First “Marine Cloud Forecast Bust” of 2016

April 10, 2016

7pm Sunday…

It may have been only the first, but there will be more of these busts between now and September!

Last night we forecast the marine clouds to thicken again, be solid in the morning, then break up in the afternoon.  That KIND OF happened, except at a FAR slower pace than expected.  Take a look at the visible satellite image this morning:

Sat11amAt 11am low clouds filled all areas west of the Cascades below about 3,000′.  To find sunshine you needed to go up into the Cascade passes, or east of Cascade Locks in the Gorge.  By the way, that’s why I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I consider Hood River to have almost a perfect climate in our area.  Marine clouds don’t EVER get east of about Wyeth, yet the cooling west wind in summer means Hood River/White Salmon areas aren’t really any warmer than Portland.  You get constant sunshine in the warm season but without the Eastern Oregon heat (like at The Dalles).  Plus, annual snowfall is around 2 feet or so…dependable winter snowfall (most years).

Okay, by 3pm the low clouds had still only cleared WEST of I-5:


Still cool/gloomy/overcast for 1/2 of the metro area at mid-afternoon.  Finally at 5pm most of us were seeing sunshine:


but those far east metro spots were STILL socked in (Sandy/Estacada/Colton).

Even the best models have trouble dealing with marine cloud burnoff time.  Check out the 1.33 km WRF-GFS total cloud product…


clear all the way to the coastline by 2pm!  I don’t think so.  High temperatures seemed chilly today, but they were finally “Normal”.


This evening the clouds have actually thickened over the west slopes of the Cascades…this view was clear an hour ago from our Skibowl Cam:


Moving on…

Tomorrow doesn’t look much different so I lowered the forecast high into the lower 60s.

Starting Tuesday, we’ll see some upper-level troughing nearby through Thursday, or possibly Friday.  As a result we finally get some rain after a very dry week; nice since a lot of us may have just planted a few veggies.  I planted onions and potatoes and I’m too lazy to water them, so I hope we get close to an inch at least.  Models imply we’ll get less than that in the western valleys this week.

Enjoy the cool showers because models are in decent agreement that the 2nd half of April will see mainly above normal temps.  Check out the GEFS (GFS ensembles) surface temperature deviation from normal for the next 2 weeks:


Models have been trying to push up some sort of ridging over us next weekend (that first spike), then after that we are generally a bit warmer than normal.  The ECMWF is similar with the 850mb temps although the warm spike is more dramatic next weekend


So…to summarize, it appears this could end up being ANOTHER warm month.  We’ve been warm now for over 2 years with no “cold months”.  When will it change?  I don’t know of course.  Theoretically a La Nina winter coming up (may or may not happen) could end the warm streak.  For now, sea surface temperatures remain well above normal across the far Eastern Pacific.


If that doesn’t change in the next month or two, we can get used to more of those warmer than normal nights and weaker than normal marine pushes as we’ve seen the past two warm seasons.

Seem like a pretty long blog post for a weekend?  It’s because I’m working this Sunday evening as part of an adjusted work schedule.  Same evening shows, but Sunday-Thursday instead of Monday-Friday.  Better for family life (my school district does 4 day weeks, Fridays off) plus more of you watch 10pm newscasts on Sunday night vs. Friday PM anyway = more Mark exposure on bigger nights!  It’s not too unusual at FOX network stations because they have much higher ratings on Sunday nights than Friday.  I’ve heard in Seattle the “weekday” crew at KCPQ works the same Sunday-Thursday schedule.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen