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yellowlab03

Reading weather

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Looking for some info on reading weather. What do most of you guys do? I go to websites and see what I think I need to see, but not 100% sure if what I am looking at is what I need to be looking at. Hope that makes sense. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

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1) http://www.weather.gov/

Other weather sites may offer forecasts but to my knowledge no other US organizations (weather.com/accuweather/etc) have the data collection (ie their own satellites) and modeling capabilities of NOAA.

 

2) forecast discussion. If you really want to round out and learn about the weather more than just seeing 30% showers.. but instead know that you're having a small temporary ridge, will get a push of marine layer air that will have cloud levels at 5000ft, before a more serious front moves in.. you get that from the forecast discussion: http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=PQR&product=AFD&format=CI&version=1&glossary=1

 

3) I use NWAC remote telemetry and 10day graphs from places like Mt. Hood Timberline Upper, Camp Muir, St. Helens

http://www.nwac.us/weatherdata/campmuir/

http://www.nwac.us/weatherdata/timberlineupper/

 

you can find out all sorts of information. For instance on Rainier look at the measurement of solar radiation..you can see the peaks were much higher last week (sunny). Look at how it correlates to humidity level (when there was 5% humidity you can be sure it was clear as hell), temps, etc. These graphs from NWAC are great, you can watch when we get a really strong high pressure system the wind direction rips right around to being from the East like clockwork.

 

4) webcams. There are a set of webcams from Canada down to Mt. Shasta. You can get a view of more or less every mountain... since I am around PDX I look at hood/jeff/helens/adams/rainier/and 3 sisters. I also take a look at olys a bit. with a genius phone and bookmarks you could get good info on the run not just at home.

 

5) call NOAA local meteorological office if you feel capable to discuss weather with them. Seattle, Portland, Pendelton, Medford..They are a public agency, the weather is their job. I've found them to be helpful at times and they seem slightly entertained to give advice from their models such as 'what type of winds do you see at 10,000ft for the next 24hr'? I wouldn't use their time to ask 'will it rain?' type things.

 

6) cliff mass has a book on NW Weather. Its great! get it from the library or buy a copy. He also has a blog that is really not for recreational forecasts but it is a way to learn more about weather in general and NW specific conditions.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

 

7) sticking your head out the window is always surefire

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If you want to get a little deeper than just a point forecast such as this. I'd check out UW's modeling page:

 

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/mm5rt/

 

It takes a bit of getting used to but I've found these products to be extremely useful in timing weather windows and getting a better idea of what the overall weather patterns are doing. Typical caveats apply here in terms of accuracy, application, etc.

 

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Awesome, I really appreciate it! I have been looking at a few of those sites and not understanding anything on them. I just want a better understanding of what is going on.

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coming from the midwest i truly believe the weather here is actually interesting and can be a minor hobby/interest and isn't just a small talk thing like in a lot of other places. I've heard it is one of the more difficult places for computers to model.

 

For instance look at the link to mt rainier's camp muir telemetry. Today you can see the solar radiation sensor is peaking. But look at the webcam at paradise, 5000ft lower: http://www.nps.gov/webcams-mora/mountain.jpg

 

its sunny up at muir. guess it doesn't help you understand the weather on its own but if you read seattle weather discussion or spoke with a meteorologist they could discuss the clouds at the 700mb level (corresponds to like 13,000ft or something). I find it all sorts of helpful when I can know how thick the cloud column is. just do some basic weather searches or use the NOAA forecast discussion glossary to learn what a shortwave ridge or a longwave trough, etc.

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Cliff Mass' blog is an interesting read as well: http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

 

If anyone wants to dive into reading the UW model linked above (on a basic level - precip and column integrated water...ie clouds) then drop me a PM. I'm trying to find an email I sent to a friend where I described my whole process of using that tool... I'll find it sooner if I know folks are interested in looking at it. Not terribly detailed, but will keep you from wasting some of the time I did.

 

Erik

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Unisys Weather is a great site with a nice wide angle (the GOES West image) satellite, as well as links to the 3 main weather models. Also, you can select the output for the elevation (read: pressure in millibars) that you are interested in.

 

If some of the information on these sites is a little more information than you're ready for, do what I did. Read the forecast discussion from the NWS every day, and correlate it with what you see on a satellite and radar image. Also, Bruce Tremper's book, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, has a great tutorial on mountain weather.

 

The NW is a very difficult place to forecast for, with much variation between regions.

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Many places run their own weather models that are not NOAA, such as UW or even your own home computer.

 

I see many links for past weather, why do you feel that this is important for "reading the weather" ?

 

I think the biggest mistake folks make who want to learn more about weather is not looking at model initialization times and model domains. For instance the Unisys site shows a model domain of hundreds of mi/km...thats pretty much useless for what you probably want.

 

The UW site will offer you the easiest intro into weather. The WRF models are the leading models used by most. The smallest grid such as the 1 1/3 km will give the best insight into local weather.

 

First thing you should always do is find out when it was initialized.

 

A model most people miss is the time heights, below is the one for YVR from UW, the site the hamman posted. Reading from right to left I can easily pick out cloud levels and temps at elevation.

 

Tomorrow morning, June 08 12z we have a freezing level of 850 mb (1500m) with clouds and precip tapering off in the afternoon freezing levels rising and staying mostly cloudy overnight with the cloud deck at about 1500m.

 

A nice product for mountain climbers

 

cyvr.gif

 

Cheers

 

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pick up a copy of "The Audubon Field Guide to North American Weather". if you read this cover to cover you will be able to predict with much accuracy what's going to happen in your immediate surroundings from 12-48 hours in advance based on the current conditions. it's helped me a ton.

J

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That book seems awfully dated...these days its all about numerical weather prediction, humans drawing maps are pretty much done.

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I just assume the weather will be "cloudy with sunny periods and chance of showers". Thats the forecast 80% of the time in the PNW.

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