Athena The Storm; What a Dumb Idea!

November 7, 2012

Something really weird happened today in the meteorological world.  One weather company (The Weather Channel Company) decided, on its own, that winter storms would each get a name this season.  Of course most of you probably heard about this a month or so ago, but today the first storm “Athena” was christened…it’s the nor’easter heading up the coast.   This came to my attention today because we received a fancy little graphic from our weather software vendor (WSI).  They are owned by the same company…surprise.  Take a look at those names!  More weirdness…in my opinion.  It’s going to be REAL cute when people are dying from Blizzard PLATO or Ice Storm GANDOLF.  I don’t plan to use it of course, but thought you might like to see the list.

You can probably tell by the title of the post and my comments that I think it’s ridiculous…why?

  • If any one company/organization starts naming storms, then why can’t others?  Can you say CONFUSION?
  • The National Weather Service is NOT participating, they even issued a memo today forbidding their forecasters from using the names.
  • What areas does it apply to?  What kind of storms?  Just Nor’easters?  Big Midwest storms?  A wet storm on the West Coast that dumps 5 feet of snow in the Cascades or Sierra Nevada?  And who decides?  Apparently one corporation will?
  • Will a so-so storm along the East Coast get a name but a major storm in the N. Plains not get a name?


Moving on to current weather; cool air has moved in as expected.  Showers were very sparse this afternoon (as expected) too.  Now as an upper-level disturbance drops down through the offshore waters tonight and tomorrow, shower activity picks up at the beaches and in the Coast Range.  00z models keep insisting little or no rain makes it out of the Coast Range and into the Valleys; thus the dry forecast for tomorrow.  There is a chance a shower could bubble up overhead, but at least in November a surprise shower isn’t as big of a deal as it is in May or June!  No lawns to mow and no painting/staining of decks…

The air mass get’s progressively colder through Saturday with 850mb temps down to around -5c by Saturday morning.  That’s chilly even for winter; so with full sunshine Saturday we’ll still have a tough time hitting 50 degrees.  And either Saturday or Sunday morning’s we should finally get a frost in the city with the drier air/lower dew-point filtering in from the north behind tomorrow’s system.

There is a change in the longer range compared to the posting I made 48 hours ago and it’s all about location.  Models had been showing an upper level height anomaly out around 160W this weekend and beyond.  Now, after this weekend, it appears to set up slightly farther west, which means the cold trough I thought would sit near us most of next week will be offshore.  This is the ECMWF ensemble 500mb height anomaly for about 10 days from now, showing the trough centered well offshore.

If so, that’s significantly warmer.  This also has a major impact on the start of ski operations in the Cascades:


Other than a couple of inches Friday, no snow until Sunday night.  Then at best maybe 6-8″ up there through Tuesday.  Then with a new trough digging well offshore, we’re in mild southwest flow but most rain stays offshore.  If so, that means only 5-10″ on the ground a week from NEXT Friday, the 16th.  Not only will there be no skiing for the 2nd weekend of November, but probably not the 3rd weekend either, that’s the weekend before Thanksgiving.  This is not unusual.  I think the higher ski areas consider a Thanksgiving opening a nice start and anything before that is icing on the cake.  So no reason to freak out; but the point is no early opening for the ski season this year.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

A SLOW Election Night in the Weather Center

November 7, 2012

Everything is working out as planned this evening.  A cold front moved through earlier this evening with very light rain.  But that was it.  A non-eventful front as expected.

Tonight was sure relaxing…in the weather center.   The news people had the busiest night of the year.  Wayne & Shauna were on the set (same room as me) from 4:00-11:30pm except for one hour from 7-8pm.  But there were no weather segments after the 6pm show!  It was a great evening to check out maps, return emails, schedule school visits, shop for cheap airfare for March (there isn’t any) etc…  I love big election nights!

Anyway, not much to report for the next 5 days, mainly dry with Thursday’s system curling well to our south, then a few pop up showers under the chilly upper-level low Friday afternoon.  Note how dry our RPM is for the next 3 days:

Temps will be quite a bit cooler now until further notice.

By the way, Mt. Hood Meadows was warmer than Portland today; 60 vs. 59.  Don’t worry, I already put a note in for next Monday’s report card with a big X; the expected breakout from low clouds to sun just ahead of the front didn’t materialize from Salem north.  I thought there would be more mixing.

Next week looks wetter, but not unusually cool.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen