Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rain, Rain, Here to Stay

They say "April showers bring May Flowers." "They" don't live in Oregon. Here we say "November showers bring dead leaves." Our flowers start in early February, but I'll save that for later. We've had an unusually dry fall so far; last year the rain started in early October; at this point we were well into "winter." We just started getting drizzle a week and a half ago (that is, the sun went away and the ground was damp- you could still walk around and not really get wet most of the time). But the Oregonian warned yesterday we had a major storm (or series of storms, it's often not really clear) on the way in for today and Wednesday.

Oddly, because we've had a dry and calm fall, so far, those dead leaves are a real concern: they're mostly still up in the trees. In the next 36 hours or so, there will be an enormous amount of wet organic debris falling... making the roads slick... blocking gutters and drains. There's a reason our sports teams are called Beavers and Ducks. My friend Bob would argue that only in Oregon would we name our teams after prey animals. I would prefer to think we are well-adapted to lacustrine environments, which is what our streets become with a sudden shift from dry, cool and calm weather to wet, cool and blustery weather. From an article today:
The weather service issued a high wind watch for the north and central Oregon
coast through tonight with gusts to near 60 mph expected to rake exposed
headlands and beaches and sustained winds of 40 mph. Urban street flooding also
is a distinct possibility, Collins said, because of storm drains choked with
This map suggests we'll get about 2 inches today; The Weather Channel predicts 1 inch today, 1 inch tonight, for a total of 2 inches.
And this map predicts we'll get about 1 1/2 inches tomorrow. The weather channel predicts 1 inch for tomorrow- but they're not including tomorrow night with that. More is predicted (though decreasing) for Thursday.

Today's article refers to this as a "Fire-Hose" storm; this GOES west visible image shows why- this was taken yesterday at 21:30 UTC (1:30 PM local time)

This is an infrared image from the same satellite at 22:30 UTC today (2:30 PM local); you can see the stream from the "fire hose" splashing into the coast.

And this is the visible light image, taken at the same time as the previous IR picture. The IR is lighter where it's cooler, so really what you see in that image is where the cloud tops are higher. Higher elevation means more intense uplift of the air mass, and correlates pretty well to most intense precipitation. It also helps bring out the internal structure of the storm.

So far today, we've had just a steady soaking rain- and when I say "today," the rain started at about 12:30 or 1:00 this morning (passing cars make a very distinct sound on wet pavement, so even if I don't look outside, I'm aware it's wet). Nothing too heavy, just steady. The wind has been pretty gentle so far, as well. But as I look out the window of my favorite coffee shop, the leaves are piling up in the bike lanes...

And if you're feeling smug, "I'm glad I don't have to put up with that rain," it'll get to you. But instead of being gentle, at 55-60 degrees, it'll be a howling blizzard.

Besides, I'm a beaver. I like my dammed lakes. (no, that's not a pun; it's how the lakes are created)

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