Vacation Time: The Nelsen’s Epic Southwest Trip

There are so many neat places to visit in our great country…too many to visit in a lifetime.  But over the next two weeks I’ll be joining my wife and two kids on a 3,000 mile road trip through parts of the Desert Southwest to see some of those sights.   It’ll take about 13 days and we’ll tour 4-5 national parks.  That includes:  Arches, Canyonlands, Great Sand Dunes, & Mesa Verde.  Possibly Zion briefly as well.  I’ve always wanted to see the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde and all the neat landforms in Arches/Canyonlands.  We’ve been to Great Sand Dunes in the past…in fact that was the last long trip in June 2012.  Read about that one at the link.  We’ll also get some pics at the Four Corners monument and drive through Monument Valley Utah and tour a slot canyon.

Here’s the route, heading southeast to Utah first.  Can you drive from Portland to Moab UT in one day?  I’ll let you know how it goes…

Capture

 

We’ll be traveling in a 4Runner towing a pop-up trailer…relatively spartan accommodations I think.  We’ll stay in 8 different campgrounds…it’s all been planned out.

Most likely no blog postings during this time, unless for some reason I have tons of time to post pics.  I’ll be back at work on Wednesday the 22nd.

212 Responses to Vacation Time: The Nelsen’s Epic Southwest Trip

  1. Runtmc says:

    Decent thunderstorm just passed through Gladstone. Four good boomers and about a 10 minute heavy rain/hail shower.

  2. W7ENK says:

    Thunderstorm near McMinnville warned for half inch diameter hail, moving East.

    https://inws.ncep.noaa.gov/a/a.php?i=3779952

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    I’m camping at Santiam horse camp outta Gates, Oregon. Rained off and on yesterday but thunderstorm started last night about 2 am and has poured til about now. Pretty impressive. Radar showed it was pretty much stalled on the Marion/ Clackamas county line. Very cool temps in the 40’s. I’d say it rained close to an inch here. Fun way to camp PNW style!

  4. Paul D says:

    The hot forecast for the next few days is backing down – good news!

  5. We’re supposed to have quite a few showers up here tomorrrow and a few left over for Sunday morning. After that, it’s clear sailing into summer. No doubt about it- this June has been a lot closer to normal once we got past the first week.

  6. WEATHERDAN says:

    70 and partly sunny at 3:00 PM. What a great way to start the weekend. NWS forecast for next Friday, a slight chance of showers and mostly sunny with a high of 80. That’s what you call covering all the bases. Lots of sun and warm weather headed our way. Just not that monster heat in the dsw. I am thankful for that. Normally we have 20 days over 70 in June. We should add up to 24 this June. In 2014 we had 23 and last year 27. So another warm June. Normally by the end of June we have had 12 days over 80. Last year we had an insane 33 days. This year most likely 30 days. Close to last years record. Still no extreme heat on the horizon. Just some very pleasant weather ahead. Mark will be back next week with hopefully a new post. Peace.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      I wonder how many 90+ deg days we’ve already had this year? Compared to last year at this time. Forecast is looking like a couple more next week.

    • Chris s says:

      Oops…guess that heat for next week is gone alter Dan. 😊 But since you’re never wrong, due to your copy paste of the forecast, I doubt you’ll say anything. Hate to burst your bubble Dan, but this isn’t going to be a above avg summer like the clowns at cpc and you think it will be. The change is already happening, but I think a few I this blog have already tried to tell you that!!! 😊

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      We had 4 last year Boydo, same as this year. Then we had another 4 by the end of June for a total of 8. We may squeeze another 2 out by the time the month ends as temperatures are expected to climb to the upper 80,s or so this upcoming weekend. In 2014 we had 35 days over 90 and in 2015 we had 30. This year I see us with 24-28 days. Of course with weather anything can happen. Funny how little Chrissie and his crowd like to point out how the CPC models all show a cold Winter 7 months away. The he calls them clowns because they predict a warm Summer over the next few weeks. You should take your act to Vegas chrissie because every time I see your posts I always have a good laugh. Peace.

    • Chris s says:

      Well alter Dan, I’ve always called the cpc clowns, so get your facts straight. And I like how you make no mention of your busted copy paste forecast from last week. It’s ok, people who actually look at data and interpret it knew it wasn’t gonna be warm this week, but alas you didn’t!! And take away the 3 ridiculously warm days at the beginning of the month, and this month would be running well below avg. people will look back and think this was a warm month, but in reality it’s a month skewed by 3 days. Good luck with the copy paste 😊

  7. W7ENK says:

    Thunderstorms in Bend.

