ERF Company, Inc

Power Tools for Making
Weather Based Business Decisions

10-Day Site Specific Forecast
Over the years, I have developed my 10-day forecast sheet with feedback from many of my early clients. As they have requested more and more information, I have added their requests to the faxed sheet. The 10-day forecast is intended to give you as much information about the next 10 days as I can cram onto a single sheet. The specific data along with the associated discussion should give you a great deal of specific and overview information about the local and regional weather forecast and pattern. I also include thoughts or comments about other areas just in case you are traveling to another area that is close by. I place a greater emphasis on days two through 10; most of us are aware of today's weather just by sticking our head out the window. However, during specific events I will give a very detailed forecast and discussion concerning today's weather and downplay the longer term information. Obviously, this depends on the weather pattern and specific needs of our clients.

The 10-day forecast should give you all the information you could ask for concerning short- and long-term weather. Keep in mind that all of our long-range computer models come into my office from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., which is why I get up at 3 a.m.; it assures you that you are getting the latest information on a daily basis. I tell my clients that if they wait around for the latest extended forecast on TV at 5 p.m. or 11 p.m., they have just wasted a day because those newscasts are using the longer range models from that morning. By getting my forecasts early you are assured of the latest long-range model information.

30-Day Long-Range Forecasts
I started writing these forecasts in college to see how the weather pattern would evolve and develop over the next 30 days. This was a great learning experience for me as it gave me a chance to see how long-term patterns moved and developed. Once out of college, I had a good feeling for how different weather patterns moved and how they impacted our regional weather pattern. Thus, I have been able to use my experience of the past 25 years of watching weather move. Plus, I have done a number of historical studies looking at long-term trends. By looking at the present position of the major weather features, and the MRF and Euro Model predictions of their movement, I can develop a 30-day trend forecast that can have a great deal of information for all of you. Of course, these forecasts can ebb and flow and are not always perfect, but I can give you a good idea, with a high level of confidence, whether the month will be warmer or cooler than normal, or wetter or drier than normal. I can also break it down into week by week segments that can pin it down even more. I cannot forecast day by day with much confidence, but the weekly trends, along with my daily 10-day forecast, can prove to be a great forecast package that does help with planning.

The 30-day long range forecasts are issued twice a month, usually on the 1st and 15th of the month. The first forecast usually includes the current month’s "normals" for a number of sites in a given region or state. The second forecast usually includes a 60- and 90-day outlook for the state or region. This is an effective long-range tool and if read regularly can be a very useful planning tool. This forecast product is intended for those doing longer term planning and needing some additional input into longer term trends and forecasts. I also write a six-month seasonal forecast which is issued on November 1 (winter season), and May 1 (summer season), and covers the various regions of the western United States. I use the same thought process as discussed above, which works quite well. Sometimes it is more effective to simplify the weather pattern and look at overall trends rather than try to be too complicated.

Short-range Forecast, Hourly, and Every-Six-Hours
The need for specific short-range forecast information is clear during severe weather events that periodically impact our region. Snow, ice, and wind storms can knock us for a loop, so I issue hourly or every-six-hour forecasts in order to help clients schedule crews and staff members during these events. By doing so, we are able to save the client (you) valuable overtime costs, which far and away exceed the cost of our service. The short-range forecasts are issued as needed; hourly forecast bulletins are issued during snow, ice, wind, or heavy rainfall events. While the every-six-hour forecasts are issued daily, year round. These forecasts usually cover the next 18 to 24 hours and are not intended to go out any further.

The short-range forecasts are ideal for crew chiefs and foremen who are planning for staffing during severe weather events, and are intended for operational needs. These are also useful year round for general planning and staffing. The short-range forecasts are also ideal for icing and frost events when there is a need to protect plants, roads, and sensitive products. These can give you a much better idea when we will reach a crucial temperature, heavy rain, or snow event, etc. You can glean a great deal of information from these forecast products as your needs arise. The short-range and hourly forecasts are available through our Severe Weather Alert program or via special request.

Severe Weather Alert Program
The severe weather alert program developed from my work with school districts and transportation clients. They required a more hands-on approach to forecasting with a need to be able to talk with me directly during severe weather events and emergencies. This product is more labor intensive for me, but is much more rewarding as I have the chance to discuss the weather situation directly with those who are making the decisions. This gives me a better feel for what you, the client, are up against, and it gives you a better chance to pick my brain. Plus, it also gives you a chance to understand what I am up against. The Alert Program is more intensive than any of my other programs. It is a full-service program with faxed, E-mail, InfoNet, and phone feedback. During severe weather events, I am on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or until the event has passed. The Alert Program is rather intensive and extensive.

The purpose of this program is to allow direct communications between me and you, the client, without the need for anyone in the middle. I am very concerned about misinformation. We need to discuss upcoming or on-going weather situations directly. By doing so we cut down on the time needed for you to get up to speed on the weather situation, plus you do not have to wade through the last faxed or e-mailed forecast. This is usually much quicker and more helpful than any other means. I can provide a great deal of weather information via electronic media, but the best way is via phone, cell phone, or Motorola 800 service. This seems to work the best for all of us.

Stream Flow Forecasts
The need for longer term stream flow and river height forecasts was painfully shown during the February and November 1996 flood events. It seems that most of us impacted by flooding need more than 48 hours to prepare for such an event. The River Forecast Center does a good job with short-term trends but most folks are telling us that they need more time. We are stepping in to provide a five-day stream flow forecast. Of course, there are a number of issues that need to be considered but some information is better than nothing at all. The need to provide a daily forecast, going out five days, is issued year round, but is updated twice daily via our InfoNet program. Those that need selected stream flow forecasts from around the region can access the information via InfoNet or by request via e-mail or fax. We certainly cannot take into account all the variables from the Corp of Engineers or other regulatory agencies controlling the dams, but we can account for snow runoff and rainfall and how they contribute to stream flow, plus ground water supplies. Keep in mind that not all streams and rivers are controlled by dams so our information will help keep you abreast of river level and stream flow changes five days out!

Fruit Frost Forecast
The frost program developed from our transportation group and has now carried over to the fruit and nursery industries. Road crews need the frost forecast in order to do a better job of placing chemical de-icers on the road surfaces. So, I have put together an hour-by-hour and every-six-hours frost forecast during the fall, winter and spring months. The fruit frost forecasts cover the important nursery and fruit growing regions of the West, and it is similar in scope to the road frost forecast, attempting to identify when temperatures will drop to freezing or below. It looks at dew point values and local winds which will affect how long and how cold a frost event will go. I have over 100 fruit frost forecast sites which I list in my afternoon frost alert program. Most of these sites are located in major agriculture and transportation corridors and are the key stations for most growers. Secondary sites are located in isolated growing and transportation areas, which help those that are located in some of the higher valleys of the region. Together, they form a great network for fruit frost and road frost planning. These forecasts are issued daily in the afternoon, usually by around 3 p.m. Updates are sent as needed!

Graphic Forecast Products
One picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. Well, I like a picture too, so we are developing forecast maps that will cover the following: severe weather areas, road forecasts, road and crop frost, snow and ice coverage, wind forecasts, and a general alert map that will cover the entire region or West Coast. These products are available via the InfoNet program, but some limited aspects might be available via our web site. There will be additional maps available depending on need and requests from each of you!

Road forecast maps
We will take current road conditions and temperatures and extrapolate them out 12, 24, and 48 hours. So those of you that are traveling or planning to travel can see the trouble spots before you leave. This is an ideal package for truckers or shippers of delicate commodities, moving out of or into the Pacific Northwest or Western United States. Major roads will be covered routinely, but secondary roads will "pop up" during severe weather events.

Frost and road icing maps
This map is rather obvious, but we will plan to show graphically where we will have road icing or frost on a given night, and we will also attempt to give a ballpark range of timing. It’s not easy to do but we will give it a shot. Most frost or ice is transitory and short-lived and usually only in the early morning hours. This map is usually a short-term map covering the next 24 hours.

Snow and heavy icing maps
This is a more ambitious map that covers snow and ice on road surfaces and is mostly reserved for the real trouble spots around the region. This type of map will show where we expect the snow and ice to stay and not melt away too quickly. This is mainly a late fall, winter, and early spring product. This covers areas that are likely to stay icy or snow-covered for hours or days on end.

Wind forecast map
Wind storms can impact nearly all areas of the region, but not always with equal distribution. A map showing the "windy" spots will cover those winds above certain thresholds, usually 40+ mph. Damaging winds can occur as low as 20-30 mph if we have had heavy rainfall and saturated soils. But most of the damage begins at around 40+ mph and I will use this as the lower-end threshold. Timing and distribution of the winds and direction will be included, plus any comments about storm movement.

General alert map and status
The need to provide a quick glance at the regional weather action is ideally suited to this product. The intent here is to give all of you a quick overview of what is happening around the region now, and then to offer an alert map for 12 hours from now, then 24 hours, then 48 hours. Again, this is a regional "micro-climate" view not the general overview from TV or the Weather Channel. This will specifically address roads and resort areas, winds, snow and ice, travel advisories, and all parameters impacting the region. This map will provide a general overview but will have the capability to "zoom" in on key areas, like the Columbia River Gorge, Siskiyous, and other areas as needed. A great quick stop for a weather briefing!

430 North Lotus Isle Drive
Portland, OR 97217
Fax 503-285-3633

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