Temira Lital studied Japanese in college, not meteorology. But the windsurfers, skiers and cherry growers who live by the forecasts she writes on her website (thegorgeismygym.com) don't care.
For more than a dozen years, Lital, 43, has pored over computer models, combining the science she gleans from them with the experience she's accumulated in three decades of skiing and windsurfing, the past 21 years of it from her home in Hood River.
She got her start forecasting after a friend, a radio legend among windsurfers who went by the name "Bingen Bart," retired.
Lital picked up where Bart left off and now does Gorge weather for a couple of local radio stations. In the winter, she also does snow reports, a skill she picked up when Mt. Hood Meadows asked her to improve on commercially available forecasts.
"Mount Hood is very scientific. Forecasting the Gorge weather and wind is more art," she says. "It takes a lot of local knowledge. It's so complex. We have so many micro-climates."
For anyone headed to the mountain during ski season, Lital provides a particularly precise view of precipitation.
"I try to give some descriptives instead of just 'snowfall,'" she says. "I talk about water equivalent or water value. Is the snow going to be heavy or dry? Will it be Cascade concrete or dry powder?"
Lital, who recently completed a master's degree in counseling at Portland State University, is a practicing Buddhist, and says the philosophy informs the way she approaches sharing her views on the weather. Because Buddhist teachers charge whatever their students can afford, she offers her website forecasts for free. A daily email subscription costs $12.34 a year.
And about the name of Lital's website: A decade or so ago, she says, friend asked her what gym she was going to join that winter.
"I'm not joining a fucking gym," Lital said. "The Gorge is my gym."
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