    Thunderstorms in Tillamook.

    They’ve got us surrounded, but they’re all moving the wrong way! 😦

  8. WEATHERDAN says:

    Found this interesting article online about El Nino vs. La Nina.

    ENSO Effects on Pacific Northwest Winters

    By now most Pacific Northwest residents, or at least those who are weather aware, have heard enough about El Niño and La Niña to know that these phenomena affect our weather significantly. We often hear that El Niño brings us mild, dry winters and La Niña brings us cold, wet winters. Together these phenomena are called ENSO, or El Niño/Southern Oscillation, a term that describes changing sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru. During El Niño events, this area of the ocean warms; and during La Niña events, it cools; having a profound impact on the weather in much of the world, including the United States, Central America, and Australia. These warm or cool periods may last 9 – 18 months, or, sometimes, several years; and they may be weak, moderate or strong (an event deviating significantly from normal is considered a strong event). As far as scientists can tell, ENSO has been occurring throughout history, but it is only recently that its effects have been studied to any great extent. In recent years, some exceptionally strong El Niños have received significant media attention and disrupted the economy of Peru (by dumping rain on normally desert lands) and other places. The purpose of this article will not be to discuss specifically the mechanisms by which ENSO effects our winters; rather, it will hopefully draw some meaningful correlation between ENSO and winter severity, with implications for gardeners who may be interested in knowing how to care for their plants through the winter.

    El Niño generally diverts the jet stream, and thus winter storms, into California, leaving the Pacific Northwest high and dry (comparatively). These winters often have low precipitation and mild winters in the Pacific Northwest, sometimes resulting in a poor mountain snowpack. La Niña usually aims the jet stream right at the Pacific Northwest, from the north Pacific, so that cold moist air and vigorous storms come right at us, bringing plenty of mountain snow. With La Niña in place, severe fluctuations in the jet stream are also likely to occur, opening the door for modified arctic air to enter the region from time to time. So, while it has been established that El Niño generally brings us milder than average winters, and La Niña brings us cool, wet winters, some questions important to gardeners remain unanswered. For gardeners, it is not the average temperatures, but the extreme events that determine what plants will survive the winter. For example, a winter can occur that is colder than average, but as long as storms are continually blowing in off the Pacific no modified arctic air may enter the region. So I wondered: is El Niño likely to actually block modified arctic air from entering the region? Are La Niña winters that much more likely to bring severe cold events? What happens during ENSO-neutral winters, when the waters in the Pacific are neither hot nor cold?

    So I conducted a simple study not based on average temperatures, but based on just one parameter: the single coldest temperature recorded in the entire winter, which I shall refer to as the seasonal minimum temperature or SMT. I used the period 1949-50 to 1995-96 for my analysis, since those were the data I could get. I looked at four locations – Olympia Airport, Seattle City Office, Bellingham Airport, and Sea-Tac Airport – and averaged the SMT’s of these four locations together to get a general feel for how cold the extreme event that winter was for western Washington in general. I divided each winter into one of five categories: strong La Niña, moderate La Niña, ENSO-neutral, moderate El Niño, or strong El Niño, based directly on the deviation from normal of sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific (to qualify as ‘strong’ the sea surface temperature had to deviate at least 0.5°C from average). I looked at two separate samples, one comparing ENSO conditions during the winter itself to that winter’s SMT, and one comparing ENSO conditions during the preceding autumn to the SMT. Comparing ENSO conditions in the autumn to the severity of the following winter is obviously very useful in predicting just how cold that winter will be.

    ENSO CONDITIONS AND SEASONAL MINIMUM TEMPERATURES AT FOUR LOCATIONS 1949-1996
    Olympia Airport, Seattle City Office, Bellingham Airport, and Sea-Tac Airport
    Temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit

    Winter All Year* Nov-March* Sept-Nov* Olympia Seattle B’ham Sea-Tac Avg**
    1949-50 strong La Niña strong La Niña (n/a) -1 12 -2 0 2.25
    1950-51 moderate La Niña strong La Niña strong La Niña 9 20 10 11 12.5
    1951-52 moderate El Niño moderate El Niño moderate El Niño 8 19 9 10 11.5
    1952-53 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 15 26 16 17 18.5
    1953-54 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 7 22 10 16 13.75
    1954-55 strong La Niña strong La Niña strong La Niña 13 21 11 10 13.75
    1955-56 strong La Niña strong La Niña strong La Niña -1 13 3 6 5.25
    1956-57 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña strong La Niña 0 15 8 8 7.75
    1957-58 strong El Niño strong El Niño strong El Niño 25 33 22 27 26.75
    1958-59 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 7 18 9 13 11.75
    1959-60 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 14 29 13 24 20
    1960-61 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 18 30 22 23 23.25
    1961-62 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña moderate La Niña 4 20 13 13 12.5
    1962-63 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña moderate La Niña 5 16 9 12 10.5
    1963-64 moderate El Niño moderate El Niño moderate El Niño 21 31 22 25 24.75
    1964-65 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña strong La Niña 3 11 -1 10 5.75
    1965-66 strong El Niño strong El Niño strong El Niño 21 28 13 25 21.75
    1966-67 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 23 34 22 28 26.75
    1967-68 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña ENSO neutral 12 27 18 24 20.25
    1968-69 moderate El Niño moderate El Niño ENSO neutral 3 10 0 6 4.75
    1969-70 moderate El Niño moderate El Niño moderate El Niño 17 29 17 29 23
    1970-71 strong La Niña strong La Niña moderate La Niña 12 26 13 23 18.5
    1971-72 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña strong La Niña -7 16 8 12 7.25
    1972-73 strong El Niño strong El Niño strong El Niño -3 (n/a) 7 13 (8.5)
    1973-74 strong La Niña strong La Niña strong La Niña 6 20 14 16 14
    1974-75 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña moderate La Niña 19 28 17 25 22.25
    1975-76 strong La Niña strong La Niña strong La Niña 13 24 18 22 19.25
    1976-77 moderate El Niño moderate El Niño moderate El Niño 12 25 19 24 20
    1977-78 moderate El Niño moderate El Niño moderate El Niño 10 20 17 21 17
    1978-79 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral moderate La Niña -8 13 9 12 6.5
    1979-80 ENSO neutral moderate El Niño ENSO neutral 0 16 9 15 10
    1980-81 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 15 24 8 21 17
    1981-82 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 5 17 1 14 9.25
    1982-83 strong El Niño strong El Niño strong El Niño 19 26 20 24 22.25
    1983-84 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña moderate La Niña -7 12 12 8 6.25
    1984-85 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña moderate La Niña 11 22 12 19 16
    1985-86 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 0 12 3 10 6.25
    1986-87 strong El Niño strong El Niño moderate El Niño 19 27 23 23 23
    1987-88 strong El Niño strong El Niño strong El Niño 16 24 17 22 19.75
    1988-89 strong La Niña strong La Niña strong La Niña 2 11 5 7 6.25
    1989-90 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 10 22 16 19 16.75
    1990-91 moderate El Niño ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 0 (n/a) 5 12 (7.5)
    1991-92 strong El Niño strong El Niño moderate El Niño 22 26 23 25 24
    1992-93 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 10 21 12 23 15.75
    1993-94 ENSO neutral ENSO neutral ENSO neutral 10 21 13 19 15.75
    1994-95 strong El Niño strong El Niño moderate El Niño 6 23 17 20 16.5
    1995-96 moderate La Niña moderate La Niña moderate La Niña 10 17 10 14 12.75
    47-winter average 9.04 21.27 12.17 17.02 14.79

    AVERAGE SMT** FOR EACH ENSO CATEGORY
    Based on Nov-March Based on Sept-Nov
    Strong La Niña 11.47 (8 winters) 10.19 (9 winters)
    Moderate La Niña 12.13 (10 winters) 13.16 (8 winters)
    ENSO neutral 14.91 (14 winters) 14.83 (16 winters)
    Moderate El Niño 15.86 (7 winters) 19.96 (8 winters)
    Strong El Niño 20.31 (8 winters) 19.8 (5 winters)

    Represents the time span evaluated to determine ENSO phase. “All year” is calculated from July through June.
    ** Average of all four locations for each winter.

    My conclusions are as follows:

    Most obviously, the correlation between ENSO and the SMT is strong (more so even than I expected). La Niña winters tend to be cold, with the intrusion of modified arctic air more likely to occur, and El Niño winters tend to be mild, with modified arctic air intrusion much less likely. The stronger the ENSO event, the more influence it seems to exert on the ability of modified arctic air to enter our region.

