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Jeff Popick

Stories by Jeff

Chance of frost still present as precipitation grounds cooler air

A half-decent weekend segued into an increasingly blustery and inclement beginning of the week as a fairly vigorous Pacific front took aim at Southeast Washington yesterday.

Brisk Easter/Passover weekend as wintry conditions prove resilient

Our very unstable early spring weather proved to be as spiteful, unkind and uncaring as the Indiana state legislature this past weekend as frigid temperatures played havoc with Easter morning egg hunts, newly planted vegetables and recently broken grape buds. The latter prompted local vineyard managers to turn on wind machines early Sunday for the second time in three days in an effort to protect tender new growth that is highly susceptible to the cold.

Weathervine - Variety in buffet offerings mirrors diverse weather in Valley

Doing its best imitation of the Dow Jones industrial average, the Walla Walla Valley weather this past week featured some wide swings in temperature and sky cover with a couple of record-breaking warm days (Thursday and Friday) that saw afternoon temperatures soar into the mid- and upper 70s.

Fronts in Walla Walla Valley duel for last of winter, first of spring

It will be a tale of two seasons and very disparate weather regimes this week for the Walla Walla Valley — which is entirely appropriate for this changeable time of year as we transition from winter to spring.

Weathervine - Weather gods grant free rain to Valley after heartfelt supplication

A long-lost friend made it back to town this past weekend after an extended absence that had many wondering if he were gone for good.

March’s lion roars: Five-hundredths of an inch of rain in 28 days

Abnormally glorious weather continued to grace the Walla Walla Valley this past week as high pressure remained firmly in control over the Pacific Northwest, supplying a winning formula of sunny skies and above-normal temperatures that provided a delightful foretaste of spring.

Recent and predicted lows indicate winter not ready to give up

After a prolonged absence, winter staged a modest attempt at a comeback this past weekend as a cold front swept across the Walla Walla Valley from the north late Saturday afternoon, ushering in a bracing shot of chilly Canadian air on north and northeasterly winds that gusted to near 30 miles per hour.

Weathervine - Vineyard focus on spurs at the moment

The major weather story this week is a tale of two countries: Winter continues its brutal and unrelenting assault on the eastern half of our nation, while folks here in the West bask in bright sunshine and unusual warmth.

Pressure makes for low-snow gloom

A tantalizing hint of what might be someday was offered to Walla Wallans last week when the sun made a half-day appearance before scaring itself away and becoming shrouded once again in a dense and drippy miasma that is as stubborn as the most partisan legislator.

Weathervine - Warmer, drier-than-normal conditions forecast to persist

A grateful populace welcomed much-needed rainfall and mild temperatures this past weekend as a wet and windy Pacific storm system swept over the Walla Walla Valley, dropping nearly one-half inch of rain on the area.

Murky Valley could use a bit of last year’s record warmth

Thomas Paine once wrote: “These are the times that try mens’ souls.” Contrary to popular notion, he was not describing the formative days of the new American nation, but rather the midwinter Walla Walla weather, whose nearly incessant fog and gloom can take a serious toll on even the sunniest disposition. The recent steady diet of low cloudiness, drizzle and lead-gray skies is of benefit only to the producers of antidepressants and purveyors of vitamin D. The rest of us are obliged to handle our SAD-related symptoms as best we can — and this past weekend’s NFL results have only compounded the problem. The real prospect of three more weeks of Seahawk psychosis is as alarming to some as another month without a single ray of sunshine.

Coldest two-week period of year just about over

Your couch-dwelling forecaster has finally discovered the answer to that age-old question that has perplexed both man and woman for so very long: How much football is too much?

Valley could warm up to new year after chilly few days

The tree is dropping needles like Winnie the yellow lab sheds her hair, the uneaten fruit cake sits stolidly in a hidden corner of the kitchen where it will remain untouched for the next several weeks, and the TV drones a continuous buzz of college bowl games — the names and scores of which will be forgotten by the following day. It is the “lost” week — the seven days between Christmas and the new year when very little of consequence gets done. However, like rust, the weather never sleeps, and your weatherperson is on the job, even if many others are not.

Wild weather week as winds over Blues blow up temp records

The Walla Walla Valley did little to diminish its well-known reputation for meteorological drama last week as once again the area was subjected to a wide and wild variety of weather — both welcome and unwelcome.

Tears of Niners fans presage more 'weepy' weather

It was a wet and weepy week in the Walla Walla Valley — particularly for your weatherperson. Nearly four-tenths of an inch of rain fell late Friday into early Saturday morning, effectively melting the last few patches of ice from a couple of freezing rain events earlier in the week. The pelting rain Friday night was mirrored by your forecaster’s own copious flow of tears resulting from a thoroughly embarrassing declawing suffered by his Arizona Wildcats earlier that evening at the hands (feet?) of the University of Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

Chill drives football fans, grapevines into seasonal dormancy

It was a long weekend of football and food — just as Thanksgiving should be — and the sudden change in the weather late Friday night and Saturday argued eloquently for a couple of days firmly planted on the couch with a warming fire, the girlfriend and dogs close by.

Temperatures, weather take swing at Valley

Your weatherperson was shocked and dismayed to discover a letter to the editor excoriating him for disseminating faulty information in last week’s column. He was fully expecting messages of profound gratitude for expelling hot air in sufficient quantities to produce the putative 10-degree inversion upon which the complainant relied to warm his vines so nicely. (The claim, by the way, seriously stretches the bounds of one’s meteorological credulity given the particular circumstances of the evening(s) in question.)

Valley, grapes mostly evade worst of cold, snowy conditions

After one of the warmest Octobers and early Novembers on record, Mother Nature played a nasty trick on the Pacific Northwest last week as a deep and frigid intrusion of arctic air descended on the area, bringing snow and record-low temperatures to many locations.

Temps, snow to get the drop on Valley

What a difference a week makes! If it wasn’t bad enough to watch Republicans overrunning the U.S. Senate and House like Marshawn Lynch over (and through) the New York Giants, our beautifully mild and benign fall weather has gone with the wind, along with many Democrats — neither of which may be seen again in these parts for a very long time. The blame for it all can be squarely laid at the feet of a superpowered invader from the Far East.

November gets a non-chilly reception

All the teeth-gnashing, hair-pulling, name-calling and back-stabbing will finally come to an end today, at least temporarily. The waiting, the wondering and the wailing will cease — for a time — and we will move on, no matter what the outcome.

Rain could be among tricks on Halloween

It was variety week weather-wise in the Walla Walla Valley, with the meteorological manipulator upstairs virtually offering up something for everybody. Rain totaling nearly one-third of an inch fell over our abnormally dry region, followed by a thick fog that settled in on Friday night. This remained densely draped across the area until well into Saturday afternoon, with visibility hovering around one-quarter of a mile for the better part of the day until brisk southerly winds swept it all away.

Coming rain could spell doom for still-unpicked grapes

Your weatherperson recently received a lime sherbet-colored envelope, which means two things: one, November weather will soon be upon us; and two, we will shortly be delivered from the incessant noise and visual pollution emanating from a certain local sheriff’s race that has been only slightly less annoying than a home invasion by a horde of brown marmorated stink bugs, and about as compelling as a rebroadcast of the 1999 six-day bicycle race from Perth Amboy, N.J. Your fed-up forecaster has chosen to write in Ed Grimley, who seems exactly the right guy for the job, I must say.

Calm to return after early-week bluster

Our newborn fall season received an almost immediate baptism last week as more than four-tenths of an inch of rain fell at the Walla Walla Airport from a vigorous Pacific cold front and low pressure system that passed across the state. Vintners and vineyard managers (along with a few local meteorologists) were surprised by the unexpectedly robust nature of the rain event and a bit alarmed that it might lead to rot and mold issues in their grapes. But the moisture that fell on the fruit did not persist long enough to cause anything other than a minor inconvenience for most.

Week’s forecast hazy, despite predictors’ claims of certitude

About the only thing we can say this week with any certainty regarding the heavens is that autumn officially arrived here yesterday at 7:29 p.m. with its customary 12/12 split of daylight and darkness hours. With our daily existence rife with confusion, chaos, discord and general disregard (and that’s just the NFL — the current world scene is not terribly rosy either), it is comforting to know there are still a few constants upon which we can rely. And the regular change of seasons reminds us things have not yet spun totally out of control.

Fall weather to resume following midweek cloudy intermission

A taste of fall came to the Walla Walla Valley last week as a cold front brought a couple of very chilly nights to the area — even threatening frost in a few notably colder spots. The unusual cold caused some brief concerns on the part of local grape growers who feared an untimely frost would kill the leaves on their vines. This would bring an abrupt end to the pre-harvest ripening process, which relies on carbohydrates the leaves produce through photosynthesis to bring the fruit to acceptable sugar levels.

Shorter days, cooler temps warn of Valley headed for a fall

Many who viewed the absence of last week’s column with the hope it marked something of a permanent nature will be sorely disappointed to see your faithful weatherperson is still on the job. An all-too-short vacation in North Carolina’s spectacular Outer Banks has recharged his once-flagging batteries. He returns to you with renewed spirit and a few extra pounds courtesy of multiple helpings of crabcakes, fried shrimp, grouper, tilefish and flounder from the bountiful waters of the Atlantic and its numerous estuaries.

Crabby agriculturalist envisions mild, dry fall, winter, spring

Your wayfaring weatherperson writes this from Rodanthe, N.C., at the very eastern edge of our U.S. of A. A few days of R&R here prior to returning to Walla Walla for the annual madness known as the grape crush will help considerably with his frame of mind as the next two months of harvest reveal the much-anticipated story of vintage 2014.

Storms spare the Valley, spoil the heat wave

First off, your slightly peeved prognosticator would like to dispel the ugly rumor that has lately been circulating, claiming his weekly weather column is actually penned by four former Notre Dame footballers with a strong penchant for writing that has not been satisfied in the course of their college careers.

Coastal California low to depress temps, dampen region

Weather-weary Walla Wallans are wondering many things as of late: Will the Wilbur Avenue work be completed before most of us cast off this worldly shell? Will WSU’s gridiron warriors wilt in their much-awaited (by a few) “war of the weak” season opener against Rutgers? And, most importantly, when will this wretched and withering heat give way to something more welcome weatherwise?

Stifling heat nearly incapacitates Valley’s residents, grapes

Your roaming reporter has fled to the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe in order to find some slight surcease from the Walla Walla Valley’s unrelenting heat that threatens to boil the brains of its now thoroughly sun-baked citizens.

Hot Oriole bats presage sizzling temps on the way

It was a week marked by blustery storms, damaging stones and crackling electricity in the Walla Walla Valley — and then there was the weather.

Impending low pressure to take area by storm

Our weather so far this month would appear to have much in common with the current race for Walla Walla County sheriff: a prodigious amount of annoyingly hot air that seems as if it will never go away.

Valley’s thermostat stuck at 90-plus degrees

The heat is most definitely on here in the Walla Walla Valley and has been for several days now.

Natural fireworks could precede man-made variety

This past weekend featured a rather un-summerlike array of weather. A lingering trough of low pressure that had brought nearly one-quarter of an inch of rain to the Walla Walla Valley on Thursday and Friday continued to provide partly to mostly cloudy skies, occasionally gusty winds and afternoon temperatures that fell about 6 degrees short of the date’s normal high of 84.

‘Mixed bag’ of weather on the horizon

Your weatherperson celebrated the first weekend of summer by enjoying the mostly sunny and seasonably warm weather from the comfort of his favorite seat on the couch. He was intently focused — as were many others — on events unfolding in Brazil, where a wildly entertaining World Cup provided a seemingly endless supply of chills and thrills.

Sun drives away un-Napa Valley-like weekend moisture

Your peripatetic prognosticator is once again on the road this week and finds himself in California’s Napa Valley to visit his son and daughter for a few days.

Fishing, camping weather should continue

Another glorious late-spring weekend graced the Walla Walla Valley as high pressure continued the streak of mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures that began last week. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the 50s made for a near-perfect regime that caused few — if any — to grumble.

Grape pollen ready to get set, grow

Your wandering weatherperson not only survived his Memorial Day weekend excursion to the wilds of Asotin County, but enjoyed his time there immensely — despite the fact that it rained briefly a couple of times at our campsite in lovely Fields Springs State Park. The discovery of several morels in the surrounding woods provided a savory note to our stay, and much of the time was spent with eyes intently focused on the ground in an effort to find the very tasty — but elusive — fungi.

More of the same on tap: Warm week, cooler weekend

The Walla Walla Valley was treated to a preview of summer last week as a strong high pressure system over Washington brought a mini heat wave to the area, with temperatures soaring to near 90 degrees.

Stampede weather to float in — just a few days too late

Once again, Mother Nature conspired to prevent many of this past weekend’s Balloon Stampede events from getting off the ground. Winds above ground level were sufficiently strong to make flying the colorful balloons a risky undertaking.

Record high temps temporary previews of summer to come

Only in its sixth day, the month of May has already dramatically demonstrated a serious bout of bi-polar personality with a couple of episodes of record-breaking heat followed by a precipitous drop in temperatures that caused a nasty case of “weather whiplash” in many residents of the Walla Walla Valley.

Spring’s splendors now on full display after watery weeks

If April showers do indeed bring May flowers, as the saying goes, then the Walla Walla Valley should be overrun by all manner of flora for the next four weeks or so as the area has just concluded a very wet two-week period that began on April 17.

April gets the drops on Walla Walla Valley residents

It appears as if the Walla Walla Valley is in for a wet week. A series of fronts is slated to traverse Southeast Washington over the next several days, bringing periods of rain accompanied by rather cool temperatures.

Wind machines are grapes’ biggest fans

The wind generated by the machines is useful in mixing the warmer air aloft with the shallow layer cold air situated at and just above ground level so that sub-freezing temperatures are mitigated to the point where there is no more danger to the very delicate and susceptible growth.

Frost, mildew lurk, could undo April’s vineyard progress

The general outlook for the next five to six weeks is nail-biting days followed by sleep-interrupted nights, and vineyard managers everywhere will collectively breathe a deep sigh of relief around the second or third week of May.

Sun, warmer temps supplant period of much-needed moisture

A few days of significant rainfall (totaling 1.15 inches at the airport) — some of which fell in thundershowers — boosted the monthly rainfall total to 50 percent above normal (3.03 inches vs. 2.01 inches).

Grape guy flees Valley for Grapefruit League

The Walla Walla Valley enjoyed a delightful first weekend of spring under the benign influence of high pressure that brought generally fair skies and mild afternoon temperatures to the area.

Winter is over? Not so fast ...

Cool high pressure behind Monday morning’s cold front will rule with fair weather until later Wednesday. Then a second reinforcing shot of cold air should zip through the area with a chance of showers followed by clearing on Thursday.

Wet March tempers drought discussion

Throughout the Evergreen State, there is some measure of relief that mountain snow packs are in considerably better shape now than they were at the beginning of the year.

If you like wet weather, this week will be a treat

Several waves of moisture will sweep over the area this week, leading to a mostly soggy series of days featuring lots of puddle-dodging and muddy footwear.