Long Range Outlook: Winter Dry Spell Resumes For February

I just checked the long range maps again…and don’t see much of anything different from what I saw Friday. 

Amazing agreement on long range models showing strong ridging building over the Western USA and all the way up through Western Canada from this Thursday onward.  There MAY be some sort of change as we get past about a week from Saturday. 

But the screaming message is:

  1. Little to no rainfall is likely from this Wednesday afternoon through at least the 10th of February, possibly longer.
  2. Little or no snowfall in the Cascades for the next 10-14 days…essentially the first half of February could be snow-free in the mountains.    Just 3-5″ at best late tomorrow through Wednesday morning.
  3. No flooding, windstorms, snow to lower elevations…or strong wind for 95% of us during this period.
  4. Lots of chilly nights, sunny & comfortable days, and lots of fog at times in the Willamette Valley too during this period.  East wind developing Thursday in the Portland Metro area SHOULD keep the fog at bay for most of us Friday and beyond.
  5. The mountains and coast will be unusually warm this coming weekend.  60-65 is possible either day on the beaches and lots of 40s/50s at the ski areas.
  6. The other 5% that will get strong wind?  The west end of the Columbia River Gorge and east Portand Metro area will see gusty east wind beginning Thursday afternoon and it’ll continue for many days after that.

In this pattern strong high pressure sets up east of the Cascades and the Gorge wind machine will really get going.  For those that like to go experience the wind, this COULD be the strongest of the season so far due to several factors…one would be the orientation of the upper level ridge, slightly to our east or right overhead.  That’s always good for optimum placement of the surface high to our east.  The other is very warm 850mb temps Friday-Sunday, especially on the ECMWF.  It has temps up around +10 or slightly higher.  During the worst east wind episode I’ve seen since the late 1990s (January 2009), 850mb temps were up in the +15 to +18 degree range.  This causes the inversion to be quite low and strong, forcing all the air through a narrow vertical “channel” as well.   So this weekend might be “the big weekend” at Vista House.  Let’s aim for a 110 on the steps this time.  Plus, a mild sunny weekend in Portland always brings out the unsuspecting convertibles and sunglass wearing tourists…great fun.

So is winter over?  It could be, but that’s unlikely.  Remember last year?  You may recall that we had a month of dead weather from mid January to mid February.  Then a total pattern change with tons of mountain snow and our 2nd snowfall of the season around the 25th of February.  That is unusually late, but it can happen.  We never really recovered out of the cooler and wetter pattern until late July!

For the geeks, here are the 4 weekly ECMWF maps showing the forecast pattern over the next month:  2 weeks of strong ridging, then some sort of retrogression somewhere in the 2nd half of February.  Only 21 days away!  That was a joke for the regulars, of course we can’t predict too much 3 weeks ahead…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

65 Responses to Long Range Outlook: Winter Dry Spell Resumes For February

  1. o.c.paul says:

    In his latest post Cliff Mass sounds more positive about NEXT winter anyway.


  2. Cliff Gavic 1,100 ft says:

    It’s Alaska that got the cold weather and snow this year. (at least we here in upper sandy, Oregon, got 12 inches, actually plus 2 inches back in early November of 2011- an inch each night for two nights).

    Oh well….la Nina was to be cold, however, the north Atlantic oscillation scenario occurred last year, disrupting things, and another oscillation is affecting this years. My research.

  3. Weather Manipulation Harp how it works: I will give you all something to think about, The Ionosphere is heated and the array is multi directional .By that I mean that it can be pointed in a desired location to get the desired effect . What it does more or less is , it super heats the Ionosphere where a Plasma bubble would extend outward but also downward, Effecting both the Ionosphere and the Upper Mesosphere , This is where the Jet stream is manipulated. So by making a road block you can actually enhance and influence storm systems and alter their course.So of course it would effect the Thermosphere,Stratosphere and our lower level Troposphere.

  4. Looks like the euro is trying to end the H over us in about 9 days. GFS looks slower.

  5. gidrons says:

    Kyle has special needs. The “regulars” take that into account when reading his posts.

  6. David B says:

    How on earth can HAARP can have any profound affect on the weather when the level of RF energy it emits pales compared to the amount of RF energy from the Sun that hits the Earth every day?

  7. David B says:

    When are you going to start calling those of us who doubt your poorly-supported assertions government agents? Come on, you’re already thinking it. It’s the way all conspiracy kooks operate: if anyone doubts them, then those doubters must be part of The Conspiracy.

