Not So Wet The Next 2 Days

Good News!  The sunset this week is at 4:27pm here in Portland, the earliest of the year.  From here on out into June the sunset will get later and later.  The bad news is that it’ll only be about 10 minutes later even 3 weeks from now; it’ll be a long crawl out of the darkness of winter between now and mid February.

Some clearing later tonight along with the long night and abundant moisture says fog and low clouds to me.  Our RPM keeps some low cloud cover in the Valley through the entire day tomorrow (it IS mid-December isn’t it?), so I lowered high temps a bit.  We get a light east wind through the Gorge, but it’ll only clear out the west end of the Gorge, not the metro area.

Quite a change the past 24 hours with models stretching and splitting the incoming cold front for Thursday.  Now it barely seems to be intact as it moves inland finally late Thursday night and early Friday morning.  Look at the 48 hour rainfall total from the WRF-GFS from now through Friday afternoon:


Not much eh?  A tenth of an inch if we get lucky in the next 24 hours.  By the way, 24 hours ago when this system looked like it was going to hold together, it looked like a first snow was possible in the eastern Columbia River Gorge all the way down to river level Thursday night.  Our RPM was showing that and the WRF-GFS was extremely close with a light east wind and cold air trapped at the lower elevations.  It doesn’t matter now since little or no precipitation will make it over there anyway, but interesting to note nonetheless.

We get one more weak-ish system later Saturday night and early Sunday; this one appears to have splitting tendencies again to me.

Another change in the past day appears to be 3rd much stronger system for later Sunday and early Monday.  00z models show around a 970 surface low heading towards (and then dying over) central Vancouver Island.  This isn’t a damaging wind setup in the interior, and maybe not along the coast either with the slow movement.  But it is a very windy and rainy period in both spots.

I’ve been watching the Monday night through early Wednesday period closely because it appears to be our first real brush with snow down around 1,000′.  The 12z GFS had 850mb temps down around the magical -6 to -7 deg levels.  The 18z GFS was -5 and the 12z ECMWF was -5 to -6.  Here’s the 850mb ensemble chart, showing the 21 members with very good agreement up to this time (it says 19DEC at that spot):


This feature, showing the coldest atmosphere so far this season, has been relatively constant on the models for the past 4-5 days.  They have also been consistent showing that as THE coldest spot of the following 5 days too. 

Now the 00z GFS has come in slightly warmer again, with 850 mb temps around -4 to -6 during that period.  That’s a minor change, but enough to make these statements about the next 7 days:

  • We will probably see the lowest sticking snow of the season so far the middle of next week; possibly as low as 1,000′ in NW Oregon.  If you live at/above 1,500′ you should at least see your first dusting (or more) during that time.
  • Sticking snow near/below 1,000′ is looking unlikely based on current info.
  • Still no need to put on studs if you plan to stay at the lowest elevations of western Oregon and southwest Washington.
  • Lots of snow in the Cascades over the next week; at least 1.5 to 3 ft. total.  SkiBowl should be able to open up early next week I would think.
  • There is no sign of any arctic blast or low elevation snow pattern in the next 7+ days.  Sorry kids, nothing yet…

An important note about maps/models beyond Monday or Tuesday.  There has been a huge amount of variation & disagreement on the long range the past few days.  We are in a period of unusually high uncertainty about the long range weather pattern.

Hey, remember 3 years ago?  Big cold spell.  Here are the lows on the 3rd night of cold and clear weather:


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

64 Responses to Not So Wet The Next 2 Days

  1. Ok all I need weather thoughts/ predictions periodically as I will have to travel up I-5 to Tumwater for foot surgery Tuesday, Jan. 15th! My husband will be driving! So any comments will be welcome! I know it is a month out! Suggestions such as get a hotel Monday night Jan. 14th!

  2. Phil in Beaverton says:

    Actually, the days don’t start to get longer until after the solstice which is on the 21st.

    • Sifton says:

      The sunset times start to increase but the sunrise times still climb to 7:50ish until like the 1st. week of Jan.

  3. Already down to 26 here, it’s gonna be a cold one!

  4. chris says:

    i wish i could see the hobbit opening premiere tonight, to bad its already sold out, oh well better luck tomorrow. 🙂

  5. cgavic says:

    Sunshine here today. Lo 30, hi 39.
    3:15, “The Mist,” or I should say the fog rolled in.

  6. I wouldn’t rule out an overrunning situation for PDX just yet. Models have consistently shown high temps in the Columbia Basin fall well below freezing with lows in the 10’s. If there is any snow cover that will be even colder. We need at least 36 hours of cold east winds with a PDX-DLS of -5mb or stronger. In the past in this type of pattern we have many times before seen this thicken the cold layer over immediately PDX(Just east of the West Hills) upwards of 4-5k’. Not saying this WILL occur, only saying I wouldn’t rule it out completely yet.

    I think there’s a chance high temps struggle to reach 35 east of I-205 and again it depends on the cold pool over the Columbia Basin….18z just confirmed this for me.

  7. runrain says:

    Fog is back in Portland. Big time. Happy Valley, anyway.

  8. SnowedIn - North Plains says:


    The National oceanic and atmospheric administration… (noaa) National data buoy center (ndbc) and the National Weather Service wishes to inform users of National Weather Service (nws) marine products and services (produced for the waters off northern oregon) that buoy station 46089 located approximately 80 nautical miles west of Tillamook… Oregon will be removed upon failure.

    Buoy 46089 was deployed in 2004 as part of the coastal storms initiative (later re-named the coastal storms program). The coastal storms program was able to keep funding for 46089 longer than originally planned… but can no longer afford to do so. Buoy 46089 remains operational today… and ndbc will continue to collect and disseminate data from this buoy for as long as the buoy remains operational. When this buoy fails… it will be removed from service.

  9. Kirk(Sandpoint Idaho) says:

    Our sunset is at 3:52 up here. I’m surprised it is that much different from Portland . Just being a little further north and east makes a big difference.

  10. runrain says:

    I just love these dark cloudy gray gloomy foggy cold winter days. 🙂

  11. Sifton says:

    4:27, thank god!! I remember a few years back our latest sunset time was 4:20, fitting nowadays……….

  12. W7ENK says:

    Somewhere or other, may be far or near;
    With just a wall, a hedge, between;
    And just the last leaves of the dying year…
    Fallen, fallen.

    Fallen on a turf grown green.

    ~ Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)

  13. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Purdy @ Timberline Lodge this AM:

  14. momof2kiddos says:

    pretty sunrise this morning:

  15. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Seattle discussion of the low Mark mentioned for later Sunday and early Monday. Stay tuned.

    National Weather Service Seattle Washington
    344 am PST Thursday Dec 13 2012

    An even wetter and windier weather system is forecast to move
    through the area Sunday night and Monday. This frontal system could bring high winds to some areas and heavy snow to the mountains. The details are still a bit uncertain. For now…a sub 990 mb surface low is forecast to move onshore somewhere over Vancouver Island which could bring strong winds to many areas including the Puget Sound sound area. Stay tuned.

  16. Ron says:

    32f on the nose here in Fischers Mill on Clear Creek. Only my third freeze (if you can call it that), all at 32f. Patchy fog down at the creek.

  17. paulbeugene says:

    32.5F at my house…finally got a freeze. Tomato season finally over.

  18. W7ENK says:

    Looks like PDX bottomed out at 42F last night. Fairly steady too, considering that’s also the high so far. (6:45a)

    FWIW, my guess was 38F

  19. bgb41 says:

    12/12/2012 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:53 at Port Orford (US( 90 ft)
    Low: 43 at PACCTY-2 Pacific(28 ft)

    High:20 at Mount Hood Meado(6601 ft) & Rim(7050 ft) & ANTELOPE(6460 ft)
    Low: 5 at CRANE PRAIRIE (5500 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 29 degrees
    ALLISON (35/6 ) (5320 ft )
    CRANE PRAIRIE (34/5) (5500 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.47″ at Astoria Regional(10ft)

  20. Hope the roads do not get bad on the 22nd 😦 Gotta drive wiff no chains or studs from waaay out here in V-town to PDX to pick up someone flying in.

  21. Yeah, should I even bother posting this? ….
    00z ECMWF
    Aside from east winds, U-G-L-Y!

  22. paulbeugene says:

    Looking at the Euro model…the continent of North America is like Banda Aceh in 2004….the arctic air has receded so far out…to the other side of the pole…perhaps a big tsunami of cold air is due to rush around New Years…i wish.

  23. Greg Carstens says:

    I should also mention here as well Mark, I for one will be glad certainly for more snow at the lower elevations mainly in Mount Rainier National Park because that will open up the field for plenty of low elevation snowshoeing from the Longmire area up in the park. The last snow depth report I had from there at 2,762 feet was just a pathetic 8 inches. There should be easily more than that by this time of the year. Paradise on Mount Rainier has just over 72 inches.

  24. Greg Carstens says:

    Mark, as you know I have been doing a Cascade Ski Report on Brian’s group outside of your blog here. Today for the first time Ski Bowl had their base at 8 to 15 inches which is the lowest total in the Northern Oregon Cascades at least that I know of. My guess here would be along with yours for Ski Bowl to open up if the snow levels you mention will be as low as you say. So for those who would be wondering that would put perhaps make the base at Ski Bowl between 23 to 30 inches at the lowest estimate forecast or as much as 41 to 51 inches. If it is closer to the higher figure an opening will be likely. I will be continuing to monitor this on Brian’s group. It appears a number of the people there have been enjoying the ski reports that I have been posting there.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Seems to me that SkiBowl doesn’t mind opening with just 30″, at least the lower mountain. It’s real grassy down there.

    • Greg Carstens says:

      Mark, I lived at Government Camp way back in the winter of 1982 and 1983 and remember well about what you mean it being grassy there. In the perfect world I think most ski resorts would prefer to have it like that and especially those ones at the lower elevations. Snoqualmie Pass certainly comes to mind off the top of my head here.

      I had a unique situation when I lived there at Government Camp in that I lived maybe all of 100 yards or so from Ski Bowl and on my days off I hauled my skis and boots over by simply walking over there. Yes that’s right I had no car when I lived up there at the time and that was interesting because I worked up at Timberline Lodge in Housekeeping. It was the first place I experienced hitch hiking a lot but I also at times got a ride from the lodge ski taxi they had. It was a winter I will soon not forget here. There were times when the DOT trucks even picked me up on the road up there because I remember one guy telling me that he felt bad for me. Shhhhh don’t tell anyone here, they are not supposed to do that.

      If I needed to get to Portland I simply hopped on the Trailways bus that passed through there daily. Sometimes the bus was fun and sometimes not so much but man oh man did I meet a lot of interesting people that whole winter. 🙂

    • Sean says:

      Is this group you speak of open to the public? I’d be interested in your ski reports 🙂

  25. geo says:

    Why are we in a period of unusually high uncertainty in the long range?

  26. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Put your studs on.
    The AM glaze is possible!

    Nothing on the USGS site.

  27. W7ENK says:

    Hey, did we just have a small earthquake? Seriously, three walls, my ceiling and my floor all sounded like they shifted at once… I can’t check the USGS site anymore, their new format is not mobile friendly… 😦

    • Greg Carstens says:

      I had not heard about anything here Erik. I will have a look here before I hit the rack tonight and get back to as soon as I can.

    • W7ENK says:

      I guess not… weird! I cranked the heat way up tonight because I was freezing my arse off, maybe that’s what did it? It was quite noticeable.

    • Greg Carstens says:

      LOL…Our furnace rumbles here as well pretty good although I have never noticed it to shake the walls. 🙂

  28. W7ENK says:

    So based on this title, I see you’re only forecasting in 2-day increments now??


  29. IceCold says:

    Oh, crap!

  30. alohabb says:

    So its gonna snow!

    Lol. I mean above 1000′.

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