    If one compares winter ENSO conditions with the SMT, one notices that ENSO neutral winters were, on average, just about the same as the mean, and there is a huge difference between a moderate El Niño and a strong El Niño, the latter being on average milder by about 4.5°F.

    If one compares the SMT with ENSO conditions the preceding autumn, one notices a correlation that is equally strong. Thus, ENSO conditions in the autumn CAN be used to predict the severity of the following winter with some accuracy! Interestingly, one sees little difference between the SMT in a moderate autumn El Niño vs. a strong one. However, a strong La Niña in the autumn makes a severe winter very likely. Based on this small sample, one can expect a strong La Niña in the autumn to be followed by a colder than average winter 80-90% of the time.

    A few notable exceptions were observed. A strong El Niño was present during the winter of 1972-73, yet December 1972 brought a landmark freeze to the Northwest, especially Oregon and Northern California, where many all-time lows for the month of December still stand from 1972. The winter of 1975-76 was not exceptionally severe and can be called milder than average, despite the influence of a strong La Niña. So nothing is guaranteed.

    It should also be noted that ENSO-neutral winters were all over the place. Some were very mild, some were of “average” severity, and others quite severe. The very cold, snowy winter of 1968-69, during which many all-time low temperatures were set in the region (especially east of the Cascades) and snow remained on the ground in much of the Puget Sound area through most of January, followed an ENSO-neutral autumn, which tended towards a moderate El Niño by winter. However, the extremely mild winter of 1966-67 was also ENSO-neutral.

    Also, I think it’s fair to say that a moderate El Niño or La Niña has less of a bearing on our winter severity than a strong one. So, just because you hear about El Niño doesn’t mean you can plan on a mild winter for your garden. Modified arctic air can easily enter the region during a moderate El Niño event. And, if you hear about La Niña, don’t get too flustered because, if it is not a strong La Niña, you may luck out!

    This study has a couple of shortfalls. First, using the SMT alone is rather simplistic. A more thorough study might take into account the number and duration of severe cold events rather than using only the SMT. Criteria could be set for the severity and duration of what can be called a “significant arctic blast” and these could be studied on an individual basis. Also, this study does not take into account the years 1996-2006, since those data were not readily available to me.

    So it’s true: El Niño brings mild winters for our gardens, and La Niña brings cold ones. But these are generalizations, not guarantees! As evidenced above, the risks are significant. And forget about making plans for winter under ENSO-neutral conditions – just batten down the hatches and hope for the best!

    More information:
    ENSO at Wikipedia
    Cascade Snowfall and Snowdepth During El Niño and La Niña seasons

    Back to Articles | Home

  9. WEATHERDAN says:

    69 yesterday so almost 70. Couple of degrees warmer today and Saturday then off to the races. Nothing over 90 in the forecast just a lot of solid 80,s Looks clearer off to the West this morning so maybe some wrap around moisture. This week has been real dry here. But still on the cool side. A fair amount of sun each day but still cool. Overall the month should be on the warm and dry side with about 1 week of crummy weather. Just like 2014. Hmm we will see what the rest of the Summer is like. My neighbor is growing a couple of pot plants. They seem to like this weather. Happy Fathers day to all you dad’s. Peace.

  10. Paul D says:

    Whoever put “great start to summer” on the 7 day forecast must have a hot weather bias! Looks like a lousy start to me.

    • Joshua Downtown PDX says:

      Haha. I was thinking the same thing. Nothing great about it.

    • W7ENK says:

      Here we go with the whining again…

    • Gene says:

      Yeah, who in their right mind would want to start the summer with a beautiful, warm, sunny day? (Swimmers, boaters, campers, golfers, bike riders, baseball fans, gardeners, tennis players, kids running through sprinklers, hikers, vacationers, water skiers, people sitting out on their decks and patios, people reading or snoozing in their hammocks, people attending outdoor weddings, barbecues and garden parties . . .)

    • Joshua Downtown PDX says:

      Almost every single one of those activities would arguably be way more enjoyable if it was 65-75 and sunny.

    • Paul D says:

      Joshua: exactly! I have nothing against sunny, but 90 is too much.

      Was just outside on a walk. 68 and sunny – very nice!

    • Steven James says:

      Actually, the hotter it gets at the beach, the more pleasant the (super cold) Pacific Ocean is …

  11. Jason Hougak says:

    Weather excitement will die when Mark gets back, guaranteed fact Jack

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