  8. Looks like a lot of weather “geeking” at Crown Point starting Thursday….Lasting for quite some time, too…

  9. W7ENK says:

    Kyle’s… impaired. Best way to put it.

    Put the internets away and go take your meds, Kyle!

    He’ll be back in a couple of weeks. 😕

  10. g says:

    Why do you wish such awful things?

  11. pippin says:

    Sarcasm? Or an uneducated with no facts?

  12. bgb41 says:

    January 2012 Oregon State Temperature Extremes

    High:72 on Jan 4th @ CW4650 Pendleton(1152 ft) & DW7237 Pendleton(1145 ft)

    Low: -6 on Jan 12th @ Foster Flat (5000 ft)

  13. bgb41 says:

    1/31/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:58 at CW4650 Pendleton(1152 ft)
    Low: 45 at PACCTY-2 Pacific(28 ft) & 9 other stations

    High:28 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft) & ALAKES Haines(7979 ft)
    Low: 8 at CRANE PRAIRIE (5500 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 40 degrees
    CRANE PRAIRIE (48/8 ) (5500 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.22″ at RED MOUND(1753ft)

  14. Have we ever seen more than 2″ of snow in March in the Portland area in a year where we hadn’t had lots already? If my memory is correct, all the times I’ve seen snow late in the season happened when we had several snow events earlier, and not just a couple inches and it melts in 6 hours.

    • PDX Weather Nut says:

      Or a half an inch that melted in just a few hours that the NWS said was supposed to be a “historic” snow event for PDX …

    • Richard Hodges (SE 160TH & Burnside) says:

      In 1961, we had 6-8 inches of fairly dry snow on the 1st of March. I was in the fourth grade and missed two days of school. I lived on N.E. 14th and Klickitat, which was about a block East of Irvington Park. I attended Sabin grade school at the time and remember sleding down N.E. 18th street, just South of Prescott. I don’t remember any other big snows that year.

    • W7ENK says:

      Sounds like you grew up just a handful of blocks from my Mom and all her siblings! And just about 2 years behind her, same age as her younger brother… but they all went to Madeline.

  15. ashley watson says:

    i did not say that the government WAS controlling the weather all i said was that IF they were able to do so i would not be suprised. I personally think it is a little far fetched. i will say though that for those of you that think such things are completely impossible you are in a different world. alot of things are possible that we don’t even know about. there are all kind of things going on that the general public is not told about and if we knew about them we would probably be shocked. If you don’t realize that get your head out of the clouds.

    • W7ENK says:

      Just think about it this way (without getting into partisan politics and conspiracy theory): IF the government has the ability to control the weather, then WHY don’t they use their superpowers to counteract this so-called “Global Warming” they want everyone to be so afraid of??? Chew on that for a bit.

    • o.c.paul says:

      Erik nailed it earlier. Fluid Dynamics and ‘Chaos Theory’ solve your riddle. Weather prediction is , asymmetrical. There is NO straight line to it.
      An early pioneer of the theory was Edward Lorenz whose interest in chaos came about accidentally through his work on weather prediction in 1961.[5] Lorenz was using a simple digital computer, a Royal McBee LGP-30, to run his weather simulation. He wanted to see a sequence of data again and to save time he started the simulation in the middle of its course. He was able to do this by entering a printout of the data corresponding to conditions in the middle of his simulation which he had calculated last time.

      To his surprise the weather that the machine began to predict was completely different from the weather calculated before. Lorenz tracked this down to the computer printout. The computer worked with 6-digit precision, but the printout rounded variables off to a 3-digit number, so a value like 0.506127 was printed as 0.506. This difference is tiny and the consensus at the time would have been that it should have had practically no effect. However Lorenz had discovered that small changes in initial conditions produced large changes in the long-term outcome.[46] Lorenz’s discovery, which gave its name to Lorenz attractors, showed that even detailed atmospheric modelling cannot in general make long-term weather predictions. Weather is usually predictable only about a week ahead.[29]

      And, how boring is the weather that I’m writing about Edward Lorenz?????

    • David B says:

      If the government really was controlling the weather, wouldn’t there be things like lots of severe weather (I mean, truly lots, persistently, in amounts that are statistically very unlikely) in nations that the US government doesn’t like (such as Iran)?

      And wouldn’t there be whistleblowers about it? The US Government isn’t that great on keeping secrets. Watergate had its cover blown, so did COINTELPRO, so did the Bush admin’s lying about Iraqi WMD’s, etc. Often by insiders. Where’s the insiders willing to put their names (and leak classified info on) this weather control program?

