Free-Range Weather

Cage-Free Weather Commentary

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Last Warm Day of the Year in Central Oregon?

Hope you enjoyed yesterday, because it might have been our last warm day (70+) of the year. After a frosty start, we topped out at a pleasantly warm 77 degrees, six degrees above average.

Couldn’t Crack 80
The National Weather Service forecasted a high of 82, as did weather.com. Neither forecasted a low near freezing (we hit 32.7 but had frost), so perhaps that cold start prevented us from hitting the magic 80 degree mark.

The Bend Airport’s high reached 84 after a comparatively balmy low of 42, so my reasoning holds there. What about Redmond? The airport soared to 85 after a chilly 33 degree start, an impressive 52 degree diurnal temperature swing. Hmmn…my theory doesn’t look so good after digesting those numbers. Perhaps Sisters had a bit of an inversion (cold air near the ground/warmer air above it; not the usual atmospheric setup!) that prevented the air mass from reaching its maximum temperature. More research may be needed.

golden quaking aspens

Central Oregon aspens will soon look like this. Glorious!

Next Two Weeks Look Very Autumnal
So why was yesterday probably our last 70 degree day until, I don’t know, April 2018? There are several reasons, but the most important are the rapidly decreasing sun angle and length of day. Even a week after the autumnal equinox, each day we’re still losing more than three minutes of daylight. Add that to an increasingly lower sun angle and it makes it harder to hit 70.

Oh, and soon storms will start rolling in from the Pacific, and while October storms don’t pack the meteorological wallop that December ones do, clouds and cool Pacific air tend to keep high temps in the 50s and low 60s.

The long-range forecasts are not on our side either. The Climate Prediction Center and weather.com call for 50s and 60s for the next two weeks. Adding all of these ingredients together, past mid-October it’s tough for Central Oregon to squeeze out another sparkling 70 degree day.

Let’s hope the forecasts are wrong and we can eke out at least one more 70 degree day before Old Man Winter takes up residence in Central Oregon for several months.

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A Fire-Dousing Week in Central Oregon

After a wacky weather week that featured two days with highs in the 40s (!) in September and 1.12 inches of non-thunderstorm precipitation, things are slowly starting to return to normal in Central Oregon thanks to the return of high pressure.

The anomalous trough that brought the unseasonable weather has slowly started to shift east (good riddance!) as shown by this water vapor image from late Friday afternoon. We’re now in between the high pressure system (H) in the eastern Pacific and the low (L) that is now moving into the northern Rockies. Our little gray dot, sandwiched in the middle, has a couple of more cool-ish days before a nice warm up commences on Monday.

High pressure coming again to Central Oregon

The water vapor doesn’t lie – high pressure will soon dominate our weather.

While 45 degree highs in September are not my idea of fun, the downpour and high elevation snow has put some serious hurt on the zillion or so wildfires that were burning just a few days ago. Ahh…back to our piercingly clear skies! Now that’s something else to be happy about on a Friday evening.

 

 

 

 

 

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First of the Season Tiny Little Snowflakes

Snow on Tree

(We didn’t get this much!)

They’re so tiny that I have to squint to see them and it’s doubtful that they’ll amount to even a trace, but the season’s first snowflakes are indeed flying today. Flying may be a stretch, as they are wafting lazily down before hitting the ground and vanishing, becoming indistinguishable from the bit of rain we had yesterday.

Are they a harbinger of an early winter? A look at the Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 and 8-14 day forecasts show that the computer models believe the Northwest is in for a cold first couple of weeks of November. I’m not ready for the weather to close in just yet, but Mother Nature didn’t consult me.

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Battle of the Winter Forecasts

Accuweather Winter Forecast

Accuweather Winter Forecast

Not to be outdone by Accuweather, The Weather Channel peered deeply into their crystal ball and published their winter 2013-14 forecast. They’re radically different, except for the Northeast.

Whom to believe? Who knows? Without an El Nino or La Nina to guide them (“neutral” conditions are expected, which means that an easy El Nino winter forecast like drier and warmer in the Northwest and rainier in the Southwest, is not available), long-range forecasters have to work a little harder to nail down their predictions. (How do forecasters create their long-term forecasts? That’s a topic for another day.)

Let’s break the forecast down by region:
Northeast – Accuweather says mild early with winter arriving way behind schedule (or – in like a lamb, out like a lion). TWC says pretty much the same thing.
Southeast – TWC forecasts cold early on, then moderating temps. Accuweather says the opposite and adds in risk of severe thunderstorms in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.
Midwest – Accuweather forecasts “cold shots” with above normal snows for the upper Great Lakes. TWC basically punts and says “variable.”
Southwest/West – TWC says the ”¬†strongest signal for a warmer-than-average winter is from the the Desert Southwest into the south-central states” with the West Coast and Northwest getting the variable tag, while Accuweather states that the Southwest will have “wet episodes” and the Northwest will be wet and snowy, depending on how far inland you are.

To hyper-localize things, TWC says that my little town of Sisters, Oregon, will have a normal winter and Accuweather says it will be snowy. Here’s hoping TWC is right.

What do you think of the forecasts for your area?

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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.