By Rod Hill on 03-May-13 14:41.
The only way to describe our dry spring weather so far is "surprising!" Going back to March 1st, today will become the 38th dry day with no more than a trace of rain. Compare the number to recent years.
Dry days March - April (a trace or less at PDX):
2012 - 21 days
2011 - 14 days
2010 - 17 days
2009 - 22 days
Forecast outlooks continue to show below normal rainfall through July. Current forecast charts show no chance of rainfall for Portland through Friday of next week. With projections of an early and possibly bad wildfire season, you have to wonder just how dry we could be? The driest May of record at PDX had .10 inches of total rainfall back in 1992. The driest June only recorded .03 inches in 1951 and July has had no measurable rainfall more than once.
This past week, I visited the National Weather Service and spoke with several meteorologist about our record dry start to the year. Everyone agreed there were no known indicators to predict how dry we have been since January 1st or if we will approach records for lack of rainfall in the coming months. There is concern that we are about to enter the driest climate portion of the year, meaning normal rainfall is typically low and below normal rainfall can be next to nothing until next October. The temperature forecast looking forward to summer is uncertain but does not show any strong indication of warmer than
By Rod Hill on 28-Apr-13 16:23.
A number of grass fires this past week may be a signal of an early fire season to come. As of April 27th, total rainfall at PDX since January 1st is 8.33 inches. The total is only 57 percent of what is considered normal. When compared to a year ago when more than 20 inches of rain had fallen, this spring measures to be even drier. In fact, so far this spring has been our first non-soaker since the spring of 2009.
The latest outlook from the National Weather Service calls for well below normal rainfall this May and below normal precipitation through the months of June and July. The temperature forecast has little confidence but likely favors near normal conditions. The water year surplus that we quickly built last fall will likely become a deficit this coming week with another stretch of sunny, warm days in the forecast.
The wet spring months of the past few years led to a late start to the fire season. Experts say a key ingredient to a calm fire year is to have a short season. It is feared that our dry spring and continued dry forecast could make this coming season one of the longest in recent years. Of course fire season is always greatly dependent on human behavior and the number of lightning strikes. One we have the power to control and one we do not.
By Rod Hill on 19-Apr-13 20:00.
Peak viewing of the Lyrid Meteor Shower occurs this weekend and the weather is expected to deliver partly cloudy to clear skies! Astronomers predict peak viewing April 21 and 22nd. The shower is the result of the earth entering a stream of debris from ancient Comet Thatcher. A typical viewing with good weather conditions will average 5 to 20 meteors per hour. Some years can produce outbursts reaching 100 meteors per hour.
The tail left by Comet Thatcher contains flakes of comet dust, no bigger than grains of sand. The comet dust strikes Earth's atmosphere at speeds of 110,000 mph and disintegrate as steaks of light. Best viewing is to look straight up and slightly to the east. Meteors can be seen in all directions.
By Rod Hill on 16-Apr-13 03:06.
Wednesday morning's chance of near freezing temperatures in the metro may be for much of the area, the end of freezing temperatures until next fall. I will remind those of you that live in out-lying areas, such as Battle Ground or Hillsboro, the average final freeze for your area is roughly May 1st. The average final spring freeze for the Portland city center is closer to April 1st.
The current batch of cold air overhead will exit Wednesday. As much warmer air builds this weekend and much of next week, it appears the threat of freezing temperatures for the majority of the metro area will end. The green light will be illuminated this weekend for the planting of annuals and other tender vegetation.
If PDX stays above freezing this week & the remainder of spring, the period of freezing temperatures will hold at a short 71 days. PDX did not freeze last fall, in fact the first freeze occurred on Dec. 29th. As of right now, the final early spring freeze was back on March 9th. The average growing season for Portland is 223 days. The above dates would give the past 12 months a growing, meaning frost-free period of 294 days.
By Rod Hill on 07-Apr-13 21:18.
A low pressure center pushed inland near and north of the Portland metro area Saturday night and early Sunday morning. The center of low pressure produced gusty winds between 40 and 52 mph across the inland metro valley. Strongest winds occurred between 4:00 a.m. and 6:30 this morning. Oregon City reported the highest gust of 52 mph at 6:15 at an elevation of 50 feet.
Here is a list of peak wind gusts:
Happy Valley 45 mph
Estacada 44 mph
Molalla 44 mph
Salem 41 mph
Troutdale 44 mph
Portland (PDX) 41 mph
Tualatin 41 mph
The strong winds produced power outages and scattered tree damage. Clackamas county seemed to be the worst hit. Peak wind gust near the coast was 61 mph at Lincoln City. High Coast Range elevations reported 70 mph wind gusts. Mt. Hood at 7,000 feet, above Timberline Lodge reported an 89 mph gust at 6:00 a.m.
High winds were in the forecast, including the Sunday morning timing. Calmer weather is expected to start the new week.
By Rod Hill on 01-Apr-13 16:23.
March ends as the third driest on record at PDX with 1.46 inches of total rainfall. Precipitation since January 1st is 6.21 inches, which is only 51 percent of normal. Average precipitation for the first quarter is 12.22 inches. The lack of moisture is the third driest start to a calendar year since airport records began in 1941. The driest January - March occurred in 1985, when total precipitation was 4.93 inches. Below are locations setting a record for dry weather January 1st through March 31st:
1. Downtown Portland: Record dry total 2013: 6.99 inches / 2nd driest 7.60 - 1929
2. Hillsboro: Record dry total 2013: 5.15 inches / 2nd driest 6.51 - 1985
3. McMinnville: Record dry total 2013: 4.60 inches / 2nd driest 5.21 - 2009
4. Salem: Record dry total 2013: 5.25 inches / 2nd driest 5.85 - 2001
Vancouver finished with the 2nd driest total of 6.14 inches. The driest first quarter is 6.11 inches, back in 1929. Current forecast charts show below normal rainfall through April 20th.
By Rod Hill on 26-Mar-13 15:51.
For weeks, I have been talking about what has turned into an amazing dry streak since January first. Following a wet October - December, Portland has only seen 54 percent of normal rainfall this calendar year. With a 2013 rain total to date of 6.21 inches, this is the 3rd driest January - March three month period since PDX records began in 1940. Up to .15 inches of rain looks possible through the end of the month, but parts of the metro may stay dry.
As of noon yesterday, March 25th, Vancouver, Hillsboro and Salem report the driest precipitation totals on record for the first quarter of the year. Here are the totals, along with the date of first record:
Vancouver: 6.10 inches - driest on record, dating back to 1890
Hillsboro: 5.08 inches - driest on record, dating back to 1929
Salem: 5.19 inches - driest on record, dating back to 1892
The above numbers will be the all-time record for first quarter precipitation, if no more rain falls through March 31st. Forecast outlooks continue to project below normal rainfall through mid-April.
By Rod Hill on 20-Mar-13 14:34.
As promised a morning cold front is starting our spring season with a raindrop splat! Here are the totals as of 5:00 this morning:
Astoria .96" / Newport .59" / Portland .61" / Vancouver .71" / Kelso .56" / Hillsboro .71" / McMinnville .63" / Salem .76" / Hood River .46" / The Dalles .18"
As spring begins, the normal high temperature for Portland is 58 degrees and the normal low is 40 degrees. All daily records moving forward show high temperatures in the 70s or warmer, while record lows can still be in the 20s through May 1st!
Despite this morning's rainfall, forecast charts continue to indicate near normal to below precipitation for the spring months. March is likely to finish with below normal rainfall, becoming the third consecutive month to do so.
The Vernal Equinox kicked-off spring this morning, March 20th at 4:02 a.m. PDT. The Equinox is the day on which both the north and south pole are equal distance to the sun (92.6 million miles). The sun will stand directly over the Earth's equator, bringing equal hours of darkness and daylight. The term vernal means green and equinox means equal night. The coming days will see minutes of daylight begin to out number minutes of darkness as we march toward the summer season.
By Rod Hill on 04-Mar-13 17:33.
The chill you felt this morning was the coldest air since January! Here are a few of the coldest unofficial low temperatures: Brush Prairie, (Clark County), 26 degrees, Hillsboro & Scappoose 27, Salem 28 and Portland 29 degrees. For Portland, today's chill was the coldest since January 22nd when the low temperature was 24 degrees. By the way, this morning's record low stands at 26 degrees.
So far, this has been a winter with little cold. February at PDX only had one freezing morning. The lowest temperature last month was 30 degrees on Feb. 8th. You may remember, the airport did not see it's first freeze until December 29th. Since that late Dec. day, only 18 more days have seen freezing temperatures, nearly all were recorded during our colder than normal January. Portland's annual average for freezing temperatures is 37 days. A typical March has three freezing starts. The average final Portland freeze is March 30th. The record latest freeze is 32 degrees, back on May 2nd, 1964.
Stay warm and enjoy today's sunshine!
By Rod Hill on 01-Mar-13 19:13.
Meteorological spring begins!
The scientific community considers March 1st through May as the spring season. The National Weather Service is calling for cool -- meaning below normal temperatures -- and gives little confidence of projected precipitation for the Northwest.
The national map would suggest increased confidence toward normal to slightly below rainfall averages over the next three months. Much of the western United States is expected to see a dry spring.