Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rex block

Working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research for 30 years, and then becoming a skydiver who wanted to know if the weather would be jumpable or not, I have become somewhat of a weather geek. The first thing I learned at NCAR was that meteorologists are very fond of jargon. I heard  people talking together in the halls about models and millibars, worfs and enseps (actually WRF and NCEP). I began watching the weather on TV and tried to understand weather prediction. There was a prediction map room at NCAR where scientists would gather and argue enthusiastically about the weather. The blackboard was full of predictions of precipitation and other contests. But I am not a meteorologist. Today I ran across something new to me:
Short term...a strong Rex block sits along 140w. An upper low over west central Oregon combined with a strong 1060 mb high over northern B.C. is combining to give modified Arctic outflow to the area today. Williams Lake to Bellingham pressure gradients are over 14 mb this morning and will stay strong through this evening.
Long term...the Rex block is established and will take its time to break down. New long term models are generally holding western Washington in the northern stream through about Friday and keep higher pressure to the NE of the area preventing the influx of marine air.
Rex Block is not a person, but rather a weather pattern that, in the USA, is most often found over the West Coast. According to the NWS weather glossary, a Rex block is "a blocking pattern where there is an upper level high located directly north of a closed low." The pattern takes its name from the meteorologist who first identified it. Here's what it looks like (thanks to Jeff Haby's valuable website here):

What this does here in the Pacific Northwest is dry things out.  And the wind! Oh my! Our weather today is predicted to stay windy and the temperature will drop all during the day as that Arctic front moves down. I am sitting here, toasty and warm, listening to the gale force winds outside. With the wind chill it must be in the teens right now. My latte may have to wait.


  1. Guessin' no knees in the breeze for you...

    Stay warm and informed!

    We woke up to mid-teens w/o the wind chill factor! Of course, we live in Brrrrville!

  2. this made me laugh!
    i wake up most mornings in the midst of a 'Rex Block'.
    our cat rex refuses to let anyone get up until he has been patted 876 times by each of us.

    I do often wonder if those young chippies, who seem to be employed by almost every television news station on the planet to keep us informed of the weather compulsorily in their tight skirts and immovable hair, have degrees in meteorology.


  3. I'm with Sas about the weather girls. Did you know we have a 'naked news' program here? In the middle of the night on Toronto TV! (It can be Googled!) And just to let you know, the first anchor is my sister in laws ex- campground owner and airbrushing must work!

  4. I am not familiar with that last weather term, but we do our share of weather watching. We have the weather channel on frequently. I think we know each meteorologist by name. Your job must have been very interesting at NCAR.

  5. Day in and day out wind can get on the nerves. :D During certain times of the year we have a lot of wind...but no gale force!

    Stay warm; have a cup of tea.

  6. I mentioned to my daughter this morning that it was snowing here on the day we were putting up our tree - it was so festive. She was bummed because it was so dry - not even rain. I don't think I have ever heard her complain of not having rain! (She's in Portland, OR) But I guess it isn't very Christmassy. (sp?)

  7. Very interesting. Since we are more north than anything in the U.S. we would be extremely cold if it wasn't for the Gulf Stream, which keeps our weather clement. I am crossing my fingers for good weather when I fly over to Atlanta on 19th December.
    Blessings, Star

  8. This is interesting. My dad's in Montana and always talking about how windy it is, particularly in the winter. It's neat to have an explanation as to why. I always figured it was something to do with the fact that there isn't much in the way of natural or manmade obstructions to slow things down...

  9. I’ll have to read that weather bulletin several times as it looked like “legalese” English in a contract, so a weather glossary is certainly needed. My husband likes to watch the weather channel but I don’t know how good they are at forecasting: they predicted snow flurry for yesterday, but it stayed dry. So today I asked my husband what did the weather girl forecast and he did not know, but he remembered that he liked her outfit…..

  10. At the moment it's 15F here, wind chill 10. We had some heavy winds the other night, please don't send the gale force this way.

    I was not familiar with the Rex Block, a new term for me. Hubby is a private pilot so I've learned quite a bit about the weather with him. Thanks for the link to Jeff's website, I bookmarked it for future reading.


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