later?), but springs are either the same or (recently) cooler.  Here’s the spring rainfall graph; an increase there for sure…April-May has been getting wetter in Western Oregon:

Remember these graphs only apply to a specific geographic area and I didn’t look at the trend east of the Cascades or up in Washington.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

A Poll: What Did You Think of Spring?

June 13, 2011

This is your chance to sound off!  Spring “officially” ends about a week from now, although meteorologically we consider spring the months of March-April-May.  Either way, it still feels like spring but it’s wrapping up.  There has been a vibrant discussion on the blog off/on the past few months about this spring and of course I editorialize about it frequently.  So what do you think?  I’ll leave this poll open for 24 hours and you can comment below as well:

Spring and May Stats: It was cold and wet

June 10, 2011

Not a huge surprise, but here are the numbers NCDC just released for the month of May:

Notice it just got colder and colder the closer you got to the Rockies and then the Pacific Northwest.    Some parts of the Eastern Oregon and SE Washington had their coldest May on record, including stations at Pendleton, Goldendale, and, well, somewhere else but now I forget where and don’t want to have to look it up again.

Here is the 3 month temp ranking for March-May:

Same pattern with a cold West and warmer than average East.  Note it was the 3rd & 5th coldest spring on record for Washington and Oregon.  You can also see why there have been such runoff problems in the Columbia, Snake, and Missouri River basins.  A long cold spring delayed the snowmelt and there has been regular rainfall in the dry areas of Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas due to the disturbances tracking northeast out of our west coast upper level trough.  It was another month of below average 500 mb heights centered on the Pacific Northwest coastline too: 

This is a pattern that has continued to sit overhead since mid February.  We’ll see how much longer it continues, however notice we’ve dried out significantly this month…it’s no June like last year! 

Looking ahead, I’m afraid that JUNEUARY word is going to start popping up next week.  Models show an upper level trough dropping in over us the 2nd half of next week.  ECMWF had the trough slightly farther east, but GFS brings it almost right over us, keeping the onshore flow and cooler than average temps going.

Enjoy the dry weekend!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Yuck…Gray and Wet This Morning

June 10, 2011

What a gloomy start…I HATE waking up to fog/low clouds and drizzle on a June day.  These are the types of days that make me want to retire to a sunnier spot (east of the Cascades).  The marine layer really thickened up more than expected overnight.  The 5am weather balloon sounding shows it’s up around 4,000′ thick.  That thick generally means a very late day breakup (if at all) in the Portland Metro Area.  Clearly our 70 degree forecast high is too warm; 65 is much safer.  If you want to get out of the muck, you can go up to Timberline, east to Hood River, or over the Cascade Passes and find plenty of sunshine.  Here’s the latest picture up at Timberline Lodge:


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen