A February “Scorcher”

February 8, 2016

9pm Monday…

What a day!  As expected the inversion partially broke in spots today, mainly along the Coast and Cascade Foothills.  Numerous high temperature records were likely broken, but most of those we won’t find out about for a few weeks or months since they don’t report daily.  Take a look at the coastal highs:

One would think the 82 degree temperature at North Bend was an Oregon record for the month of February, but no, it hit 89 degrees in the Applegate Valley in SW Oregon back in 1907.

MarkHeatwaveStudio_RecordPDXDay

Here in Portland we missed the high temperature record by 2 degrees, but quite a bit warmer than the 31 degree high 2 years ago on this date!

The biggest news was overhead…the Salem sounding temperature at 850mb (around 5,000′) was 18.6 degrees!  That’s FAR warmer than any other February/March/early April day on record.  The airmass overhead is historically warm.  I saw this tweet from Stu Ostro showing the extremely high 500mb heights overhead…588dm this morning:

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So basically this ridge of high pressure is the strongest (measured this way) of any other in February/March/April.  Hard to believe eh?  But true.

With the strong inversion, the 8 millibars of easterly Gorge flow was contained to a very shallow layer, bringing us the strongest east wind of the “winter” for the high wind areas in the western Gorge.  Corbett had a peak gust of 76 mph, the highest this season.  The Vista House gust of 96 mph is the highest measured on that sensor, which only sticks out from the wall about a foot or so.  That comes with a big caveat; during several big wind/ice events the sensor has been offline due to power outages and/or ice locking up the gauge.  So it’s the highest observed.

That wind will decrease dramatically tomorrow afternoon and now there are even hints of a weak “marine push” of low clouds Wednesday morning as the flow turns onshore.  We’ll see about that.  I didn’t totally buy it, thus the still sunny Wednesday in the 7 Day forecast.

Looking ahead, the general pattern is quite mild through the middle of the month.  Notice not much new snow at the ski areas for the next week with high freezing levels.

MarkSnow_MtHoodFcst

It’s not unusual for the best ski conditions to show up in the 1st half of the ski season in El Nino years and this year that’s the case.  Not that we don’t have plenty of snow and great weather (me and my son Sunday enjoying the bright sunshine),

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but the regular doses of powder were mainly before the New Year this year.  Yes, I told him to wear sunglasses but of course he didn’t listen to the old man.

Moving along, the ECMWF ensemble maps from last night’s run show the same thing they have been for a couple weeks:

Still looks like a mild pattern through the early part of March.  We’ll see how that goes.

Enjoy the sunshine again Tuesday!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen