Struck By Lightning

 We are running a story tonight about a man down in the Yoder-Molalla area that was struck by lightning on Wednesday afternoon.  Actually his tractor was struck and he was in it.  Close enough…

Anyone that has moved here from another part of the country east of the Cascades has probably noticed we can go long periods, even in the summer, with no thunder or lightning.  That’s especially obvious west of the Cascades.  Portland only averages a few thunderstorms each year; many of those are just one-hit wonders too.  By that I mean just one rumble or a couple flashes. 

The reason for the lack of action?  There are two.  The main ingredient is the very stable atmosphere over us during the warm season.  The cold Pacific assures that most of the warmer part of the year the airmass overhead doesn’t become very unstable.  To get an unstable atmosphere you need either very warm and humid air below or cold air above.  In summer it’s relatively cool at the lowest elevations compared ot the very warm atmosphere above; we don’t get strong rising motions that way.  Of course sometimes it does get very hot here, so why few storms then?  The hot weather is almost always associated with a dry airmass and sinking motions associated with an upper level ridge of high pressure. 

In the rare circumstance that we have:  a warm atmosphere, no push of cool ocean air, and some moisture in the mid-upper levels of the atmosphere?  Those are the few times we get some good thunderstorms west of the Cascades.

Looking ahead…wow…Dullsville the next week.  I think October bores me weatherwise more than any other month of the year.  We are done with extreme heat, but too early for a big freeze or snow.  Low clouds and fog increase dramatically from September; it gets darker and gloomier in general.  But still no big storms or fronts like November and December.  No windstorms either (at least during my lifetime so far).  Now when we DO get a ridge of high pressure it can be REALLY nice.  The crisp Fall days are great with the colors on the trees; but this year that has been and is forecast to be non-existent for the first half of the month at least.

Tomorrow looks especially depressing with solid onshore flow bringing dark and gloomy skies.  Maybe more so than today.  Weak lift in the westerly flow should give drizzle at times near hills and mountains.  Beyond tomorrow another weak system drags through Saturday night and Sunday morning, then maybe sometime slightly more impressive Monday and Tuesday.  Possibly a brief break the middle of next week, then more weak fronts later next week. 

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

27 Responses to Struck By Lightning

  1. Garron says:

    CliffMass says global warming = more evaporation of moisture= more rain in the northern lat….duh? That’s what I’ve been saying since the 80’s. Global warming for( us ) will mean ‘MORE RAIN”!!!

    Let’s face it, it will never be 90 degrees and sunny here on Christmas day, it WILL be 50 degrees and saturating rains falling, on Christmas and July 4th IF global warming takes its course. IF global warming REALLY takes its course, there will be a total reversal and a mini ice age will occur. Interesting article though on how the northern sections of Oregon have been affected.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany 500' says:

      But so far that hasn’t been true. Our yearly averages have below or near average for many years.

    • Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

      @ Boydo….That’s because of the Pacific Ocean being so close to us

    • Boydo3 N. Albany 500' says:

      I was referring to the fact that the models are predicting more annual precip. for us (per Cliff Mass) but so far it hasn’t materialized. I’m pretty much aware of the big pond to our left!

  2. WEATHERDAN says:

    So now that it seems that we have seen the last of our summer weather. How did this summer stack up. Normals for Salem are about 15 days at or above 90. 60 days at or above 80. And 120 days at or above 70. This year we had 17 days of 90 or more. 59 of 80 or more and 117 days of 70 or more. All in all a very typical summer. Not the doom and gloom summer that some were predicting early on. Now I realize that Portland was somewhat cooler this summer. Even so this summer wasn’t bad at all. Hopefully we have some decent cold and snow this winter.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      It was all about the timing. June and the first 3 weeks of July were way below average (taken together), then normal in August and way above in September.
      In the end, Climate Division 2, which includes most of the lowlands of western Oregon from Roseburg to Portland, had it’s coldest summer in 18 years. But average precipitation (summer dry spell).

    • bgb41 says:

      Weatherdan, here is some new data for Salem (1981-2010) that I compiled earlier this year.

  3. DELXV says:

    Before you were born we had a good wind storm in October …Columbus Day…1962……I sure you know that….just kidding you! I enjoy your comments.

  4. PaulB/Eugene says:

    Looks like changeable weather, normal or cool, for Oct, perhaps some mid 30s around day 8 in outlying areas…do not see PDX below 42F for next couple weeks

    Don’t see any high wind events in next two weeks on models…ECMWF long range has 970s low over WA Halloween….in la la land.

  5. Anthony Bertolo - Hillsboro says:

    Maybe we can scratch out a snowy winter this year? So far, the pattern does seem to be lining up to give us our best chance.

    When I predicted the week of snow in 2008, I used the polar ice-caps as analogs among other things. Could have just been luck. My thinking was that the ice levels would act as a measuring stick. At the time the ice levels nearly matched up 2003, and looked to stay on track to equal 2003/Jan 2004. There are a number of contributing factors to how much polar ice we have remaining, the most major being weather.

    On top of the polar ice levels, I used season progression analogs. Basically, I looked at what recent years progressed similarly in terms of times of transition, not putting much weight on temperature similarities. What was the last year we had a late, cold spring, followed by a summer that lasted a little deeper into the season, but never really got too warm? There was a little more to it than that, but that’s the just of my thinking at the time. Basically my closest analog for all that was winter 03/04. That winter we had a pretty good snow, and since 08 seemed to be progressing at roughly 1 week faster, I moved the “big snow” forecast back one week to the week before and leading up to Christmas.

    Again, this could of all very much been luck. To test it, I’m thinking about throwing together another “Winter Forecast” using the same method to see if it was luck, or maybe there’s something to it. Kind of fun to think about.

    I only bring this up because it felt like we had a spring that stayed cool for a while, with a summer that lasted a little longer into the season than the last couple years, followed by an abrupt change in October. To me, without looking at the historical data, feels like 2003/2008. Maybe I’m letting my inner snow fairy do the talking.

  6. Jeff says:

    So now we know you were born after October 12, 1962 🙂

  7. Jclack says:

    Personally I look forward to the gloom and cool in october… today looks perfect in my opinion! I love it in fall… its annoying in may and june though! Headed to Corvallis for the game tomorrow… hope it stays dry!

  8. Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280' says:

    And the Pacific Ocean for the most part keeps us too warm in the winter for low elevation snow.

    Bad, Bad Pacific Ocean! Not much good for anything is it? 😉

    • Steven From South Salem says:

      What you mean no snow ive read countless stuff saying its gonna be a below average temps and above average precip.

    • Ryan (Walnut Grove) says:

      If it wasn’t for the Cascade Range the Pacific likely wouldn’t affect as much when it comes to snow fall. The cascades keep that wonderful icy cold air bottled up on the east side of the state.

    • vinnybob says:

      Too bad the Coast Range isn’t as high as the Cascades, We could have tons of snow.

  9. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Blood pressure went through the roof…he’s lucky he still has blood pressure!

  10. Thanks for the dull outlook…………………

  11. Cool, I still have a few more days before I have to put the greenhouse film on the tunnels. Don’t want the lettuce and endive to get a frost.

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