Weather Eye: U.S., Japanese agencies see signs of a cooler, wetter winter for us
Sunday, October 23, 2011
If you like things relatively cool and dry, you will enjoy this week. High pressure builds in with a northwesterly flow that will make it feel like late autumn even though some sunshine during the day may push afternoon readings into the 60s.
I would expect that, with the expected clearing skies, many areas around the county will see their first frost — maybe on Tuesday morning. So we may officially be able to exclaim, “frost on the pumpkin!” The average first frost in the urban areas is usually around Oct. 17, so it would be a little late this year. Many folks reported seeing frost on rooftops and the like last week, especially in the Battle Ground area.
As we begin the month of November, I feel we may see a real change to cooler and wetter weather with heavy mountain snows. Could November be a repeat of last year? Maybe. I remember, driving from Vancouver to Sunriver for last Thanksgiving, there was snow either on the roadway or along the road the whole way. And plenty of snow over the passes. Makes for a festive mood I think.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its official winter outlook last week and calls for us to have a wetter and cooler winter. Of course they factor in the return of La Niña, and also throw in a wild card, the Arctic Oscillation. This less-known event tends to produce dramatic but sometimes short swings in temperatures. Translated for us, it means we could see several intrusions of arctic air from Canada via east winds.
This happened many times last winter in the upper Midwest, which brought a massive amount of snow on the ground and then the resulting spring floods along the Missouri and Mississippi river basins.
And here I was just thinking it would be a somewhat “normal” winter.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency issued its winter prediction, which shows a rather cold pattern along Japan and all the way up and around the Pacific Ring of Fire! If cold air pools up north, we generally get something out of it — either a direct hit of cold, dry air or strong storms that form in the Gulf of Alaska and bring heavy mountain snows as well as low-level snow in the foothills.
We will see what some local experts have to say this Saturday at OMSI. I will provide more details in my columns this week.
Meanwhile, enjoy the weather and your week.
Patrick Timm is a local weather specialist. His column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at http://weathersystems.com.