OMSI Winter Weather Meeting Review

November 1, 2011

Let’s wrap-up the big 2011 Winter Weather Meeting on Saturday.  I’m a little late to the party since I had yesterday off and I’m trying to build a greenhouse before the weather really goes downhill.  I was able to meet a few more of you this time around since I was manning the raffle table, so that was fun.  Plus I only see some people once a year at this meeting; a weather geek reunion.  

Here are the highlights:

1.  What a great meeting!  It was the most well-attended meeting the Oregon AMS Chapter has ever hosted.  We had 350+ attendees at the morning session, and around 100 stuck around for the afternoon (non-winter weather) session.  I remember as recently as 10 years ago we just met in the Portland NWS conference room with maybe 15-25 people present.

2.  Presentations are on the AMS Website , including all graphics from all of those presentations.  Pretty much the entire meeting is at that link.

3.  After a fantastic wrap up of last winter by Mark Nelsen (2 official snowfalls in Portland!), Pete Parsons hopped on the stage.  He has a bunch of analog years, and his top one was 2008.  Yes, that was the December of the arctic air and huge snowstorm.  Plus the strongest east wind we had seen in 10+ years in January.  Actually the other parts of winter were not so exciting.  Pete expects above average temps the early part of winter, but the cooler periods have a better chance of snowfall than what we saw last winter.  He expects above average snowfall in the western lowlands and a better than average chance for freezing rain.

4.  John Elson from the National Weather Service did a great job spicing up the generally bland CPC forecasts with some extra P-Town snow history.  Not surprisingly, CPC says probably below average temps and above average precipitation.

5.  Kyle Dittmer gave his forecast for about average temps and above average precipitation, plus 9 inches of snow.  Kyle forecast six (yes, six) snow events for this past winter, and claimed we had five.  Apparently he counts if there are snowflakes in the air.  Although he specifically claimed the year before that those would be “six snow events with 2-5”.  I feel this part of his presentation was disingenuous.  I think we need to have better verification.

6.  Jim Little presented for the first time in at least 5 years and didn’t disappoint!  Jim LOVES programming and automating tasks (we used to work together at KOIN).  He’s put together a method of using different indices (PDO, ONI, AO etc…) and analog years, then outputting the data for each day of the winter from those years!  Some interesting stats showed up; such as increased likelihood (in those years) of a warm spell right after the New Year, or best chance of an “arctic event” in late December and late January.  Good stuff; check out his presentation at the link above.  And again, like Pete, Jim came up with 2008 as a strong analog year.

7. George Taylor was last.  He sang us a nice brand new La Nina song; sung to the tune of “My Girl”.  As in “everybody talkin’ ’bout La Nina…”  As for weather, George is forecasting a benign early season, as Pete mentioned, then lots of action later December through February.  George ALSO sees 2008 as a good analog year.  Interesting eh?  Below average temps and above average precipitation.

I should point out that all speakers expected above average snowfall; no surprise with a moderate-strong La Nina winter approaching.

The afternoon session was excellent as well.  4 different speakers covering the new polarimetric radar, weather forecasters in combat areas, global warming (or cooling), and the diminished frequency of windstorms since 1977.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen