Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Taking a Gamble in Las Vegas

Hey everyone!

It's been a long time since I did a blog post, but I have been soooo busy! The big news at the moment is that I accepted a promotion to be the newest General Forecaster at the NWS Las Vegas office.  I am very excited and I think the office offers me a great professional opportunity.  Many of the things they seem to value are things I really am good at and enjoy doing, including social media, multimedia, graphics, and other outreach related focus areas.   Additionally, forecasting for a major metro area and one of the busiest airfields in the country will allow me to really challenge myself, which I think is really exciting!   So far I've already had a warm reception by some of their staff and I can't wait to see what awaits me when I get settled.

As far as living in Las Vegas goes, I am excited for that as well.  There is always something going on and things to see, I love concerts so I should be in a great place to take full advantage of those types of events.   Lots of food variety for even my picky-self to eat too! I frequently end up in Phoenix to take advantage of pool weather and other attractions, and now those things will be right in my backyard!  Plus McCarran airport will allow me to fly nonstop practically where ever I choose to go, which will be amazing! There will be no excuse to be bored where I am headed.

Weatherwise, Vegas will be rather uneventful.  In a place that averages 4 inches of rainfall a year and rare snowfall, I will certainly miss Flagstaff's climate and scenery.  Undoubtedly, that is the single greatest thing about Flagstaff and I have been a spoiled rotten weatherman living here.  But despite its desert climate, Vegas is on the west edge of the Monsoon circulation and occasionally deals with major flash floods. Their forecast area can be active at times (especially summer), so I will still be getting plenty of experience issuing watches and warnings.  Again, I think its a fantastic professional opportunity and I think I will fit in with their team very well.  I just have to get used to the change in climate, and lack of snow :(

So that's my thoughts on paper for right now. The next few months will be very busy as I move and get settled in.  Sad to see the Flagstaff chapter of my life ending, it has been a great place for me, but I am very excited for the next chapter to begin.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Random Update

Wow I guess it has been a while since I have blogged, the whole site is different. I don't like it.  Well I just thought I would throw a quick post together.  I applied for Vegas, long story short came extremely close to getting it, but they chose someone else with a little more IT background.  I'm really quite okay with it.  Maybe like 10% dissapointed, 90% relieved I get to stay in Flagstaff a bit longer and not have to live in the desert.   Professionally I do think it would have been a great place for me though.

Regardless, the whole process really highlighted what I think is important in a place to live and what I want out of the next chapter, whatever that may be.  I used to be very oriented towards getting back to the Northwest but I'm starting to think there is so much else out there, I shouldn't limit myself. I've been away so long at this point that going back isn't really important to me, I've adapted elsewhere.   What I do want is a bit larger city, with 4 seasons.  That would be ideal, and in an office that likes me for the skills I have of course.  So I put together the above map to just help me visualize what I'm looking at. 

Basically, the red shading is offices that I would definitely apply for, you may notice Flagstaff is red.  I don't want to stay in Flag forever, but Im so comfortable and adapted at this point, it would be silly not to apply. And I really love the weather here.  I just wish it was a bigger city and people I met didn't always move back to Phoenix.   

The Orange shading is offices that there is a 50% chance or greater that I would apply for.  So offices that I probably would put in for.   The yellow shaded offices are probably not going to be applied for, but I would at least give it some thought if an opening came up.  The light gray are "nope,  not interested", and the dark gray are, "There is no way in hell I would ever live there", locations.   One side note, there is probably a lot of really nice places on the eastern 2/3 of the country, I've just never been there and have no real reason to be there.   Nothing against those places, I just don't know much about them.  If I had to pick one dream office, it would be Minneapolis.  4 solid seasons, beautiful city, good location, its all great, I'm hoping something pops up there again.

So that's what I'm thinking about, it will be interesting to see where I eventually end up, but I've decided I'm in no real hurry, I mean, who would run away from this?!?!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Update on the job hunt

Alright so, I did not get the Minneapolis position. But I did really well! Which in itself I think is a huge accomplishment. Apparently MSP is a very difficult office to get into and there were 37 other applicants I was up against. I managed to make their top 5 and they spent a lot of time checking up on my references and chatting with my boss about me. Their MIC (Primary hiring manager) seemed really nice and said that I was strongly considered and he thought I would be a great fit for the office, and encouraged me to try again as they would be having more openings down the road.  So I thought that was pretty awesome, to even be able to stand out against such a huge panel. I will say, despite it being so far, I would definitely take it if offered in the future, the management seems really, really nice.

I've been notified that I made the panel for Portland a few days ago so I'm hoping my application makes more progress there.  There is two openings so that should help, but its not impossible their panel will even bigger than MSP's so I'm not gonna get my hopes up. I'll be happy if I can even get an interview.   Fingers crossed!