      Nowhere, that’s where. Color me very skeptical.

    • W7ENK says:

      Chaos Theory! Thank you Paul, that’s what I was trying to spit out, but my brain just wasn’t latching onto the proper words… 😳

  16. WEATHERDAN says:

    The chances of having at least an average summer is pretty good I think. The average number of days of at least 80 degrees in Salem is 60. The last two years were 57 and 59. The last time we had three summers in a row under 60 was 1962-1965. Almost 50 years. I expect this year we will have 62-66 days in Salem over 80 degrees. We have had over 12 inches of rain in Salem this month. Add that to the 9.47 inches we received in November and December and you have about 22 inches of rain during November through January. Normal we would have about 20 inches. This winter so far has seen a big flood, a snowstorm, and slightly below normal temps. Everything but a big Arctic blast. Nobody at October’s weather conference predicted an epic winter. We came close to what they predicted. Precip slightly greater than normal, temps slightly cooler than normal. Maybe some valley snow (but probably not a lot ). An elevated chance of a windstorm or a flood or an Arctic outbreak. We got the flood. Now it looks like winter is close to being over. Good. I am ready for some warm sunshine. I would love to fire up the barbeque grill. Life goes on. Get over it. We arn’t going to have a foot of snow on the valley floor this winter. Salem won’t drop to 6 degrees. PDX won’t have a wind gust of 71MPH at the airport this year.but maybe just maybe we will get a nice spring and summer. And that is good enough for me.

    • vinnybob says:

      I am over it, just wait till next year… BTW 3 hours of white stuff is not a snowstorm.

    • PDX Weather Nut says:

      Strange to talk about winter being “over” when January isn’t “over” yet …

    • vinnybob says:

      I just mean the chances for a prolonged cold event are about over, the ones that are in my memory are the long lasting cold events such as 1968-69, Dec 1972, Jan 1979, Dec 1983, Nov 1985, Dec 1990. The Feb 1989 was great but too short lived.

  17. Steve Pierce says:

    Update: Video and PowerPoint Presentations of Global Warming Meeting In Portland Now Posted

    For a complete wrap-up of last weeks meeting, including guest speaker presentations and a full length video, please see —

    Steve Pierce
    President, Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society
    Oregon AMS web site: http://www.ametsoc.org/chapters/oregon/
    E-mail: stevejpierce@comcast.net
    Phone: 503-504-2075

  18. Austin-Felida says:

    the weather here is so much fun this winter…..not im moving to fairbanks lol

  19. Runrain says:

    Saturday could be fun and quite well attended at Vista House. Also, with this pattern could Sandy reach 60 deg this weekend? Would be nice to head up there and enjoy the relative warmth the first 60 of the year brings.

  20. ashley watson says:

    here are my non-professional thoughts on everything,

    some people have said that our weather is being controlled by the government. I certainly am not going to say that is true but if it were atleast it would explain our screwy weather. The thing i am 99.9% sure of is i don’t think anybody knows what is really going on. In my opinion unless we know what is going on or in other words what is causing our screwy weather there is almost no point in trying to give short range or long range forecasts, it’s futile, a waist of time. The last 2 years have been a good example. some said it would be epic based on this or that indicie and what has happened. It’s pretty clear that those people who thought they were talking about were way off. Mark Nelson defintely is a good forecaster because he uses his common sense but in reality many of us on here that have been in the pacific northwest for 10 or more years should be able to use the same common sense. it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a forecast of snow and cold the vast majority of the time is not going to come to fruition no matter waht those stupid models or prognosticators say. the obvious that has been pointed out by mark nelson and a few others is that there has been a persistent high pressure system most off the fall and winter what would be nice to know is “what” is causing it? is there anybody out there that knows? mabey
    is there anybody that really cares? i really think so. no offense to any meteorologist but i think unless we can find out the answers to these questions their jobs are kind of a mix of a little fact and a lot of make beleive, guessing, dice throwing, foutune telling, ect…

    • Joshua in Lake Oswego says:

      Weather controlled by the government huh? That must be it…
      I suppose 9/11 was an inside job and the Holocaust never happened either???

      I think last winter/spring ended up being a pretty stereotypical La Nina, where it was colder and wetter than normal. This winter/spring appears to be following the same trend. Just beacuse we have a few two week dry spells with near normal or slightly higher than normal temperatures, it doesn’t mean the long-term forecast was a bust.

      Besides, long-term forecasting is not an exact science and is in fact based off of prior analogous years and percentages. No meteorologist that is a worth a damn, would tell you that he/she knows what the weather will be like in two weeks with a great degree of certainty, let alone 3-6 months. Weather forecasting does and always will rely on interpretation and analysis. Beyond the timeframe of actually seeing how particular weather is evolving (radar, satellite, etc), it is simply not possible to know how it will turn out.

      We will continually get better and more advanced computers that will aid in our ability to forecast the weather, but in the end, only Mother Nature really has control of what happens and we will never truly be able to predict the weather.

      I am actually continually amazed by professionals like Mark Nelsen and even some people on this blog (Paul, Rob, etc). They have an amazing ability to look at huge amounts of data, maps, models, etc and interpret as only a human mind can do into a reliably accurate forecast (at least in the short-term). Of course, they are wrong from time to time, but within a week or so, they are very good at at least getting the overall pattern correct if not the temperature, precipitation, wind and so forth.

      You always seem to be upset with the weather Ashley and I guess your pessimism just annoys me. The weather is what it is, and neither you nor I (nor the government) can not affect it. I want more snow, more rain, colder temps too, but I know that in the long-term, the averages will always win. We will not get 2′ of snow here a year on average. We will not have lows of 0 degrees on average. We will not get 100 mph winds on average. We live in the PNW where we will get a lot of 46/36 days in the winter with many of them being cloudy and having some precipitation. If you don’t like that, maybe you should move somewhere else where the averages are more in your favor.

    • jeffw says:

      Actually, the accuracy of weather forecasting 2-3 days in advance is remarkably accurate, certainly better than dice throwing. (How would that work anyway? If I throw a 6, the high temperature will be 45, if I throw a 5, it will be 43, if I throw a 4, it will be 51 . . . ? It’s absurd on its face.) Knowledgeable people, including the forecasters themselves, acknowledge that the accuracy declines markedly, the longer the forecast period. The idea that the government, or anyone else, could control a system as large the earth’s atmosphere in order to control the weather is laughable.

    • W7ENK says:

      Fluid dynamics. As applied to Atmospheric Sciences, it is the fundamental principle that controls our atmosphere, and the physical science that is inherent to it. The science is solid for modelling large scale effects on flow based on certain properties, for example: throw a large cube in a small stream of water, measure its angle in the water, measure the amount of water flowing around/over it, maybe even the current temperature of the water itself would have an effect, and you can calculate how that flow is going to be disturbed at/around/over the object. Inject a few drops of red dye, you can pretty well predict where that dye will end up a few feet after it passes said cube. Now, try predicting exactly where that red dye will be one mile down stream. You can’t? Why not?!? I thought you were an expert in this field!

      Fluid dynamics are only good to a certain point, but there’s a mathematical threshold. Once you cross that threshold, there are just too many variables to keep track of, and it becomes impossible to predict. That’s why predicting weather beyond 3 days becomes a crap shoot. The mathematics that drive the science only hold together for so long before the plethora of variables overwhelms the expression. Good luck doing better, ’cause that’s what it takes… luck!


  21. CorbettTez says:

    Was really hoping we would skip out on a major wind event this winter!! Oh well…maybe we’ll get some more free firewood out of the deal with all the downed trees we’re bound to see out here! Here’s to hoping it doesn’t last as long as Mark is predicting. Yuck!!

  22. W7ENK says:

    It’s gonna be COLD in Estonia this week…

    The look on this TV met’s face is priceless! 😆


  23. Looks like this storm system moving in is again headed more to the south. It’s actually got a nice comma shape to it.

  24. W7ENK says:

    So, a dead first half of winter, followed by a dead second half of winter? Either something epic better be headed this way in 3 to 4 weeks, or we’re really in for a terrible summer!

    If you thought the last two summers were crap and couldn’t possibly get any worse…

    • W7ENK says:

      And yes, I realize those two elements above have absolutely nothing to do with one another, I’m just sayin’! 😕

      It just seems that if there were a Murphy’s Law pertaining specifically to climate and weather forecasting, the PNW would epitomize it…

    • PDX Weather Nut says:

      Summer of 2010 had record heat. Summer of 2011 was wet and cool for the most part.

    • W7ENK says:

      I believe you’re referring to July 2009. June 2010 began the long string of coolest evers, wettest evers, cloudiest evers, latest anomaly evers, for our summer months that I’ve been alive, anyway.

      I still link it all back to the massive, epic snows of December 2008. Things have been off kilter since then.

