Friday, November 20, 2009

Eyes on The Prize

Thursday Morning
The next Weather Event is headed towards NorCal. Before I got out of bed to make the coffee this morning, I logged on to the Reno NWS Discussion page to "keep my eye on the ball" I was not surprised to read:

"On Friday...The most significant impacts from the storm are trending more toward potential for strong winds...while precip and snow amounts in the Sierra are expected to be less significant. The fast movement of this storm with limited moisture tap will probably limit snowfall totals below the typical warning criteria...but significant impact on travel is likely. The strong winds combined with a few hours of moderate to heavy snow are likely to coincide with the Friday afternoon commute and busy travel period over the major passes between NRN Nevada and CNTRL CA valleys. To continue heightened awareness for the potential travel impacts...the Winter Storm Watch for NRN CA and Tahoe Zones will be maintained with the current forecast"

Friday morning, right in the crosshairs of the storm, SisterSweetly with my niece the FamilyGeologist will be driving down to the Ancestral Digs. That's a trip I'm glad I'm missing! NWS Sacramento says snow levels for the Redwood Empire Friday will be down to 4000ft,so they'll avoid chain controls. Somehow, rainstorms in the Redwood Empire seem wetter than elsewhere...perhaps that's why the Redwood Coast is so green.

El Niño Update
This afternoon, I caught up with the Climate Prediction Center's monthly update of their 90 Day Climate Outlook. I groused about October's cop-out on temps and precip, when they said they could go Above/Average/Below.

This month the CPC isn't saying anything chiseled in stone, but they "held the waffles" so to speak. They did allow their prediction of an "Enhanced likelihood of Above Average Temperatures for much of the Western Half of the Continental United States" For the rest of the country, they stood pat, continuing with their Win/Lose/Draw equivocation act.

On the precipitation front, the CPC didn't leave out the High Sierra, saying; "Above Median Precipitation Amounts are most likely in Texas, Florida, and in California, and in Northern sections of Alaska" How good is my Prediction looking now? Just what the odds say...average or above. Gimme a Gold Star! I wouldn't blame you if you wait 'till Spring, though...I won't take it personally!

About My Prediction
I'm starting to feel like a team mate of Tom Steinstra! Thursday's are Outdoors Section Day in the San Francisco Chronicle, and Tom continued with his Winter Weather Forecast story. Aside from his geography gaffe, Tom supplies further data that validates my Prediction.

Steinstra writes: "Meteorologist Mike Polansky found what might be a correlation between heavy rains in October and high annual rainfall. Since 1848, San Francisco has had more than 3 inches of rain in Octobernine times, including this year. Of the previous eight, six became very wet winters, one was normal, and one was below normal. In the past 40 years, wet Octobers occurred in 1972, 1982 and 2004, and each time a very wet winter followed".

Yikes! Do I ever remember the 82-83 season! I was a second year groomer/trainee and still spending most of my nights in Tucker SnoCats. I worked at the neighboring resort so I could get some time in a Thiocol 3700 Hydromaster Groomer like my boss drove. It snowed like the Devil that season, and back in the Grooming Stone Age, operators did plenty of time with a shovel in hand. Lot's of digging out Rolling Stock, and always at the end of a long cranky shift.

Reality Check
Today's Photo is the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite image of the 1997 El Niño taken December 1st, 1997. The Winter of 97-98 was the El Niño that set tongues to wagging about Global Warming in earnest.
Now compare this TOPEX/Poseidon image from November 1st, 2009

There's all the difference in the world between these two events, still I'll stand pat with respect to my Winter Prediction, thank you very much.

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