‘Snow-Mageddon’ predictions shutter outer East Portland

What kind of weather can we really expect in the next few days? Find out why these winter storms are so difficult to predict – and get a pinpoint forecast, specifically for outer East Portland – right here …

The East Portland News weather station’s anemometer is laden with snow fall, early in the “day of the BIG snow” that shut down East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Amid dire predictions of deep snow, schools closed and parents scrambled to find daycare for their kids – if they, themselves braved heading to work on February 24.

In fact, the forecast of dangerous weather conditions canceled events across the area the previous evening.

At the Gilbert Heights Elementary School, in the David Douglas School District, snow play is the order of the day.

In the middle of Argay Terrace, Parkrose School District’s Shaver Elementary is closed for the day.

We certainly don’t fault Parkrose, David Douglas and Portland Public Schools that they called for the first “Snow Day” of the season – they’re charged with the safety of our kids.

As the sun shone brightly the day following predicted snow storm, giving the false illusion that spring is “just around the corner”, many folks are asking why professional weather-watchers could be so wrong.

But, as Jeremiah Pyle, meteorologist National Weather Service, stationed on NE 122nd Avenue in outer East Portland told us, they weren’t completely wrong. “We are experiencing very cold temperatures.”

In the Russell neighborhood, the Family Winter Warming Center at Eastminster Presbyterian Church continues to provide nighttime shelter for homeless families.

The difficulty in crafting the “perfect weather forecast” for Portland is, Pyle said, “that it takes a ‘perfect confluence’ of three key weather elements to get snow down here to lower elevations.”

Because of the unique terrain, Pyle explained, it takes a combination of cold air, moisture and a “certain wind flow pattern” to come together in precise timing to produce a major snowfall.

“If one misses predicting just one of the elements, by even a very small amount, the forecast will be inaccurate,” said. “We’re talking about a very small margin of error.”

Just east of Kevin Minkoff, CPA’s offices, snow covers the Gateway Arch sign in the triangle dividing NE Halsey and Weidler Streets.

A quite, stable weather pattern hovers over outer East Portland on Friday, February 25, Pyle said, but expect “record cold temperatures” overnight.

For February 26 and 27, “Another system is approaching the region that will affect us later Saturday and Sunday. If enough cold air is still in place, we still may see wintery precipitation; freezing rain or snow.”

Although the trees are painted with snow giving the scene a wintery look, SE Foster Road, in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood is wet, not icy.

While the mountains will get major snowfall, “There’s not a lot to worry about for outer East Portland,” Pyle added. “Next week, we’ll have more of a ‘westerly flow regime’. This means we’re entering a very rainy, and typical, winter weather pattern.”

Our advice: Put away the snow shovels; get out the raincoats!

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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