Interesting Change in Models Today

November 30, 2011

Of course the 12z GFS run caught my eye…showing the ridge moving just far enough west about a week from now to allow a major surge of cold arctic air into the Pacific Northwest.  It’s the first run of either the GFS or ECMWF to show such a thing, but oh, it is a beautiful sight!  For a reality check I had to head to the ensembles though and I “didn’t like what I found”:

The blue line is the actual GFS you see in the maps (operational run), the red is the average of all the ensembles.  And of course each line with its associated symbol is a unique ensemble member.  Note the operational one; the one we salivate over, is the coldest of them all.  There are several members that show nothing, but the majority do show SOME cooler air leaking south.  Clearly an indication the GFS wants to bring a trough down at least a bit closer to us on it’s way east.  We’ll see what future runs show. 

ECMWF will be finished in about 45 minutes and I’ll post it’s ensemble chart too so we can see if there’s any agreement.

3pm Update:  Here it is:

The 12z ECMWF Ensemble 850mb temp forecast chart has two items to note:

1.  The operational run…the maps we all see, shows no arctic blast of any sort as the Wednesday wave dives down out of Canada well to our east, unlike the GFS shoving it right down over us.  So the blue (operational) line shows no big plunge of cold air…makes sense.

2.  BUT, look at all those ensemble members that must be showing a sharper trough much like the GFS.  You see the huge plunge in temps during the same time the 12z GFS did.  This is where the ensemble forecast information comes in extremely handy.  Operational ECMWF says no cold spell coming, but many of it’s 51 “brothers” have suddenly decided it might happen. 

By the way, the 18z GFS had the cold air much farther east, but a mini blast of cold air at just 12 days away!

Get your model-riding chaps on folks!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Dull Weather Ahead

November 29, 2011

Weather maps are unimpressive for the next 7 days.  An upper level ridge will sit just to our west most of the period.  Not right over us for a massive inversion and east wind event, and not far enough to the west to allow cold arctic air to spill south.  Just real dead with no significant weather systems moving through, but I needed to post SOMETHING new. 

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

A Good Weather Toy For Christmas?

November 29, 2011

Every year I get a few emails wondering what kind of home weather station a person should get for someone for Christmas.  Now seems like a good time to revisit a post from last December.

So here are a few thoughts on home weather stations…

1.  It’s a great hobby and nowadays most stations (some with an extra cost) can post the data to the internet via CWOP.  Weather Underground also takes home weather station info, but that doesn’t get into the vast data stream CWOP  is part of.

2.  The cheapest basic stations you can buy at Fred Meyer, Costco, or other large stores like that.  Some will only be in the $150 dollar range.  Be careful though, I’d say anything that’s less than $200 may die on you at some point.  I really do think you GENERALLY get what you pay for when it comes to weather equipment.

3.  If you have the money, once you get up in the $300 dollar range, you can get some really nice stuff.  In fact for the average person interested in weather, I see no reason to spend more than $500.  The new weather sensor at Corbett was about $500, which included the $120 or so for the Weatherlink data logger. is one place to see lots of different weather sensors.  There is a bewildering assortment of stations there.  I’ve used and only had good experience with price, shipping, and delivery. 

The only 3 brands I’ve had personal experience with are Maximum (first anemometer way back in 1985), Davis Instruments, and Peet Brothers. 

-Maximum has real high-quality stuff, but I’ve never used any of their digital equipment. 

-Peet Brothers hasn’t changed their line much in 10 years as far as I’m aware.  I have the Ultimeter 2100 at home; it’s NOT wireless, but has been very reliable.  With today’s technology I think wireless is the way to go, so that would cross them off the list unless they are moving up into the wireless world.  Jim Little and I originally used these sensors when we made a small little metro area weather network in the 1990s.  That was before anything other than airport observations were available.  How exciting it was to see Estacada, Forest Grove, Corbett, and Aloha show up on the map every hour!  Seems a bit mundane now, but remember we actually had spotters call their reports in each day!  That really seems old now.

-Davis Instruments had a bad reputation in my mind back in the 90s.  I don’t think they deserved it.  I worked for a weather forecasting company around 1991-1993.  We installed some of the Weather Monitor sensors for ODOT out on Cabbage Hills in Pendleton and throughout the Gorge since we were forecasting for windsurfers.  No real internet back then, so we dialed them up by modem.  What a pain!  The modems never seemed to work for more than a few weeks, then someone would have to go out and turn them off and back on.  I remember the farmer with the truly MASSIVE dog halfway up Emigrant Hill (the only house you can see winding up the long grade) telling me next time we had to disrupt his wheat harvest to reset a “G-D” modem that we could yank it out of there.  I never returned, fearing for my life.  The last 10 years though, as mentioned earlier, those Davis Vantage Pro and now VP2 instruments have done a stellar job.  So next time I get a new one at home it’ll be one of those.

If you have thoughts or experiences with weather stations (good or bad), please go ahead and comment, otherwise keep discussion of weather off this post please.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

The OMSI-AMS Global Warming Debacle of 2011

November 28, 2011

Maybe the title is a bit dramatic?  Well, I figure when a Oregon AMS (American Meteorological Society) meeting makes good fodder (it did today) for local conservative radio talk shows, it should be something I mention here on our weather blog.  Sure they’ll move on to something more spicy tomorrow but let’s chat about it.

Here’s the story:

For the past 5 weeks or so, our local AMS chapter has had a meeting scheduled at OMSI (we just use their space, they don’t participate) for tomorrow, Tuesday, the 29th.  The subject matter is global warming; we’ve had a few of those talks in the past, along with a climate debate with the previous State Climatologist George Taylor and current State Climatologist Phil Mote.  In the past year or so the AMS Executive Committee (I’m the Secretary) has been approached by some of the critics of the human-caused global warming theory.  They’d like to present their thoughts.  So we decided to give them a podium for the night.  No big deal, at least to us.  One is a meteorologist (Chuck Wiese) and the other is a physicist (Gordon Fulks).  The meeting is all scheduled, and just 5 days before, OMSI abruptly cancels it. 

Here is the Oregon AMS press release sent to our members, cancelling the meeting:

“On behalf of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and its Executive Council, we regret to inform our members that the Oregon AMS meeting originally scheduled for this coming Tuesday, November 29th 7pm at OMSI in Portland has been postponed due to circumstances beyond the control of the Oregon AMS. We also regret the short notice of this information, again due to circumstances beyond our control. Please try to help offset the timing of this information by immediately forwarding this communication to anyone you may have originally notified. 
If you have any questions surrounding this decision, please contact either myself or OMSI Planetarium Manager Jim Todd. Please note — Jim is the Oregon AMS liaison at OMSI. If he can not address your questions directly, he will forward them to the appropriate individuals within the OMSI organization, for a response. The Oregon AMS Executive Council will meet soon to discuss rescheduling this meeting. As always, we will keep our members updated promptly”
Steve Pierce 
President, Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society
Then OMSI sent their reasoning in a press release this Monday afternoon:
“On October 22, the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) asked OMSI if they could hold their November 29 meeting at OMSI, after hours, at no charge. AMS has been a longtime community partner and we agreed without knowing the nature of the program planned for the meeting. The AMS sent OMSI additional details about the event on November 3, including the topic, scheduled speakers, and the plan to open the meeting to the general public. Due to the public invitation, OMSI became concerned that the event might be misconstrued as an OMSI-endorsed event and we had not been involved in the development of the programming. After a great deal of discussion and consideration, we came to the conclusion that it was not appropriate for OMSI to serve as a venue for the event without proper opportunity for our full involvement.

We have apologized to the AMS for the inconvenience that this has caused. OMSI is unwavering in our commitment to provide life-long science opportunities for children and adults. We have extended a formal invitation to the AMS to jointly develop and co-host a public forum on the science behind the human impact on climate change. We look forward to setting a date for this event and communicating it out soon.”

