March 11, 2013

The Heavy Rains of Poseidon

The Weather Channel is now naming major storms, most recently referred to two major East Coast events as Nemo and Saturn.  Since the WC seems adverse to naming West Coast storms, those of us facing the Pacific must take the matter into our own hands.   No one will name our storms if we don't.

So today, this blog will begin leveling the playing field by announcing that Atmospheric River Poseidon will soon hit our coast, bringing torrential rains and possibly flooding to some rivers drainages.

Be advised. Poseidon is approaching!

Poseidon arrives on Tuesday.  The WRF model prediction of the total water vapor in an atmospheric column for 1 PM that day shows the watery "finger" of Poseidon stretching from near Hawaii to the Northwest.  Yes, some folks have called this a "Pineapple Express", but we are beyond that now.

Poseidon's humid, warm finger will be touching us for days!  Let's look at the forecast precipitation for several 24-h periods.  The first, ending 4 PM on Tuesday (see graphic), shows the intensification of the precipitation as it is forced to rise by the local terrain, with the main impacts being in southern B.C. and NW Washington. 2-5 inches will pummel the windward side of Vancouver Island.

But Poseidon is not finished with us!  The next 24-h (ending 4 PM on Wednesday) enhances the terrible wrath, as his briny, wet finger strengthens and drifts down across Washington (see graphic). The western side of the Olympics will be particularly hard hit, as will the central Cascades.

And the final 24-h period I will show you (ending at 4 PM on Thursday), shows Poseidon's watery revenge moving a bit northward.

To get the whole wet picture, here is the 72hr precipitation total ending 4 PM on Thursday.  5-10 inches over the Olympics, north Cascades, and mountains of southern B.C.   Enough to bring some rivers to near bankfull.  (The National Weather Service has a hydrological outlook that notes the potential threat).  The interesting thing is that from Portland southward it will be dry...and quite warm. This time the Willamette will be favored by the trident-clad one.

But Poseidon's influence will go beyond rivers and streams, it will bring a current of very warm air at low levels, causing the freezing and snow levels to rise above the Cascade is the 850 hPa (around 5000ft) temperature and wind map for Wednesday night...warm air and strong southwesterly winds will extend over the region.  Great sadness will spread across the skiing community. 

For the middle of March, this will be a notable event, worthy of a proper name.  Too far away for the Weather Channel's attention or even a visit by Jim Cantore.  But we will honor it, in our fashion.


  1. Except that for some of us, naming the storms is really sort of irritating. And really started to give the weather channel a bad name. Just saying. No offense.

  2. Argh!

    Gonna be a wet week on the bike. Well at least I won't have to guess.

    I saw a guy buying a sled last night, I couldn't help but wonder what the heck.

    Good Stuff Mr. Mass

  3. Well done Cliff! To bad Poseidon is visiting us during the best comet PanSTARRS viewing days. We need clear skies to the West just after sunset Tue, Wed, Thur night!

  4. Hah! Love the satire. Atmospheric river, not so much.

  5. So what percent of out total rainfall for the year comes in the form of these few Poseidon events?

    Seems like an increase/decrease in the number could have a large impact on both the total rainfall and on the snow pack.

  6. Love it. Looking forward to a storm named geoduck

  7. Does that mean that we need to think of a name beginning with Q for the next storm?

  8. Here is another tool to use to visual this in a dynamic illustration.

    I was introduced to this website while visiting some friends in Norway this last fall. It is a joint effort by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and NKR (the Norwegian equivalent to PBS/NPR). While I know a bit of Norwegian, I have to stumble with some to the text. Bare with it, there is an English Icon that helps. To start, when you first go to the site, it will be in Norwegian. In the upper right corner is a map of Scandinavia. If you do a left click on it you will get a map of all of northern Europe. In the upper left corner are 2 tabs that show N-Europ or Verden/World; click on World and you get a northern hemisphere map that can be clicked and dragged to the PNW.

    There are several map choices that you can use as a visual forecast tool. The most common is Nedbør = Precipitation, Temperatur = Temperature, Vind = Wind, Trykk = Pressure. This will give you a time project forecast for about the next two days.

    One thing to note is that the time line is based on the time zone of Norway which is GMT +1. So you have to add 9 hours to the displayed time in the Pacific Time Zone. And you have to play with the pause/forward button every time you change aspects.

    Hope this adds to the discussion. Unfortunately the graphics seem to only work on PCs and are a memory hog that slows down everything. But it is a fun site to look at.

  9. Great weather presentation, as always. But I hope you are not serious about naming storms. It just feeds into the hysteria promoted by the main stream media. Let the east play that silly game, we don't need to follow.

  10. Poseidon!!! Did I sleep through storms "A-O"?

  11. I love the naming, I hope you keep it up with the same tongue in cheek attitude. The world needs color especially in the sometimes dry (pun intended) world of the sciences

    Find all the 'wet' names out there; Rubber Duck Maelstrom, Salmon Soaking Storm, Fishyfishy flooding, Orca downpour, "Who-left-the-cake-out-in-the Rain", Sobek the nile river god with a head of an alligator, FishyFishy, Ahti, Egyptian god of the depths and fish, Jellyfish drizzler (sounds like Sushi), Cymopoleia, a daughter of Poseidon and goddess of giant storm waves, Algae, Moldy Maestrom, eel, sponge bath, Wet Willie or Rainbow Rhodie Rain

    The Greeks did it, the native Americans did it, why not the Pacific Northwet?

    I know some don't like the naming but if you make it fun who cares. The East coast sometime thinks they are the only coast in the country.

    I'd love to make a tee shirt that saves "I survived the Poseidon's River of Rain" "I made it through the Who-left-the-cake-out-in-the Rain!" ... maybe I will,
    Kate, aka Nereides of Hansville

  12. Let us truly give honor to our systems. From henceforth we shall send out Cliff Mass to bear witness to such events

    Each evening at 6PM a fine and good TV station shall have the "Mass Moment of Weather" and a picture of our own Cliff Mass naming the event and why it shows how much the climate is changing and why in the northwest we know climate changes, but weather is forever. And after the naming Cliff shall give the sacred sign of the compressed isobars and convergent front.

    Or at least Cliff can photoshop himself onto a scene somewhere in the State and put it on his blog!

    If Jim Cantore is too much of a wimp to weather our storms, let's send Cliff.

  13. There is an AMAZING rain shadow that has been over Seatown all day! Everyone else is getting pounded, but we're dry!

  14. I already coined the name "Marduk" for the extended dry spell last summer/early fall. I'm trying to come up with a name for the late March 2012 snowstorm over Eugene, Oregon. I was thinking "Undine" but I'd like to reserve that name for true wintertime events. Another possible name would be "Shiva" for the Hindu destroyer god, but also the Ice-elemental summon from Final Fantasy games.

  15. Great data ...however....

    Why name a river of water in the sky after the god of the ocean?
    Seems misguided.

  16. If Sandy had merged with a named winter we have hyphenated strom?


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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