Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Morning: The End in Sight and Strong Oregon Winds

The model's seem to be verifying well and amazingly the worst is almost over.  In fact, it should really be all over for most of the western side of the Cascades by 1 PM.  Here are the latest regional radar images (combining all local radars together) for 4, 6, 8, 10 and noon:
4AM
6AM
8AM

10AM
Noon
You will note that the back edge of the snow is moving in from the west and that even over the inland areas the intensity of declined substantially.  The latest model runs indicate that snow will be mainly over by 1 PM and these radar images are consistent with this.   Having the Langley Hill radar on the coast really gives us some confidence in the snow end times.

The forecasts seems quite solid...a few inches in the north sound, 2-4 inches around Seattle at low elevations, 6-10 inches around Olympia and south Sound, and MUCH more south of Olympia and north of Portland.  Some extraordinary snowfalls around Napavine and nearby SW Washington areas--reports of 15-20 inches on the ground. 

The warm front has moved northward up the Oregon Coast--warm and rain in Astoria and Portland. Long Beach (LONG2) was deluged with 1.6 inches of rain in just 5 hours between 4 AM and 9 AM as the warm front approached. During that time the temperature rose from 34 to 50 F.  Now that's a warm front.

With the low moving towards the Oregon/WA border a huge pressure gradient has been created along the Oregon coast...with hurricane force winds from the south (see graphic).


 Winds gusts to 99 mph at Point Blanco and above 60 mph at many locations.

And there is strong Fraser gap outflow winds moving in NW Washington (see graphic),

with true arctic air pushing to the SW.  12F in Bellingham with 20 kt winds! A lot of this flow is slamming into the Olympics, provide enhanced snowfall near Port Angeles and environs.

Once the precipitation is over this event is done...and tomorrow's system is going sufficiently south that precipitation will only reach to Olympia.  Rain and warmer on Friday, washing the whole business away.

74 comments:

John Davidson said...

Blakely Island-strong NE winds, snowing, 16F, total of 4-5" of snow.
Thanks for the accurate forecasting Cliff, it's appreciated!

olyroller said...

Thanks for all your updates, Cliff. We appreciate your candor.

snapdragon said...

In SW WA, it snowed most of the night. We must have gotten about 4 to 5 inches before it turned to rain around 3 am. School's canceled, and the slush is slowly melting. Wind is picking up.
Thanks for all your info these past days!

OlympicRainShadow.com said...

Great post Cliff! Thanks for all your work. Gotten any sleep recently?

You're right, the best you can do is stay on top of these things, roll with the punches, and save the catchy headlines for after the event.


For you skiers out there there was mid-thigh deep fresh over the crust at Alpental last night.

J said...

Model euphoria? Can you clarify the statement that the models are verifying well? What are the criteria for success with these models? It seems that twelve hours before the onset, models were not doing so well. I can look out my window and my model conceptualizing what is happening in real time also seems pretty spot on and is probably a whole lot simpler.

Jamie on BI said...

National Weather Service is still predicting strong NE and N winds, starting earlier this morning, but I'm seeing just a slight breeze now (10:30 a.m.) Far short of the 29mph they're predicting. Is Bainbridge in some kind of "wind shadow"??

Alison said...

So, am I going to be able to ship my kids off to school tomorrow for a bit of peace and quiet?? :)

eastside kid said...

Is it any wonder the skepticism at "global warming" and "climate change?"

We can't accurately predict the weather 12-24 hours from now and we're expected to believe that science knows what's going to happen 10-20-100 years from now?

How many (thousands? millions?) in this area look at a forecast and completely ignore it? Look at the comment threads here, the ST, the TNT and elsewhere. Anger and fury over another botched forecast.

How many of those folks will ignore the next forecast and go hiking? Driving?

Die?

With forecasts like these, what's the point in planning ANYthing based on the weather?

My business needs to be able to plan more than 3-6 hours ahead. I stopped paying attention to the media guys long ago and now I'm thinking that I might as well stop paying attention to the pros as well.

I'm dropping weather forecasts into the same bucket as economic forecasts, the stock market and betting lines for football games.

Patrick said...

eastside kid, I can't predict whether a coin flip will be heads or tails, but if you flip it a hundred times it'll be about 50-50.

Isaac Molitch said...

To eastside kid...
Go ahead and quit listening to weather forecasts, I challenge you to it.
For me, I'm really glad to know when there is a good chance of a weather out of the normal range- whether that be snow, ice, heat, wind.
The precision is pretty high these days, considering all the complex variables there are in the real world.
Isaac

Upupaepops said...

feeling great about the Long Beach weather!

this weekend is Beach Clean Up Day ( Saturday) and I have reservations to spend the weekend.

The getting there wil be the adventure.

Cliffadmirer said...

Thanks, Cliff, for all your hard work. 9" and stopping (as YOU predicted over 24 hours ago)here in Woodinville. I'm saddened by (albeit an ignorant minority)the negative comments. Anyone that thinks they can predict how 2 systems thousands of miles away will affect us within a 100 mile bullseye any better than Cliff shouldn't read the blog and just start their own. Eastsidekid - even the stock market and Vegas change their forecasts minute to minute. Thanks Cliff!

Traci said...

Warm fronts on top of all the snow in SW Washington have me concerned about flooding. How much rain are we looking at?

Colleen said...

As expected, we've moved into our post-snow, blizzard-like conditions in northeast Whatcom County. We haven't seen any fresh snow since early Tuesday afternoon. Temps in single digits; constant high winds; blocking snowdrifts ~ and ice on the INSIDE of my windows. Suffice it to say, I won't be running outside today.

M'sFan said...

We have about 14 inches on the ground at the state capitol- with up to 20 inches in nearby Tumwater. I've never seen snow like this in Western WA.

Warren said...

Here in Anacortes at 240ft ASL we have 6 inches on the ground. We probably got 4 inches with the storm last night into this morning, so a little more than forecasted.

I have been continually following your blog Cliff and really appreciate all your hard work.

mobeter3 said...

Woo-hoo! Forget kissing someone on New Year's Eve. Kiss someone when you find out the office is closed and the snow is ending soon.

Charlie said...

We've got 2-3 inches here on the ground in Magnolia at 167'. currently light blowing snow and heavy fog across the ship canal. Also, it's gorgeous!

I think when he said that the forecasts were accurate in this post, Prof. Mass was referring to the timing and the spread of the storm, which has been spot on throughout this whole thing. Regardless of the amounts we end up getting here, the region was able to prepare because we knew exactly when and where there would be significant accumulations. So despite my disappointment at not having the biggest snow event in years, I'm psyched that we got snow, that it's a day off and that we were all able to prepare.

Have fun in the snow!!!

Unknown said...

Since we last shoveled the sidewalk last night we seem to have about 2-3 inches of new snow in MLT. We received close to an inch in 2 hours after 6 PM last night. It was very dry snow, like walking in flour, but falling heavily.
Thank you so much Cliff for your forecast. There are a couple of French sayings I could translate, but we all know that the weather changes because the wind does. Forecasting is not an exact science.
I do hope Leah is hiding somewhere under a hedge. We look for signs of her when we are out but she seems to stay North of us.
Happy snow day!
Karima

South Bend Scott said...

At 7:00am this morning in South Bend (where the Willapa River meets Willapa Bay) we had about 10 inches of snow after having falling snow all night long.

At 7:00am this morning in Long Beach (about 15 miles due west of South Bend, as the crow flies) they hadn't had a flake of snow all night long and were experiencing hard rain and wind.

Thanks to this blog I could look at the maps and actually see the snow/rain deviding line that ran through Willapa Bay between Long Beach and South Bend ... absolutely fascinating.

Thanks for all of your hard work on the site ... our family loves it ... and the drama is half of the fun!!

mig said...

Nine inches and counting on the ground in north Tacoma, elev. 360'

seussnelson said...

Was the forecast really that far off? We did pick up a few inches of snow in Seattle and other areas to the south received huge amounts of snow. Yes, there's definitely room for improvement in snow forecasting, but I'd hardly consider the forecast a flop in this case.

cedar13 said...

I feel a need to thank you for your continued effort! Useful and educational.

SolvayGirl said...

It's been snowing steadily near Seward Park since 8 AM. There is at least 4" on the ground—probably more. Not looking forward to freezing roads tomorrow—getting off my hill will be impossible. Hope school is still closed tomorrow.

B Illin said...

Shoreline - more than a couple of inches on the ground, about 4.

Gentian said...

Got about 6 inches yesterday, 4 more so far today on a 250-foot-elevation hill near Port Townsend. Still snowing hard at 11:40 am.

Jarv said...

East of Duvall at 550' we have 9". Thanks for the great forecast. Job well done.

CheesyBeef said...

About 4 inches in Kirkland/Bothell area.

It appears the computer model doesn't take into account the convergence zone very well.

wanne1 said...

Your forecast was spot on for my area (south Vashon). We have 7-8 inches of snow and since we are just north of Tacoma, we are getting more snow than Seattle. I am getting my roof redone and the roofers showed up yesterday to finish the job, even though they were working in snow flurries in mid-afternoon! My roofer pays close attention to the weather forecast because the weather affects his ability to get the crew up on the roof safely. A lot of people like farmers and those who work outside depend on an accurate forecast, not just drivers.

RLL said...

From the hills above Chehalis near Napavine. We woke up to 17 inches this morning a five inches above what we expected. The forecasts over the last three day have served us well. We knew when the roads would be passable for a few hours, and took advantage of those periods as needed. Schools should close or start late in the face of major snowstorms - accidents, let alone deaths, are not worth the risk. The NWS, this blog, and the Langley Radar station have done well. We have no intention of going out until tomorrow.

longwire said...

To eastsidekid and others who are complaining about Cliff's (and others) forecasts: Folks who have lived in these parts for a while realize that is notoriously difficult to predict snow events with any specificity - the Olympics, the ocean, Cascades and Straights are all rolling the dice at the same time. The predictions as to the timing of the events were pretty good, the specifics varied as new info came in. If you think you can do better, give it a shot! - you can easily view the raw data yourself: radar, sat maps and pressure readings are all on the web. As far as forecasts in general: it never hurts prepare for the worst case

Ron said...

3-4" inches accumulation here in N Seattle (Pinehurst) at ~325' and still coming down steadily.

JewelyaZ said...

East Bellevue, 210 MSL, 4" and still snowing. A very cold-feeling 25F with gusts to 12 mph. We are going to have to postpone my husband's open-heart surgery; I don't think there's a chance of getting out of our hilly neighborhood and over to UW before sunrise tomorrow. :-(

Thanks for the good forecasting with accurate descriptions of the uncertainties in the models and snowfall-amount predictions. Those that are upset about it changing as things got closer really need to grow up and examine their attitudes. You guys don't MAKE the weather!! (Though if you did, a 10-degree warm up and switch to rain in the next 20 minutes would let us get to the hospital tomorrow morning after all... just sayin'....) LOL

Any sign of Leah? I hope she found somewhere warm to hide while at the same time hoping that she didn't so that she will be more eager to be found/caught!

Jamie on BI said...

Looks like the 1:00 pm cutoff point was spot-on. My part of Bainbridge got about 4", still no wind to speak of.

Thanks for the updates!

epjmcginley said...

West Olympia is buried in 16 inches of snow, still falling.

DGBell said...

I concur with Cliffadmirer. The lack of understanding of the natural world, science, probability and the lack of appreciation for the hard work of others is disappointing. I always feel like I should apologize for the bad manners of some of the posters.

sstillwell said...

Thanks for your keen weather analysis. You've been right on target with all the updates for conditions here. On the west side of Olympia we have 14 inches on the bird bath. It looks like a giant angel food cake on a cement pedestal. Wish I could post a picture. There is still something light falling. Not sure if it's tiny snow or freezing rain.

blackcap said...

eastside kid: Actually, there is an analogy between the forecasts for this snow event and global warming.

All of the models have for some time been saying it will snow in the Seattle area today. And it did. What they disagreed on was the particulars, specifically: how much snow are we going to get, when will it change back to the normal rain and temps in the 40s, etc. But as to snow in general, there hasn't been much disagreement.

Likewise, it's pretty certain that global warming is being driven by manmade CO2 emissions, and the more CO2 emitted, the warmer the global climate will get. And that such a warming process will be extremely disruptive for all living things -- humans included.

What the models disagree on is how much warming there will be, and just what sorts of disruptions will happen, and how severe those disruptions will be.

Saying we shouldn't worry about global warming because it might not spell the end of human civilization and make life very difficult for the few miserable survivors (the worst case situation), is like saying it's OK to head into the mountains without snow tires when a big storm is forecast, just because it might not turn out as big as the worst-case scenarios say.

WaBirder57 said...

Issaquah had about 6" but now (2pm) precipitation has turned to a drizzle. Things are getting icy, such as my hummingbird feeders.

Jenjive said...

Cliff! It is 2:30pm and still snowing in Shoreline, just south of the Snohomish county line. Beginning to think it may never stop. Delightful!

julie said...

Thanks for the explanation and graphics. Those are great to have for those of us who are visually oriented. Only a couple of inches on Queen Anne. Was impressed by other comment from Olympia about the 14 inches there and 20 in Tumwater. Makes me think of the old slogan "Its the water" from the brewery....or am I thinking of the wrong beer... Anyway, that is the snow we could have gotten and didn't. Whiners will say it didn't exist because it wasn't in the half mile square where they live and work. It existed but south where it won't get the press even as it creates enormous burden for those who are in the thick of it. Best of luck to all of you in that area. I'm feeling wimpy about having only had two inches to shovel off the stairs.

Dan 10Things said...

4 inches in Maple Leaf/North Seattle and still snowing a very light small snow, almost like frozen rain. It actually hasn't stopped snowing all day here, the flakes have just gotten smaller and smaller.

Captain Robert Reeder said...

Still snowing in West Seattle, almost 3pm.

Linn said...

Still snowing steadily here in south Kingston - small flakes, breeze out of the north, cold at 2:51 p.m.

Unknown said...

Thanks Cliff, always look to you for expertise and grace in your forecasts. Thinking good thoughts that you find your beloved dog.

Chris said...

Not so convinced the model's working as well as you say it is, I'm low elevations in Seattle (Madison Valley) and we had more than 4" of snow on the ground at 9am. Currently we're more like 6-7" than 2-4".

JordanP said...

The forecasts since last week have been very good. The only real discrepancy for our location was yesterday when it was sunny most of the day, but the traffic cameras showed it snowing all around the region, Seattle was just in the doughnut hole.

Today we have had a touch over 4" of snow since 3am which really matched the latest forecast. Had that low swung 50 miles further north we would have gotten what Olympia got and would have matched the best case scenario that was put out there (hey, I like the snow).

When you consider that the forecasts were trying to decide were the low would go when it was hundreds of miles out shows they did a pretty good job.

Scott K. said...

At Spanaway, about 300ft. We have about 6 inches on the ground now, however it's been freezing rain since 7am and hasn't stopped. It's weird too, because the rain radar shows nothing over our area, and the weather.com shows light snow, but having driven around this morning I can say with confidence that it's all freezing rain all day.

I'm disappointed a bit though, the snow wasn't suppose to be far north (like Seattle and north) and Tacoma area was suppose to get a lot more than we did.

Paul Merrill said...

Still snowing lightly in Ballard at 3:30pm, but total snowfall probably 3-4 inches. You nailed it!

Geoff in Bellevue said...

"snow mist" is still falling in Woodridge area of Bellevue at 3:45 PM.

Scott K. said...

Anyone else notice that Seattle is at 30 degrees, but their forecast high temp today was 37?

Could this mean more potential for snow with the incoming precipitation both Thursday and Friday?

I'm wondering how far south that cold air is traveling out of the valley up north.

Sean Williams said...

West of Olympia (Oyster Bay) we got over 15" by noon. In North Olympia (Cooper Point area) it was 18". What is this "6 to 10" inches of which you speak? :)

Thanks for the great work you've done! There is no way that this snow is going to wash away before school tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to another day of telecommuting.

Unknown said...

Nice call on things as far as I'm concerned. The challenges of predicting the weather here are much greater than where I came from (Upstate NY). So many variables! Really good call minus the hysterics...this is my 'go to' weather source!

Unknown said...

14" in Lake Stevens, can't ask for anything better than that. Thanks Cliff, I hate to admit I only visit your blog when there is a weather event, but on the other hand, I ALWAYS visit you blog when there's a weather event! See you next time!

TVN said...

You know I know there was a lot of snow and there will be bits of new snow tonite and tomorrow but no school (LWSD)?!? Really?? The roads are not a mess - at all. We really overdo it here.

jwoodinville said...

Where can you find data about actual snow accumulation? Not looking for forecasted amounts, but what actually occurred

blackcap said...

Snow started falling in West Seattle very lightly in the wee hours of the morning (was a dusting on the ground when I awoke to pee at 3:30AM). Started alternating between moderate and light rates at about 9AM, and kept that pattern up until about 1:30. After that, it was just very light snow, which began transitioning to freezing drizzle at about 2:30.

It's been freezing drizzle since then. The snow now has a very definite crust on it and the deciduous trees (which never caught much snow this time, too windy) are now glazed with about 1/16th inch. Branches are starting to make creaking noises in the wind (more from the stiffness of the ice layer than any weight issues).

I was getting worried that this winter was shaping up to be a real letdown of a La NiƱa, No longer!

Unknown said...

snow has never really stopped here in North Beach/Loyal Heights. dwindled down to tiny and slow, but still snowing some. 3 to 4 inches here for sure; trapped here all day! sooooo pretty, and my husband tried to sled down our street/hill like the kids did but failed.

rgpratt said...

Good Job Cliff. In Marysville we have a thin crusty layer on top of the snow. We did not get above freezing...would this be rain?

Unknown said...

What's going on that it is in the 50s in Oregon, and freezing temps here?

TomP said...

I just have to say good job to Seattleites--forecasters (led by Cliff), media, drivers, stay-at-home workers--for handling this storm with some degree of grace. This is the first storm I've experienced since moving here from the Midwest 20 years ago that wasn't a bloody disaster on all fronts.

Scott K. said...

Just lost power in Spanaway. It's been freezing rain since 7am, I imaging that has something to do with it.

Glad I have a gas fireplace and a BBQ!

David Dicks said...

Its been a wet frozen mist in Wallingford for a while. Nice crispy crust on snow and ice rink like on streets with tire tracks. It is cold and I think tomorrow will be much worse/better than today.

Dan McFadden said...

On Union Hill east of Redmond. Have been getting a pretty steady freezing drizzle for hours now. Was outside working out and could hear the constant sound of branches breaking. Not a night to be out.

WildernessFactory said...

More snow in Minneapolis than we've seen all season. Of course the 1/16th of an inch dusting from 2 weeks ago hasn't melted yet. ugh.

elbowspeak said...

22 degree delta between Seattle and Portland right now. Is that some kinda record?

Snowking said...

Just like to add we been getting freezeing rain here for hrs now epic failure Where can i apply to get a job as a weatherman? I love to have a job where i can be wrong 90 % of the time and not be fired.

Woodrat said...

The dire warnings were entirely accurate if you live in Olympia. I was almost out of hay, but stocked up on Monday morning after reading the blog. Sure glad I did, because 13" of snow currently blankets my place, but the sheep have a stall of fluffy straw and lots of fresh hay and the birds have nuts and seeds to eat on the porch. eastside kid, your understanding of climate is deeply flawed, and your fury over thinking a forecast is wrong just because the snow fell 50 miles from your exact location is entirely ridiculous. Please do go away.

ash said...

Thanks for all you do. Yours is really the only forecast to watch.

Unknown said...

TVN -- we don't overreact here. Drivers here are ill equipped to handle the roads unless they have all-wheel drive. Most of us don't. Besides, when the roads are iced over, all wheel vehicles still spin and skid. If you tell thousands of people they are expected for class, thousands will try to get there even though they are terrified of the commute.

If you haven't yet noticed, we live in a city of *steep hills.* Thus the caution. Thank God they are closing schools tomorrow as it will save lots of crashes, ditching cars, freezing people waiting for help, property damage, and possibly even save lives. It's the responsible and right thing to encourage people to stay off the roads.

janisha shanjna said...

Whatever wizard noses the live east past the sad god. An edited export assaults the gun beneath the dissimilar abuse. How will the east cope? The anger cheats the anniversary shoulder.

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LivinEZ said...

Great past few days... sledding, snow cones, and old school Atari with the kids! Tracked the Tuesday showers to B'ham via UW radar. Thanks Cliff!

Anna said...

Snowking -- forecasts change. Mother Nature can be temperamental. No one forecast is ever going to be 100% correct -- you just give people the best you can and move on.

Seriously, if you're going to just criticize Cliff for doing a public service on his own time -- get a life! YOU try forecasting the weather. I bet he's better!

Cliff -- can you write a little bit about freezing rain? What's the difference between freezing rain and snow? Under what conditions do we get one or the other?

mle_ii said...

Yikes! Freezing rain here in Redmond and it looks like more coming for a while. I'm sure that the combination of ice +compact snow+freezing rain+hills is going to do wonders around here.