Ski Season 2013-2014; Will it Be A Good One?

MarkPromo_HD_CascadeSnow

 

It’s that time of year…the snow that has accumulated on Mt. Hood the past 4 days is probably going to stick around.  And that leads to emails with questions like “Is it going to be a good ski season?” or “El Nino won’t mess up the winter will it?”  The short answer is NO ONE REALLY KNOWS.

Let me say that I don’t really do winter forecasts, either for the lowlands or the mountains…mainly because most winter forecasts I see don’t seem to work out much better than just taking a guess.  It IS true that in certain winters the confidence is significantly higher than others.  Two good examples:

  • El Nino winters (warming of the tropical Pacific) generally give warmer and drier than normal conditions, especially from northern Oregon up through Washington.  In fact that is such a well-known phenomenon that it’s dangerous to utter the “EL WORD” while in a ski area office.  I made that mistake a month or so ago while casually throwing some weather lingo around up on the mountain.
  • La Nina winters (cooling of the tropical Pacific) generally give us cooler and wetter than average conditions.  These winters have often been big snow producers, or at least solid snow producers, on Mt. Hood.
  • The Ski Mountaineer website does a great job correlating snowfall in the Cascades with these two winter types.  Although the site hasn’t been updated since 2006, a great and exhaustive resource for skiers/snowboarders.

 

There is not much information out there that gives me much confidence in a forecast for this winter, but here are a few tidbits:

1. The last El Nino winter was 2009-2010 and the last La Nina was 2011-2012.  Last winter  was neither.  This winter will likely be a “neither” or “La Nada” too.   We call those “neutral” winters.

2. From August through early October, some of our long-range climate forecasting models were hinting at a weak El Nino or at least on the “warm side” of neutral this winter.  In the past month models seem to have backed off on a threat.  As a result it does not appear we’ll see a weak El Nino this winter.  Good news for snow riders!

3. We’ve seen 17 “Neutral Winters” since 1950.  Those winters have produced near average snowfall at Gov’t Camp 88% of the years, and below average snowfall 12% of the years.

4. No neutral winter has produced a huge snow year at Gov’t Camp.  For comparison, 264″ is the average yearly total, lowest is 99″, highest ever is 474″.  I consider a “huge” snow year one where 350″ or more falls in Govy.  That’s based on a study Drew Jackson did while working here at KPTV (and I’ve now updated).

So it’s probably safe to say we won’t have a monster snow year, but there’s no reason to believe it’ll be a low snow year either…more good news.

Of course we can have some monster storms early in the season then rainouts later on and still have an “average” snowpack.  As you know, it’s all about timing and the type of storms we get.  That we can not predict.

There are lots of other indices like PDO, AO, NAO, QBO, etc…that probably all factor into our weather in some way, but obviously no one has figured out how to predict our future winter weather well.  If they had, they’d also be rich!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

 

 

95 Responses to Ski Season 2013-2014; Will it Be A Good One?

  1. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    AMAZING!
    NEW INFO
    Super Typhoon Haiyan has recorded a barometric pressure of 858mb! That CRUSHES any storm on Earth in recorded history. That is equivalent to 25.33 in! WOW
    http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/PS/TROP/DATA/2013/tdata/wpac/31W.html

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

      Almost low enough to make your head explode! 😉

      Haiyan had an awesome look to it on Satellite this morning. At least if you weren’t in it’s way.

  2. Kenny says:

    The new 12z EURO brings the arctic air to the Canadian border by next weekend. The very important -10C line is very close at that border and the -20C line is not that far behind it. We will need to watch future model runs to see what happens next because the EURO only goes to hour 240. The next few EURO model runs will shed more light to where the arctic air will go and I am hoping south.

  3. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    BREAKING NEWS
    ….Tropical Weather Update….
    Super Typhoon Haiyan is now quite possibly the worlds strongest Typhoon in recorded history. It is reported that its central barometric pressure is around a staggering 862mb(Awaiting confirmation) which would have surpassed legendary Typhoon Tip of 870mb that peaked October 12, 1979. This is simply incredible. It is about to hit the Philippines.

    Super Typhoon Haiyan Cat 5
    Maximum Sustained Winds 195mph
    Maximum Gusts 235mph

    See image here

  4. pappoose in scappoose says:

    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PORTLAND OR
    839 AM PST THU NOV 7 2013

    MORNING UPDATE…THE CURRENT GRIDS LOOK ON TRACK SO VERY FEW CHANGES THIS MORNING. THE COLD FRONT IS CURRENTLY MOVING ACROSS THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY INCLUDING THE PORTLAND METRO AREA…PRODUCING HEAVY RAIN…GUSTY WINDS AND A NOTICEABLE TEMPERATURE DROP…APPROXIMATELY 5F IN 15 MINUTES AS IT MOVES THROUGH THE AREA. WE WILL CONTINUE TO USE NOWCASTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA TO GIVE SHORT TERM UPDATES.

    MEANWHILE…WE ARE ALSO WATCHING THE BENT BACK OCCLUSION PROGRESS TOWARDS THE WASHINGTON COAST. AT THIS POINT…A HIGH WIND PRODUCT FOR THE COAST SEEMS UNLIKELY AS THIS SECONDARY FRONT PUSHES ASHORE. HOWEVER…WE WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE KLGX RADAR…AND BUOY AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS UPSTREAM OF THE REGION TO SEE IF A LAST MINUTE HIGH WIND WARNING IS NECESSARY. /NEUMAN

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
      925 AM PST THU NOV 7 2013

      THE LOW PRESSURE CENTER WILL DRIFT EAST INTO THE NORTHERN HALF OF WESTERN WA THIS AFTERNOON. SO FAR THE WIND ADVISORY IS NOT WORKING OUT ALL THAT WELL BUT GRADIENTS WILL PICK UP AS THE LOW COMES IN THIS AFTERNOON. IT WILL LIKELY BECOME WINDY MOST AREAS THROUGH THIS EVENING. THE AREAS MORE LIKELY TO GET THE SORT OF GUSTS THAT MIGHT TAKE DOWN SOME LIMBS WOULD BE FROM ABOUT SEATTLE SOUTH AND ON THE COAST. THE RAIN WILL TURN TO SHOWERS AND SCATTERED SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE TONIGHT AND FRIDAY. THE SNOW LEVEL IS PRETTY HIGH THIS MORNING BUT WILL FALL OVERNIGHT TONIGHT…WITH SNOW SHOWERS RETURNING TO THE PASSES BY MORNING.

  5. paulbeugene says:

    Looking at model runs this morning:
    Relieved to see 12z GFS backing off on snowstorm on East coast next week…don’t want my NYC trip screwed up.
    As for weather in our region, classic November active weather pattern shaping up for OR/WA/BC. With persistent neg 500mb anomaly 500-1000 miles offshore in week 2, would be highly surprised if we do not get a high wind event in I-5 corridor before thanksgiving.
    Snow down low..still at least 4 weeks away it seems.

  6. AdamInAumsville says:

    Wow! One heck of a squall line!

  7. Ben Monjay says:

    Was driving up Highway 47 between Forest Grove and Banks when the front went thru. I saw multiple trees go down on the West side of the Highway just North of the golf course. I estimate winds were close to 60 MPH when that happened. It was breaking branches off the tops of the trees and flinging them well over 500 feet.

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

    Cold front moving through now with heavy rain & winds out of the WSW, had a gust to 19mph. Pressure jumped from 29.87 to 29.93 in the last 15 minutes or so.

  9. Muxpux (Castle Rock 175') says:

    Squall line incoming!!!

  10. Jethro (Molalla ~320') says:

    Incoming ribbons of red on the radar loop… batten down those hatches…

  11. Marcustheweathernut says:

    Looks like the low is tracking a bit more south????? Winds may be a bit stronger….??? But it also looks like its strength is getting weaker…… http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/wxloop.cgi?ir4km_enhanced+/12h/

  12. Get ready. We officially enter the winter weather window of opportunity November 15. Optimist viewpoint: possibility of snow could show up in the models at any time now; 6z model insomniacs, you know who you are. Pessimist viewpoint: Winter weather Clock is about to start, where every day without snow etc is one day closer to the end of the winter weather window and beginning Springter (rhymes with sphincter) weather in PNW

  13. schmit44 says:

    11/6/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    Warmest:
    High:68 at WILLOW CREEK( 456 ft)
    Low: 55 at CW5925 Coos Bay(49 ft) & CW8449 Charlesto(322 ft)

    Coldest:
    High:33 at HARL BUTTE(6071 ft)
    Low: 24 at HOWARD Mt Howard (8150 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 29 degrees
    LYNHART RANCH (60/31 ) (4092 ft )
    Worden (60/31) (4080 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.75″ at LOG CREEK(2800ft)
    0.74″ at Mount Hood Meado(5249ft)

  14. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    ….Tropical Weather Update….
    We haven’t spoke much if any about Super Typhoon Haiyan, but it certainly deserves and demands respect. Wow.

    Cat 5
    Maximum Winds: 175mph
    Maximum Gusts: 210mph
    JMA estimates that it is around 905mb ( 26.72″ )

    5 day forecast takes it right into the Philippines.
    http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/western-pacific/2013/Super-Typhoon-Haiyan?map=5day

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      I suppose it’s possible you don’t notice any posts beyond your own, but it was mentioned.
      Really is impressive. Batten down the hatches!

    • gidrons says:

      Estimate now at 862 mb

    • Rob - Southeast Portland says:

      Well, myself and I think BoringOregon briefly mentioned it…. not sure if others had beyond that. I notice many if not all other posts.

      and wow 862mb? that would now replace legendary Typhoon Tip which had the world record low pressure at 870mb. Incredible. I see it’s at 195mb sustained now!

  15. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    00z EURO
    http://www.cascadeaccess.com/~mnelsen/Models/ecmwf500mb_ecmwf.html
    Massive Aleutian Ridge being replaced by a massive Gulf of Alaska trough/low? Yuck 😀

  16. Danny in Troutdale says:

    Hey guys! It a few days into November, that means its time for my winter check in! How is everyone? Thoughts on this winter? Good(snow)? Bad(last 4-5 years)?

  17. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    Latest zoomed Water Vapor imagery
    as of 9:30 PM

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

    .38″ of rain here today & counting, although radar shows the main band of precip finally moving off to the NE.

  19. Joshua in Lake Oswego says:

    Mark, do you know why the RPM model for rain hasn’t been working on your weather page?

  20. Sarah (E. Gresham) says:

    Wondering if someone can explain something to me regarding the length of daylight. I’m not sure why I’m just noticing this now, but I am and I’m curious. I leave work every day at 5pm. Monday when I left it was pitch dark (daylight saving time, I expected it). However, Tuesday there was still a decent amount of light outside….of course it wasn’t full daylight, but it was definitely still light. It didn’t really get dark until I was maybe 15-20 mins into my hour long commute. Today, it was pitch dark again when I left. I thought the daylight was getting progressively shorter as it does in the fall/winter? Why was it still light yesterday but not on Monday or today?

  21. BoringOregon says:

    Was just watching the Weather Channel, and Jim Cantore Said we might be in for some thing next weekend??

  22. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    Wow! Was the 18z GFS run ever wet. This is the wettest run any model output has shown so far this Fall. A CRAZY amount of rain after day 8 and potentially very windy too. Nearly 9″! Granted it is after day 8 into la-la land territory, but when the weather is this boring you have to find something to talk or speculate about.
    See image below

    http://wxweb.meteostar.com/sample/sample.shtml?text=kttd

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

    I thought today was forecast to be dry, but it’s been raining here in SW Portland most of the day. Stalled front? Weak isentropic lift? No “A+” on Mark’s report card for this week!

  24. High Desert Mat says:

    At the very least from what I get from last nights euro and todays 12z euro it looks as though the cold air is going to start building up north. That’s the first step that we need if u ask me.

  25. Jethro (Canby ~187') says:

    12z model ride: While the track is less than ideal, there could be a little more jet support at hour 30. Possible gusts at UAO/MMV of 40 mph? 35 at PDX? I know, nothing to get excited about… just another teaser heading into Vancouver Island.

  26. boydo3 N Albany says:

    Don’t look at the 6Z gfs. (hint.. cold lobe at the end of the run)

  27. schmit44 says:

    11/5/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    Warmest:
    High:63 at ILLINOIS VALLEY(1389 ft)
    Low: 52 at North Bend Munic(16 ft) & LINCON Lincoln C(187 ft) & DW8735 Yachats(92 ft) & Florence Municip(52 ft)

    Coldest:
    High:29 at SCHNEIDER MEADOW(5400 ft)
    Low: 5 at ANEROID LAKE #2 (7300 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 30 degrees
    ANEROID LAKE #2 (35/5 ) (7300 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.52″ at BOULDER CREEK(3570ft)
    1.26″ at WANDERER’S PEAK(4350ft)
    1.15″ at Detroit Lake(1675ft)
    1.13″ at SUGARLOAF(4328ft)
    1.13″ at BRUSH CREEK(2130ft)

  28. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    *Drum roll*.. okay, not really that dramatic.
    00z EURO
    http://www.cascadeaccess.com/~mnelsen/Models/ecmwf500mb_ecmwf.html
    Very similar to the 12z run earlier… We need to be on the watch for a possible wind storm pattern around the end of next week.

  29. paulbeugene says:

    Evolution of pattern on GFS looks very much like I was suspecting might be how things would unfold as of last night. Mid-November looks quite wet. Temps in the normal range. If Euro trends to GFS idea of trough backing off to the west then idea of Thanksgiving ski area opening may be a bit dicey. Could tap into significant moisture from low latitudes. Strong typhoon headed to Phillippines but not recurving N so it should not be entrained into westerlies.

  30. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    00z EURO will feature… 52 minutes remaining to choose!

    Colder, wetter
    Colder, drier
    Warmer, wetter(Possible AR event)
    Warmer, drier(Trough digs too far offshore pumping a ridge up 130 W over PNW)
    Wind Storm
    Arctic Blast
    Fog and Inversions
    Swarms of Bacon

  31. BoringOregon says:

    All in!!

  32. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    Tons of snow?
    A drought?
    Roll the dice……..
    Throw darts……
    Pin the tail on the magic weather donkey….

  33. BoringOregon says:

    1sttt!!!!

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