The Big Picture: Big Slowdown in Weather Again

January 25, 2012

I hate to pose the question and ruffle feathers, but IS THAT ALL WE GET FOR WINTER?

Let’s recap the wet season/winter so far: 

1.  We had a briefly wet November with some stormy weather and some good mountain snow in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. 

2.  7 weeks of weather boredom followed, punctuated by only a few days of heavy rain right after Christmas that soaked the ski areas too.

3. An exciting one week of weather last week with snow to the lowlands (for most of us), but we missed out on big snow totals and the big ice storm up in Puget Sound.  We did get a nice windstorm at the coast, and then the worst flooding in 15 years down in the Central Willamette Valley.

4. This week we’ve returned to mainly boring weather, except for the heavy rain yesterday.

One could sum it up by saying we had active weather in late November, a few days in late December, and one week in mid-late January.  The reason I say this is that long range models are in quite good agreement that we’re headed back into the weather boredom over the next 10 days.  The Canadian, ECMWF, and GFS all show an upper-level height anomaly developing over the western part of North America beginning about one week from now (around February 2nd) and continuing through the end of their respective runs.  Here is the chart from the 00z GFS for a week from next Monday:

and the 12z ECMWF:

The details are slightly different but the pattern is the same.  When you combine weak ridging this weekend, then some warm weather systems next week, and then add these maps, you get a 7-10 day forecast that isn’t too exciting.

Even the ensemble forecast charts show little deviation from what the operational models are showing, here’s the 12z ECMWF, note the above average 850mb temps starting about a week from now:


Same thing with the new 00z GFS:

That will take us through the first week of February.  It’s no secret that we don’t get long arctic blasts or prolonged ice/snow storms in the lowlands after the 2nd week of February, so we’re running low on time.  But it could still be waiting for us on February 10th-20th…who knows?

So IT”S POSSIBLE that we get through this year without an arctic blast; keep in mind it hasn’t been below the mid 20s here in Portland…a mild winter so far…If the maps look similar 10 days from now, I’ll be ready to say we’re done with the chance for an arctic blast.

But it’s also important to remember that we can get significant (several inches) sticking snow through the first week of March.  We’ve officially had 2.2″ here in the city this winter so far.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen