Labor Day Update & Warmer Weather Returns

September 4, 2016

11pm Sunday…

Pretty quiet on this Sunday evening at work.  For one it’s a holiday weekend but it’s also the deadest weather time of the year.  I find September and the first half of October to be my slowest time meteorologically.  We have passed the summer heat waves, most fire weather concerns, and we don’t get many (or any) extremes.  Yet the rainy season doesn’t really kick in until late October (most years) and we don’t get anything other than weak fronts (most years) until around Halloween.  Not much weather action the next 6+ weeks and I find myself bored more often this time of year than any other.

The temps the past 13 days; today was actually 71, not 70:


That said, it’s real clear summer heat is gone and no models show anything extreme in the next 2 weeks.  “Extreme” during this period would mean high temperatures up around 90 or so.  Yet both the GFS and ECMWF show a change after Tuesday’s wet system…a change to warmer than normal as upper-level ridging to our west nudges closer.  Check out the latest GEFS (GFS ensembles) temperature anomaly for the next two weeks:


The ECMWF 850mb ensemble temp chart shows a similar rise beyond midweek:


That dip you see this coming Sunday is a trough coming down the back side of the ridge in the northwesterly flow.  That’s the one spot where I could see us getting showers after Tuesday…maybe Sunday.  We’ll see.  Otherwise there isn’t much rain in sight.  So keep watering!  I mentioned that in tonight’s 12 Day Trend on the 10pm show:


Those temperatures next week might be too low, but the point of this product is to give a general idea of conditions beyond the next week.

For Labor Day things are looking good, we’ll go from clouds to afternoon sunshine.  It’ll average out to Partly Cloudy I suppose.  Enjoy the holiday!


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


Summer 2016 Wrap-Up

September 1, 2016

Thursday Evening…

Meteorological Summer has ended now as we plunge into September.  It sure went by quickly, or maybe that’s just because I’m getting older…seems like I just did a Summer 2015 wrap!

My initial thoughts:

What an interesting summer.  Blazing hot to start in June, then about 7 weeks of near normal weather and temps…some would say “quite pleasant”.  There were even fears by some that late July and August could shift us into a “green tomato summer”.  Then, just as some were complaining that it was “the worst summer in 20 years” (yes, I saw that in a comment somewhere!), the heat was back for August.  That month ended up being our 6th warmest August on record, finishing nearly 3 degrees above average.  It was highlighted by 3 separate heatwaves throughout the month.  Technically I suppose the only other heatwave was back in the first few days of June.

I liked this summer, maybe because I was out of town for those 10-13 days of cool/showery weather in June and we didn’t have long periods of hot weather like we saw the past two summers.    Here are the stats:






Let me add a few more tidbits:

  1.  There were lots of complaints about the clouds in the latter part of June and most of July.  Yes, I sure did wake up to LOTS of cloudy days in July.  That was somewhat true…but it wasn’t the totally cloudy days, we just didn’t have as many totally sunny days in July as we are used to.  August made up for that…far more sunny days and fewer cloudy days than normal.  Check out the summer total and you can see it was SUNNIER THAN NORMAL this year without as many mostly cloudy days.  That stat even surprised me!

MarkCloudy Clear Days Summer2. Where was the lightning???  Wow, this must be the deadest lightning year I’ve seen in a decade or two.  Both west and east of the Cascades.  I never even saw lightning at night either at home or camping!

3. 60 degree nights were a bit more reasonable this year.  As of September 1st we’ve seen 32 that warm, which is far better than the past 3 summers; better sleeping weather than we’ve seen for awhile.


What are YOUR thoughts about this summer?

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


Hawaiian Hurricanes

August 30, 2016

5pm Tuesday…

This has nothing to do with our weather of course, but there’s an interesting situation going on near Hawaii right now.  Not one but TWO hurricanes (Category 3 storms!) are heading west in the general direction of the Hawaiian island chain.  Madeline and Lester look like a beautiful couple from space:


but as you can see from the stats they are both quite dangerous storms that you sure don’t want to see make landfall.   A Hurricane Warning was issued a couple of hours ago for the Big Island of Hawaii. Also a Tropical Storm Watch for Maui county which includes Molokai and Lanai too.


Madeline has weakened, but still a category 3 storm that should make it’s closest approach (or actually make landfall) late tomorrow night Portland time. If it survives the slightly cooler water and maintains hurricane status AND hits the island? That will be the first time in recorded hurricane history that a hurricane has hit an island other than Kauai. In the past they have always weakened or veered away…pretty hard for a storm to hit those little specks of land! I should point out that detailed records only go back to the mid-1900s.  There is a good chance Madeline just misses South Point, the southernmost point (cleverly named!) of the Big Island too, so there may yet be no hurricane strike.

Check out the historic record of storms that got within 75 miles of the islands, it does not appear to include the last few years though since a tropical storm hit the east coast of the Big Island either last year or in 2014.


Kauai sure seems to like those storms doesn’t it?  Interesting that 3 in the last 50 years have either hit the island or (in Iwa’s case) zoomed very close by.  Also note the storms that HAVE caused lots of damage are those that zoom quickly up from the south (much warmer water) and move north over the islands.  These storms coming from the east have not typically been very strong.

Hawaii often sees little or no hurricane activity because the ocean water is barely warm enough to support these tropical cyclones.  Most of the time the water is around 73-80 degrees, peaking out right around 80 in the late summer.

And THAT, is your Hawaiian hurricane update…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


Portland TV Weathercasters: A Mini-Wiki

August 28, 2016

I’ve spent some time over the past 2 years putting together a listing of all the TV weathercasters we’ve seen in this market over the years.  About a year ago I showed you my work so far.  But just this evening I’ve added a few names, updated a couple of folks that are no longer doing TV weather, and cleaned it up a little in general.

I’ve added the length of the Portland TV career for those that made it to 20 years.  It takes some real stamina, flexibility and likability to make it 20 years in any television weather forecasting job.

A few notes:

  • Jack Capell was the undisputed king, lasting 44 years at KGW!
  • Jim Little was the only one (that I’m aware of) of the “20+ year club” to make it to 3 different stations.  Another 3 years and you’ll join him Rod!
  • I’ve only included those that have/had some sort of regular weather shift, not free-lancers or occasional fill-ins.  There must be another 50 of those spread out over the years.  No insult intended if you are one of those folks.
  • The pre-1980 years get a bit more sketchy, probably quite a few missing names there.
  • Please let me know if you are aware of any errors in these charts.  Either via email or in the comments.

Click on each image for a larger view:

3 Day Heatwave Ends Tonight

August 26, 2016

5pm Friday…

97 in Portland today, what a scorcher, especially for one of the last few days of August.  It was our 4th hottest temperature of the summer:


The numbers around town so far…


And for another day the heat made it to a good chunk of the Oregon Coast.


Quite impressive considering the flow was just barely offshore this time around.  That airflow is now turning to “onshore” which means air begins flowing from the ocean to inland areas.  Yes, that’s what we refer to as “nature’s air conditioning”.  Expect a huge drop in temps tomorrow as a result.  Down a good 10-15 degrees for most of us and a solid 20 degrees at the coastline (in spots that were hot today).

Our 90 degree day count for this season here in Portland is now above average (barely) at 14, of which 9 have been this month.


The 30 year average is 13 days (technically 12.9) at/above 90.  In the end, this summer, June-September, will end up being warmer than normal with about the average number of 90 degrees days, maybe another 1-3 coming in September…we’ll see.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


YOUR Phone Can Help Improve OUR Forecasts!

August 23, 2016

Do you use an Android smartphone?  If so, would you consider helping out Pacific Northwest meteorologists by downloading a simple app?


It appears to be a strange request right?  But let me explain:

Cliff Mass (a professor at the University of Washington) has a project in which he’s trying to test the value of pressure observations from smartphones.  Their hypothesis is that a massive number of smartphone pressures could improve the initialization and forecasts of high-resolution numerical prediction models.  They want to use western Oregon/southwest Washington and the downstream regions (Gorge, Eastern Washington/Oregon) as a test area.  But they need to collect smartphone pressures.  To do so they have developed a powerful app for Android smartphones (uWx), which is available on the Google Play Store (   The web page for the new application is here:

In addition to collecting pressures, uWx provides wonderful forecasts, full resolution radar, and even accurate elevations for hiking.  So in exchange for providing that information you do get a nice little weather app as well.  Cliff tells me they really need observations from the Portland metro area and Columbia River Gorge.  So please help out if you can.

The app is not available for iOS (Apple) phones for now.

Cliff has done a blog posting about the project as well here:

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


The Great USA Eclipse Is Just 1 Year Away

August 21, 2016

Sunday 9pm…

We are less than 1 year away from the biggest astronomical event Oregon has seen in over a generation.  There will be a total solar eclipse in our state from 10:15-10:30am on August 21st, 2017.  That means Oregon will be cut in two by a ribbon of total darkness for 2 minutes.  The shadow of the moon will pass along a line from Depot Bay to near Ontario.  It will continue all the way into the SE USA by early afternoon.  This will be the first time since 1979 that we’ll see a total solar eclipse here.  And it’ll be quite awhile until we see another, although it’s interesting that one spot in the SE part of the country will see TWO eclipses within a span of 8 years since there will be one more eclipse back east in 2024.


Assuming skies are clear, the sun will look like this for about 2 minutes along the “line of totality”:


I think this web site is excellent, showing detailed maps of where you want to be for those two minutes:

And here is their map of the path.  Notice how narrow the “zone” will be: Stayton and Madras are perfect, but it’ll be useless to be in the Portland metro area or Bend, they are outside of the path and it will not be totally dark.


A real neat detailed pic from the same website (click for the best view):


Rumor says most or all hotels have been booked up for next year for quite awhile.  I’ve also heard much of remote Olallie Lake Resort is even booked!  There is “no room at the inn” apparently in Madras where thousands (or many tens of thousands or a hundred thousand) will be congregating for the two minute show.  Madras & Mitchell have the sunniest weather, on average, anywhere in the USA for this eclipse.  I’ve even heard a rumor that there could be an extra million or more people congregating on that strip in Oregon that morning.  Sounds like a traffic nightmare maybe?  It is interesting that the two big state parks under the totality with a good chance for sunshine can’t be booked until late November (9 month window).  I wonder how many people will be clicking like crazy on the Detroit Lake and Cove Palisades State Park website reservations on a cold and rainy November morning?

Anyway, read up the eclipse and make your plans!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen