So I’ve lived in Oregon for almost two years, and I’ve never seen with my eye the famous (well for meteorologists) lenticular clouds. So when I checked my Facebook page today and saw that Pam Robinson had posted a picture of these special clouds, I was so excited I skipped around the weather center! While I am nerding out in every way right now, you brought this on yourself by clicking on the weather blog! 🙂
Lenticular clouds, also known as lens clouds, have actually been reported to authorities as UFOs! While the photo above looks pretty obvious, add color and a different sun angle and they can look pretty strange. These clouds are formed mostly in the winter in the Pacific Northwest, because that’s generally when we have enough moisture through the entire column of air to form clouds. When the airflow goes over the mountains, it makes an undulating motion (up and down). It has to go up the mountain, and then falls down the lee side. That causes turbulence to form on the lee side of the mountain, with small rises in the air. So you get the airflow with tiny bumps where the small air rises occur. That happens through more than one layer in the column of air, so that’s why they look like stacked pancakes.
Now to the forecast. After weeks of wondering if we’ll catch any significant rain/snow this month, Mother Nature is lining up a wash out! We have several waves of active weather lined up for the next few days. The first disturbance moved through last night and left a few showers in the northern regions this morning. This wave was pretty weak, and has just left cloud cover for many areas with rain totals only at a couple one-hundreths.
The next wave will not be so benign. We have High Wind Warnings out along most of the coast, as winds will begin to pick up this afternoon. The High Wind Warning for the North and North Central Coast will be in effect from 6 p.m. tonight through 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. Winds will be sustained between 30 and 40 miles per hour, with gusts of 50 miles per hour possible in coastal communities and 60 to 70 miles per hour around the headlands. The Warning for the South Central Coast will be effective from 4 p.m. today through 4 a.m. Wednesday. Once again gusty winds along the area will be between 50 to 60 miles per hour. After the warning expires for this region, a High Wind Watch is expected to take its place until Thursday morning.
Not only are we talking about wind, we’re talking about lots of the wet stuff. The good news is….we need to stock up on rain while we can to avoid a spring drought. The bad news, the snow in the mountains will become wet and slushy at the ski resorts for the next couple of days. Rainfall will be very heavy at times, especially for Wednesday through Friday. We could easily see between 1 to 3 inches of rain in any location by the weekend, which would help prevent us from having the driest December on record. Ski resorts really need some precipitation as well. While snow levels will be up to 8,000 feet on Wednesday, I think they will fall completely below resort level again for Friday and Saturday, with a couple peaks picking up a foot or more of snow.
The one day I’m thinking we’ll be completely dry will be Sunday (so far). However, it will be right back to the rain again overnight into Monday, January the 2nd, 2012. Hard to believe it is already time to celebrate the New Year!
— Meteorologist, Megan Taylor