Quick Storm Wrap and a Look Ahead

January 6, 2019

6pm Sunday…

Well that was a quick little storm wasn’t it?  But at the height of it around 11pm-midnight there were 45,000 or so PGE customers out of power; the largest number in Clackamas County.  A huge transmission line failed in Vancouver leading to most of the outages up in Clark County.   You can see how that 45,000 number compares to big windstorms like 2006 and 1995

mark pge poweroutages lengthoftimeout


The peak gust of 54 mph at PDX around 11pm was the highest since the April 2017 windstorm.  Yes, that was a weirdly out-of-season storm wasn’t it?

wind metro peak gusts today

Looks like all the official airport observing stations in the North Willamette Valley were between 44 and 54 mph.  To be honest, a bit weaker than I expected.  I figured we would see a few more 50+ gusts at Hillsboro and Troutdale or Vancouver.  Close enough I suppose.  The stronger wind gust models were right on, including the trusty WRF and ECMWF.  Timing of wind arrival was excellent except for the slow GEM.   Our RPM was somewhat abysmal with respect to intensity (surprise!).  That’s the model used by The Weather Company (IBM) formerly WSI.  They supply weather graphics/computers to three of four local TV stations (including FOX12).  We show that model for future cloud/rain/snow graphics but do have the ability to show ECMWF, GEM, & GFS as well if needed.  Luckily it’s about to be replaced by IBM’s MPAS & Deep Thunder modeling.  That should do better, we’ll see.

Looking ahead, we are in a chilly airmass with sticking snow levels down to 2,000′ or a little under tonight and tomorrow morning.  This is one of only two times we’ve seen it that low this season!  What a mild winter… Showers end tomorrow morning giving us a dry Monday afternoon.  The pattern the rest of this week is very mild with occasional light rain as a deep storm wraps up offshore tomorrow and Tuesday, then the leftovers move inland Wednesday.

Another mild wave moves inland Friday night and next Sunday.  Note the very high snow levels much of this upcoming week; passes remain clear after tomorrow night.

ecmwf snow level from 850mb temps long term

Looks like we hit the snow jackpot just in time for Christmas Break; kids are all back in school tomorrow and then snow conditions are going downhill.

Speaking of snow, I see nothing remotely close to lowland snow the next 10-15 days, which will take us to the 3rd week of January.  Check out ECMWF & GFS ensembles for snowfall; I’ve chosen Aurora so it picks a grid point in the middle of the valley…nothing shows up from any ensemble member!

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ECMWF ensemble forecast highs/lows shows the mild pattern next 15 days,


I’ve mentioned this earlier in the year, but this season reminds me of El Nino year 2002-2003 so far.  Unusually dry in November then decent snow in mid-late December, now the pendulum seems to want to go a bit warmer.  Although we’ve avoided any sort of big Cascade meltdown from a Pineapple Express.  You can read about that Cascade snow season in the Ski Mountaineer Web Site.  Quite a detailed account of several snow seasons on that site.  Looks like a lot of work; someone got tired of writing after 2006!

Now we do have one “weather event” this week and that will be strong east wind Tuesday.  The deep low offshore and high pressure east of the Cascades gives us at least 8 millibars easterly flow; lots of chilly east wind with rain that day.  And it may be somewhat widespread in the metro area.

That’s it for now…enjoy the mild weather this week.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen