Why did we go from sweaters to swimsuits within 24 hours, this week? Discover the reasons – and what to expect, in the weeks to come …
This sign at Division Station, in the heart of the Midway Business District, shows that we’re not just imagining that summer weather is now upon us!
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Those wondering if summer-like weather would ever come to outer East Portland this year had their question answered on Wednesday, July 7, with a sudden and record-breaking heat wave.
As measured at Portland International Airport, the official temperature hit 95 degrees, beating its previous 1996 record by two degrees.
In their outer NE Portland office, meteorologist Clinton Rockey and other weather sages keep an eye on patterns that affect our climate.
A tawdry broken record
“Actually, we call it a ‘cheap’ record-breaker,” said National Weather Service Portland office meteorologist Clinton Rockey, “because it was a relatively low ‘high’ temperature for the day. We’ll have to get up to 98° at the Airport to make a record high temperature here today, on Thursday.” As it turned out, Portland missed a second record-breaking day by just 1°.
Speaking to us at the National Weather Service office, on NE 122nd Avenue in Parkrose, Rockey revealed that it doesn’t require much change in our atmospheric conditions to go from sweater weather to summer sweltering.
Asked why it’s now so hot, Rockey smiled and replied, “It’s summertime!”
But there are a couple of reasons, he said, why we had such an abrupt transition – with virtually no springtime weather – this year. “First, we had one of the cooler and wetter spring seasons. When there’s a shift in weather patterns, and ‘so-called average summer weather’ begins, it’s more noticeable. Normal temperatures this time of year should be hitting in the low 80° range.”
When a “low pressure system” moves in, it allows winds to sweep westward off the Pacific Ocean, Rockey continued, and bring in cool, moist air onshore and into the Willamette Valley, primarily through the lower Columbia Gorge.
“It doesn’t take much of a change in to allow the winds to shift,” noted Rockey. “In this case we went directly from having the westerly wind over us, to a hot, dry easterly breeze coming off Cascades. It picks up the warmth coming through the high desert.”
Not far from Portland International Airport, in the Parkrose neighborhood, are the Portland offices for the National Weather Service.
Outlook for Summer 2010
Forecasters are looking for the current warm spell to end, and expect to see a little ocean air coming in from the coast. “Throughout the weekend, it won’t be as warm, probably in the low 80s,” predicted Rockey. “Once we lose those east winds, we’re likely to see a return to our normal weather regime. That means morning clouds, and then sunny afternoons, with temperatures n the low 80’s.”
Beyond next week? “It’s a tough call,” Rockey told us. “I suspect we’re not done with the heat. We have a lot of July and August to go through yet!”
> Want to know about the weather from experts? See National Weather Service’s Portland web page: CLICK HERE.
© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News