2012 Weather Blog In Review

December 31, 2012

Only a few hours left in 2012, and I’m working this evening (but only until 10:30pm!). 

Wondering who the top commenters were this year?  Here are some year end stats…

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 1,900,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 35 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

In 2012, there were 363 new posts (didn’t realize I post that often), growing the total archive of this blog to 1,678 posts. There were 795 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 284 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

Ready for this? 

These were the 4 most active commenters:

  • 1 atmosphericwrath 1651 comments
  • 2 W7ENK 1205 comments
  • 3 pappoose in scappoose 1201 comments
  • boydo3 500′ N Albany 577 comments

Flurry Storm ’12 Update

December 31, 2012


Well, the drive to work was a bit underwhelming from 1-2pm.  Looking at the radar I was hoping to at least see some good snow in the air.  But from Troutdale to Beaverton (east to west), I only saw a few light flurries and bare/dry ground the whole way, plus it was totally dry from downtown westward.    Flurries did just drop a dusting out in eastern Multnomah/Clark Counties east of I-205, but I just missed it.

I think my 10:30am update was a bit of a overforecast, it looks like very few of us even saw a dusting.  The one exception was the northwest part of Vancouver…take a look at the radar at around noon:


Notice the one yellow area (the only one that appeared today) was right over SR500 and Hazel Dell.  That’s the spot that actually saw some decent accumulation.  Here’s a closer view:


You had to be within a couple of miles of that spot or farther north into Clark County to see anything other than a dusting.  Our SW Medical Center camera shows green grass and nothing even on the barkdust.  There’s little or nothing south of SR500 on I-5 or anywhere along I-205 south of the I-5 split. 

So yes, the worst of all possibilities has happened; it snowed at Steve Pierce’s house and almost nowhere else!  Here’s the “neener, neener, it snowed and my house and it’s just too bad it didn’t at yours!” picture to prove it from Steve!  The pic just shows a dusting, but I’ve seen reports of 1-2″ in the Salmon Creek area.


Well, maybe next time for everyone else.

On another note, PDX officially recorded -SN (light snow) at the Noon observation; that means that’ll go down as the “first snowflake” at the Airport for the AMS contest from the Winter Weather Meeting.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

North & West Vancouver the Place to Be; Snow Sticking

December 31, 2012


The band of snow showers is moving overhead and you can see on radar http://weather.cod.edu/satrad/nexrad/send.php?type=RTX-N0Q-1-24 why it’s been sticking nicely the last hour from Scappoose/St. Helens over to Vancouver Lake and northern/western Vancouver area.  A heavy batch of showers right over them.  Take a look at the WADOT camera at 134th street on I-5:


Then compare that to just a few miles east on I-205…barely a dusting (so far).


The rest of the metro area is just seeing flurries or dry so far…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

An Exciting Afternoon Ahead; Snow On The Way

December 31, 2012


Nice setup for widespread snow across Northwest Oregon temperature-wise, but how much moisture we get falling out of the sky is the big question this morning.  Read the previous post first.

The Highlights:

  • Snow showers may develop across the metro area between 11am-3pm
  • It’s cold enough that we’ll see a dusting in spots, probably not on roads except far westside and in the hills.  It might get slippery in the West Hills this afternoon.
  • It ends after sunset and skies clear…still clear and cold as we approach midnight
  • Any wet roads will refreeze; be careful later if you’re out and about.  Remember Trimet and many other transportation options are free tonight.

The only thing holding me back from expecting a widespread dusting or half inch of snow this afternoon across parts of the metro area is moisture availability.  The morning WRF-GFS model came in gangbusters showing a good 1″ of snow all over the metro area between 1-4pm today. 


But now our RPM has a dusting here and there, and at least enough in the air to get us all excited as a solid band of light snow moves across the metro area from 11am-3pm.  It’ll move slowly from west to east.  The first image shows the actual precipitation and the 2nd shows snowfall accumulation forecast.  Note that it’s below 2″, but still, a widespread dusting of snow would add to the New Year’s Eve fun wouldn’t it? 

mgWeb_WRF_20121231-150000_ASEA_ECONUS_F00070000_PwinterThickness_R4km mgWeb_WRF_20121231-150000_ASEA_ECONUS_F00200000_PwinterSnow_R4km

The MM5-NAM and NAM itself are pretty much dry and we may need to discount those models since radar indicates the wetter solution may be correct.

We’ve already seen sticking snow this morning in the Coast Range and in SW Washington north of Longview.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Very Cold Tonight; Then Sprinkles/Flurries Again Monday

December 30, 2012

Brrr!  It’s getting cold out there quickly this evening.  Already down to or below freezing at 10pm across the entire metro area.  East wind areas are a little above freezing.  It’s going to be a very cold night with clear skies until almost sunrise:


Then a very weak system moves inland and dies right overhead during the afternoon.  Some models (not all) are producing some very light precipitation.  Our RPM is mostly dry with just a few hundredths on the west side of the Willamette Valley.  But other models squeeze out a more widespread few hundredths of precip.  Soundings are cold enough for just about all snow.  But even if we do get precip, it’ll be too light to stick in the lowest elevations since we’ll be above freezing.  But not by much.  Tomorrow’s cloud cover after a cold night means highs only into the upper 30s! 

Bottom Line: It’s going to be a cold and gray end to the 2012 with possibly a few afternoon sprinkles or flurries.

Here’s why I’m not too excited about real snow…lack of precipitation.  Even the “wet” WRF-GFS produces around .10″:


The 00z NAM-MM5 produces less than .05″, and as I mentioned our model produces almost nothing.

Whatever happens or doesn’t happen tomorrow, it’s done by 7pm as skies clear and we head to at least a 3 day period of cold temps, clear skies, and very strong east wind.  The air mass east of the Cascades is getting cold; single digits in many areas that don’t often get that cold tonight in north central Oregon.  Just got an email of single digits above Lyle already on the High Prairie.  That’s really cold and all that cold air will be coming through the Gorge the rest of the week.

Someone asked me today what I thought about long-range models occasionally looking colder beyond Day 10.  The 00z GFS has ridging either over us or just to our west through the 15 day period, nothing exciting there:m500za_f360_bg_NA  That 00z ensemble mean at Day15 has that stupid ridge just to our west where is has been at times over the past month. 

Now the 12z ECMWF ensemble chart


does show a considerable number of members want to put us in a cooler pattern beyond Day 10.  Something to keep an eye on.  I am fairly confident that we won’t see a big arctic blast in the first 7-10 days of the New Year.  Beyond that, who knows.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Sprinkles and Flurries This Evening

December 29, 2012

A few light showers are moving down out of Canada via Western Washington this evening.  Sticking snow level is around 1,500′, which means any of us could see flurries mixed in.  Around 3pm I had all snow at my home around 1,000′ in the western Gorge, although not sticking.

As the disturbance moves directly overhead from 5-9pm, a trace to 1/2″ is possible above 1,000′ in the Cascade foothills, a little heavier precipitation might bring the snow level as low as that.  But that’s about the best I can do, skies clear later tonight for lots of fog and low clouds late.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Coldest Weather Of Winter Coming Up, For Some

December 28, 2012

We don’t have any sort of big arctic blast on the way, but a much cooler feel to our daily life here in the metro area.

Here are the highlights:

  • November & December have been very mild.  In fact we’re likely to see December 2012 go down as the warmest December since 1999.
  • A colder air mass has pushed through the Columbia River Gorge and into the metro area this evening.  It’ll be over us and turn a bit colder next week.
  • High temperatures will only be 40-45 even with sunshine (that sun begins Sunday) tomorrow through next week.
  • Low temperatures in calm parts of the metro area will drop as low as the upper teens and lower 20s beginning New Year’s morning.
  • Everyone will finally have a hard freeze.
  • Cold east winds will be around for a long period, Monday through Friday next week at least.
  • The bonus?  Little to no rain in the next 7-10 days and ample sunshine.
  • The Coast and foothills/mountains will not be unusually cold, quite a bit of sun in those areas too.

For the hard-core weather folks…

Take a look at NOAA’s snowcover map for today west of the Cascades:


and eastside:


It doesn’t show the very lowest elevations east of the Cascades as snow-free (they are), such as The Dalles and areas right along the Columbia River, but there is definitely snow cover across just about the entire rest of the Columbia Basin.  Snow cover is very good at reflecting the warming rays of the sun, and allows rapid overnight cooling under clear skies.  That’s a setup for a pool of cold air to form and stay trapped in the lowest 3-4,000′ of the atmosphere east of the Cascades the next few days.  A bit cooler than we have seen in previous east wind events the past few years.  It’ll happen because we are now in “split-flow” over the West Coast as very weak upper-level systems fall apart as they move towards us.  With no stronger systems to mix out the cold air, it’ll stay put.  Cold air is dense and heavy, so pressures rise eastside.  There’s no place for the cold air to move except through gaps in the Cascades below 3,000′.  The only one lower than that between British Columbia and California is the Columbia River Gorge.  Thus a cold east wind blows through the Gorge and accelerates down the western end.

This evening the effect of the cooler east wind and drier/colder air mass has shown up in several ways.  It’s ten degrees colder at Biddle Butte just across from Vista House at 1400′.  Last night it was 36 at that spot at 9pm, tonight it’s 26.  That’s not because of calm and clear conditions either since the wind is blowing hard up there.  Ausperger Mtn (3,000′) east of Carson is 10 degrees colder at 9pm as well.  31 last night but 21 tonight!  Dewpoints have taken a dramatic tumble in the metro area too.  PDX is 28 right now, it was 37-39 at the same time last night.  Much drier air is now over us and will stay here through next week.

A weak system comes down from the northwest tomorrow afternoon, but at best it’ll produce a few sprinkles.  Another one attempts to move into the ridge and splits apart late next Wednesday or Thursday.  The 00z GFS and 00z GEM both show it producing precipitation (rain or freezing rain most likely) at that time.  We’ll see.  Future runs may show it just dry.

I expect clearing, dry air, and not too strong of an east wind away from the Gorge next week.  This is the perfect setup for much colder overnight temps.  I could easily see the 18-22 degree range at Hillsboro and Scappoose.  Even PDX could get well down into the 20s if the wind backs off at that location at night.

For those of you in the west end of the Gorge, fire up the wood stoves!  Looks like a long period of strong east wind and very cold temps.  Highs only in the 30-35 degree range much of next week in the windy areas.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen