Another Way To Look at El Nino Winters

October 16, 2015

10pm Friday…

Nothing groundbreaking here, but two graphics that convey a bit more about this upcoming winter.  A look at the BIG picture across the country.

First, El Nino temperature anomalies across the region for the 6 strong Nino events we’ve seen since 1950.  That’s what we have this year.  Note 5 of 6 winters are generally warmer than normal…when the whole winter is averaged.  Then the bigger image is the composite of all 6 years:


Then the precipitation anomaly for those 6 years, along with the composite of all 6:


3 were normal or wetter than average, 3 were significantly drier than normal.  The composite we often look at says El Nino is usually drier than normal.  But examining the maps you see some years have been a bit wetter than normal but the dry years have been significantly drier than normal.  That skews the composite to the dry side.  By looking at all 6 separately it’s obvious a drier than normal winter is definitely not a lock.

Again, none of this is ground-breaking material, but I wanted to point out that each El Nino is different and the effects are definitely not the same each time around.  I have a feeling in another 50 years, when many of us are long gone, we’ll have a much better idea about the “flavors” of El Nino.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the clouds/showers!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Record Warm Atmosphere Overhead

October 16, 2015

The weather balloon released at Salem this morning found record warm temperatures overhead.  Yes, they still actually fill a balloon and track its movements twice a day.  When it reached the 850 millibar level (about 5,000′), the temperature was 21.8 degrees Celsius!  That’s 71 degrees F.

So what’s the big deal?  Well that’s one of the mandatory levels, one we frequently refer to in meteorology.  You can look at past climatology on the SPC website and see that it was the warmest temperature ever recorded at that elevation over Salem in the 2nd half of October.  This morning’s temp is the big circle.  The average for any date is the yellow line.  Or orange, or whatever it is…I’m a bit color blind.


Note there is one day it hit the same temperature the 1st of November in the past.  But this is the latest we’ve seen such a warm temp otherwise.  This nifty sounding tool from Jim Little’s website shows it was above 70 from around 2,800′ to 5,000′ this morning!  The blue line is the 4-5am sounding.


That’s an incredibly warm atmosphere for mid October.  IF we had solid sunshine today I think we’d have an 80+ day coming up.  But I think with the cloud cover and a bit weaker easterly wind we’ll stay below 80.  Or maybe I’m getting old and conservative.

Yesterday Vancouver broke a record (81) and Portland tied (80)

That’s it, have to plant my cover crop in the garden and ride the bike on the last day it’ll be 70 by noon.  Enjoy your Friday!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen