Weather Blog

Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February

Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February
Sen sets over Seattle on July 17, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Bruce Hogarth)

For much of late winter and spring, the message has been the same by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center: Expect a warmer than normal summer.

So far, July is delivering, with several days of 80s and 90s around the Pacific Northwest, and even a few triple digit days east of the Cascades.

Portland is just one spot in the region, but it's a whopping 2.5 degrees above normal so far.

And the forecast for this week brings a return of more warm-to-hot weather to finish off the month!

So what about August? Those same long-range forecasts suggest more of the same. And September. And October. And November. And...see a theme developing?

The forecasters who create these long-range models are still basing the short term summer/early fall warmth on a number of extended forecast models that concur with the heat.

As for late fall and winter, the orange/brown warm/dry blobs are based on the idea that a weak-to-borderline-moderate El Nino will develop this fall. The latest indications there are for a bit more uncertainty now about the El Nino's strength than in recent months, but trends are still pointing toward weak-to-moderate event.

The forecasters warm there is still a chance the event could end up stronger than predicted -- or revert back to neutral conditions like we saw in our last El Nino event, but say highest likelihood is still the weak to borderline-moderate scenario. They did say the slimmer chances of the strong event are even a little slimmer now than they have been.

El Nino's tend to make for dry and warm autumns...and especially winters around the Pacific Northwest, and that's where the forecast maps are leaning. Here it is in table format, and you can see the best odds for warm weather come in the mid-late winter months:

90 day period: % Chance above normal % Chance Normal % Chance Below Normal
Aug-Sep-Oct 2014 41 34 25
Sep-Oct-Nov 2014 40 32 28
Oct-Nov-Dec 2014 37 33 30
Nov-Dec-Jan 2014-15 36 33 31
Dec-Jan-Feb 2014-15 37 33 30
Jan-Feb-Mar 2015 42 33 25
Feb-Mar-Apr 2015 42 33 25
Mar-Apr-May 2015 33 34 33
Apr-May-June 2015 32 34 34
May-June-Jul 2015 35 33 32
June-Jul-Aug 2015 35 33 32

The models show El Nino should weaken and fizzle out by spring and thus no real signal is signified yet for next spring and beyond yet.

Remember these forecasts represent weighted odds for being cooler/warmer-drier/wetter than normal. Sort of how you can give higher odds the Mariners will win a baseball game if Felix Hernandez is pitching, but -gasp!- the Mariners do occasionally lose one. So put another way, let's just say El Nino is like having Felix on the mound for a warmer/drier winter!

Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine

Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine
Photo: Jonathan Yuhas, KSTP-TV.

The wildfires raging across Washington, Oregon and Idaho are not only bringing a dense, smoky haze to much of the area just to the east of the Cascades, but its effects are being felt over 1,000 miles away across the Upper Midwest.

Jonathan Yuhas, a meteorologist with KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, noted that skies over Minnesota have taken a "frosty haze" to them ever since the wildfires have erupted here in the Northwest.

Pacific Coast residents wonder: Who needs a meteorologist?

Pacific Coast residents wonder: Who needs a meteorologist?
Shore Acres State Park in Oregon (Photo courtesy Flickr user Doug Kerr. (Via CC 2.0 license.)

Would you like to live in a place where no matter what the weather is, be it sunshine, pouring rain, or a foggy overcast, the temperature is about the same?

All you have to do is head west, stop just before you get pummeled by ocean surf, then either put in your tent stakes or, more comfortably, talk to a local real estate agent.

Photos: More dramatic pics of Earth from International Space Station

Photos: More dramatic pics of Earth from International Space Station
We flew over a big tropical cyclone “Guito” near Madagascar this morning. (Photo & Caption courtesy Koichi Wakata (@Astro_Wakata) and NASA)

Surreal pics: Nebraska homes, cars blasted by tennis ball-sized hail

Surreal pics: Nebraska homes, cars blasted by tennis ball-sized hail
A home's siding is torn off after being blistered by large hail and strong winds in Hooper, Nebraska on June 3, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Kevin Krohn )

If it was in Mother Nature's playbook, it was used against parts of Nebraska Tuesday evening: Torrential rain, constant lightning, near-hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, and tennis ball-sized hail...

Pretty much all at the same time.

Let's start with the torrential rain as I was wide-eyed watching the rainfall numbers come in from Omaha.

The storm began with quite the punch, bringing a burst of rainfall and a gust of wind that was clocked at 72 mph!

The rain just kept going from there, which included jaw-dropping rainfall rates that saw over a half-inch of rain (0.53") fall in 3 minutes! That's 0.01" of rain per 3.4 seconds.

Photos show towering hailstorms over South Carolina

Photos show towering hailstorms over South Carolina
A towering thunderstorm is seen over South Carolina on May 23, 2014 as photographed by Stu Broce with NASA's IPHEX project

We're all likely familiar with what a hail storm looks like from the ground -- around here, it's as if someone dumped gazillions of frozen peas on the ground... if the peas were made of ice.

But have you ever seen a big hailstorm from the top? (And I mean BIG hailstorm, not the "what passes for big in Portland but Midwesterners and East Coasties laugh as child's play" hailstorm? The kind that could be disguised as a golf ball or, when you're really in for it, a softball?)

Gorgeous time lapse video shows off intricacies of fog

Gorgeous time lapse video shows off intricacies of fog
Photo: Simon Christen

Nothing shows off the beauty of fog like time lapse video.

Photographer Simon Christen, who put together one of my all-time favorite videos, "Adrift" that shows a series of foggy time lapse videos in San Francisco, is out with a new video "A Time Lapse Collection" that has more fog from the Bay Area, as well as a trip to Dubai.

In harm's way: Cameras provide views from inside a tornado

In harm's way: Cameras provide views from inside a tornado

With cameras everywhere these days, it's inevitable that a tornado will find a few over the course of the stormy seasons.

The most recent one was a surveillance camera stationed outside a church in Tupelo, Miss. as an F3 tornado struck in April.

Northwest climate change report: Shrinking snowpacks, drier summers

Northwest climate change report: Shrinking snowpacks, drier summers
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2012 file photo, Natural Resources Conservation Service employees Chris Mundy, front, and Nicholle Kovach measure snow depth at a site near Wanoga Snoplay Area west of Bend, Ore. (AP Photo/The Bulletin, Rob Kerr)

Tuesday was a big day in the science community with the release of a major federal scientific report on climate change.

The 840-page report, several years in the making, looks at regional and state-level effects of global warming, compared with recent reports from the United Nations that lumped all of North America together. A draft of the report was released in January 2013, but this version has been reviewed by more scientists, the National Academy of Science and 13 government agencies and had public comment.

It is written in a bit more simple language so people could realize "that there's a new source of risk in their lives," said study lead author Gary Yohe of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

The report breaks the nation down into 8 geographical regions, including the Pacific Northwest, which for their report encompasses Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Video highlights the extraordinary nighttime sky shows we're missing

Video highlights the extraordinary nighttime sky shows we're missing
On the left: The nighttime glow of the Puget Sound region. On the right, the Northern Lights are visible in Eastern Washington. Photo courtesy: Don Jensen

Local photographer Don Jensen is on a mission.

An outdoor and astronomy enthusiast, Jensen has developed a narrative time lapse video that shows what humanity's efforts to erase the nighttime darkness in our cities has taken on the night sky, and the interaction (or lack thereof) that we are having with starry skies. 

"Escape the Light Dome" introduces us to our world where we are blinding ourselves to a view of the universe.