Virus protection

8:00pm Sunday…

I haven’t posted much the past two weeks for two reasons.  One is that the weather has been relatively slow so it’s tough to get inspired.  Second, because our society has been consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic; weather seems like a minor concern during this unprecedented time in American history.  Of course weather can be a big deal, but during these past two weeks it has been relatively quiet in the Pacific Northwest anyway.

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You might be wondering what has changed in the FOX12 weather center these past two weeks?

Well, we have a supply of Purell, Lysol, & other disinfectants just like all the rest of you.  Many of you are now working from home to avoid interacting with others.  “Social-distancing” is THE big thing right now, although “physical-distancing” is probably a better description.   Should we really be “socially-distant” from each other?  I don’t think so.

So why aren’t WE working from home?

It’s because we’ve been able distance ourselves at work quite well due to nature of our work space.   IF there are two of us in the weather center (much of the time we are alone), we already sit six feet or so apart.  And we are far removed from other coworkers.  I know at least one other TV station in Portland has the weather anchors working right in the middle of the newsroom (during normal times).  I’m now glad that is not the case here.  We are fortunate that all our work is done on computers in the main broadcast studio.  That’s “Studio A”…what you see on television IS our office.  We sit back there below those three big monitors.

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So unless a newscast is on, we sit alone in a massive warehouse-like room.  I didn’t see another person for about two hours today.  During our shows, we stand maybe 10-12 feet away from the anchor(s) at that large monitor, and while sitting about 21 feet away.  Yes, I actually measured today.

FOX12 management has also done a great job turning a regular “office cubicle newsroom” into a more appropriate work space during this pandemic.  Most reporters/photographers remain out and away from the station while gathering/producing news content.  Producers that put together the shows are either widely spaced in the newsroom OR working from home.   News anchors are sitting widely spaced in our other studio, “Studio B”.  This is the studio you see in November/December; a Christmas tree with toys piled many feet deep around it.  A pic this evening shows only Bonnie Silkman in that enormous room.

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Editors and a few other folks are scattered about our two-level office building.  But just about all other workers (sales/promotions, engineers, etc…) are working from home like many of you.  It’s a very quiet place right now…

What else has changed?

  • I now bring my own food, some of us used to cook.  No more going out to grab a sandwich from a restaurant at lunch either.  I used to do that all the time.  But I figure each time I leave the station and come back I could be introducing a virus to the office.
  • I avoid door handles at work
  • Less wandering around the station catching up on the latest from coworkers during breaks.
  • I’ve stopped doing “errands” on the way to work each afternoon.  I used to stop at a coffee shop, home improvement store, auto store, grocery store, etc…  Now I pretty much just go from home to work.  Again, safer to just go back and forth.

I’m totally comfortable with this work setup, we’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

Alright, so what about weather?

Quite a change this past week.  Sure, March has been cooler than average, but we were seeing so much sun this month, until the past six days.  What would have been Oregon’s spring break was cool and showery…surprise!  Friday and Saturday were especially gray/drippy.

We have a second cool/wet work week on the way.    A cool upper-level trough will settle in over western Canada and the Pacific Northwest through at least the next week.  You can see the cool trough over the Gulf of Alaska today

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Almost right over us by Wednesday

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Then the ECMWF ensemble forecast for next Saturday.  This is a cool western North America setup with very warm weather east of the Mississippi River.

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Tonight the leading edge of the colder airmass moves inland after midnight.  That’s a cold front and you can expect to hear rain coming down in the wee hours of the morning.  A gusty southerly wind accompanies that cold front too.  A few gusts 30-40 mph are likely between midnight and 6am.  Behind the front we’ll see cold showers and sunbreaks mix; a classic spring hail/thunder setup for both Monday and Tuesday.  The atmosphere appears more unstable Tuesday; that’s our better chance for thunderstorms.

To summarize

  1. Cool and wet weather continues for at least the next 7 days.  Not a soaker every day, but it’s tough to find a totally dry day.
  2. There will be some “decent outdoor weather” for a few hours at a time later this week.  Keep a close eye on the radar if you want to take a run or bike ride.  I’d skip tomorrow and Tuesday.
  3. There’s no sign of a significant warm/dry spell as we head into the first week of April.
  4. Lots of snow is on the way in the Cascades.  Typically early April is the beginning of melt season in the Cascades, but we’ll be adding to the snow pack instead this year.  That will be excellent for our summer water supply.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

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