Free-Range Weather

Cage-Free Weather Commentary


Beware the Atmospheric River!

Atmospheric River Animation :: Courtesy ESRL

Mother Nature will unleash a torrent of water at the Pacific Northwest this weekend. Portland could get up to 4″ of rain by Monday morning, a huge amount for September, typically one of the city’s driest months of the year. In fact, dozens of September rainfall records could fall due to this unusually juicy storm.

As for the “atmospheric river” (literally a narrow band of fast moving, super soggy air; in the United States, ARs take aim at the West Coast) that will make for an über-drippy Northwest weekend, it’s not really that visible on today’s satellite images. Or at least it’s not as apparent as in the images from this excellent Weather Channel post from Dr. Greg Forbes, explaining an AR event from 2010.

NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory AR page is worth a visit.

The river of moisture in the air (if that doesn’t sound too weird) has moisture from Typhoon Pabuk (named after a Laotian fish) as well as the usual Pacific Ocean moisture. It’s going to get very windy, too.


Can Lasers Change the Weather?

cloudsLet’s see, we know that cow flatulence is a potent (ahem) greenhouse gas and that some unlucky scientists in the UK have been tasked with measuring the unfortunate gas. Billions of tiny termites can also pump out an amazing amount of methane, making the little insects potential weather changers as well.

Homo sapiens have been pumping out greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s. Scientists are constantly looking for ways to ameliorate our climate-changing ways by blocking the amount of sunlight that hits the Earth, and they may have found a new way to do it. reports that European researchers have created artificial cirrus clouds using high-energy lasers. It’s not a practical solution for limiting the amount of solar radiation we receive – yet, but it might be in a few years. Cool beans.


Fall Preview for the Northwest

We almost eked out a 90 degree day today (89.4 isn’t bad, of course). Friday and Saturday look similarly warm, and then Fall will start. Big time. Next week Sisters will be lucky to hit 75, as our wonderful high pressure ridge will be shoved east by a large upper-level trough moving down from the Gulf of Alaska. We probably won’t get much precip (it is the High Desert, after all) but we could see a shower or a thunderstorm, especially on Sunday as the first front moves through.

Too early for the season to change, you say? Not really, as it seems like we get a strong front barreling through in mid-September, ending summer and ushering in the High Desert’s most beautiful season, autumn.


Weather God Tells Dramatic Story

Gary England::Griffin Communications

Gary England has been the weatherman at KWTV in Oklahoma City for more than 40 years. He’s decided to quit the broadcast weather prediction game and retire. I read a story about him in the Times a few weeks ago and then heard his interview with NPR’s Scott Simon on Saturday. The experienced meteorologist with the delightful accent is going to be one tough act to follow.

Gary knows a lot about tornadoes and helped develop Doppler radar for use in weather prediction.

If you only have a couple of minutes, fast forward to the 2:10 mark of Simon’s interview where Gary tells the tale of a tornado outbreak in Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999. He’s a natural raconteur.

NPR’s Scott Simon Chats with Gary England



Sisters Folk Festival Weather

2013 Sisters Folk Festival PosterGreat music and sublime weather usually hold hands at the Sisters Folk Festival, traditionally held the second weekend of September. This year the weather won’t break the happy routine, as the weekend will have sunny skies with highs in the upper 70s/low 80s after a chilly start to the festival this evening. It’s 64 with a nasty little west wind as I write this; it will feel good to be in a warm tent listening to great folk, country and blues music tonight!

Warm days and cool-ish evenings are pretty much de rigueur in Central Oregon this time of year. Yesterday’s heavy rain, lightning and thunder are now a forgotten anomaly. Let’s hear some music!