Athena The Storm; What a Dumb Idea!

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

53 Responses to Athena The Storm; What a Dumb Idea!

  1. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    34.4 here in BG this morning, down to 37.8 already now. Looks like the first freeze will finally come tonight.

  2. W7ENK says:

    Interesting, if not somewhat alarming little tidbit of info:

    Since the 10/28 M7.7 earthquake at QCI, their famous, centuries old “Haida Gwaii” hot springs has dried up and gone cold… o_O

    Also, there was apparently a subsequent M6.3 earthquake about mid-way between Vancouver Island and QCI today, right at the Northern intersection of the Cascadia Subduction Zone fault.

    Not sure how I feel about all that…

    • longbeachrob says:

      How about all the after shocks they have had around the first one. Wasn’t that long ago I remember a lot of quakes out by the Axial Seamount. Besides, if there are earthquakes no and again, doesn’t that mean there isn’t any large energy storage going on? Anyway, that is what I am going to tell myself as I live less than a mile from the Ocean, 900 ft from the bay, and at about 15 ft above sea level NNE of Long Beach Wa. LOL

    • Sifton says:

      I’d keep a dingy on my roof pointing East if I were you man!!

    • pdxgeologist says:

      Earthquakes often have the effect of reorganizing the geothermal plumbing. Sometimes hot springs move, sometimes they cool or disappear, and sometimes they get hotter. Earthquake activity has also changed the frequency and intensity of geysers at Yellowstone.

      As for energy storage or relief, earthquakes on the Juan de Fuca ridge (seamounts) are evidence of the sea floor spreading apart, which is pushing the Pacific Plate west towards Japan, and the Gorda plate towards the North American plate and storing energy at the plate boundary, aka the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Also, a magnitude 9 earthquake releases about 900 times as much energy as a magnitude 7, so if we have 800 or 900 magnitude 7’s, we may avoid the 9!

  3. longbeachrob says:

    I think the people at TWC have their office way too close to the radar unit and/or they need to check for a gas leak.

  4. flurball says:

    Funny this topic came up Mark. I posted a week ago about the history of Bay City OR and how it sort of mirrored some of the things that the NJ shore had happened to it with Sandy. Today in my parents house cleaning up under a broken water pipe I found a wet copy of a book called Maimed By The Sea. Pubulished in 1982 It had stories and great photos of the various breaches of Bay City and the eventual building of the North and South jetties at Tillamook bay. Also had photos and stories of Siletz Bay breaches and Nestucca. One of the biger storms that affected the whole coast including Willipa Bay was named NEPTUNE. Looks like the book is on Amazon and maybe other places like this site. Quite a interesting read. With the book dripping wet I almost felt like I was there. For those of you familiar with Garabaldi, Barview and Cape Mears, this is a very interesting look back. Parts of that city can still be found under the sand or spit that is left.

    • longbeachrob says:

      I see someone is selling a new copy for $150, but a used on is only about $12

    • LurkinginFG says:

      flurball, are you talking about Bayocean? It was the over-hyped resort community that was on the spit just north of present-day Cape Mears (un-incorporated). If so, there were a couple of other factors that led to the resort community-to-be’s demise. It didn’t happen in one year, while building the north jetty (just west of Barview), the Army Corps of Engineers recommended a south jetty be constructed. It was acknowledged that the currents would wipe out the spit and thus the newly constructed resort. The jetty to the south was not built till after the breaches and destruction occurred. Also, the Cape Mears head that juts out to the south helped in directing the current back at the narrow spit. This all occurred in the middle 1920’s thru the early 1930’s with two prominent breaches about two years apart.

      Today, you can still see where the breaches were shored up at those times. The two dikes have created a freshwater lake between them. At the present-day parking lot, if you were to walk to the north a few hundred feet, you can find some of the foundation from one of the buildings. Bayocean has a lot of history about it even though it never had a chance to flourish. One could make some comparisons to Christmas Valley as to how a person tries to con people into thinking something great is to be purchased sight unseen. It happened often, just like in Bay City (ie. selling land plots that were under water).

    • flurball says:


      you are correct. the book references several years of various breaches and there is always one person to hold out and go down with the ship. There was actually a railroad out there for a while. Other good out of print books on a similar subject are Wild Waters and The Big Blow by a author of the name Robert Lucia. 64 flood and Columbus day storm that has a collection of pictures that are seemingly not available other than those books. Possibly copyright issues. He also did a great history book on logging and the Tillamook Burn. Passed away just a few years ago.

    • LurkinginFG says:

      I believe that same railroad that “The Dinky” rode on was the same one that was repaired and used to carry the jetty rocks out to make the south jetty. Not positive on that since the jetty was made about 1970. And to that note, the spit turned into an island a couple times near 1940. What is absolutely amazing is the fact that the spit at one time was rather large and elevated. Several pictures are around showing the natatorium being along the.dune, but well above the surf. Another photo shows a main street looking from the Bayocean Hotel down to the bay. It’s a very picturesque view and one could only imagine what it would have been like. Especially with all the amenities Bayocean had. The was a gas station on the spit before a county road connected Tillamook with Bayocean.

      One would need to go back to the dates of the breaches and large events to see how each were affected during the stormy season. One thing that is of note that makes this get different from back east is that Bayocean started eroding from the.mid 20’s thru the 50’s. What is sad is that there was a good chance that everything could have been saved. When the Corps. were assessing the bar, they came to price tag of $2 million to build both jetties. Unfortunately, half was to be paid by locals, thus the reason why just the north jetty was constructed. That price came to $800k.
      The part that amazed me the most is how Potter, the guy that bought and built the resort facilities paid an astronomical amount for the ghastly structures and amenities that he ignored the Corps. advise and couldn’t come up with half the money to save his investment. He knew it would happen, and even built his PORTABLE RAILROAD over the water on the bay side. “The Dinky” locomotive just helped elongate the inevitable.

    • runrain says:

      Any books written about the effects of The Big Blow on The Dinky?

    • flurball says:

      great info Lurk. Thanks for adding to it.

  5. Jordan says:

    What I’m surprised by is that TWC didn’t try to make this a new revenue stream. What about “Blizzard Snickers” or “Wind Storm Samsung GALAXY S III?”

    • W7ENK says:

      Hahaha!! At least they realized the error in that logic before launching this program. Just imagine: “Ice Storm Gandolf, brought to you by – Starbucks. Beware a cheaper cup of coffee, it comes with a price!”. And then someone you love rolls their car and dies because of ice on the roadway. You wouldn’t want to put your name or logo on that. 😕

  6. You just KNOW that there will be some old bearded whackjob out at the end of a pier telling at Winter Storm Gandalf, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”.

  7. W7ENK says:


  8. pdxgeologist says:

    I think we should start referring to the Columbus Day Storm by it’s first name, Chris.

  9. David B. says:

    I think that official names would actually make sense for those storms where the central pressure and/or sustained winds reach levels comparable to hurricanes or maybe tropical storms. That would increase awareness of the winter storms we get on the West Coast.

    Names without standards behind them like the TWC ones, however, are mostly a publicity gimmick. TWC is free to do that, of course, but the rest of us are free to state that it’s the gimmick that it is.

  10. alohabb says:

    I like that Nemo is on the list. Everyone will ask ” where’s Nemo” , and then Disney can collect royalties. What a collaboration.

    • gggcorno says:

      Isn’t ‘Q’ from one of the Star Trek series? Paramount will want royalties too. I wonder if TWC ran this idea past their lawyers?

  11. bgb41 says:

    11/7/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:67 at MCDERMITT 26N(4464 ft)
    Low: 48 at Brookings (US 10(150 ft) & Gold Beach(16 ft) & Port Orford(0 ft) & CW8449 Charlesto(322 ft)

    High:33 at Timberline Lodge(7001 ft) & Mount Hood Meado(6601 ft)
    Low: 18 at CHRISTMAS VALLEY (4360 ft ) & Horse Ridge (US (4160 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 35 degrees
    CHRISTMAS VALLEY (53/18 ) (4360 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.43″ at DW9126 Brightwoo(1336ft)

  12. Greg Carstens says:

    Everyone remember always what “TWC” really stands for. “THE WRONG CHANNEL”.

    I was wondering what your thoughts on this naming nonsense were Mark. I am glad you posted something on it.

  13. 00z ECMWF
    A change to the 500mb pattern in the long range. IF we can get that Midwest trough to shift east, IF that ridge over the Rockies moves over the Midwest/Great Lakes, and IF a ridge pops up over Alaska 160 W.. Bitter air mass awaits in the Yukon, but as ALWAYS there are a lot of IFs that need to happen when it comes to fun, active weather in the Pacific Northwest!

  14. runrain says:

    I think we should name our omega blocks, dry periods, days of drizzle, etc. You know, kinda like “Mildred will be hanging around here for quite a while”, or “Don’t expect to see much sun during Farley”. At least this would make our boring weather periods more interesting!

  15. Garron near Washington Square says:

    I don’t even know where to begin? Did a REAL meteorologist sit in on this board meeting? And how would we even do that here? IE, a pineapple express hits us with wave after wave of strong wind and rain for 3 days straight. Is EACH embedded wave a new named storm, or does it all count as one? Of course, being west of the ol Mississippi, we don’t get to play anyway, as far as them east coasters’ are concerned, we don’t have weather of any importance. Well, at least we got our one radar installation. Oh, shhhh, better not let them in on that, they might just take it back!

  16. Ben Monjay says:

    Aren’t they owned by NBC Universal now?

  17. Dave in SW PDX (235') says:


  18. 00z GFS showed a change, well if you like a lot of rain. Check out how wet it turns the end of next week(After Day 8 FCST HR 180-192)
    Day 8 TOTAL PRECIP: 0.35″
    Day 8-16 TOTAL PRECIP: 6.33″
    Of course this could change with tomorrow’s 12z….

  19. orwxguy says:

    I agree 100% as well… the naming of winter storms is stupid. My guess is it is the ownership of TWC that is behind this. I would enjoy TWC a lot more if they would actually go back to talking about and forecasting the weather instead of showing all those goofy shows that have little to do with the weather…

    Kudos to the NWS for standing firm and not participating in this in any way, shape, or form.

    On a much lighter note… I am looking forward to the upcoming winter weather meeting on Nov 17 at OMSI. It should be a fun time.

  20. “Upper Level Low Marvin is just off the Washington Coast. He isn’t too tough, but shows some teeth.” Just doesn’t sound right…

    • Kyle says:

      And Marvin will bring in a few pop up T-storms at inland areas for today and tomorrow as he subtropical loses energy.

  21. Just another stupid thing TWC is doing to gain attention, viewers, and ratings. It also seems they use an abbreviation for everything now. I mean WUWA(Waking up with Al) seriously, BREWs, and then they have these other unnecessary things where they show a rainfall map with ALERT on it, and another area says AWARE. I have probably forgot a few others. Entirely stupid.

  22. paulbeugene says:

    Maybe they copyrighted the names/logos etc so they can sell t shirts, underwear, toothbrushes, bumper stickers, even cigarettes with the names of infamous winter storms….if the Oregon Ducks can do it so can WSI…but who wants a WSI jacket…not cool…but a Blizzard Mark I….Blizzard Mark II, Blizzard Mark III…way cool….and of course the great PaulB S N O W S T O R of December 2012 that almost happened…now that would be a great sell!

  23. No Snow says:

    Of course! 🙂 This will be a year of no snow in The Portland/Metro area.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      No Snow is back!! It’s been a long time. Oh wait, some people on here think you are me, or I am you. You know what I mean.

      Edit; And now that I look at the IP address I see it’s a “No Snow” imposter. Nevermind.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      “No Snow”
      Sounds like the name of our next snowstorm! Hahaah!

    • No Snow says:

      It’s me. 🙂 iPhone IP is different.

      Or is it you pretending to be me?

  24. Steven Cook says:

    yeah that is a bit odd mark. i remember seeing those hard working graphic people when i visited in march

  25. I agree 100%, Mark it is just flat out stupid. Also, no skiing until December this year.

  26. Roman~Snow-Zone-Monmouth, Elv. 223' says:

    Names should be strictly placed to hurricanes IMO. Any ways FIRST and thanks Mark!

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