Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Masters Outlook

It's a "Tradition Unlike Any Other". The Masters, a true signal that spring is here, begins Thursday. All eyes will undoubtedly be on Tiger Woods. He broke out of his PGA victory slump a few weeks ago and now aims to win his first major since the U.S. Open in 2008. The rest of the field ain't too shabby, though. Tons of young guns will be out in force to tame Tiger and Luke Donald, the world's number one player, will be out to prove he belongs atop the world rankings.

There promises to be action on the course but what about the action above the course? Weather is always a concern for the PGA and holding the season's first major in the spring-time in the South can be an issue. However, there hasn't been a round of The Masters cancelled since 1983! In 1936 and 1939, rain forced the players to shoot 36 holes on the final day of the tournament. Other days were a complete wash in 1961 and 1973.

Low Sending Energy Into Georgia Friday Afternoon
The 2012 Masters may get off to a stormy start Thursday and Friday. A cut-off low pressure system that was isolated over Texas over the last couple days has weakened some but is aimed for the Gulf Coast South Thursday and Friday. A cold front will wander in and out of Georgia throughout the day on Thursday, meaning that Augusta will be in the warm, moist sector of the system. As energy from the low pressure system surges eastward, the mix of moisture and energy will combine and may result in some isolated severe thunderstorm cells.

Surface Cold Front Initiates Isolated Storms Fri P.M.

Texas was impacted by this low pressure system Tuesday as several tornadoes were spotted around the Dallas-Ft.Worth metroplex.

High Pressure Ridge Settles in Saturday-Sunday

The good news is that the system is quick-moving and will be out of the forecast area by Saturday. Behind the stormy system, high pressure will replace the unsettled weather. Near-perfect golf and spring-time weather will take over for the weekend rounds. 

It will be interesting to see just when and where these potentially severe thunderstorms pop up on Thursday and Friday. We may see a round cancelled for the first time in 29 years!

Monday, April 2, 2012

March Grades

March 2012 was a record-breaking month. Portland saw its latest snowfall ever when 0.04" fell on March 22nd. Nine days later, Portland set the all-time rainfall record for the month of March, breaking a 55 year old mark. Portland ended March with 7.89" of rainfall, average is 3.68"!

While Portland set the record, other Northwest cities came close to their rainfall records. March was Salem's 2nd wettest with 9.98", Vancouver's 3rd wettest with 7.81" and Astoria saw its 4th wettest March with 14.13". Hillsboro and Eugene both saw the 5th wettest March on record with 6.59" and 9.94", respectively.

No records were broken with my forecasting grades this month. That doesn't mean it was an off month, however. Accurately forecasting 86% of temperatures and 95% of the conditions, I'd say it was a successful March. The average temperature in the 3rd month jumps by five degrees from the March 1st to the 31st. Couple that with the unpredictability of the spring weather and you wind up with some fairly respectable marks.

There were two "snow" events last month. One at the beginning of March and the bigger event on the 22nd. The first event totaled no snow accumulation even though flakes were falling. One March 1st, I called for a snow/rain mix transitioning into spotty showers during the afternoon with a high of 45 degrees. The forecast worked out perfectly, with a high of 45 degrees and snow turned to rain showers later in the day. I just missed the high temperature by a degree on our second snow day (March 22nd). While working during snow events is stressful, it really gives me the best opportunity to prove my forecasting skills. I never thought that winter weather forecasting would be something I'd enjoy but it is rewarding when an accurate forecast plays out.

For the month of April, I will throw in a new wrinkle to the forecast accuracy. Given the high rain totals last month, I have decided to implement rain amounts into my daily forecast. I will grade the daily totals with a +/- 0.05". Not too many folks notice a difference between 0.25" and 0.30", it just seems like one wet day! I'll consider the rain totals separate from conditions, so there will be a third category for the April totals. Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting (QPF) is a bit challenging so make sure to check back in next month to see how the totals impact accuracy!