New Podcast Episode

July 22, 2011

We have a brand new Northwest Weather Podcast episode posted for your listening pleasure!  Click here to check it out!

This week, Brian and Mark explain the heat wave scorching most of the U.S. and why we’re staying so cool in the Pacific Northwest.

They also talk about the anniversary of the coldest temperature ever recorded on earth and other extreme weather across the world.

Plus, the guys welcome their boss to the show, Executive News Director Corey Hanson.  Corey gives us insight on how things work behind the scenes, and they play a game of “It’s Okay, It’s Not Okay, or You’re Fired.”

A Warm Weekend; Plus Vacation Time

July 21, 2011

For those of you waiting for some real summer weather (you know, at least average temps and bright sunny skies), we have a few days of that coming up.  Onshore flow weakens dramatically overnight, so after morning clouds we should see quite a bit of sun.  The upper-level ridge centered over the eastern half of the USA briefly noses a bit closer to the West Coast over the weekend, allowing the atmosphere to warm to normal or slightly above.  The average 850mb temperature in the month of July over the Willamette Valley is about 14 degrees C.  We should see it as high as +16 later Saturday and Sunday.  Add the fact that wind flow overhead goes flat or weakly offshore both days, and we could touch 90 in spots.  It’ll be close at PDX.

Beyond that, strong onshore flow returns Monday and Tuesday.  Models still in some disagreement beyond 5-7 days, which has been the story so far this summer.  Generally it looks near or below normal temp-wise the latter half of next week.

I’ll be off for the next two weeks, not returning to work until August 8th.  I like to use up vacation time during the best weather of the year…we’ll see if that actually occurs this year.  Plus we rarely have any interesting weather…not much to miss here at work.

I’ll probably post something about a week from now or else comments shut off automatically after 10 days.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Oh No! It’s Happening Again

July 19, 2011

Over and over again the past 6 weeks we’ve seen models attempt to develop upper level ridging (even if only briefly) over the West Coast of North America, only to see subsequent model runs squash it down and bring new, cool, upper-level troughs closer to the coastline than originally anticipated.  It’s as if long range models keep attempting to revert to “normal” summertime conditions, but then “clue in” to the persistent cool West and hot mid-USA pattern that has not changed (significantly) since late last winter.

Well…it happened again the past 24 hours.  Yesterday we had a 7 day forecast that showed mainly clear skies and temps around 80 or so both days this weekend.  Now the ECMWF model is rushing an upper level trough right into the Pacific Northwest SATURDAY AFTERNOON!  That would mean clouds and showers late Saturday and into Sunday.  A 2nd wet weekend in the middle of July.  We get 2 runs of that model every day (a new one every 12 hours).  Now the GFS model comes in every 6 hours and has gradually moved towards the ECMWF the past day or so.  It has showers coming in Sunday evening or night with yucky/showery weather Monday.   Here at FOX12 we haven’t gone “whole hog ECMWF”, but the threat is there:

We could see showers as soon as Saturday evening, definitely by Monday, so likely only 1-2 days of noticeably warmer and drier weather at the end of the week (Friday and Saturday).  We may have to move the showers into Sunday as well; that 7 Day may yet go downhill further.

Believe me, I’m just as annoyed by the changing forecast as everyone else.  Many people make plans (months ahead of time) for the almost guaranteed dry weekends in later July and August.  At least we’re catching it 5-6 days ahead of time, much better than a Thursday or Friday change to a weekend forecast.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Nice Sunset Tonight

July 18, 2011

Every once in awhile we get a sensational viewer photo, and tonight was one of those times.  Don Best of Rockaway beach showed just what a beautiful sunset we can get out of a sun and cloud mix.  I also noticed nice color over the Metro area as well this evening.  That’s one benefit of our unusually cool and cloudy Summer 2011.  The other would of course be the very green landscape. 

I’ve decided I’m at peace now with our yucky summer weather.  Naturally I’ll still whine a bit, but no bitterness or feeling of loss like when it doesn’t snow all winter.  I see it this way; this summer is just makeup time for some of those hot years recently.  We last had a really cool and wet summer in 1993 and one could argue that we’re overdue.  Now it’s still only July 15th, and we could be in for some sort of pattern change beyond the last week of July that makes us forget the cool first half of July…we’ll see.  For example, in 1986 July was as cool as our current month with lots of marine air keeping all high temps below 90.  It hit 88 the last day of the month.  August was a scorcher!  12 days at/above 90 degrees and even a 100 degree day.  So things CAN change quickly.  I know I said that in early June too, but you get the idea.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

It’s Turning Into a Cool Summer

July 14, 2011

Quick check-in while on vacation.  A 3rd totally gray morning to wake up to today…might as well had a week off in October.

Check out the 8-14 day outlook from NCEP:

It’s more of the same, in fact the hot upper-level ridge over the middle/eastern part of the USA is locked into place and strengthens this weekend and next week.  We’ll be hearing about the severe heat wave back there over the next week I’m sure.  Hopefully not a repeat of all those 1995 deaths in Chicago though.

Hot ridge to the east means the cool trough over the West is also locked into place.  As one trough slides out and another one slides into place, the weather improves a bit (like this past weekend), but that only brings our temperatures up to average.   80-81 for a high is the average from now through mid August…the hottest time of the year here in Portland.

It IS really nice for working outside the past few days, but I’m ready to see some sun again!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Nice Weekend, Then Cool Week Ahead

July 7, 2011

It was a forecast bust north of Salem today since the clouds lingered far longer than expected.  Even some light drizzle in spots eastside, although that sure wasn’t a surprise.

We have real quiet weather on tap for at least the next 5 days with a thinning of the marine layer tomorrow through Sunday.  That means far more sunshine all three days; Saturday and Sunday look sunniest and warmest.  Then an increase in onshore flow Monday and Tuesday as an upper-level trough approaches.

The big story is still the unseasonable cold trough forecast to sit over the West Coast from next Wednesday until further notice.  It is unusual to see this in mid-late July, and even more unusual that it’ll sit overhead for more than a day or two.  Models don’t show much rainfall, but I have a feeling we’ll see them “moisten up” the next few runs.  Expect at least SOME showers later next week.  As a result, I see no chance for temps above 80 degrees for at least the next 8-9 days!  The average high temperature in Portland reaches 80 next Friday and stays at/above that level through mid-August. 

I will be off work now until the 18th on vacation…nice timing to enjoy the “summer” weather next week eh?  If it gets too bad I’m heading east of the mountains!  It should be warmer over there at least. 

So probably no more posts over the next week.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

A Big July Snow Plow Job

July 6, 2011

Check out these pictures, courtesy of Glacier National Park in western Montana.  They show the hard work the last few weeks attempting to get the Going To The Sun road opened for summer.  The extremely heavy winter/spring snowfall and cool late spring and early summer have made it into a huge task this year.  The picture above was taken today!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen