Winter weather forecasts revealed

Now that our first storm has blanked outer East Portland in snow and ice, see which predictions, made a few weeks ago at OMSI, were most accurate …

The auditorium at OMSI is filled as the 24th annual Winter Weather Forecast Conference gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

As sure as the fall storms line up in the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) will host their annual Winter Weather Forecast Conference in October in the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s main auditorium.

This year it was the 24th annual conference, and it took place on Saturday, October 22.

American Meteorological Society Oregon Chapter President and KOIN News 6 meteorologist Steve Pierce kicks off the 24th annual Winter Weather Forecast Conference at OMSI – and forecasts snow.

“This morning, we will hear from forecasters from the National Weather Service, private industry, and some news media weather people, all giving their prognostications and forecasts for the upcoming winter,” said the chapter’s President, Steve Pierce – now also a KOIN News 6 meteorologist.

The event attracts upward of 300 people every year, Pierce said; it’s because weather affects everybody. “Weather affects humans, animals, crops, transportation, housing – everything.” And that led him to begin the conference with his own forecast:

“I say there’s a greater than 50-50 chance that we see at least one significant Valley snow event this winter,” Pierce ventured. “By significant, I mean 3” to 6” of Valley snowfall, all the way down to sea level in Portland. We haven’t seen this in three years, since December of 2013, and 2014 was the last year we had any significant snow in the Portland area.

“I also expect around seasonal normal conditions in the Cascades for snowpack,” Pierce told East Portland News. “That’ll be music to a lot of the ears for people who love skiing, and the ski resort operators.”

Portland National Weather Service unsure
Meteorologist Colby Neuman from the Portland office of the National Weather Service, located in Parkrose, said his agency forecasts “a wide range of possibilities; at this point, there is really nothing indicating that we’re going to see something, versus something else.

Their agency isn’t offering any long-term weather outlook at this time, says National Weather Service Portland office Meteorologist Colby Neuman.

“We could have either above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation, or we could have below normal temperatures and below normal precipitation levels over the winter,” Neuman continued.

“There is no strong indication that we will be going in one direction or another. We do not have a good feel yet for what is going to happen this winter; people here should be prepared for just about anything this winter.” And that’s your National Weather Service forecast! At least normal conditions seemingly are ruled out.

University professor forecasts snow
Another speaker on the panel, Kyle Dittmer, said he is the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Hydrologist and Meteorologist, and also as a professor of Earth Sciences at Portland Community College.

“I’ve just earned my 25-year teaching certificate this year, and this will be my 17th year presenting my Winter Weather Forecast here,” Dittmer said, before unexpectedly being surrounded by a Boy Scout troop.

Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission hydrologist and meteorologist – and also a PCC Earth Sciences Professor – Kyle Dittmer says to expect four “snow events” this winter.

“As far as this year’s winter condition, it’s kind of a ‘borderline La Niña’ winter condition,” Dittmer hazarded. “I’m looking for a little bit colder than normal weather, and slightly above normal rainfall and snowfall.

“I’m looking for four snow events in Portland, two major snow events and two minor ones, from mid-December through mid-February,” predicted Dittmer. “Get your snowshoes and snow shovels ready!”

There you have it: three meteorological professionals and three different forecasts for the upcoming winter months (or at least two forecasts).

Already, it has become apparent the first of the two specific forecasts are coming true; it might be time to get the snow tires on the car.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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