February 04, 2016


The radioactive revenger has visited the U.S. in many forms during past year,  including Godzilla El Nino and Snowzilla.   But starting on Sunday, the fearsome monster will morph into a terrifying RIDGEZILLA, a weather phenomenon of amazing strength and persistence.

Sunday morning at 8 AM?  Huge ridge of high pressure over the U.S. (this upper level map is for 500hPa)

8 AM Monday?   Still here and even stronger.
 Tuesday at 8 AM?  You guessed it.

A view on Monday at 1 PM shows that there are troughs on both sides of the ridge.  The result is ann an omega block, since it looks like the greek letter omega, and is very stable and hard to change.

This is a very dry pattern for the West Coast, so that once a front moves through on Saturday morning, we will rapidly dry out and stay dry.  But the eastern U.S. will become very cold as strong northerly flow moves arctic air southward.  

If we get some offshore flow on Monday and Tuesday and don't fog out, temperatures could climb to 60F and above, particularly over the southern portion of WA.  With the strengthening sun, it will feel like spring.

To illustrate, here are the temperatures at 1 PM Monday.  70s in California and southwest Oregon.  Sixties getting into southwest WA.

Clearly, Ridgezilla  has a hot breath!


  1. It's almost comical how you meteorologist types invent all of these descriptors that invite hyperbole and wild speculation (i.e., ridgezella, snowzilla, the blob) and then a few weeks later turn around and write a blog lamenting the fact that the media and lay-public get carried away with hyperbole and wild speculation about these phenomena.

  2. Unknown.
    Yes, meteorologists are real comic types. Then there are folks without much of a sense of humor, Hard to know which are worse, don't you think?..cliff

  3. This will finally give everyone here a chance to see a nice astronomic lineup of all of the visible planets lined up in the predawn sky. Details at spaceweather.com or skyandtelescope.com

  4. Dr. Mass, I love the humor as well as the great weather and climate information.

    Bob Stephen (Mass blog addict)

  5. The infamous Omega High. When it parks itself over the center of the U.S. in July, it will melt your shoes to the pavement, somebody will fry an egg on the hood of a car and record maximums get set.

    But my favorite ridge is the T-Rex, Dinosaur high.

    I wonder what comment Unknown has for cumulonimbus mammatus and the Grand Teton mountains.

  6. I do not like the ridge.
    West wind good.
    East wind bad.
    Air stagnation. Freezing fog. Burn bans. Inversions. Don't like high pressure.
    Oh well. All is not lost. At least we have some snow.
    But the term "Ridgezilla" is cool w/ me. Just hope is doesn't stay too long.

  7. It's baaaaack. I'm having winter 2013/14/15 flashbacks all of the sudden. Blobs haunting my dreams. Cliff, is it a valid question to ask how Ridgeageddon will fare against the dying Godzilla El Nino? Observational history and modelling tell us that El Nino holds the trump card (no, not that Trump -- he's toast) and that the storm gateway to California will once again re-open in due time. But the last comparably strong El Nino was in a climate 20 years younger and a fair bit cooler than at present. Furthermore, our observational record for strong El Nino's contains only two previous events in the satellite era. How confident are we in our understanding of the full diversity of El Nino's impacts? Although this year's El Nino makes it much less likely that the ridge will persist for long, it certainly can't guarantee it will disappear given that there's a lot of unexplainable variance even in an Al Nino year. Some longer range ensemble guidance (NAEFS probability of precip out to Feb 20th) puts a nice bulls-eye on central and southern California as one of the few places in North America least likely to receive rain in the next two weeks. That will edge us toward March and the end of the rainy season for California. Can you tell I'm a pessimist? What do other ensemble forecasts say? Perhaps this is just the February lull and the rest of the year will roar back to life?

    Thanks for the continuing interesting blog posts.

  8. One thing I don't yet understand about omega-blocks. Even if they're stable, why don't they circulate around the globe with the prevailing winds?


  9. Is Ridgezilla a typical El Nino pattern or perhaps "anti el nino?

  10. I am in Port Angeles and my wife just called me to say that extremely strong gusts of wind had caused tree and trash can damage in our neighborhood. Apparently branches and other debris were blowing down the street and even twirling up to 50 feet into the air, "like a tornado". I am east of there and not experiencing the same winds, but the power is flickering. Could this be considered a ridgenado?

  11. Okay, long ago I reserved a cabin in the upper Methow for some snowshoeing other snowplay for next weekend. Hopefully Ridgezilla moves on by then!

  12. Probably means fog for the mid-Columbia

  13. Yay!!
    I am a big fan of Ridgezilla and the blob.

    Both are good for farming right here in western Washington.. No need for that Cali produce.. Keep it local!!!.. Hehehe

    I have enough wind damage and waterlogged fields for the year..

  14. Annnnd we have fog. For the past two days. It did clear during the day but is back now. Creeping in on little cat's paws.

  15. Forecasts show moderate weekend conditions followed by a couple of warm, dry spring-like days on Monday & Tuesday. By Wednesday, weather looks to be seasonal again: overcast, occasional showers, low 40s to low 50s. Not sure that constitutes "monstrous" (smile) weather activity.

  16. Any chance this will cut the offshore winds and bring back the blob?

    It looks like the Pacific is a bit warmer than usual already off the coast.

  17. I skied at The Summit on Sunday and there were mosquitoes near the Silver Fir lift line...Feb. 7th!


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