High Winds in The Gorge and Clearing Skies

Sunday 12:30pm…

We expected a little stronger Gorge wind today to blow the fog and clouds out of the metro area, but it’s getting crazy.  Peak gust of 66 mph in the past hour at Corbett and regularly gusting 60-70 mph at Biddle Butte (28 degrees!) across the river.  Vista House has been down for the past week; might be a power issue. 


It’s likely gusting in the 80-90 mph range there.  Meanwhile, just 4-5 miles west at Troutdale Airport it’s calm!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a strong Gorge wind with the gusts not even making it to the mouth of the Gorge there.  The flow of air is just riding up and over the colder air over the metro area right now; quite interesting.  The pressure gradient from Troutdale to The Dalles is up to 9 millibars at noon, plenty strong for 70 mph gusts under an extreme inversion.  While Biddle Butte is 28 degrees, 3 miles across the river on the Oregon side it’s 44 degrees just 400′ higher at 1800′ .

I’ve noticed and mentioned here in the past that strong inversions produce quite a bit stronger wind in the Gorge compared to the same gradient with light or no inversion.  This is a good example of that.  It also appears that the fog/clouds have now retreated down into the Willamette Valley as a result of the stronger easterly flow.  Washington and Multnomah counties are totally clear of fog and clouds at noon.  Poor Clark County is still struggling as most of the drier air is directed down into Oregon.

This easterly flow keeping us sunny will last through Tuesday morning, so we’ll stay mainly cloud-free here in the metro area, but hold on in the east wind areas!

I might blog again this evening since I’m working later; lots more time on weekends since now we only have 10pm shows on those days.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

101 Responses to High Winds in The Gorge and Clearing Skies

  1. Amy Raulerson says:

    Does anyone know how strong the wind was in corbet today? I was out there & stopped at the viewpoint along 84 & I had to have a man who was also there help me open my car door! That’s how strong the wind was!

  2. Marcus says:

    Check out these Weird pattern on these tower temps!http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/tower_temps/tower_temps.php?&units=F

  3. *BoringOregon* says:

    Noaa.gov, is saying 50% chance of freezing rain on Tuesday
    night into wednesday a 100% chance. Not good if we get any freezing rain at all it’s going to be bad :(. But we have over two days to tell ROB ??

  4. WEATHERDAN says:

    At 3 PM Salem is 30 degrees with fog. 30 was also our high today. Our low was 28, Today is the 4th day in a row and the 6th day in the last 11 days to not have gotten above 32 degrees. Virtually no sun in the last 11 days. What a weird winter. Over the last 57 days it has only made it up to 50 degrees here 4 times. And yet no snow this winter. Only .67 rain this month. Just might be an interesting Spring and Summer in Oregon this year. Oh hey Mark don’t think I was dissing you. I have the greatest respect for you as the best forecaster in Portland.

  5. Lurkyloo says:

    Clear all day here. Breezy, not windy. Seems warmer due to the sun, I think? Still have 2.5 inches of ice on my not-hot tub, and the ice that the kids throw on the ground for fun hasn’t melted. No frost at all this a.m. Windshield needed defrosting at 9am, but the grass was green.

  6. David B. says:

    Another gunked-in day in Seattle. Yesterday actually cleared off briefly in the afternoon, but never got warmer than the high 30s.

    But is was very warm on top of Squak Mountain, probably low 60s in bright sun. Ate lunch in a T-shirt with no jacket after hiking up through freezing fog and trees covered in rime ice. 30+ degrees difference for walking 2.3 miles!

  7. Marcus says:

    ZR=freezing rain Ben:)

  8. runrain says:

    Up to 102 deg at Yoncalla Mt. and 105 at Village Creek down by Eugene. Woohoo!

  9. Ben T says:

    So what you’re telling me is we have had it cold for several days now; but now that the precipitation comes along we will not get any snow. Yay!

    • W7ENK says:

      Exactly! You catch on quick. 😆

      However, I think that this cold air is pretty firmly entrenched, and we’ll probably see ZR for a significant portion of Wednesday before moderating out, especially East side. The closer you are to the Gorge, the longer it will take, of course.


      We warm with the sun on Tuesday, high clouds roll in late afternoon capping our cooling, and the majority of folks are 33-35 degrees with rain only at the onset of moisture late Tuesday night. Anymore, that’s how it usually plays out. Since the lowest layers of the atmosphere away from the Gorge outflow have remained near saturated (DPs very high = fog), evaporative cooling won’t play much of a role if any in dropping our temperatures.

    • JohnD says:

      If you are desperate for ANY kind of a frozen
      event like a lot of us (or at least some) then
      “maybe”. We live in inner SWPDX (Lair Hill). I
      have been pleasantly surprised a lot lately. I
      check and see that it is around 40 when I leave
      work in NOPO thinking that the cold is over and
      when I get home it is already down to 30′ (at
      least there!) I am thinking that–best case–
      that is the scenario for tomorrow. Still clear
      early p.m. Temps dump back down to below
      freezing after dark before the clouds keep them
      capped. THEN the clouds and frozen precip
      ensue sometime during the night before the
      southerlies kick in. Yeah, yeah “wishcasting”.

    • Marcus says:

      Freezing rain!

  10. W7ENK says:


    Wednesday – 44 degrees with 100% chance of Freezing Rain.

    How in the …???? o_O

    • Marcus says:


    • ocpaul says:

      Sounds like accuweather.

    • W7ENK says:

      Actually, that’s Portland NWS. InAccuweather looks more believable.

    • Pretty simple. NWS is obviously implying that temperatures Wednesday Morning will be at or just below freezing. We’ll see…. I’m not so sure about any frozen precip.

    • Brian in Bellingham says:

      The “point and click” or the city forecast from the drop down menu is not a man made forecast, IIRC. I am pretty sure it is computer generated and does not always have “common sense”. I have also seen these forecasts call for rain with a low of 23 and snow with a high of 44 (for parts of Eastern Washington.)

      The MAN made forecast for Portland says this:

      100 PERCENT.

    • W7ENK says:

      Interesting how their text forecast calls for light Southerlies, but their AFD says no southerlies, onshore push? Sounds to me like they’re not all on the same page.

  11. Marcus says:

    Not sure what to make of the 12z euro looks cooler and maybe an east wind event?

  12. Down right snowing in Albany. Actual flakes and white roofs and white walks and everything. Very localized tho. We used to call it mill snow but the mills are all but gone. Must be one saturated layer out there.

  13. W7ENK says:

    1001 AM PST MON JAN 21 2013


  14. pappoose in scappoose says:

    These are the kind of storms that the rest of the country never hears about.

  15. pappoose in scappoose says:

    This will be a problem…as air mass will be cold
    over The Lowlands.

    National Weather Service Portland or
    916 am PST Monday Jan 21 2013

    Differences in timing…but precipitation will push
    into region very late Tuesday night…mainly on Wednesday. Front not all that strong…so easterly flow will continue until the front is nearly on top of the region. This will be a problem…as air mass will be cold over The Lowlands. Any precipitation will be as sleet and/or freezing rain…with snow more likely in the Columbia Gorge. Any precipitation should switch over to rain fairly rapidly in the valleys on Wednesday as the low level flow turns onshore. Because of the relatively slow movement of the front…it may take until Wednesday afternoon before the winter precipitation moderates in The Gorge. This front moving
    through will finally bring an end to our current period of air
    stagnation. Rockolleson

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      I really like problems of this type!

    • Well, if this pans out that sounds like a potential ZR nightmare for area commuters, pedestrians, and furry woodland creatures too!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Hahaah! Help the furry woodland creatures!

      Don’t try this at home!

    • W7ENK says:

      Hmmm, well we all know how persistent a cold pool in the valley can be, especially one under an inversion of this strength. Case in point, this East wind is riding up over the top of the cold pool right now despite such a strong gradient (8-10+ mb), leaving most of the area that isn’t right in the immediate outflow from the mouth of the gorge in the cold and fog when ordinarily we’d see gusty winds all across the East metro. Rob has winds pushing 40mph at his house, yet only a handful of miles farther West, it’s dead calm in Downtown. I have a feeling Wednesday could be really messy, especially since there won’t be a strong Southerly push with this front to scour this cold air out of the valley.

