A Very Wet March

Even if the rain stopped falling right now, this would be considered an unusually wet March.  As of 10pm we are up to 4.93″ of rain so far, and we’ll probably go over the 5″ mark later tonight or tomorrow afternoon with a few more showers.  So that makes 5″ by the 19th…only 11 days to go to April!

Here are the last 5 times we exceeded 5″ in the month of March:  2003, 1997, 1989, 1983, 1974.

The forecasting becomes a real pain now the next 7 days.  It’s a classic pattern of upper-level systems diving down towards California, while sending disturbances north over us.  Models typically don’t handle the small waves of showers well.  As a result we changed our 7 Day Forecas wording to “MORE DRY THAN WET” instead of “MAINLY DRY”.  I still believe there won’t be a ton of rain during the next week, but if we get a deformation zone (maybe Monday?), that can give a cool and drippy day.  That’s as opposed to afternoon showers (tomorrow and probably Sunday).

Not much else to talk about for this weekend.  My favorite moment today was when I read that RADIATION FROM NUKE PLANT REACHES WEST COAST in some sort of online headline.  Then I read the details:  it was detectable in Sacramento, at about one-millionth the dose we regularly get from bricks, rocks, the sun, and other natural sources.  Why isn’t the media telling us about the danger in all those rocks and bricks!!!  I’m going to cloister myself inside my house over the weekend just in case the sun tries to shine on me or a rock can see me…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

198 Responses to A Very Wet March

  1. Karl Bonner says:

    This is a reply to Garron’s remark about how the vegetation transitions through the Gorge from west to east:

    Well you have to keep in mind that as you enter the Gorge from the west end, the climate actually gets *wetter* up to almost Cascade Locks, where you get about 80″ or rain / melted snow in an average year. I’m not sure how quickly moisture totals ramp up at the west end, but by Multnomah Falls you are into near-rainforest conditions.

    Just east of Cascade Locks the precip totals begin to plummet, but you pretty much have to get to the west end of Hood River before the vegetation begins to show obvious signs of transition, though across the river in Underwood the change might begin a couple miles further west due to the south sun exposure. (If you were nitpicky, you might notice a few ponderosa pines and Garry oaks beginning to mix in about 5 miles west of Hood River, and slightly less of a lush look here than in the West Gorge during the pre-drought season between late May and early July.)

    I think the westernmost parts of the Hood River urban boundary get about 33-35″ of rain per year, while the easternmost spots get 27-28″. In other words, about 2″ less per mile eastward, which is almost the same as the 2-3″ per mile gradient in the middle “corridor” section of the Gorge.

    But once you get past the Columbia Gorge Hotel, the change really kicks in dramatically. Pine and oak quickly become dominant native specimens and the north side of the river starts to show large patches of grass – grass that’s usually very brown from July through September. The north side of the river is about 4 or 5 miles “ahead” of the south side in turning to dry scrub, though. So while the brown grassy hillsides north of the river begin at Bingen, you have to get past Mosier to see them south of the river. And after Lyle there are scant few trees north of the river – but the south side has a “sub-Mediterranean” pine oak savanna all the way into the west part of The Dalles, as well as the steep rural terrain immediately south and southwest of The Dalles. The exceptions are hillsides with partial southern (or at least southeastern) exposure, such as on Sevenmile Hill and Crates Point; you get mostly treeless landscapes here except in the little gullies and spots with decent afternoon shade.

  2. Jesse-Orchards says:

    Surprisingly mild 7-day from Mark considering how ccccCold the models look.

    Pretty typical to see optimisticasty looking 7-days at this point in the Spring, though. I’m surprised he didn’t throw a 60 and sunny day in just to “keep the people happy” again. 😆

    • Boydo3 500' North Albany says:

      We like to call that a chamber of commerce forecast.

    • Karl Bonner says:

      I bet Jesse’s happy knowing that he won’t have to deal with the butt-ugly sight of profuse flowers and freshly opened deciduous leaves for a couple weeks more. At least except for those spots with tons of daffodils, forsythia, flowering plums and star magnolias.

  3. bgb41 says:

    18Z GFS @ Troutdale

    Wow, 9 days in a row in the 40’s on this run and only one 60 day on April 4th. 6.35″ of rain during the next 16 days also modeled. Portland has seen rain 22/23 days up today. Here are two all-time records likely to fall this month:

    *27 rainy days in March is the most days ever recorded with rain. Right now we are at 20/21 this month,

    *March 27, 1955 marked the latest date in the springtime Portland has ever gone without achieving a max temperature of 60 degrees. This record is likely going to be broken too.

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      If you’re into Spring skiing this weather is prime but for anyone else… yea enough said. Thank goodness the days are getting longer otherwise, I’d lose my mind!

    • I thought the airport hit 60? Maybe not quite. Records get confusing, because only official locations count. The whole portland area can hit 60+, but if the airport doesn’t, bets are off.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      I don’t think anywhere in the metro area has hit 60 yet this year.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      And it’s very unlikely the whole area would hit 60 without PDX (or another official station) representing that. I think you’re making things more confusing than they are.

    • ..67.6 here in the few minutes otherday before the wind event in east county; although brief, it was in the 60’s….

    • Andrew Johnson says:

      I thought I’d hit 60 this March, until I looked closer and saw that it was 59.6. So technically not 60. I believe SLE has hit 60 once. Eugene was in the mid 60s on the 13th before that windstorm.

    • Karl Bonner says:

      The Dalles got one 61-degree day so far, and three days made it to 57. Everything else was 55 or colder. So unless we get some 60s soon, our phenology is going to start getting quite dramatically repressed.

  4. Ken says:


  5. I wonder what day this week might be the driest so I can mow my lawn? As we all know, dry weather before helps more than after, I will be watching!

  6. Cherie in Vernonia says:

    Vernonia to Seaside..then Astoria & home. (Best clam chowder Ever!) Sun breaks, rain,hail, showers & more sun breaks. Welcome break 🙂

  7. Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

    It seems a spotter has reported a tornado SW of Chico, California.

    • 503STEVE says:

      Yes, my girlfriend is visiting her mom down there and they say they saw two tornadoes.

    • 503STEVE says:

      Lucky her, figures haha.

      She was supposed to come back with a tan not pictures of a tornado haha.

      Spent many summers in the Midwest and never got lucky enough to see one my self.

  8. CorbettTez says:

    Still waiting for the…”More dry than wet!” portion of last weeks 7 day forecast!

  9. Cgavic sandy Oregon 1,100 ft says:

    38 degs and 1/2 of hail

  10. Tyler in Battle Ground says:

    Thunder off to the NE!

  11. bgb41 says:

    12Z GFS @ Troutdale:

    March came in like a lion, may go out as a lamb. Last several runs have been hinting at a brief warm ridge at the end of this month. Looks like just a 48-72 hour period at this point but I will take any break in this winter-like weather.

    • O.C.Paul says:

      Nah. I expect an ‘epic’ arctic front, 50 mph east winds and 18″ of snow. Stay tuned to NWS. LOL.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      Hey, as long as it comes after the 27th and we can set a new record for “Latest First 60” at PDX I’m good.

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280' says:

      What year did that “Latest First 60” occur Jesse?

    • Jesse-Orchards says:


      Barring any unexpected warmth the next 5-7 days we should break it pretty handily.

      Some models indicate we could go to the first of April without hitting it. Seeing a March without 60 would be a trip.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      For those analog nuts out there, the dearth of early Spring warmth in 1955 was followed by one of our coolest Summers on record, then a great Fall/Winter for cold and snow. 🙂

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280' says:

      Thanks Jesse,

      Very interesting analog. Can’t say a cool summer would break my heart, but I would like some tomatoes this year.

    • bgb41 says:

      Jesse, I appreciate you pointing these statistics out..Thank You.

  12. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    It’s hard to believe looking outside at the 44 degree rain that my record high for the date is 72. 2004 was a warm spring!

  13. William johnson says:

    Tagingresham here is the reason I dont us periods is because I use a cell phone for most of my blogging its hard enough to type on these lil keys with thick fingertips so I chose not to use periods im sorry if u dont like it.

    • TAGinGresham says:


    • Sifton says:

      So much for that degree huh TAG??

    • william johnson says:

      Who said anything about a degree sifton really are you gonna be that lame come on is that all you got? i never said i had a degree.

    • Sifton says:

      Ohhhhh, I got more, though I wasn’t referring to you Billy.

    • TAGinGresham says:

      William just ignore him. He only posts to cause trouble. Not sure why he felt it necessary to enter our “conversation”, but that’s the way he is. I thought your reply made sense, as it is hard to type on phones, and I was not trying to be sarcastic by saying “ok”.

    • William johnson says:

      Its cool tag no prob here I just really hate stopping to to hit a period at the end. Lol of each sentence the last post above I did took me like 15mins to type on a regular compter it woulda been 5 .

  14. Ben Randall says:

    Sunday Cold Front Looks good for some high wind on the coast

  15. Karl Bonner says:

    March 1-20 in The Dalles (DLS):

    Avd. High 52F
    Avd. Low 34F
    Avd. Mean 43F
    Total precip. 1.23″

    Historical norms for this 20-day period taken as a whole, are high 55, low 36 and mean 45.5. However, after March 4 the trend wasn’t very much below historical norms; for 3/5 to 3/20 highs averaged around 54 and lows at 35. Yet despite pretty normal temperature conditions, the local hills/bulbs/tree blossoms seem to be mildly repressed at the current moment, with the notable exception of forsythia. Maybe only by 5-7 days, but things do look slightly behind schedule.

    Maybe the problem is the almost total lack of any kind of warmth: we got one 61-degree day and three 57-degree ones. The remaining days all had highs of 55 or cooler, and we had only a few hours each day at 50 or higher.

    On the other hand, the entire month of March averages 1.2″ precip. So I think unless we’re extremely dry from here until the end of the month, The Dalles will wind up significantly wetter than March norms. I bet this will be an especially green and lush spring in the East Gorge. As soon as our temperatures break out of the late winter doldrums (which they WILL do at some point in the next 2-3 weeks), the grasses and leaves will explode with growth. And all the extra soil moisture means that, barring a very warm and dry April, strong growth will be able to continue deeper into the spring season than it normally does.

    • Garron by Wash. Square says:

      I love driving from Portland through The Dalles. There should be a green mile marker to denote the exact spot where all the foliage changes from rain forest to tumble weeds. In the summer it seems like it changes in the course of just a few miles.

  16. bgb41 says:

    00Z GFS @ Troutdale

    15/16 days with measurable rain coming. Thanks alot!!

  17. bgb41 says:

    3/20/2011 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:65 at Echo( 680 ft)
    Low: 43 at CW7901 Springfie(1320 ft) & CW3485 Port Orfo(400 ft) & Brookings Airpor(459 ft)

    High:27 at Timberline Lodge(7001 ft)
    Low: 17 at MOSS SPRINGS (5850 ft ) & HOWARD Mt Howard (8150 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 32 degrees
    Barnhart (64/32 ) (891 ft )
    ECHO (61/29) (758 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.14″ at QUAIL PRAIRIE LO(3183ft)

  18. yevpolo1990 says:

    the blog is coming to a stall….

  19. Ben Randall says:

    2.4 quake in Tillamook County this morning


    • william johnson says:

      oviously he could predict them he predicted 4 of them right before they happened so how can you even begin to say that? ben really hmmm

    • Ben Randall says:

      already to talked to tsunami warning center about and they basically said it was garbage and he had no evidence showing is predictions ….ok he got luck 4times ..I’m not worried until/if it happens

  20. william johnson says:

    can someone tell me about this guy whos been going around on the news predicting a mega quake off the oregon coast he has some timeline of when its possibly gonna hit between the 19th of march to the 26th of march. and suposedly its gonna be a range between a 9.2 to a 9.5 mag suposedly hes predicted like 4 other earthquakes and have been dead on about them?

    • Ben Randall says:

      Don’t believe him ..You can’t predict Quakes

    • Longview - 400 ft says:

      Maybe it was Jesus Christ passing through the Northwest.

    • william johnson says:

      You know ben ive hear many people say theve talked with such and such that are professionals i dont belive it anymore if you want to belive in your head that you talked to someone from the tsunami warning center you can belive it but i dont as far as being a reputable source he is he worked for the usgs for over 6 years and he does know what he is talking about i highly doubt anyone from the usgs department or tsunami warning center would doubt his expertise in things like this . there is evidence that he had told people 2 weeks prior to each event read up on it more you will find that out i have done my homwork i think you need to.

    • Ben Randall says:

      I have read all about and trust me I did talk to someone from Tsunami warning center …………………Well see if it happens …+ it’s very unlikely to have to big events so close together

    • Tornado Aly says:

      New Zealand had a 6.3 earthquake in Christchuch on Feb 22nd, just two and a half weeks before the Japan earthquake. Just because a big one just happened doesn’t make it unlikely for another one to hit so soon….that’s part of the reason they are unpredictable. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, just be prepared so that if it does happen, you’re somewhat ready with supplies on hand.

    • TAGinGresham says:

      I mean no disrespect William, but it is difficult to read your posts when you don’t use periods, commas, capital letters, etc. You might be making a valid point, but when I have to keep reading it over and over, to figure out what you are saying, it takes way too much work.

    • Brenda EVancouver says:

      I didn’t get the impression that he is “predicting” the earthquakes. It seems that what he is doing is more of a cause and effect of the pressure build up and releases in the earth’s crust. It may be possible if you are an expert in that area of science to make a logical guess at were the next quake will be. Also if you have been studying them for years you would know about any little quirky things that happen just before a big quake. Taking all that information into account and being fairly accurate in your guess work would make anyone want to warn the public even if you may be laughed at for doing so.

      I think he may have enough information to make him believe that one is likely to happen, however I’m not going to go running and screaming through the streets. As a parent I make sure to keep up on my emergency preparedness. There really isn’t anything you can do in a 9.0 or such strength earthquake except let it bounce you wherever it may. You can’t just get to your kids in a situation like that. Afterward you can access the damage and dig out your emergency supplies.

      I just pray it doesn’t have to happen in my lifetime.

    • pdxgeologist says:

      He has predicted many, many, many earthquakes. Back in the late 80s, when I was at the USGS in Menlo Park, he was using missing pet reports to predict earthquakes. A few years back, he “predicted” a large New Madrid quake back east – I don’t recall hearing anything about that disaster occurring. I can tell you that the guys at the USGS who were working on the very difficult science of earthquake prediction when I was there, were quite annoyed with this guy.

      The thing is, if he gets one or two predictions close, everyone remembers (probably because he keeps reminding us). But he is not too quick to remind us of the hundreds that he missed. Just remember in a week or two, when his great Cascadia quake prediction does not materialize, that he missed another.

      Also, while the Christchurch quake was devastating to structures and caused alot of damage, injury and some deaths, it was not a great quake in terms of magnitude. Mid-6 magnitude quakes happen with incredible frequency around the globe. Not to minimize the Kiwi’s suffering, but this quake does not belong in the same conversation with Chile and Japan, and the suggestion that it is tied directly to those events – or is part of some precursor to a Cascadia event, is silly (my opinion, of course).

  21. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Fairbanks above freezing (36) first time since January 2nd…when they were in a huge heatwave.


    • Boydo3 500' North Albany says:

      Yup, they finally made it above average after a long spell of below ave. temps. They are also above ave. in snowfall since the first of the year. It will be interesting to see how the snow melt compares with the typical snow melt date. Hey, Tyler, what were you doing up there? I’ve been to AK a couple times, mostly fishing. Hopefully going back this year for some family history research.

    • Tyler in Battle Ground says:

      I vacation up there…simply to see the sites, take pics. I don’t fish anymore really and I don’t have to be entertained 24/7. Give me scenery and maybe some animals and I’m good.

    • bgb41 says:

      Watching the Alaska State Troopers Series this weekend season 2. -33 in Fairbanks during the taping of the show.

    • MasterNate says:

      Amazing that their average high temp rises 10 deg in just 16 days. 24f on the 14th to 34f on the 31st of March.

  22. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Well the 37 mph this morning was my peak. It is calm now, and mild, 48 degrees.

    Just 0.02″ of sprinkles today.

  23. Gresham Rocks says:

    Can someone please answer this question? Why does it always rain on the east side of Portland? Pouring down here, and I check the ODOT cams and everywhere else is dry.

  24. wierd rain on radar keeps coming over but its all dry all day

  25. Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

    Despite the OTH-GEG cross cascade gradient weakening quickly and the PDX/TTD-DLS gradient only hovering near -5mb the winds seem to have kicked up again at least at my location.

  26. bgb41 says:

    Peak gust of 59mph at Corbett School.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Very impressive for late March.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      Especially considering this is a cold east wind event. Those are really uncommon this late, especially of this magnitude. Usually with easterlies this strong in the last third of March we’d have temps well into the 60s.

      Windy and 49 here at work. Dry air and strong gusts makes for a low wind chill!

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Obviously the Vista House sensor is too close to the building. In the last 4-5 east wind events since the permanent sensor went in, it’s been lighter than Corbett. It’s always stronger down at Crown Point than in Corbett. Hopefully I’ll be able to get them to move it back to the south side for next winter.

  27. Cgavic sandy Oregon 1,100 ft says:

    A very windy day today in Gresham!

    Wind in excess of 30 mph.

  28. Up to 50° after an overnight low of 32.7…East wind gusts to 29 in the past hour..

    Models showed the east winds and Mark blogged about them a few days ago..

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/mm5rt/rt/load.cgi?latest+YYYYMMDDHH.naminit/images_d2/kpdx.th.gif+text+12 km Portland,OR 45.59N,122.59W

  29. Tara says:

    It’s really windy here in East Vancouver, anybody else experiencing strong gusts?

  30. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    WOW! 37 mph now…strongest gust since I’ve moved up here!

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      As we head towards late March It isn’t often you’ll see a 14mb OTH-GEG cross cascade gradient.

    • bgmike says:

      What about last Sundays gusts during the squall, weren’t they stronger?

    • bgb41 says:

      Last Sunday’s winds did not hit Battle Ground very hard. Highest winds were in Southern Clark county area near Orchards. I much much more debris today than then.

    • bgmike says:

      strange, here in southern Battle Ground (near 199th) I had stronger winds last Sunday.

    • bgb41 says:

      Mike, I am off 259th and from past experience the Easterly mountain-wave is generally much stronger up here to the north then down your way.

    • bgmike says:

      Oh OK. thanks! ya there never is a lot of eat wind here.

  31. Hal says:

    Right on CorbettTez……….so much for the forecast……..large debris flying thru the air hitting the house……just like last Sunday…just from a different direction……power blinking……..haven’t even gotten the mess from last time all cleaned up yet!!!….sigh

    • bgb41 says:

      Speaking of mess, I spent 3+ hours pressure washing my 4000sq ft driveway yesterday only to wake up to very strong winds this morning. Guess I will have to get out the blower again today.

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      At least it’s dry!

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