|“Recap of Winter 2009-2010 Weather”
Mark Nelsen, KPTV Meteorologist, and Charles Dalton, NWS Meteorologist
On March 16, 2010, we had 36 attend this technical meeting, hosted by KPTV studio in Beaverton. OR-AMS President Bobby Corser welcomed folks and gave the opening remarks. Kyle Dittmer summarized the nominations for the annual spring election.
Mark’s initial slide proclaimed: “Big Start Turns into Big Snooze.” We went from a very active weather season to a very quiet one. November 2009 saw a good variety of weather events.
Huge coastal swells, especially at Cape Disappointment, occurred in November. Lightning strikes, especially along the Oregon Coast, were reported Nov. 7th. Lincoln City saw a short-lived EF-0 tornado (Nov. 6th) 65-85 mph, that damaged 11 homes and no fatalities. Mt. Hood saw heavy snow by Nov. 14 – earliest ever opening. A coastal wind-storm hit on Nov. 16 with peak gusts of 98 mph at Newport, 68 mph at Lincoln City, and 91 mph at Willipa Bay (WA).
The key weather word for December was “cold.” Dec. 8-12 saw Portland metro area lows of 10-18 degF. This caused a “big freeze” (but no snow) and led to the Columbia River Gorge sleet/freezing rain event of Dec. 12. I-84 and OR-Hwy 34 were shut down. The freezing rain went to the southern Willamette Valley and Eugene. The Dec. 29 snow event in Portland took many by surprise. December 2009 was the 4th coldest December on record.
January started out furious then went whimpy by mid-month. A major rain storm dumped 3 to 4.5 inches around Mt. Hood on Jan. 4-5th.
A powerful event, as recorded on TV, was the Crown Point – Vista House wind-storm of Jan. 7th. Gusts of 93-100 mph were recorded. Councilor Steve Pierce got his 5-minutes of fame on national television while trying to help a local reporter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVeB6jFU3s4).
The weather turned warm and quiet very quickly. It was the warmest January for some stations. Record highs warmed Astoria on Jan. 11th, 63 degF, Vancouver on Jan. 19th, 60 degF. February stayed quiet, warm, and boring. Portland West Hills saw light snow fall in early March.
Charles gave more technical details on the fairly quiet season. Only two flood events occurred in mid-November on the Grays and Willapa Rivers (SW Washington). NWS-Portland issues 55 high warning events and 46 winter storm warnings per season, on average, for Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. That compares to 49 high wind and 13 winter storm warnings this winter. The Nov. 22nd wind-storm had gusts of 45-50 mph in the Willamette Valley, 65-80 mph Coast. Dec. 8-11 (mean 13 degF) set a new record: longest continual cold stretch. The Dec. 29th snow event saw 2-7 inches in the metro area – mostly west side. Model data said brief snow changing to rain, but didn’t account for DP=22 degF, which suggests good snow. Public was panicked in trying to get home, due to poor communication of this short-fuse event.
Note-taker: Kyle Dittmer