Peerless predictor sees poopy weather in Valley's forecast

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Your ecstatic weatherperson comes to you fresh off a stunning trifecta win over the weekend that featured rousing victories by his two favorite football teams on Saturday and a spot-on forecast for snow the same day (predicted last Tuesday, no less) that no other forecaster within 500 miles of the Walla Walla Valley had the meteorological mettle to make.

His star is white-hot right now as evidenced by the generous offer he received from the feds yesterday to head up the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Unfortunately, flying a desk and pushing pencils is not a direction he wishes to pursue right now. Instead, he is holding out for the morning co-anchor position on the Weather Channel where he can make better use of his rugged good looks and charming manner.

The logical next move would be parlaying that on-camera experience into a career he firmly believes he has been fated for since day one: a Hollywood leading man in the mold of Liam Neeson — a generally thoughtful, caring man prone to occasional outbursts of psychotic violence when pushed just a little too far. Not much of a stretch at all for your somewhat irascible weather guy!

And speaking of pushing, a sprawling Pacific high pressure system shoved a sharp cold front through southeastern Washington last Wednesday bringing to an abrupt end our flirtation with spring and dropping the afternoon high temperatures by a good 25 degrees.

In addition, the cold pool of air aloft destabilized the atmosphere and touched off a few moderate snow showers on Thursday that left an attractive one-inch coating on the Valley floor with a few inches more in the nearby hills.

Nighttime lows plunged into the upper teens as more normal January-type weather became firmly re-established under the northerly flow around the high, which funneled very chilly air into our region from north of the border.

A very weak wave of low pressure in that flow brought the few flakes that fell Saturday and early Sunday morning. But that should be the last precipitation we see locally for quite some time as the high pressure system settles in over the area for what could be a rather extended stay.

With it will come the development of an inversion that will feature cold air trapped under a layer of low stratus and freezing fog below about 2,500 feet. Above it will be warmer air, courtesy of mostly clear skies and full sunshine at the higher elevations.

Our air quality in the Valley will deteriorate progressively as the inversion strengthens and more and more pollutants become trapped near the surface, so get out those surgical masks and ward off the flu and the bad air simultaneously.

The spread between our daily high and low temperatures will be fairly small in this sort of weather regime — perhaps varying by as few as 4 or 5 degrees on any given fog-shrouded day.

In the longer term, this pattern appears to be quite willing to unpack its bags and stick around for at least a week and perhaps 10 days before it begins to break down around Jan. 25 or so.

Meanwhile, the high will act in much the same manner as a boulder cast into midstream: the flow will go around it on both sides and the area immediately downstream will be spared the effects of whatever is flowing towards it.

In short, for the next several days, our weather will be about as dynamic and action-packed as the waning hours of a Jerry Lewis telethon. A round-the-clock showing of “The Tree of Wooden Clogs” (all crushingly slow 186 minutes of it) will seem like a Quentin Tarantino film fest compared to it.

Such news is disappointing to those whose appetites for winter weather were barely whetted by last week’s activity. Hopefully, the inexorable march towards a Baltimore/San Francisco Super Bowl (oh my, for whom to root?) will relieve the meteorological boredom a bit.

At least until we can convince the bloated high to waddle on east and allow a resumption of regular visits from more desirable and winter-appropriate guests.

A lifelong fan of both the weather and the Baltimore Orioles, Jeff Popick is an instructor at the Enology and Viticulture Center at Walla Walla Community College and manages the school’s teaching vineyard. Send your questions and comments to him at jeffrey.popick@wwcc.edu.

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