Free-Range Weather

Cage-Free Weather Commentary

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Let it Snow – But Don’t Cancel the Game

Screen Capture of the Snow Bowl :: Courtesy Deadspin

Screen Capture of the Snow Bowl :: Courtesy Deadspin

“Dad, have they ever canceled a game due to snow?” my son Max asked as we watched part of the Detroit Lions-Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday. The snow was piled 8″ deep on the field and the grounds crew used leaf blowers to keep the yard lines and hash marks clear. It was quite a sight!

There were several NFL games affected (afflicted?) by snow last weekend, the most notorious being the game in Philly, which the Eagles won, 34-20. And that brings us back to Max’s question.

The NFL does not like to cancel or even postpone games. It has a 16 game schedule and the games would be hard to make up as teams typically get seven days off between games. And the TV networks would need to air a potentially meaningless game on, let’s say, a Tuesday, messing up their carefully crafted prime-time schedules.

A quick search shows that the league hasn’t cancelled a regular season game due to snow on the field in the “modern era” of pro football (since 1933). The NFL did cancel a game in 2010 due to a “snow emergency” in Philly. The league said that the stadium would have been ready but it would have been too difficult for the fans to get to the game.

Let’s see, the Super Bowl is in New Jersey on February 2. I’m rooting for snow.

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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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No Snow – Yet

Snow or Not

The red, amoeba-shaped cloud mass over Portland headed toward the blue dot (my house in Sisters) is Central Oregon’s last chance for snow this season. Or at least I hope it is, as snow is possible into June.

The image is an infrared satellite picture taken about 4:30 pm on May 23. The red indicated cold cloud tops, which means that inclement weather is headed our way tonight. If we don’t get snow tonight I bet we’ve escaped it until next fall.

We’re forecasted to get pummeled by another low pressure system after Memorial Day, but it doesn’t look as big, cold or nasty as our current unwelcome intruder from the north.

The latest long-range forecast from the Climate Prediction Center is calling for below average temps and above average precip for the next week or two, so summer is still a ways off for the Northwest.

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The S Word?

May SnowMay snow – say it ain’t so! While snow is not unheard of in the High Desert of Central Oregon in May, the unwelcome white stuff does happen every few years. The latest snowfall we’ve experienced in our 10 years in Sisters was June 10. It was just a dusting and it was gone by 9am the next day —  but…it…was…snow…in…June.

If the NWS forecasters are correct we will get at least a dusting on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. The road surfaces are solidly above freezing after our recent spate of semi-warm weather so it will be hard if not impossible for snow to impact travel, at least at our elevation (3200′). Still, it would be shocking (dare I say revolting?) to see some of Old Man Winter’s handiwork in late May.