Colder Northwest Springs?

Does it seem that our Springs have been getting colder?  You’re not crazy…take a look at the chart.  Note the number of 60+ degree days up to May 4th each of the last 8 years.  This year we’ve only seen 10 days (4 of those since Sunday), which keeps us at the fewest 60 degree days ever at PDX at this point in the season.  1955 is nipping at our tails though.  That year we had just 11 days so far.  The summer following was cool and frequently cloudy.  You may remember comparisons to 1955 during last summer’s cool spells.  That year we were between year 1 and year 2 of strong La Nina conditions.  Of course we are just finishing up a La Nina right now, with models showing us gonig neutral, back into weak La Nina, or into a weak El Nino by Fall.  So a little different this year, but interesting nonetheless.

Now if you look at the chart it appears that we are trending colder the past 8 years.  However for TV purposes I could only fit 8 years on the chart.  The 5 years previous were all in the 17-26 range which tells you the mid 2000’s were unusually warm too.  You could say we were spoiled by some nice warm early spring weather for parts of 2004-2007 , then back to more typical weather in 2009 & 2010.  For 2008 and this year we’re under the classic cool La Nina spring pattern with upper-level lows moving overhead or diving south just offshore.  That’s the reason for the unusually cold weather.

I don’t see a ton of rain the next week, but definitely cool and showery Saturday and Sunday.  Huge disagreement in the models beyond next Tuesday with some digging a trough farther offshore, warming us up on the West Coast.  Other models show the cool trough coming right in over us next Wednesday or Thursday, pushing the cool weather into mid-May.

Garden update:  I got the cool weather veggies planted today in the warm sunshine.  In warmer Springs I’ve done it a month earlier, but, well, it’s not a warmer Spring.  Ducks pooped in some of the beds too which added a touch of fertilizer…sweet.  I also noticed something; I think the wisteria plant buds were frozen during the early freeze in November!  I’ve never had that happen.  They all appear to be dead and there is no green on the inside of the bud, they just rub off.  Anyone else have the same thing happen?  They were all 4-6 years old too!  Lots of the clematis did the same thing with a pretty widespread die-off of the tops, but they are putting out growth down below.  It was definitely a killer, or stunting, freeze for some plants.  The 1955 November freeze a week or so earlier and even colder must have really caused a lot of damage.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

96 Responses to Colder Northwest Springs?

  1. Karl Bonner says:

    I should mention that at 1:20pm today, the northern springtime Cross Quarter occurred. This is the point where the sun’s position on the ecliptic is exactly halfway between the vernal equinox and summer solstice. In other words, the midpoint of an astronomical season.

    Of course in the Celtic and Chinese calendars, cross quarters marked the boundaries between seasons, with summer starting in early May and ending in early August. In any case, the next three months give us the longest days, highest midday sun angle, and strongest UV index of the year.

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

    To add to what some others were saying about forecasting and how its always incorrect in Portland. Well, Portlanders should be lucky they are not getting tornadoes, hail, straight-line winds, and clouds that freak the crap out of you. Some sun with an occasional garden-variety shower is something I’d take over that. (Well I do live for severe weather, but I’d still rather not be around it every week)

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      Neat stuff. I don’t understand the part about Camano Island near Portland though. Camano Island is in the Puget Sound. Maybe he meant near Seattle? I always thought Portland’s radar was on top of Livingston Mountain.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Camano Island is ATX (Seattle Radar) in Puget Sound.
      RTX (Portland Radar) is located on Dixie Mountain between Scappoose and Hillsboro.

      KGW has their own radar on Livingston Mtn. in Clark county, but it’s much weaker.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      Yes, I’ve been waiting for this radar to be released. However there is still a HUGE area to be covered…. They need to do one for Bend also. The supercell thunderstorm of July 9th 1995 was reportedly hard to track as reflectivity data from both KRTX and KPDT were being shared.

    • bgb41 says:

      I rode the mountain bike up to the radar site at dixie mtn a while back. Its a great view from up there.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Portland’s radar is on the hill behind me. I’ve ridden dirt bikes up around it many times.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      Thanks for clearing that up Mark.

  3. W7ENK says:

    Bahahahahahaa!!! 😆

    From KATU Dave:

    “Cinco de Mayo has turned into Stink-O de Cloudy.”

    Ain’t that the truth?!

  4. bgb41 says:

    Looks like PDX will hit about 57 or so for a high today. Just another example of how poorly models are doing. About 3 days ago it was looking sunny and 70-75ish today. This type of collapse in models is becoming the norm this spring.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:


    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      I think if we get any broken clearing PDX will make a run at 60 later in the afternoon.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Need to be careful of those unexpected sun breaks Rob, so as to avoid sunburn or eye damage.

  5. Jesse-Orchards says:

    Brian, probably not a good idea to assume everyone else is like you behind closed doors. 😉

    If anyone ever runs into a “Brianna” around Battle Ground wearing lipstick and a sun dress look out…

  6. pdxgeologist says:

    I think “shellie’s” trolling motor is stuck in reverse.

  7. pdxgeologist says:

    My wysteria (inner SE) started leafing out about a week and a half ago. No flowers though. The hops that I planted last year are back with a vengence after a disappointing showing last year. I planted a tomato plant yesterday that Umqua Bank left on my porch. First time I’ve been spammed with a plant. 🙂

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

      Watch out on those hops! Mine (Halleurtau sp?) did very little the first year as well.

      Second year they did quite well.

      Third year they took over the north part of the yard! 🙂

  8. PaulB/Eugene says:

    Looks like first region-wide warm regime convective episode on tap around day 10…May 15..on both GFS and ECMWF. If they verify would have temps in the 70s.. warmer on GFS…cooler on ECMWF

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      I definitely like this. Thanks for posting, Paul.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      I was gonna say, the last few frames of the 12Z EURO look really nice for thunderstorms in the Valley. Hope this pans out.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      You and me both. Wouldn’t it be fun to jump from this ridiculous cool/wet Spring right into warmer weather and t-storms?

  9. Kyle From Silverton says:

    Oh. Here is a virtual cake for you Mark since it’s your birthday tomorrow.

  10. Kyle From Silverton says:

    Odd my posts didn’t make it.

    According to my parents the Chico California person was like the Mark Nelson of the area and more accurate then not.

    One time when I was 3 he predicted 1/2 inch of snow in Chico California *first snow period in 10 years* and it came true which we have pictures of the snow.

    Sometime I need to make a photo account for our fun mountain photos unless no one gives a !@#$4 then I won’t waste anybody’s time and just continue to focus on what’s little left of my school work. 🙂

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

    My prediction of 9 80degree days in May is looking shaky at best. We could still turn around in a big way say after the 20th.

  12. W7ENK says:

    Was it supposed to rain today? I haven’t seen any TV this week (not since all that OBL crap on Sunday), so I feel a little left out of the loop…

    • Derek Hodges says:

      Models showed a slight chance of showers this afternoon and none of them showed any this morning that I looked at. is never too much of a surprise with a marine push to get some AM drizzle.

    • The last couple of days that I’ve checked, the NWS gave a 20% chance of rain for this morning, so the chance certainly existed…and certainly we would expect this spring to take advantage of every chance possible to rain. 🙂

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      My understanding was a light shower or drizzle possible in the AM but dry and not a bad day after that. Never happened here. Had moderate steady rain for almost a hour. I was going to cut grass today.

    • W7ENK says:

      Okay, I’m glad to know that I wasn’t totally in the wrong being somewhat surprised by how wet it is/was this morning… although this time of year – especially this year – nothing in the way of cool and rain should really come as a surprise. 😕

    • A very brief light sprinkle down my way this morning. Currently cloudy with a few thin spots and 56.4°.

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

      Looks like the front was just a touch stronger than forecast this morning. Of course with our observations and readings, Idaho and Montana will get the forecast right. 😉

      Form looking at satellite, I don’t see a lot of hope for significant

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

      *significant clearing today. Whoops where did that go?

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Jesse, we really have no idea what really went down. No, I don’t trust Obama either.

      Oh, and if you really want to bring up the class issue I think making fun of someone’s spelling errors especially when you know they have Asperger’s is far less classy. BUT hey, let’s not go there. 🙂

      Enjoy your day, Champ.

    • Jesse-Orchards says:

      I don’t want to go down any road with you, Rob. Just thought your comment was a little out of place, that’s all.

      How about let’s leave politics off the weather blog, huh? Really no place for them here.

    • Rob "Wrath" S.E. Portland says:

      Yeah I agree, and there is no point for myself to bring up the past and such. It’s all good.

  13. moist grey day dawns nice
    feliz cinco de mayo
    pacifico grin

  14. bgb41 says:

    *********MARK NELSEN’S 42nd BIRTHDAY TOMORROW**********

    Hey everybody. Don’t forget to wish our favorite meteorologist a happy birthday tomorrow. 🙂

  15. A. OReilly says:

    Mark…funny you should mention the wisteria/clematis issue. Several neighbors here also have the same issue where the clematis had very few blooms if any. Amazing since these plants can be very resilant. Thanks for sharing the garden info.:)

  16. Btw, if we don’t get some sunbreaks today…we may not even hit 60…

    It’s been as late as May 10th, when I haven’t hit 50 degrees for a high. That was back in 2000.

  17. jbpdx says:

    Wow. This is dry? Two days ago all the weather websites listed Thursday as party sunny and “dry”. Two days…

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

    I don’t know who you are “Shellie”, but do you really need to be so rude?

    Forecasting in Oregon and Washington is the most difficult anywhere in the country. Probably because there are thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean to the west of us with no observations other than a few ship reports. That makes model initialization more difficult. We also are much closer to the Polar/Arctic and Westerly or Subtropic jet which only makes it even more difficult(Especially October through February) That equates to dozens of variables which impact developing weather systems, their timing etc. Again let me point out when you don’t have hundreds to thousands of miles of land to your west(Such as Florida does) you’re lacking vital surface observations, sounding data, etc. from dozens of cities. It is MUCH easier to forecast east of the Rockies than it will ever be in the Pacific Northwest. So, it sounds like it is you that doesn’t quite understand all that goes into forecasting.

  19. Sean says:

    Wish I had a hide option for trolls…

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

    Hey looks like I’ll be warmer than many locations in Oregon today. I’m forecasted to be 72 today 😀

  21. Mark,

    My wisteria just started showing signs of life within the last week and I’m in a generally warmer location than you, so I would imagine mine would come to life a bit sooner as well. I thought mine was dead up until a week ago. I think yours will wake up in the next week.

  22. Kyle From Silverton says:

    It’s in the mid-50s to some spots 60F still in other areas.

    This is warmer then forcasted me thinks.

    Hope Global Warming isn’t coming back.

  23. Karl Bonner says:

    I was looking at Portland’s temperature stats for 1955 as a whole, and let’s just say I’ve never seen anything that depressing. Chilly spring, chilly summer, raw early fall and then a brutal November arctic blast.

  24. Heisson Rob says:

    Mark – My roses have had a lot of trouble starting this year, and a number of them are looking dead. I’m guessing this has a lot to do with the both-early-and-late cold spells. My grapes are 2+ weeks behind with their bud-break. Even though it hasn’t been really, really cold this winter, it’s been tough on plants.

    • bgb41 says:

      Yeah Rob it did hit 30 this morning at the Crawford weather station off 202nd ave out here. Getting pretty late in the spring for a freeze. Up until this year April 21 was my latest freeze but today I hit 32.

  25. bgb41 says:

    Check out some of the HUGE diurnal changes today in the Rogue Valley and in Central Oregon. See Photo

  26. Shellie says:

    Do you “really” believe our weather is going to be what you predict???

    • bgb41 says:

      Its springtime and things change rapidly in the atmosphere. Long range forecasting is quite difficult this time of year.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany 500' says:

      Second that, Brian. Forecasts are only good a few days out this time of year. Waffling, waffling..

    • Derek Hodges says:

      I’m not sure who this “Shellie” is but you have a lot of brass to come onto Marks blog and say what you have been saying. For one, could you do better? Secondly, models flip flop like politicians in the spring. Its difficult to make a very percise forecast a week out, give him credit for doing as well as he does. Hope that wasn’t too harsh but that is the way it is.

    • Shellie says:

      Why don’t you watch FL forecast, IL forecast, MI forecast all accurate…

    • …All Right!…far-out…a springtime pot stirrer trying to make trouble…I needed a good laugh this morning!…what name do you use in the wintertime, “shellie”???…

    • Shellie says:

      Really watch it I lived in more than one state from the east coast to the west coast…and I have yet to see temp drops like there are in the metro area…if you don’t want to do your research then that’s fine with me…but until you do keep your uneducated comments to yourself…I’ve been there done that go to the weather channel website watch the entire country all in one place…

    • Derek Hodges says:

      I honestly have no clue what you are talking about, “need to do our research.” Most on this blog are pretty good at forecasting, myself included, and we could just as easily never watch the weather and my forecasts wouldn’t change that much. The hilly nature of this climate coupled with the proximity to the ocean makes it impossible to be exactly right. Again, forecasts are pretty good as a whole. So the storm got moved up a day. Yesterdays forecast was good and the storm still came just one day sooner. But something tells me you aren’t really looking for a rational response are you? I’m out.

    • Sean says:

      Well I suppose if I lived in Florida… I would pay attention to Florida forcasts. But as I dont, I really dont care. I have come to respect the Mets and most of these guys here for their indepth knowledge and willingness to educate us newbie’s. Just sayin

  27. Shellie says:

    Do you realize that we have to watch the weather everyday because your forecast changes so much. Just a few days ago Thur. 5-5-11 was “going” to have a high of 75 and now if we’re lucky it will if the high will be 64. An 11 degree change!!!! What is the point of a weather program if the weather isn’t accurately forecasted?

    • That’s simply the nature of forecasting. Meteorologists take the tools they have available to them, add a dash of intuition and do the best they can. Those tools include weather models that are really pretty incredible, if you think about it. But they are fallible because weather is chaotic and any change in input can cause dramatic changes in output from run to run. You know, the butterfly effect ( That we’ve made machines and programs to do as well as they do is pretty amazing to me!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      I’m amazed the weather is forecasted as accurately as it is.

    • Shellie says:

      Really I haven’t seen such inaccurate forecasting as there is in Oregon, more so in the metro area. They did choose to study it for a reason, it would be nice if they forecasted accurately. Why do you think they have to repost and repost and repost weather updates…

    • wally says:

      Well, I think the point of the weather program is to predict the future. There are very few, if any, areas of human endeavor where the future is predicted as accurately as in meterology.

    • Shellie says:

      Watch weaather forecasts fr other states and see how much the weather (more so the temps.) fluctuates.

    • Shellie says:

      Watch weather forecasts for other states and see how much the weather fluctuates. Oregon is the worst that I have seen. More than a 10 degree temp. drop within less then a week, pretty big change.

    • It’ simple Shellie…they see what is happening west of them (ie us) and they can make a more accurate forecast. The Pacific Ocean is rather devoid of any weather reports aside from satellite.

      PS: The forecast in Florida is pretty simple, sunny in the morning, then partly cloudy with scattered thunderstorms. Highs 85-90. lol

    • wally says:

      People have written entire books about why it’s so hard to predict weather in the Northwest. You might want to do a little reading before comparing Oregon or Washington to FL, IL, or MI.

    • Shellie says:

      um pay attention to the other states as well… oh and hurricane season they seem to tell just fine where the sucker is going…(been through many of them.) Oh if it’s so hard to forecast here why don’t they study just bit it harder to forecast weather in the area in which they live.

    • Shellie says:

      um no

    • wally says:

      I’m so glad you mentioned the topic of hurricanes. I lived for a time in South Florida, and I can’t tell you how many times the weather forecasters predicted hurricanes that either went somewhere else or fizzled into nothing.

      You’ve done a great job stirring the pot, but mostly you are betraying your own ignorance.

    • Btw, I think summer actually can have some of the bigger differences between forecast highs/actual highs simply do to low clouds. The same is true along the entire west coast. Low clouds can turn what was suppose to be a 90 degree day on the coast into a day in the upper 50s.

    • Shellie says:

      you must be smoking crack cuz unless it’s durong the “2weeks” of winter in FL the coast DOES NOT go from a high of 90 to 50 more than 1/2hr to and hr for the strom

    • Shellie says:

      Been through may of hurricanes and they hit where waas said they would more than they didn’t unlike here where the weather is wrong more than it is right. I’m not saying everywhere else is 100% coreect 100% of the time but herre the weather is hardly ever what is forecasted…

    • ..well, I think, based on the last couple of posts, that we have here an authentic case of texting gibberish by someone not old enough to know better than to show their lack of education, insight and the english language…

    • Shellie says:

      you just proved yourself how uneducated you are by not believing someone is educated because of a few posts. bu the way a Floridian knows more about Florida weather then an Oregonian.

    • I wasn’t talking about Florida, hence “west coast”…meaning the Pacific.

  28. bgb41 says:

    For anyone who is interested, my site has all the 60, 70, 80, and 90 degree days the last 62 years at Portland Airport. Just look at the bottom of the frame on the left and click on the 60 degree link.

  29. Aleta-West Gresham says:

    I just planted my cool weather crop as well. There’s going to be some late ripening peas etc.! Loved the sun today!

  30. bgb41 says:

    I have been posting data about this periodically. I just think its a temporary trend. I predict next year will be a much more tolerable spring with the likelyhood that la nina wont be such a factor.

  31. JClack says:

    I hope my tomato plants are okay… planted last weekend but had a light frost overnight last night… uggghhh

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