      Remember, I’ve been saying since the beginning of the winter that ice would likely be the big story this year, not snow. That could be setting up right now… we’ll have to wait and see.

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      seems like it has a tiny potential to be a freezing rain version of Dec 09… just maybe,

  16. jimbo says:

    Snow flurries in clackamas!

    • W7ENK says:

      Really??? I just left Milwaukie an hour ago, and the fog was beginning to clear out with a very light push of Easterly winds. Crystal clear and beautiful sunshine in Downtown! 🙂

    • runrain says:

      Yes, nothing in Happy Valley either, except for some very white trees and vegetation from the freezing fog. 18.1 for the low and now 21.9.

      Nice job on the bridge timelapse, Erik. I hope that bridge is a bit safer now that the west end is redone and anchored into the hill. I am always giddy each time I run across that bridge and get to the other side in tact!

  17. This low-level “fake cold” just gets colder. I dropped down to 31.1 and that was with east winds gusting 30-37mph all night. To drop just below freezing with gusty easy winds is not an easy feat to accomplish, so I am definitely impressed.

  18. Marcus says:

    Wow went to bed with dense fog and 24 degrees woke up to clear sky’s and 20 degrees in la center nice:)

  19. cgavic says:

    At 1,100 ft, sandy, 22 degs clear skies

  20. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    18 this morning in BG. Coldest temp in a long time.

  21. bgb41 says:

    1/20/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:73 at YELLOWSTONE MTN.(3080 ft)
    Low: 51 at RED MOUND(1753 ft) & GOODWIN PEAK(1800 ft)

    High:8 at ONTARIO(2260 ft)
    Low: -13 at UNITY DAM AND BU (3758 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 56 degrees
    CRAZYMAN FLAT (57/1 ) (6100 ft )

  22. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Finally skies have cleared here. Temp has dropped to 21.7. Could it be a night in the teens finally?

  23. W7ENK says:

    I spent 8 hours standing out in sub-freezing temperatures to capture this. It was worth it! Compressed down to ~1 minute.

  24. ocpaul says:

    Soft Rime Frost as thick as snow near Force Farm in Oregon City.

  25. pappoose in scappoose says:

    National Weather Service Portland or
    820 PM PST sun Jan 20 2013

    Models show good agreement on the upper ridge breaking down Tuesday and allowing a potent upper trough to swing through the Pacific northwest Tuesday night or Wednesday. This will bring a return to more typical conditions by Wednesday…with some rain and mountain snow down to the Cascade passes or below. Depending on the timing of this system and the strength of the inversion there may be a brief period of freezing or frozen precipitation at the onset…even in the Willamette Valley…before southwest winds can mix out the inversion.

    • Freddie Bolman says:

      Hello from SE Albany, OR… We have had frost in our neighborhood all day and we have been able to see the freezing fog crystals falling since the sun went down. At least we believe there is a sun somewhere out there. Looking forward to rain now. Tired of this cold with fog.
      Freddie Bolman

    • Lurkyloo says:

      Hey, Freddie. I hope the sun finds you sometime soon! Or rain. 🙂

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      I agree, Freddie. Bring on the rain!

  26. Chris Cooper says:

    Check out this video shot today at around 10 AM at Cape Horn in the Gorge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9QeuMASs2Y

  27. Marcus says:

    Freezing and very dense fog in La Center! Be careful

  28. dothgrin says:

    Beautiful day today after around 11 AM in Aloha. Clear skies as well. We were in Wilsonville and Woodburn yesterday and it was grim. By the time we got to Tualatin, it was great. I feel for those of you in the mid to southern Willamette Valley.

  29. WEATHERDAN says:

    Currently 31 in Salem. High was 32. 3rd day in a row to not make it up past freezing. 10th day of no higher than 39 in a row. Of those 5 were 32 or less. Saw a little clearing around 3:00 PM. Otherwise foggy again all day. Tomorrow it might make it up to 35. Longest non Arctic cold wave in recorded weather history for Salem. Looking ahead i see more cool but not cold weather. This foggy weather is still better than rain.

  30. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Like Brian mentioned, socked in here in BG, while just 2 miles east, sun.

    Kelso was sunny all day, but cold. On the way home it was like hitting a wall of fog just south of Woodland.

    The fog is shallow here now, I can see a contrail up above, but it’s still foggy right at the surface.

    High of 34, currently 31.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Or is it a chemtrail???

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      I have noticed the breathing problems ramping up. It can’t be the inversion with all of the pollutants being trapped for a week now.

    • Tyler, take a drive south if you want some burning eyes, runny nose etc. Or just stay inside like the rest of us valley dwellers, huddling around the light box thumbing through coffee table books of tropical locations. 😉

    • Lurkyloo says:

      It is surely the chemtrails. Don’t you know that the government is trying to poison us? Mark, you’ve got to explain to everyone how an airplane cannot possibly give off any type of vapor that is not bred pure out of the Monsanto labs.

  31. TTD-DLS is now -9.7mb likely to climb over -10mb tonight. I’m thinking we see strong to very strong east winds the next 24-36 hours perhaps an east wind storm due to the residual 925mb cold pool over the Columbia Basin/eastern Washington and strong inversion.

    • Lurkyloo says:

      There has been a small breeze going on here for an hour or two, but just barely noticeable.

  32. pbo9 says:

    Wow. Check out the readings for Redding, CA. A high of 80ºF and a low of 26ºF.

  33. W7ENK says:

    A salute to snow, all around the globe!

  34. bgb41 says:

    This inversion is like a brick wall. I am lucky to live in rural clark county where I have have clear skies for 3 days now while areas 1-2 miles west are socked in the whole time. Just barely enough downsloping off Bells/Spotted deer mtn out here in the Heisson Valley to keep the fog away.

  35. Gusting over 30mph here. The east wind has been blowing all day in Gresham and east of I-205 just up above the river level, but until 1 hour ago as Mark said it was calm or just light variable winds. That has changed now.
    Gusting to 35mph.

  36. Hal in Aims says:

    got up to crystal clear skies and 25 deg. this morning……now bright, sunny and 40 deg. with a breeze out of the east. Can remember times when working at pdx in the 70’s, east wind would be blowing in Aims, roaring in Corbett, strong by the T’dale airport then go absolutely dead calm with a wall of very dense fog at Blue Lake. Pdx would usually clear by about 10:00

  37. ErinK says:

    Does anyone see snow at all in our near future??

    • W7ENK says:

      Nope. Maybe 10 or 11 months into our future, but only if we’re lucky!

    • Not in the next 1-2 weeks, but there is still all of February ahead and anything can happen.

    • Probably repeat inversions like the past several days.

    • yetanotherguy says:

      Starting to get kind of iffy on the snow. Really we only have about 28 days left in the snow season

    • PDX Weather Nut says:

      I sure hope so. The return of the dreaded gray, rainy, damp weather on Tuesday will make things feel depressing. We really haven’t had a decent snow in PDX since December of 2008 so we are WAY overdue! Snow “season” in PDX can last till the end of February. It’s hard even to say we have a snow “season” given that we haven’t had a decent snow in town in years now.

    • vinnybob says:

      The chances for a PROLONGED arctic event this season are almost gone.

  38. runrain says:

    Gusting to maybe 15mph here in Happy Valley. Must be skipping over Troutdale and setting down here.

    • SilentReader says:

      based on the lack of response the answer is no. Nothing major is heading our way. It’s always 10 days away. I think snow levels will be low with some moisture coming up but nothing for the floor.

    • W7ENK says:

      No wind at all in Milwaukie, max “gust” since midnight so far NNE 2.7 at 1:17p.

  39. *BoringOregon* says:

    1st shot its my bday I thank I might head up there soon!!

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