A Warm Easter Weekend?

That’s the challenge in the forecast today…will we see our first stretch of nice weather here starting this weekend?  Maybe not…more on that in a moment.

For the short-term, today was a classic nice spring day: easterly wind through the Gorge, light south wind developing up the Valley, more sun than clouds, and an approaching wet cold front.  Funny that it seems so warm yet only up to just a few notches above the 60 degree average for April 2nd.  Of course that’s because we’ve only seen 3 other days in the past month into the 60s.

Forget the 60s for awhile because the cold front that brings rain tonight is also associated with a large and cold upper level trough that’s going to sit over the West Coast tomorrow through Friday.  One significant difference with this trough compared to the past few weeks is that we don’t have all that much rain coming and it’ll be mainly in the form of showers.  Wednesday, Thursday, and maybe Friday afternoons will feature the classic showers, sunbreaks, hail, and maybe scattered thunderstorms pattern.  The strong April sun heats the earths surface each day and the air bubbles up quickly into the colder airmass above.  We should see some of those towering cumulonimbus clouds at least Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

Beyond that is quite a challenge.  The 00z ECMWF and 12z GFS both showed ridging building strongly into the Pacific Northwest for Easter Weekend and early next week as an upper level trough digs offshore.  I almost bit off on that.  The 12z GFS with it’s +10 or +11 850mb temps plus easterly flow next Monday could put us into the mid 70s.  But then the 12z GEM and ECMWF came in with much cooler temps.  What’s going on?  Take a look at the 500mb ensemble anomaly from the 12z GEM, GFS, and ECMWF:

On Monday afternoon, the GFS has highest upper level heights much closer to us and the ECMWF has it centered over the Rockies.  This explains the warm temps on the GFS, and also shows brushes with precipitation and cooler temps for us based on the ECMWF.  For that reason we kept temps in the 60s, but still above average Sunday through Tuesday.   

So even though Saturday through the middle of next week brings pretty decent early April weather, I don’t see the beginning of a unusally warm spell at this point.  As of now, we can probably squeeze out a dry and warm Easter Sunday with temps above average though!

Here are the 12z ECMWF and 12z GFS 850mb charts:

On the ECMWF you can see that it’s just around average (green line) for the next 10+ days, chilly of course for the first 4-5 days, then warmer after that. 

The GFS is, well, a little extreme.  Note the blue line (operational run) is the warmest from Sunday PM to Wednesday PM next week.  But even this run is about “average” over the next two weeks or so going from cool to warm to normal or cool again.

By the way, since I left on the last day it snowed in Portland and haven’t blogged about it, here are the final numbers for Portland snow this winter:

Winter Total: 3.1″

November = 0.0″  
December = 0.0″  
January = 2.3″  
February = Trace  
March = 0.8″  

…and the actual days snow was measurable in the city:

Jan 17:   1.3″ (just before midnight)
Jan 18:   1.0″ (after midnight, same event)
Mar 1:    0.3″
Mar 21:  0.1″ (just before midnight)
Mar 22:  0.4″ (after midnight, same event)

That March 22nd snow is the latest measurable in the city, at least through PDX’s history (1940).  Many of us are aware (and now you are) that the downtown Portland observation site has seen snow the first week of April 1933 & 1935…several inches during the latter!  The latest measurable was 0.1″ recorded at that site on April 14th, 1926 as well.  That may have been a hail observation…maybe not.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

37 Responses to A Warm Easter Weekend?

  1. Jbpdx says:

    Will the last person to leave Portland please turn off the sump pump.

  2. muxpux (Longview) says:


    incredible footage and photos of the Dallas Hail.

  3. gidrons says:

    Portland gets 3 inches of snow. I get 53″ and only 25 miles away. It must be Eric’s dome

  4. Jbpdx says:

    We had our one nice day, now it’s back to 14 (?) crappy days. Right on schedule. If we’re lucky, the spread is narrowing (7?).

  5. weathercrazy82 says:

    Apparently the front just passed, wind whipped around to the west now and is gusting up around 20-25 mph.

    Pouring rain as well.

  6. weathercrazy82 says:

    March 2012 in Battle Ground
    Highest High: 67.4, 8th
    Lowest Low: 23.0, 7th
    Highest Wind: S 31, 12th
    Most Precip: 1.34″, 29th
    Total Snow: 7.85″

    Total Precip: 10.36″

    Avg High: 50.6
    Avg Low: 36.3
    Mean: 43.4

    I’ve only kept records since January of 2011, but it’s strange that this March holds my heaviest precip for any month. The next closest was November 2011 with 8.34″.

  7. weathercrazy82 says:

    March 2012 in Minnehaha
    Highest High: 65.1, 8th
    Lowest Low: 25.6, 7th
    Highest Wind: SE 34, 12th
    Most Precip: 1.00″, 29th
    Total Snow: 4.00″

    Total Precip: 7.48″ (wettest March on record in my 17 years, beats out last March’s 6.62″, the old record)

    Avg High: 51 (2nd coldest)
    Avg Low: 37
    Mean: 44

    Set 8 daily rainfall records, 5 daily snowfall records, and 6 coolest max temp records.

  8. W7ENK says:

    I just witnessed one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

    Riding the bus into Portland, at the exact moment the sun broke the horizon over the Cascades, it began raining. The sky to the West was still black as night, which produced the most brilliant double rainbow arching perfectly over the top of the Downtown skyline!

    I wish I hadn’t been cooped up on the bus… that would have made an award winning photo! 🙂

    • Lurkyloo says:

      My grumpy 19 year old son saw that too while driving home this morning. It must have been awesome — especially since he was inspired enough to tell me about it! Maybe someone somewhere has a photo.

  9. muxpux (Longview) says:

    pretty cool weather site full of charts and info…


  10. bgb41 says:

    4/2/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:69 at CW5302 Roseburg( 410 ft)
    Low: 47 at DW4535 Cannon Be(23 ft)

    High:30 at Timberline Lodge(7001 ft)
    Low: 5 at CRAZYMAN FLAT (6100 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 44 degrees
    CRAZYMAN FLAT (49/5 ) (6100 ft )

  11. pappoose in scappoose says:

    This guy is a genius. This white powdery stuff is snow.
    This frozen water is a icicle.
    Put gloves on to keep your hands warm.
    If you put your foot in the snow and it sinks in…it’s deep!


  12. boydo3 says:

    66 here today. Can’t wait for string of nice dry sunny days.

  13. Kassie97222 says:

    I want Thunder and Lightning!!!

  14. W7ENK says:

    Good Lord, I need a good thunderstorm… one that makes you light up a cigarette when it’s over, and I don’t even smoke! 😯


  15. JJ97222 says:

    At this point anything above 59 degrees for 4 or 5 days with no rain sounds fantastic!

  16. josh says:

    what month has the highest amount of thunderstorms for the northwest?

    • W7ENK says:

      To venture a guess, I’d say either April or July, but I’m leaning more toward July – for the Willamette Valley. Definitely July/August if you’re including east of the Cascades.

  17. bgb41 says:

    Speaking of late snowfall, this color coded chart has all the snow totals from 1871-2011 in Portland


  18. karlbonner1982 says:

    Yea!!! It’s that classic “squeeze” scenario for next week, where there’s a cold trough out over the ocean and a strong ridge just to our east, and the PNW gets caught between the two so that the 850mb model runs are a total mess. Fun forecasting challenge, that’s for sure!

  19. john says:

    ha just came cross cliff’s blog crazy show might have to check it out

  20. john says:

    what a great day the thing to finish off the night would have a late evening thunderstorm nothing like a late thunderstorm after a warm day

  21. pappoose in scappoose says:

    I really like scattered thunderstorms!

  22. W7ENK says:

    I remember an Easter Sunday at my Grandmother’s house in the Irvington neighborhood of NE Portland one year that was 84 degrees! Probably 1994, 1995, somewhere in there.

    Redux? Please!! 😀

    • karlbonner1982 says:

      Well April 11, 2004 it was 81 @PDX, and on April 15, 1990 it was also 81. So I think you were thinking of 1990…

    • Debbie in Fairview says:

      My first Easter here was 1995- I remember it being quite warm and I actually wore shorts and went up to Rocky Butte and had ice cream at Rose’s.

    • W7ENK says:

      Yeah, I think I was 15, not quite legal to drive, but my cousin let me drive his BMW. We, umm… visited Scott Thomason’s street. That’s all I can say. I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of a mailbox, or the condition of any such object, whether before our arrival or after our departure.

      All I can say is that it was very loud… or I might be full of crap.


      Oh, whew! Statute of limitations expired years ago… :mrgreen:

  23. weathercrazy82 says:

    After being in the 80s for several days storm chasing in the Plains, the 50s and 40s feel pretty darn cold!

    Today was halfway decent at 64!

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