Dangerous West Hills Right Now


Very icy and treacherous in the West Hills right now.  We’ve had one news crew get stuck in the past hour up on Skyline Road, and reports of multiple cars off-road or in a collision near Barnes and Miller Road.  Avoid hilltop areas the rest of the night!

The rest of this post is just technical talk, for basic highlights read the previous post…

It makes a lot more sense now.  Especially now that the 4pm balloon sounding is done.  Now we know exactly what the temperature profile is overhead, at least what it was at 4pm.  What happened today was quite similar to what we see with a major marine push in summer, except that there was no push from the Coast to the Interior.   Everything else was the same.

1. Top of the moist and cold air mass was around 2200′ this morning, as mentioned in the earlier post.  But look at it on the 00z! 


The inversion is now up around 6,000′.  It’s not that the temperatures dropped in the lower layer, it’s just slightly warmer at 850mb (-3.7), but they warmed dramatically above.  It’s 44 at 7,000′ this evening, it was 16 at the same time yesterday.  That’s from the well exposed Palmer Lift base on Mt. Hood so it’s unrelated to terrain.  So the moist layer west of the Cascades thickened, we had a strong west wind through the Gorge, gusts to 64 mph at Auspurger Mountain there.  Then west of the Cascades waves of drizzle or light showers coming in from the northwest.  Sound familiar?  In today’s case, much of the “marine drizzle” was in the form of snow showers.  All of .01″ measurable at PDX.  All of this occurred in the cold air mass below 6,000′ while it was in the 40s above.  Interesting isn’t it?

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

55 Responses to Dangerous West Hills Right Now

  1. WARNING: Do NOT click unless you have:
    Barf bag
    Large quantities of alcohol

    00z ECMWF
    Yeah, it’s that bad….

  2. W7ENK says:


    The number of active calls has been greatly reduced… to one. And it’s medical. The ice is over with folks. Time for bed, morning comes early!

  3. germantownsummit1000' says:

    30.2 since about Noon. Icy and treacherous out there. I almost took a dive taking the recycling out. I’ve got a doctor appointment tomorrow at 8:45 that I will be so disappointed to miss.

  4. Marcus says:

    So if it is at freezing or below at 2000 ft how is the moisture not falling as snow? You would think as slow and light as the moisture is it would have time to change to snow?:/

  5. KPTV Tower Temps
    As of 9 PM (1 hour lag. Updates every :15 after the hour)
    Upper Sensor(1818′) 30.4 (30.0 at 8:00 PM) Did warm briefly to 32.5 at 8:50 PM
    Middle Sensor(1473′) 28.4 (28.4 at 8:00 PM)
    Lower Sensor(1043′) 29.3 (29.1 at 8:00 PM)
    Gradual warming aloft continues, but still remain below freezing, at least for a few more hours.

    06z(10 PM) Upper Air Analysis(Observed over PDX)
    925mb: -0.7c
    850mb: -1.0c
    700mb: +4.0c
    500mb: -15.5c

  6. *BoringOregon* says:

    Haha, Kgw had a” Burn Ban In effect for Clark county” shows you how much he know about the Forecast??

    • Probably meant woodstoves. The inversion is gonna cause air quality to get a whole lot uglier.

    • J in N Hazel Dell, WA says:

      I don’t think KGW or its forecasters can issue a burn ban for Clark county. Only the county can do that. KGW is communicating to Clark county viewers, and that’s just what KGW exists for, to communicate. And the burn ban relates to woodstoves and fireplaces. Just drive by a house using their woodstove and see all the particulants coming out of the chimney. Ugly.

  7. Marcus says:

    Are there any signs of arctic air on any of the models,winter is ticking away:/

    • W7ENK says:

      Unfortunately, no.

      I have a feeling we’re in for an early spring this year. Realistically, we’re more overdue for that than we are for a snowy winter.

    • Nothing on the models at least in the next 7-10+ days, but that by no way means that Winter is over. We’ve had many a cold/snowy February in the past to prove that to be true, so don’t give up on Winter yet. Try to be optimistic rather than have a pessimistic mindset. Also, there is nothing to indicate we’re more overdue for an early Spring than we are for a snowy February. Sure, the models don’t look great and with a neutral ENSO you’d think the odds of us having another cold/wet Spring are lower, but there isn’t enough proof either way.

    • Marcus says:

      Thanks Rob, im not giving up yet:)

    • W7ENK says:

      I guess we’ll see how it all goes down… We should know in a few months. 😉

    • Mark says:

      Fearing another mild winter, cold and wet sprint lasting well into June… Please no…

    • W7ENK says:

      I believe we’ll finally break free of that trend this year. An early spring with some nice warm weather later in March, April and touching hot in May. Perhaps a wet (and stormy?) period in June, then a normal summer with lots of 80s and some 90s through July and August. Probably a heat wave or two with a handful of 100+ days early/mid August followed by a bout with some high humidity under monsoonal flow and some crazy nocturnal thunderstorms rolling up the valley, then gradual cooling into the rainy season right after Labor Day. A nice stretch in early/mid October with some warm days and cool foggy nights, and we’ll finally see a real, legitimate snow event next winter, probably not until January.

      And that’s a great, optimistic, really looooooooong range outlook! 😀

      Book it!

  8. brent says:

    sheet of ice .. top of NW Burnside at Skyline by the cemetery .. just drove it around 9pm

  9. Back now…. Had a nice little vacation from the Internet for a few hours…

    KPTV Tower Temps
    As of 8 PM (1 hour lag. Updates every :15 after the hour)
    Upper Sensor(1818′) 30.0 (30.2 at 7:00 PM)
    Middle Sensor(1473′) 28.2 (28.2 at 7:00 PM)
    Lower Sensor(1043′) 29.1 (28.6 at 7:00 PM)
    Gradual warming aloft continues, but still remain below freezing.

    05z(9 PM) Upper Air Analysis(Observed over PDX)
    925mb: -1.2c
    850mb: -1.1c
    700mb: +4.0c
    500mb: -15.9c

    • HVMike says:

      Rob what do you think will we have icy conditions tomorrow or will we gradually warm and stay above freezing all night?

    • Ben T says:

      Those Internet breaks are always nice.

    • With the cold layer thinning above, warm air advection and inversion taking hold, and cloud cover appearing to be persistent overnight I would think if anything temps will very slowly gradually warm rather than remain steady or drop overnight. Exceptions might be West Hills or some Foothill locations below 1000-1500′, but even there I doubt it will continue until tomorrow morning.

  10. W7ENK says:

    We’re seeing some warm air advection, especially eastside. Couple that with high clouds moving in above and marine air pushing in at the surface, and I think what we’ve seen this evening in the way of ice is about it. Temps are all warming back above freezing now in the metro area, albeit slowly, so I’m pretty confident we’ll see wet streets and ~35 degrees by the morning commute. Only areas above about 500′ will still be icy in the morning, so the West Hills and what not, maybe over Sylvan.

    It was fun while it lasted… kinda.

  11. Hal in Aims says:

    in the last 20 minutes have gone from 30.9 to 32.2……the dusting and the glaze look much slicker…….melting?

  12. alohabb says:

    Hmmm. Drizzle again and temp slightly climbing. Not sure about widespread ice issues. Seems to be spotty issue as we move into overnight hours

  13. Steve in Beavercreek (1100') says:

    I had been in the 20’s for 3 days. The temperature has slowly been rising all day. I am now at my high temp of the day at 31.5°.

  14. W7ENK says:

    PFM, Mark. That’s how I do it…


  15. oldwxwatcher says:

    How’s this for an inversion? It’s a forecast for International Falls, MN: “Thursday Night – Overcast with a chance of snow and rain showers. Fog overnight. Low of -6F. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of snow 40% with accumulations up to 3 in. possible.”

    This forecast is from the Weather Underground site and similar ones have been put out for very cold localities for the past several weeks. I asked them about it and WunderWilliam responded: “There’s currently a bug in the forecasting system that isn’t properly comparing the anticipated temperature with precipitation. We will fix this ASAP.”

    I’ve seen it rain in Portland with a temperature of 17° but rain at -6° would be something to behold.

  16. Garden Home 200' says:

    Drizzle…. 34.0, up 2/10 from hour ago…..

  17. Longview - 400 ft says:

    My temp here has been 31.6 or 31.8 the last four hours.

  18. *BoringOregon* says:

    Its about 32 out here roads are wet, snow on the ground its all white out !

  19. l says:

    The temp here has been 31.6 or 31.8 the last four hours.

  20. alohabb says:

    I wonder if we cool anymore..been stuck at 33 for hours!

  21. karlbonner1982 says:

    Definitely a fun atmospheric profile to analyze, especially considering that it’s January! But what I’d REALLY love to see is a chilly east wind through the Gorge in the springtime – what you might call “Aptober” weather.

  22. Ben T says:


  23. W7ENK says:

    The ice doesn’t seem to be increasing here in Milwaukie, just sort of… holding. Not getting worse, but not getting any better. Icy patches on the pavement are the same as they were an hour ago.

  24. JERAT416 says:

    Driving to work tomorrow will be interesting!

  25. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    I just checked and my trees you can feel the ice on them, and hear them crackle if you bend the branches. Mailbox is coated. The pavement is fine right now though. 31.6

  26. bgb41 says:

    Temperature hanging right at 30 here with freezing drizzle after a snow dusting earlier. 500ft @ Battle Ground Lake, Wa

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      Ya, we got our heaviest dusting of snow right at sunset. Now everything is getting a light coating of ice.

  27. Brad says:

    It’s the cold pool we usually see E of the Cascades, but in reverse! Very cool.

  28. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    This is why I love the weather! So dynamic and interesting! Well, at least one day out of a year haha

    • Remember when the weather this week as going to be a boring snoozefest under a high pressure dome. Mother Nature is having a good chuckle right now….

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