In the coming months I'm aware of openings in Tuscon, San Diego, Reno, Phoenix, and Spokane.  I'll apply for Spokane (That would be perfect), and Char, if you read this, call me crazy, but im toying with the idea of Phoenix....but probably not.   I do think I would have a good chance of at least being interviewed, but its really not where I want to be.  I do have more friends in Phoenix though, would be closer to the airport, lower cost of living would be nice, though I would absolutely hate watching storms hit Flag while im stuck in dry Phoenix. Plus I'm not sure how much time I'd get off compared to what I get now, and that's important. Then there's the management issue as well. Mainly though, I don't know if I can live in place with such little weather.  A part of me would rather take a job in the Midwest than give up real weather entirely.  So I'm leaning against that idea. Thought about it though.

There are a couple forecasters who may leave Flag in the coming months too, but I have mixed feelings about staying in Flag as a forecaster. I very much enjoy the climate here, but I hate having no social life, and I find the office to be a little clickish, sometimes favoring me - sometimes not. And from a professional standpoint, I don't think staying in Flagstaff would build on my resume the way a new location would. I could take on a whole new set of focus areas in another office and expand my skillset, but staying here I would really just be maintaining the ones I have.   So I don't know what to do about that. I know I'd apply, but I kinda hope I get picked up somewhere else before it comes to that.   That's why I'm considering everywhere so critically, I feel if I don't get something somewhere else soon, Flag will pick me up.

So that's what I've been thinking about lately. I know I should just stay selective but I fear if I am too much I'll just be staying here which isn't what I want either...I love Flagstaff, its just not where I want to be 5 or 10 years from now. I wish it was easier to pick and choose offices in this business! Oh well, guess it keeps things interesting.  I'll keep you all posted!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Where have I been???

Hey everyone, this is just a quick update post about what I've been up to lately.  My parents came down for Christmas and I have been very busy with work and holiday activities.  And in about three weeks I will be going to New Orleans for the National AMS Conference, which I am incredibly excited for!

Other noteworthy items.  I've applied for two positions outside of Flagstaff, I do not expect to get either but it's kind of exciting to be trying for other things.  I've applied for a journeyman forecaster job in the Twin Cities, MN and also Portland, OR.  Both are rather competitive offices, and Portland is the most competitive in Western Region....but it would be the PERFECT location, so fingers crosses I at least get as far as an interview!   I have really come to love Flagstaff though and a part of me really doesn't want to leave just yet, so its a win win what ever happens.  

We have had a very snowy winter so far in Flagstaff, we've had 45.6 inches since November 1st...so were already almost 50% to our annual snowfall and winter has only just begun.  The snowtires were a very wise investment and I'm so  glad I got them, the roads have been very icy this winter.  We're having a nice break from the snow right now though, with nearly 60 degree weather today!

I will try and get to the blog when things calm down a little bit and have some free time.  Take care everyone, happy new year!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011-2012 Winter Outlook

With winter approaching, I thought I’d write a brief summary of the weather I am anticipating this winter.  My own unofficial outlook, if you will.    I’ll keep my reasoning brief, but with another La Nina winter seeming pretty likely, the overall national weather trend should follow what is usually observed on La Nina winters.   Listed below are some regional highlights and explanation.

As the graphic below depicts, during a La Nina winter, colder than normal sea surface temperatures near the equatorial Pacific Ocean have a response on the atmosphere to decrease the intensity of the subtropical jet, while increasing the intensity of the polar jet.  The end result is a more active northerly storm storm track. Often times, cold air moving south from Canada can interact with this polar jet resulting in occasionally colder storm systems bringing low elevation snows and major cold spells to parts of the country.

  My Outlook

Northwest U.S
La Nina winters in the Northwest tend to be cool and wet, and I see no reason to doubt that will be outcome of this year as well.  Despite last year being a La Nina winter, the season was not as wet and snowy in the northwest as you would usually expect to see.   I would expect this year to be closer to the typical La Nina winter.  Significant periods of rainfall will lead to an enhanced flood risk this winter.   I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a major cold spell or two with enhanced chances of low elevation snow events in the Pacific Northwest this year.
*Enhanced Flood Risk
*Possible cold snaps and low elevation snows

Southwest U.S
La Nina winters tend to favor drier conditions across the southwest, much like what was observed in the previous winter.  I don’t see a lot of hope for relief in the ongoing drought conditions in Texas, and some drought development is likely further west into New Mexico and Arizona.  I do think this winter will be very much like last winter, with near normal precipitation and snowfall observed across the northern half of AZ, with warmer and drier conditions further south.  Occasional northerly frontal systems passing through may result in brief but significant cold spells for the higher terrain of California, Arizona, and New Mexico.   Heavy snows will be possible in the Intermountain region once again this winter.
*Increasing dryness with southerly extent.
*A few brief cold spells, warmer than average temperatures overall.
*Heavy Intermountain Snows
*Continued extreme Texas drought

The climate prediction center calls for above normal precipitation and colder than normal temperatures for this region.  I believe however, that departures from normal may be muted in the overall warming trend observed for the past several winters in this area, so I anticipate near normal conditions overall for this region.

Looks like another snowy winter, and given a significant and wildly out of season snow event has just taken place in the Northeastern states (Never before has NYC recorded an inch or more of October snowfall, and yesterday Central Park measured nearly 3 inches), confidence is relatively high in this area.  A significant cold spell may also strike this region later this winter, complimented by heavy lake effect snow events.  While I doubt this winter will be as uncharacteristically snowy as last winter, I suspect amounts will generally be above normal for most of the region.

It will be interesting to review this outlook in March and see how I did! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why is Flagstaff so snowy?

It's October and my friends on the Front Range are already getting their first big snow storm, which makes me especially antzy for the winter season to arrive here in Flagstaff.   People are often very surprised to hear how diverse the climate of Arizona can be, so I thought I'd write a blog post about why Flagstaff is so snowy. 

Flagstaff, situated an elevation of 7,000 feet...is one of the snowiest cities in the United States, averaging over 100 inches of snow annually.   For a comparison, Denver and Salt Lake City average around 60 inches, Minneapolis averages near 54 inches, New York City averages near 23 inches, and my hometown in Medford, Oregon averages near 5 inches each winter.

But being at such a low latitude, it is surprising that Flagstaff can compete with some of our snowy northern neighbors.  However, Flagstaff has two great topographical features working in its favor to produce the significant snows, not to mention the already very high altitude.   The first, and primary feature is called the Mogollon Rim.  This rim is the demarcation of the edge of the Colorado plateau, essentially where the high altitude that characterizes much of Utah and Colorado meets the lower altitudes of the Sonoran desert.   This zone is characterized by a sharp increase in altitude and change in vegetation from what is seen in the lower deserts. 
Incoming air moving eastward with the prevailing wind, is forced to rise over this topographic barrier.  As air rises - it cools and condenses.  This is why the higher terrain is so much wetter than rest of the state, as shown in the graphic below.
I also put together a graphic depicting what happens as air rises over the topography across northern Arizona.  As you can see, air coming in from the warm and drier lower elevations meets the edge of the Mogollon rim and is forced to rise...cooling and moistening as it does so.

The second feature that amplifies snowfall for Flagstaff is the San Fransisco Peaks.  These extinct volcanic peaks, exceed 12,000 feet in elevation.  These peaks act as a secondary forcing mechanism forcing the nearby air up from the already high 7,000 foot elevation to even higher as air is lifted over the peaks.  So Flagstaff benefits from the upward lift of air rising over the Mogollon rim ,and as it rises over the nearby peaks.

The result of these two topographic features working together is the high frequency of heavy snowfalls whenever a storm system progresses through the southwest.  While only 150 miles away is the dry and warm Phoenix Metro, a storm passing through may result in mere sprinkles over Phoenix while Flagstaff may be seeing several inches of accumulating snow.  It's a pretty fascinating climate.  I attached a few photographs of the past winter season, and some highlights from years past when winter really unloaded on the city of Flagstaff.

 February 2010, measuring snow outside my office
 San Fransisco Peaks, February 2011
 Heavy Snow, December 2009 (Not my picture)
 Snow drifts blowing into the office breezeway (Dec 2010)
Bellemont Neighborhoods, December 2009

Being as far south as Flagstaff is, we typically do have to wait until late November or December before winter really sets in and the jet stream digs this far south.   Time will only tell what this winter will bring, but I'm hoping for lots of snow despite the lingering La Nina which tends to dry us out.  We will see!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall in Northern AZ

Fall is here in northern Arizona, with the fall colors peaking a little behind schedule this year.  Nonetheless, a show worth waiting for.  Check out the pics below!

 Aspen trees near the base of snowbowl road.

 Aspen stands near 8,000 feet elevation.

View from the Arizona Snowbowl, elevation 9200 feet.

 View from Arizona Snowbowl, elevation 9,200 feet.

Zoomed in view from the Arizona Snowbowl, elevation 9200 feet.

Zoomed in view from the Arizona Snowbowl, elevation 9200 feet.  Kendrick Peak on the horizon.

View from Arizona Snowbowl, elevation 9,200 feet. 

 The quaking of the aspens sounded like moving water.

 Aspen stands on Snowbowl Road

 Aspen stands on Snowbowl Road

 The San Fransisco Peaks as seen from the Snowbowl

The San Fransisco Peaks as seen from the Snowbowl

And finally, October 6th marked the one year anniversary of the 2010 Tornado outbreak in N. Arizona. 11 Tornadoes touched town, two of which were violent in strength.  The event has become the largest tornado outbreak to strike west of the Rocky Mountains in modern history.  The forest will likely remain scarred for years to come.