December 27, 2008

Perhaps I should not mention this..

I try not to hype the weather...and one can't be sure about forecast model output more than 4 days out...but....the predictions of some the computer models for the end of the coming weak are extraordinary and possibly severe.

We start with possibly a minor windstorm on Wednesday and perhaps a little snow. The a very powerful windstorm strikes the area on strong as the Chanukah Eve event. And then back to snow.

There is, of course, a lot of uncertainty that far out and perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned it...but now two modeling cycles have shown it. Anyway, we need to watch this carefully...if these storms are still forecast on Tuesday...then we should prepare.

Remember...this is a neutral year...neither El Nino nor La Nina...and the most severe snow and wind events...when they do so in such years.


  1. Bring it on. (defense mech.)

  2. come on Cliff. I'd really appreciate it if you could predict warm, sunny, and dry for a while. Enough with the snow and wind!

  3. Oh Boy! NOT!
    How often do we have the neutral years? I guess I'd always presumed it was cycling between El Nino and La Nina.

    Economic angle for the forecast:
    If another event rolls in this week folks may start to have a siege mentality. Glued to their tv's and laptops. not shopping. Blogging. Or, perhaps it will help the local news stations sell some ads to keep their income up so they won't need to layoff anymore staff.

    Real Change:
    Maybe the city and county gov't can pre-stage some unemployed local workers to cut trees and clear limbs off the roads.

  4. Please don't let it be so.

  5. Cliff, do you see this as an east wind event shooting through the gaps like last time or is this more a typical west-east possible event? I realize we are a ways out yet. Many thanks for all your work!!

  6. well, heck. but at least this gives us time to drive to a decent grocery store (assuming we can get out of the deep slush-over-ice in mountlake terrace) and grab some boots for my "i'll shovel in tennis shoes!" better half.

    were 1990 and 1996 neutral years as well?

    thanks for the fantastic blog. i am fervently hoping you are right about not being sure this far out...

  7. This is why I love reading your blog Cliff! You combine a love for weather with a respect for the variables. Nothing drives me more crazy than when our local news hype up a gale or make a snow shower into a blizzard. With that said, bring it on!!! For us storm lovers, this should be fun pattern to follow. This winter is turning out to be much more exciting than I expected. Keep us updated!

  8. Here's what the SEA NWS Area Forecast Discussion (AFD) says about next Friday:


    That could be nasty, but things can really change in that time period, too. For those who are interested, the AFD's are an interesting, though a little technical, insight into the thinking the NWS puts into the forecasts:

  9. Just checked the latest WRF-GFS 12K off the UW website. Are you kidding me??? If this thing verifies, we are in trouble!!! Those who like bland weather are not going to be happy. Can you imagine 10 days of snow, followed by a major windstorm, followed by more snow? Will be following this one closely. Note: The cold air that looks to follow the Friday system looks impressive.

  10. I recommend the AFD (Area Forecast Discussion) too for a few reasons:

    1. You get to see some of the forecasters thinking behind the forecast and how they plan on tweaking forecasts. You even get used to their names!

    2. You get some insight into the uncertainty behind the forecast.

    3. You get a better feel for the range and development of issues (as you read successive discussions) and even model differences (fun if you are looking at the model output too).

    4. They're a good way to get a "hands on" intro to the weather around here. After a while you start to have no problem with KBLI, KSEW, QPFs and the like.

    4. They seem to have a decent sense of humor. They often seem to deliver a chuckle which is rare for a "guvmint" advisory.

    See here:

    BTW, I usually look at the model output and observations myself (as an amateur) then check the AFD and here to see if these guys agree with me. Of course I'm amused when I get it right :-)

  11. Excellent!!

    Please no warm sunny and dry weather. We had way more than enough of that for nine months.

  12. Re: Interested Aviator's message... the discussions from the NWS are nice to read what they are thinking, but it can be frustrating for many of us who like weather because they always put the weather into a negative light. If there's weather going on or forecasted, it's "bad." It's only "good" if there's nothing going on. They like to continue pressing it into people's minds that that's the only way it is, just like the media.

  13. I second Kevin Purcell's recommendation of the Area Forecast Discussion. Check out the new enhanced discussion page they are trying out:

    It includes embedded links to model output and sat photos that they refer to in their discussion.

    I'm a fan of Carl Cerniglia's write ups when it comes to injecting a little humor or obscure statistics.

  14. the experience of getting weather from a non media guy who actually studies the stuff reminds me of my experience teaching a class on the dog for the experimental college 30 years ago.

    I'd read every dog book, had them all my life and realized that they are a bundle of nuances capable of going in many directions and that the important thing was to bond with them so you both trusted and learned from each other.

    The class had trouble grasping this.

    And then I brought in a little twit with a whistle and a martinet dog and she was sure of everything, talked in black and white with crisp corners and they ate her up. Just swallowed everything.

    Oh how people love simple truths. (it's sunday)

    But nothing is simple.

    Come the storm I wish I could be hanging off a tree above a waterfall ala john muir, but I best be protecting my bulkhead.

  15. To the anonymous who wishes to be like John Muir:
    John Muir would not have despoiled a shoreline with a bulkhead which would require his protection when his time could be better spent in a tree.

    "But nothing is simple."

  16. If this is going to be a winter to remember then lets have even more to remember. We can't change the weather so I vote yes for another round of storms. 2009 is going to be a much better year than 08 has ended up being, so weather gods, give us your best shot!!!! Not too much though.

  17. Cliff -- Thanks for the "heads up" on the impending wind storm. I appreciate that you acknowledge that predicting such an event over four days out might seem like "hype." (I'm sure the guy on FOX 13 will use the possibility of Big Weather to sell all the advertisement they can. Snow, ice, rain, muck -- I can handle. Wind, though, can send a few Dour Firs crashing through my house, and that isn't good.

    Glad to see your publisher is ramping up produciton of your book.

    Thanks for keeping us informed!

  18. Union Mills, Currently 35.8F, overnight low 34.5F, high in the last 24 hours 41F. Went to the nearest Trader Joe's last night, in University Park- amazing how much less snow as soon as one gets to the top of the grade at Dupont going toward Tacoma on I-5. Still more snow than thaw over most of my place, and on any lawns around here without snowmen.

    My least favorite bit of snow-clearance was a series of parking lots along (Lakewood Way, I think?) a busy street with many pedestrians and lots of bus stops where snow from business, church, and apartment complex entrances was packed on-top of the driveway, so pedestrians had no safe passage. The churches, especialy; I feel like making "How Would Christ Shovel?" signs for each of them.

    I do hope if we have another snow people have learned from this one and are carrying shovels in their cars and cleaning up their personal street access. Without, one hopes, impairing the ability of others to walk or drive.

  19. Sidewalk. Packed on top of the sidewalks, like jump-ramps in a skate park.

    Coffee first, then typing.

  20. Many thanks to the anonymous commetator who posted the link to the "Enhanced AFD". I didn't know that existed!

    Many weather geeks will find it useful and even if you read the "regular" AFD you might find ther FAQ helpful (and amusing)

    For example, the opening part of the FAQ:

    "1. What do GFS, NAM, ECMWF stand for? Or, "what are the various models that are used in forecasting?"

    GFS, GFS90, GFS40, NAM, NAM40, NAM12, ECMWF, Canadian, WRF-GFS, MM5-NAM, RUC, etc. Obviously you are dealing with NOAA, which could really mean the "National Organization for the Advancement of Acronyms rather than the "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration." "

  21. That's it. I'm going to bed and hibernating. Wake me up when spring is here!

  22. Aw crap. We have lost power three times in the last week...a ringtail buster of a storm on Friday would surely put us in the dark again! The storm two years ago picked up my little greenhouse and smashed it to the ground. Our 18 inches of snow is slowly would be nice to recover from one storm before being hit with another one! That said, I am a weather geek and love your blog.

  23. I'd love to see another good snow storm. The remnants of last week are all but washed away.

  24. note, this week's NOAA CPC ENSO discussion (as of 29th) now suggests that we've entered a La Nina...which can mean a colder than average winter for PNW...


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