A Botched Hedgehog Forecast Today?

February 2, 2012

I never thought it was possible to botch a “Hedgehog Forecast”, but I think it happened at the Oregon Zoo this morning.  Jabari’s forecast was for a quick end to winter since he didn’t see his shadow.  But it appears he didn’t see his shadow since he was IN the shadow of another person as you can see in the photo???  Notice the kid with the sun blinding his eyes?  This is like measuring the temperature outside from inside your home. 

I’m calling cow-dung on this very important meteorological matter and I don’t buy it, so he saw his shadow as far as I’m concerned. Six more weeks of this bitterly cold and cruel winter to go…

9:30pm Update:  Just got an email from a witness.  The poor little guy WAS HELD IN THE SHADOW OF A PERSON!  He never had a chance to forecast!  Yes, a true meteorological crime occurred at the Oregon Zoo today, I’m going to have to boycott…for at least a week or two.

..Mark Nelsen


Strongest East Wind Of “Winter” Moving In

February 2, 2012

The next 8+ days will feature the longest period of strong east wind we’ve seen this winter in the metro area and western Columbia River Gorge.  So if you live in one of the usual east wind spots, you’re REALLY going to be tired of the wind by next Friday/Saturday!  We’re talking frequent gusts 35-45 mph in the east metro and 55-75 in the Gorge.

Strong high pressure is settling in east of the Cascades; and doesn’t appear to move substantially until sometime near the end of next week at the earliest  It’ll strengthen and weaken from time to time, but it’ll just be a matter of “windy”, “very windy” or “extremely windy” in the forecast.

In the short term, it’s gradually been picking up and spreading out of the Gorge the past few hours.  Of course this is dry air, so no chance for fog in the Portland/Vancouver Metro Area tonight.  Slightly better chance north of Scappoose/St. Helens and south of Wilsonville.  But even in those spots it’ll be sparse.

The 1.3km WRF-GFS shows 8-9 millibars easterly gradient through the Gorge by tomorrow morning with 40-45kt wind just above the surface in the eastern metro area.  When I see 40kts+ on the cross-section, that screams 90-100+ mph wind on the Keely Chalmers Memorial Steps/Railing.  Both tomorrow and Friday should be big days up at Vista House, with possibly just as strong or stronger wind later Monday-Tuesday.  A splitting system approaching from the SW is often a good setup to really crank up the east wind…we’ll see.

Interesting to see that this high-res model picks up details never before seen in coarser resolution models.  Take a look at the windspeed forecast for the western Gorge and metro area tomorrow morning below.  Did you know the east wind (most of the time) also accelerates down the west side of the West Hills as well?  I wasn’t even aware of this until I took a job out at this station (north Beaverton) in 2000.  You can see it modeled quite well on the map.  Places like Bethany, Cedar Hills, Forest Heights, and the St. Vincent’s area all see the strongest east/northeast wind outside of areas east of I-205.  A new weather sensor installed at Bonney Slope Elementary School a couple years ago is right in the wind zone.  Keep an eye on that one in the next 24 hours.  It’s also somewhat obvious why the east wind sticks mainly over/south of the Columbia River in the metro area; because the Gorge is oriented SW-NE just to our east.  Similar to a hose pointing slightly south of horizontal.  Not the best explanation, but hopefully you get the idea.

Sunshine is the rule then tomorrow through Monday.  A splitting system attempts to move through the upper-level ridge along the West Coast on Tuesday, but we get little or no rain out of it.  After that the ridge rebuilds.  The ECMWF has no rainfall between now and week from Sunday (the 12th), the GFS just some light stuff on Tuesday.  So other than east wind, there is really no sensible weather to talk about through the next 9 days.

Just so I can make it a nice long post…here are the 4 new weekly ECMWF maps from last night’s 00z run:

They clearly show a change to cooler and wetter conditions for the 2nd half of the month.  I really like the last one, a classic;  just as Spring is about to begin (around March 1st) we get a nice cold upper-level troughing pattern.  Sounds familiar…

The GFS is a bit different, showing weak ridging remaining just to our west still on the 17th of February:

I still trust the ECMWF a bit more, it’s been more stable this winter.

And for fun…here is the 850mb ensemble chart for the next 16 days…over Kiev, Ukraine:

That’s cold!  But not so bad after the current cold spell I suppose?

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen