Old Man Winter Returns

After nearly three weeks of dry weather marked by higher than normal snowfall levels, fog and other non-eventful weather, it looks like old man winter will be making his mark next week. Speaking of old man, my entire family has been hit with old man “flu” this past week. Yuck! Anyway, enjoy the nice weather on Friday (tomorrow) because things are going to be on the move. Friday, a ridge of high pressure will pop up ahead of the next storm due in here on Saturday. Friday should see the fog clear out a little earlier than the past few days. Highs should be in the 50’s on Friday across the Portland / Vancouver metro area. Saturday a system from the Pacific will slide down over the top of us and make for a pretty gray day with plenty of moisture on tap. Looks like that system will move out of here by later Sunday. So if I was planning anything outdoors this weekend I would plan for Saturday morning or late Sunday afternoon. Then on Valentines Day, a more potent storm system will move north off the coast. The frontal band from this system will move across the area mid-day and bring with it rain and plenty of coastal wind.

Ok, let’s talk about the potentially interesting weather that I have received plenty of e-mails about lately. People want to know if the “s” word is sneaking back into the forecast next week. No folks, I don’t mean “sun,” I mean “snow.” That is always a dicey question, but now that we are within 7 days I think we can touch on this subject with more accuracy. Models are in near complete agreement that a larger scale change in the weather is coming starting next Tuesday. The nice ridge of high pressure than has been over us for the better part of the past 10 days will be moving out and will be replaced with a cold trough of low pressure from the Gulf of Alaska next Tuesday into Wednesday. Snow levels will drop to Cascade pass level, then even lower later in the week. How low it will go is still uncertain, but some models are suggesting that this will be the coldest trough since early January. If this verifies, snow could fall to as low as 1,000ft.

It is also hard to tell how much moisture will be available when the coldest air arrives. One thing I can say for sure is, “this will not be an arctic blast.” This is basically a cold trough of low pressure coming in from the Gulf of Alaska, then moderating over the Pacific before making landfall. However, if the trough is as cold as currently forecasted, snows could be coming back to a hilltop near you, maybe lower. But this is all still a long way out. Things are likely to change as we get closer. Check back here for updates as we get closer and I will post my latest thoughts. If the trough digs to far offshore then we will be left with not much excitement. Models are still waffling a bit, but have been quite consistent in the larger scale idea of wetter beginning this weekend and colder and wetter next week, with low snow levels. Speaking of waffling, I always get a kick out of Accu-weather’s forecasts for Portland. I think I saw a low temperature of 8 degrees next week with heavy snow in Portland / Vancouver. I had to chuckle at that. Accu-weather puts out some really good products and some that, well, I won’t say. 🙂 What most people see is an automated forecast taken directly from raw model data, without any input from a human. It will update several times a day with completely different forecasts. Thus, many errors.

Side note – this time of the year I always look at the calendar and remember that the days are getting longer now and how much harder it is to get a good snowstorm in here after February 15th. However, as I mentioned in my post last week, February 19th 1993 was one for the record books. Could it happen again? For fun, here is an old Jim Little weather clip from his short stay at Ch 2 in Portland. This was shot on February 19th 1993 after the Portland / Vancouver area picked up 7-12” of snow from a wild and heavy snow storm. I won’t soon forget it. For the 1993 snowstorm video and some of my other cool weather videos, click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpV1qn…

Stay tuned!

Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce is widely known as Oregon and Washington's "go-to-guy" when it comes to fast, accurate historical meteorological research and forecasts. Steve is currently the President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Steve is also recognized as a regional weather commentator and blogger who can be heard on local radio stations and seen in print media outlets across the Pacific Northwest. His Weather Blog is hosted by the Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Check it out! He is a third generation resident of Vancouver, Washington and holds a degree in Communications. Both sets of Steve's grandparents migrated to Vancouver during World War II. One set traveled from Lenox, Iowa to work in the Kaiser Shipyards supporting the war effort. The other set came to Vancouver from Olympia, Washington to work as educators for the rapidly expanding Vancouver School District. When the war was over, both sets of grandparents decided to stay in Vancouver and continue raising their families, as did thousands of other families at the time. Those who are most familiar with Steve can attest to the fact that weather is his true passion. His love for "all things weather" began at the age of 7 when Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980. He was fascinated with which direction the ash plumes were headed. Then came the very powerful windstorm of Friday, November 13, 1981, also referred to as the "Friday the 13th" storm. This was the strongest storm to hit the Portland / Vancouver area since the great Columbus Day Storm of 1962! At age 11, he was asked to publish an extended weather forecast for his elementary school's weekly newsletter. In the 1980's, at age 14, Steve was the youngest of KGW-TV's local "weather watchers" and would phone in his daily Vancouver weather stats to then television meteorologist Jim Little for use on-air. Steve has lived through all of the major Pacific Northwest weather events of the past 30 years, and then some. The most notable events include; the bitterly cold winter of 1978-1979, the record setting snow storms of January 1980, the summer heat wave of August 1981, the windstorms of November 1981 and December 1995, the severe arctic blast of February 1989, the record flood of February 1996, the historic ice storm of January 2004, the Vancouver tornado of January 2008 and the record setting snow storm of Christmas 2008. Not to mention every Mt. St. Helens volcanic eruption in between. With access to the most extensive set of historical weather records available to date, Steve has personally designed and integrated a proprietary system that gives him the ability to quickly locate and manipulate weather data as far back as the 1800's. As one local Meteorologist put it, "Steve has fast access to historical weather data that is needed for media, agriculture, business, personal, historical and other climatological needs. He can quickly manipulate the data in many different ways. His forecasts are also quite accurate, especially at longer lead times." Steve also provides local storm assessments, narratives and weather presentations to the general public, as requested. In his spare time, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, the outdoors, vacationing at his family's coastal cabin and just relaxing! By the way, do you like your weather on the "extreme" side? So does Steve! Whether it is collecting damage assessment data & photos after record setting 125 mph winds at the coast in December 2007, being one of the first on the scene after the January 2008 Vancouver tornado, or feeling (literally) the awesome power of 100 mph wind gusts at Oregon's Crown Point in January 2010, Steve has experienced it all! As Steve says, "don't just love weather, live weather!" Check out Steve's personal weather website at: http://www.piercevideo.com/weather.shtml

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