The “Black” Marble


NASA released some beautiful new views of our planet “in the dark” today, here’s a link to still images and animations:

I’ve noticed that link has been extremely slow or even unresponsive at times today, so be patient.  It seems to be better now that East Coast folks have gone to sleep.

Scientists are using these new nighttime images of Earth’s dark side to gain insight on human activity and poorly understood natural events.  You can also:


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

61 Responses to The “Black” Marble

  1. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    A year ago today, the valley’s were socked in with fog and low clouds, but the mountains were out in the sun! Here are pics from my trip up Silver Star.

  2. Goducks09 says:

    Looks like a chilly trough headed our way mid-week…

  3. swift says:

    The 00z in the long range gives PDX a snowstorm with cold air in place followed by an overrunning event of sleet/freezing rain where the L tracks south of PDX and pulls in frigid gorge east winds with high pressure to the east.

    • Long range a week or so ago had portland below 0 Gotta love those long range modals here today gone tomorrow.

    • Except that temps in the gorge and basin won’t be cold enough to produce those events.

    • Chris s says:

      Steve, no model had Portland below 0. Good lord, why do you say things that are not even remotely factual? And when are you going to learn how to spell?

    • flurball says:

      Some people may be looking at the Mayan GFS?

    • Not PDX But the g.f.s had seattle like -2 not that it really matters because it never happen least highly unlikely. All that cold air up in alaska will never make it here just a tease. This year will be boring like last winter my gut tells me.

    • Chris s says:

      Steve I didn’t see any extracted data that had Seattle at -2, or even close to that number. Also, the extracted data is pretty much useless in the long range. Also, if I remember correctly Seattle area had themselves a pretty decent snow/ice storm this past January. I wouldn’t call that boring per say.

    • W7ENK says:

      If anything he was looking at the 850mb temps and mistook those for Fahrenheit, and at the surface? That’s the only way this could possibly make sense.

  4. paulbeugene says:

    Speaking of which….I had not seen the CFS run prior to posting my long ranger….you have to check it out at least for entertainment value…..this is the coldest progged 3-4 week stretch for OR, WA since I started looking at this model years ago.

  5. paulbeugene says:

    Long range thoughts.

    It has been an anomalously cold late fall into the first part of winter for interior AK and Yukon. Slightly colder than normal (1.7F below normal) for October, much colder than normal (11.4F below normal) in November…and certainly off to a cold start to December…28.6F below normal!.

    Looking at the long range models….it does not appear that things will come anywhere close to thawing out up there for at least a couple weeks.

    Back to back significantly colder than normal months in Alaska is truly an exceptional circumstance. Having December and January be very cold up there is just not usually a good thing for us in terms of getting snow/arctic blasts here during those same months…68-69 being an exception. In fact, 1933-34 is the ONLY winter without a freeze at PDX and was a winter in which Dec and Jan were both very cold in Fairbanks. 66-67 was another one of those winters. 70-71 also…but December was not exceptionally cold then.

    You don’t get three consecutive super cold months in Fairbanks…I don’t think that has ever happened.

    However, having a cold November and December is a different story. 1942-43, 1948-49, 1956-57, 1961-62, 1975-1976, 1974-75 were the only winters in which Nov. avg temp in Fairbanks was below zero F, and the avg temp in December was -10F or less.

    I disregarded ENSO status for those winters…..PDO regime rules.

    If I am not mistaken…those winters were all neg PDO at least to some extent. 42-43 had the least impressive neg PDO.

    There is a very strong signal for a cold January, and a modest signal for cool to cold February.

    So this is my bottom line…it just plain simple is not going to get significantly cold here until the cold regime in Alaska loosens its grip…and all we can hope for (and should) is snow in the mountains for the skiers, etc,…until the pattern breaks. Once it does…look out!

    I am putting all my chips on the table for a cold January, with average temps 34F or below for the month…which has not happened since 1979. If we get a head start on the cold in the last week of December…so be it.

  6. pappoose in scappoose says:

    I really like it when short waves slide south out of Canada!

    237 PM PST THU DEC 6 2012


  7. Thomyee says:

    And don’t forget that 12z 384 has us close to an arctic outbreak!

  8. My 2€ regarding the long range outlook.
    We all know that arctic blast/big snow is a rare occurrence here. All the dice have to roll the right way for that to happen. That said, gfs ensembles seem reasonably consistent with ridge E pacific, trough W NA, ridge east. Euro 12z agrees. Big time snow cover NW Canada/AK. Cold PDO. neutral ENSO. It’s fricken December. Analogs from CPC favor cold. 4 of the 6 dice have rolled reasonably on our favor. We just need a couple more dice to roll our way, and we have a few rolls ahead of us. No guarantee, but odds of arctic wx next three weeks I would conclude are considerably greater than average. So white Christmas, here we come!

    • One of the dice left: We need some energy injected into the pattern to amplify it to dig sharp trough into us and build ridge to our west. Wasnt there a typhoon in phillipines?

    • David B. says:

      And be patient. Just because it doesn’t happen in December does not mean it won’t happen. Last year, it didn’t happen (for those of us in western Washington, at least) until the latter half of January.

    • W7ENK says:

      Yabbit, last winter for areas South of Scappoosia/Battleground and North of McMinnville/Wilsonville/Oregon City, it didn’t happen… period. Basically two winters in a row without a significant (measurable, on the ground for more than 24 hours) snowfall. That couldn’t possibly happen thrice in a row, could it???

    • I had one snow of 3″ Feb 6 thru the 9th and a record snow on the 21st and 22nd of March. So it can happen. But I gotta tell ya, 9 1/2″ of snow that late in March was just plain weird. Erik, you just need to move a few miles in any direction. And get a little elev!

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      Your dome will break this year… Temporary the break may be, but for at least a little while it should… I just feel it 🙂

    • David B. says:

      “That couldn’t possibly happen thrice in a row, could it???”

      It certainly could, but odds are against it. I’m rooting for you.

    • germantownsummit1000' says:

      “That couldn’t possibly happen thrice in a row, could it???”

      “Your dome will break this year… Temporary the break may be,…”

      Geez, between freakin’ Shakespeare and Yoda you’d think this was an English Lit./Star Wars blog.

      W7, anything’s possible in your best of all possible Crock-Pots, it is.

  9. Joshua in Lake Oswego says:

    Does anybody know what our latest first freeze is? I haven’t even been close at my location yet. It is no wonder that so many trees and plants still have some leaves left. There certainly doesn’t appear to be any imminent feezes in the near future either.

    • David B. says:

      I know when I was living in Portland in 2008, it was really late there. In fact, I think it was right as the epic arctic blast came in.

      Up here in Puget Sound country, we had our first frost about a month ago, during a clear dry spell where the Willamette Valley ended up mostly a few degrees above the freezing mark. I think you guys got some mid- or upper-level overnight clouds that we didn’t.

    • W7ENK says:

      I believe there is one winter on the books (not sure which one, 50-something?) that did not record a freeze at PDX.

      BGB would probably know which one?

    • Phil in Beaverton says:

      Here in Beaverton I’ve still got living tomato and potato plants in my garden.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      This is the latest since Dec. 24, 1999. I think that or one around Dec. 27th is the latest on record at PDX. I don’t think that we’ve ever had a frost-free winter here. Could be wrong…

    • Jeff says:

      We live in Garden Home (250′) and our mock orange (choisya ternata) is in full bloom and even a bit fragrant.

    • Ryan (Walnut Grove) says:

      I managed to track down a post from Bruce Sussman that has a graphic indicating the latest first freeze for “Portland” (not sure if that is PDX or Downtown) is December 25th, 1966:

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280 says:

      I think there was a year with out a freezing temp, but I can’t remember which it was, I think it was in the 60’s but am not sure. Where’s Steve Pierce when you need him?

      I remember this because I looked at the same year records for Hillsboro and I think the lowest temp was 29, maybe 28 degrees out here. And there were only about 10-15 days at or below freezing which is a really low number for Hillsboro. For instance, this year has 8 days already in what has been a fairly tropical (AND VERY WET) fall so far.

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280 says:

      I should be clear, not a year, but a fall-winter-spring.

    • Dave in Sherwood says:

      Had a few frosts out this way already, lowest temperature was 28.5

  10. paulbeugene says:

    Looks like models trending colder with trough for Thursday next week, sort of like what was expected for this weekend/early next week by models as of 3-4 days ago.
    Overall trend however is to keep the core of cold air locked up in Canada through day 15, with arctic boundary getting tantalizingly close to Fraser valley at times.
    we are only one Kamchatka bomb (siberian cold air interacting with Pacific jet NE of Japan) from a major arctic blast…the ridge axis is locking into perfect position…the cold air is waiting to be delivered… just need the ridge to pop up over AK.

    • 12z EC looks great to me! Thanks for the analysis, Paul.

    • Mark says:

      I’m a pretty simple guy when looking at the data, so generally speaking, the overall setup is looking better but not perfect. That said, when it looks “perfect” right now, by the time it arrives, it rarely happens… So I’m taking that as a good sign ; )

      Anyone know the odds of when we have a long-range that starts to look promising, how it plays out in reality? I’m thinking 1-10 or so?…

      But hey, if we only had a 0% chance a few days ago, it’s looking more like a 10% chance at this point. By Saturday we should know if we are moving towards a 50/50 scenario or back to that zippo number all over again…

  11. gidrons says:

    The polar dome is forecasted to reform.

    Snow lovers would rather see it split and the cold air pushed out to lower latitudes

    • David B. says:

      I think we’ll get our lowland snow, probably in January, maybe in late December. Just a hunch.

  12. W7ENK says:

    Very cool! 😀

  13. JN says:

    Nice image. However, wondering about all the lights in the NW corner of North Dakota?? It’s easier to see where it is when you go to the interactive version and turn on layers for state boundaries.

  14. Mark says:

    Thanks Mark for the NASA imagery.

  15. 00z ECMWF
    Ridge retrogrades to 150 W, but there is really no amplification.

  16. bgb41 says:

    12/5/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:64 at BARNHT( 894 ft)
    Low: 47 at Port Orford(0 ft) & 7 other locations.

    High:25 at Mount Hood Meado(6601 ft)
    Low: 17 at MT. HOWARD (7910 ft ) & Timberline Lodge (7001 ft ) & Mount Hood Meado (6601 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 27 degrees
    Rome (56/29 ) (4049 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.49″ at GRANDAD(2900ft)
    0.47″ at CINNAMON(4834ft)
    0.47″ at TROUT CREEK(2320ft)
    0.47″ at FIELDS(3373ft)

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