This is our Executive Council’s reaction to their press release (released this evening)

“The Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society is disappointed that the November 29th meeting on Global Warming will not continue as originally planned. While we understand that OMSI has reservations related to our meeting’s  topic on global warming, our chapter has not taken a stance on this issue. The Oregon AMS mission statement reads, “the purpose of this society shall be to advance professional ideals in the science of meteorology and to promote the development, exchange, and application of meteorological knowledge.” As such, we planned this as part of our normal public meeting schedule so those who are opposed to anthropogenic global warming could present their views.  Additionally, our plan was to schedule future meetings with speakers of differing views so the public could be exposed to both sides of this topic.” 
“We appreciate OMSI’s support of our past meetings, such as last month’s 19th annual Winter Weather Conference, and look forward to future partnerships. We welcome OMSI’s offer to co-host a public forum on this topic and are taking that into consideration. We are currently looking for a new venue to reschedule the November 29th meeting.” 
And our president, Steve Pierce sent this note to our local chapter members as well:  “We are now moving forward with a positive outlook and a new venue. We would like to thank all those who commented today, along with offers to host the meeting. The Oregon AMS executive council will keep our members posted on a new date and time.”
My thoughts, and mine alone, not the AMS Chapter or Exec. Council thoughts:
1. OMSI just made the speakers  “martyrs for their cause”…don’t they study history?  They are a private organization of course, so they can do whatever they want, but it was a poor choice.
2. A quote on the Oregon Live website is not at all correct:  “But Mark Patel, OMSI’s vice president of marketing, said the museum told organizers in early November that they needed a balanced panel and offered to move the meeting to its “science pub” event at the Bagdad Theater, picking up half the cost of the move. With no progress made, the museum cancelled the event last week”.  This never happened.  I don’t know where that came from.   No fault to the Oregonian of course; this is directed at OMSI.
3. Jim Todd at OMSI, the planetarium manager and our main contact,  is great.  He’s been very supportive of our organization in the past.
4. I don’t believe it’s a “vast left-wing (or right-wing) conspiracy”, but some academic pressure from others making OMSI get cold feet.
So for now, no anti-global warming meeting this week, but remember, the wording is “postponed”.  It was just cancelled at OMSI, not within our organization.  We’ll be meeting later this week (the AMS Board) to see what our next steps will be.
I was off for one day today, but NOTHING going on weatherwise the next week or so anyway.  December starts real slow in the weather department.
For fun, here’s a poll.  I think this blog has a good cross-section of the public.  I’m guessing we’ve got both leftist tree-huggers and some right wing Koolaid drinkers out there.  I love you all! 
Update: 12:30pm Tuesday…I just closed the poll, results are straightforward and you can take a look still:
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011

A briefly sunny start this morning will quickly turn to a rainy and windy Thanksgiving afternoon.  Nice weather system moving in.  Check out the snowfall accumulation forecast with this colder system!  10-15″ up on Mt. Hood.  And both Hoodoo and now SkiBowl will be open on Friday, so a great start to the ski season.

Enjoy the holiday and hopefully your power stays on!  Probably some outages, especially in outlying areas as a southerly rush of wind arrives with the cold front this afternoon.  No big deal, but today would be a very inconvenient day to lose your power of course.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

6pm: Peak North Coast Gusts

November 22, 2011

One last surge of strong wind nailing the Oregon Coast right now as the front has pushed north into Washington.  Highest gust at lower elevations today was an 81 mph on the Astoria-Megler Bridge.  But that was around 3am before the wind sensor failed (a salmon nibbling on it now?).  The 78 mph gust at Astoria is an exposed ham radio site, but in the city.

4:00pm Update: Heavy Rain Moves North

November 22, 2011

A soaker of a storm so far…here are the rain totals since midnight:

 Notice the sharp increase in rainfall from Salem north…we’ve received almost twice as much in Portland and Vancouver compared to Salem.  Now, as forecast by models, the main rain band had slipped north and should stay there through at least 10pm.   Later tonight, towards daybreak, the whole system slides down to the southeast.  That brings one more round of heavy rain over us for at least a few hours…probably during the early part of the morning commute.  

At PDX, the storm total is about 2.50″ so far…add another 1″ to that through tomorrow morning.  3″ plus for a storm is definitely impressive; luckily all rivers and creeks were quite low to start with due to the drier than average November.

Right now the NWS has 4 flood warnings out for rivers in FOX-12’s viewing area: Nehalem, Wilson, Grays, and Naselle rivers.   Note also the Chehalis River has a flood warning out, forecast to rise 2-4′ above flood stage at Centralia.  This is an important one to watch, because another 2-4′ above that level is when Amtrak and I-5 start getting inundated.  That would be particularly bad on one of the busiest travel days of the year.  Let’s hope the heavy rain band doesn’t sit over the Willapa Hills too long overnight.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen