When Will It End?

January 30, 2008

SnapshotThe numbers might be a bit hard to read, so you can click on the image for a larger view.  The big picture shows that we now have the largest snowpack on record since sensors were installed in the Coast Range in 1979!  Discuss among yourself while I do my job here in the next 20 minutes…more after the weathercast…

Okay, back now…isn’t that snowpack incredible?  What’s interesting about the big snow year is that it’s only at the lower elevations.  Higher sites such as the Timberline only have slightly above average snowfall.  Also, I notice that at Saddle Mountain the precipitation for the season is actually slightly below normal.  That clearly shows that our storms have been unusually cold this winter.  What snow has fallen has fallen to a lower than normal elevation and we haven’t had any warm/rainy events since the first 2 days of December.

As for flood concerns, as I mentioned at 10pm, it’s not necessarily a problem to have a huge snowpack.  The problem is only if we get a sudden warm and rainy period.  I sure don’t see that in the next 7 days.  But it’s something to keep a close eye on.

Tonight’s storm has pushed the snow level up to around 2,000′.  It’ll stay there through tomorrow night, then drop down to around 1,000′ again by late Friday afternoon.  The whole time, strong westerly flow at 850mb. means a continuous dumping at the mountains.  Basically the snowstorm that began Sunday more or less continues through Friday afternoon!

Saturday:  This is interesting…a surface low comes across the Pacific pretty much straight into the Northwest.  Models runs have been all over the place on landfall location.  The 00z GFS is just slightly north of Astoria (maybe a bit of "dumbelling"?).  The 00z NAM moves the low farther south, into the Central Oregon Coast.  Still a couple days to decide.  The thought is that if the low moves inland to the Central Oregon Coast, our wind in the metro area would turn northeasterly with plenty of moisture and 850mb temps well below 0.  That is a good setup for snow with heavy precipitation falling.  If the low goes any further north (lets say north of Astoria), we just get south or southeast wind and a 1,000′ or higher snow level.  There appears to be good lifting and plenty of moisture with that system, so we’ll get quite a bit of snow in the hills and Gorge either way.  Wow, another 2′ of snow in the Cascades AFTER the 2′ we have coming tomorrow and Friday!  Some models indicate a change to more normal temps & weaker systems after the middle of next week…we’ll see…Mark Nelsen