  25. bgb41 says:

    1/30/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:59 at ILLINOIS VALLEY(1389 ft)
    Low: 47 at CW5925 Coos Bay(49 ft) & BANDON(79 ft) & CW8449 Charlesto(322 ft)

    High:26 at ALAKES Haines(7979 ft)
    Low: 15 at CRANE PRAIRIE (5500 ft ) & ANEROID LAKE #2 (7300 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 30 degrees
    CRANE PRAIRIE (45/15 ) (5500 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.31″ at Salem, McNary Fi(210ft)

  26. Sifton says:

    “We never really recovered out of the cooler and wetter pattern until late July!”

    No……..don’t jinx us Mark!!

  27. g says:

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/NRD/docs/pdf/dlongrange.pdf?ga=t I don’t think Mr. Parsons thinks winter is over yet!

  28. Jeremy KF7NGT says:

    I’m calling it. The chance for significant winter WX in the lowlands is all but gone. We may get a cold shot or two with a half inch of slush the last week of February or first week of March but nothing significant. Snow pack will be on the light end of normal and we will see another cool spring but drier than last year. Summer will be fantastic. Epic wine year! The first 95s and 96s from Oregon vineyards.

  29. Repeat of last year? I hope not. That was one very lousy spring and early summer. Could be tho. We definitely could use some more snow at the 3-4000′ level.

  30. josh says:


    i never been one to be for global warming or cooling i believe its a cycle of cold and warm cold and warm and so on cool to see some parts of the world are see there cold not seen in a while its only a matter of time until we get to see a cold nasty winter here

    • vinnybob says:

      Nope, I don’t think it’s gonna snow in PDX ever again.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      It turns out that sensor wasn’t correct: http://pafg.arh.noaa.gov/wmofcst.php?wmo=NOAK49PAFG&type=public

      Looks like that Watts guy got a little loose with that info. It even went to the Drudge Report!

    • He does have a bit of an agenda. And when you read the comments, whoa! I’d hate to be Al Gore in the middle of that crowd!

    • Jeremy KF7NGT says:

      With more that a few stations reporting -60 and colder I’d say -70 in the area is plausible. -78 is a stretch. I surely would not trust a device rated for -40.

    • Jeremy KF7NGT says:

      Could a particular location with no wind under the right conditions drop to -78 when surrounding areas are at -60? NWS quickly dismissed the ob but is it physically possible? Could Jim Creek on this day be the Crown Point of Alaskan low temperatures?

    • Jeremy KF7NGT says:

      Sorry… Fixated on this one.

      On December 18th the Mary’s Peak station BPMAR recorded a high temperature of 76.1f. This station sits at 4000ft in the coast range. Observations from this station before and after this anomaly were within expected ranges. Other stations at similar elevations recorded unusually high temperatures on this date.

      Jim Creek may have a micro-climate that could support very low temperatures in certian situations. I wouldnt be so quick to dismiss the observation.

  31. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Hahaah! Just saw Mark notify us we’re in for some “SEVERE CLEAR”.

  32. o.c.paul says:

    1989– the last really cold February recorded in Portland. Coldest days were Feb. 2 and 3, with frigid highs of 15 and.18, and lows of 9 and 11….. (amazingly, January 30th had had a high of a balmy 56 degrees, and early January had gotten as high as 60!)

    Found this at a Portland winter storm site. I’d rather live in THIS past, then our present. Does MAX go there?

    • David B says:

      I remember 1989, I was living in the lower Yakima Valley (Prosser) then. There, it was basically a week of strong, blustery winds and temperatures hovering near 0 °F.

      One weekend I rode my bicycle wearing a T-shirt and shorts in sunny mild conditions. The next weekend I wore a heavy coat and walked out ON the Yakima River a short ways (it had gone from no ice to frozen clear across inside a week).

  33. Karl Bonner says:

    Here’s to hoping that the highest elevations right near The Dalles (Stacker Butte, Mountain Road, etc.) will be above the inversion layer for at least part of the upcoming prolonged dry spell! I’d love to experience some 60-degree sunshine!

  34. I’ll take the next two weeks to get a little yardwork done before winter sets back in. I still have about 2 1/2 months left where I can get snow.

  35. pappoose in scappoose says:

    I can see some fun in there, Mark! Thanks for the update.

  36. It’s been a long time since we had a quite spell in winter…not

    Just over a month in fact 😦

    Honestly I’d rather get the rain/snow when we are suppose to than all spring!

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