Is Winter Over? Probably Not, But Could Be


The past 6-7 weeks have seen incredibly boring winter weather with just occasional weak weather systems moving through the Pacific Northwest.  The Christmas Day snowstorm across much of the region was the last time we had some real excitement.  Of course below 1,000′ west of the Cascades it just rained at that point.  We have consistently seen either split-flow, ridging over us, or ridging nearby keeping us drier than average.  I don’t think there has been a single high wind warning along the Coast since before Christmas either.

Which begs the question…Is it time to stick a fork in this winter and call it done?  No, not yet.  It’s a bit too early.  Lets recap our 4 main types of “winter weather” we’ve seen we see here in the lowlands:



Sorry kids, but for the 2nd consecutive winter we haven’t seen good snow that is “sleddable”, at least during the daytime.  We haven’t seen anything other than brief, marginal, wet snowfalls since late December 2009 (the surprise snow event).  The last time we got 2″ or more snowfall that stuck around all day long was about 4 years ago, December 2008.



This is the 2nd consecutive winter without an arctic freeze.  Portland has only been down to 23, similar to last year.  Salem dropped to 20.  Of course we had quite a run of very cold high temps at the same time under the inversion in January.  But no extreme cold.  Close, but not quite the real thing.  And above 1,500′ it hasn’t been unusually cold at all.



A close call in mid-January but that didn’t pan out, so still no freezing rain in the city.  Eastern suburbs saw some in early January, but otherwise none.



We’ve only seen minor flooding on mainly coastal rivers so far, definitely not a significant flood winter.

That’s what we’ve seen so far.  Let’s put together the current outlook, which shows no decent chance for any of these 4 types of winter weather in the next 7-10 days.  That will take us to mid-month (15th-18th). 

What could happen after mid February?  MarkWinter_Over5

It’s probably better to state what is unlikely to occur, as you see in the graphic above. 

We’re probably done with these events:

  1. A Big Arctic Blast:  We could still get a relatively mild arctic blast in the 2nd half of February (2011!).  But even that extreme would only put us right around the lowest temps we’ve seen this winter.  So it’s very unlikely we’ll see a major arctic blast.  We’re out of time.
  2. Major snow/ice event that goes on for several days (like Jan 2004 & Dec 2008).  We just haven’t seen prolonged events where the high temps stay below freezing for more than a day or two this late in the season.
  3. A Significant Flood.  I can’t remember hearing or reading of any big flood after early February.  We just don’t get incredibly wet systems this late in the season.  Sure, a river or two could see flooding, but that’s it.

What could we still see?

  1. Snow.  We could still easily get a one day snowstorm of 3-10″.  I just made up the 10″, but you get the idea.  Several times in the past we have seen several inches of snow past mid-February.  In early March 1960 there was even an east wind type snowstorm with drifting snow out in the east metro.  Extremely rare, but it can happen.  And we all know a wet snowfall can occur (rarely) into mid March.  There is even the freak occurrence of wet morning snow in early April in the 1930s.
  2. Windstorm.  Not as frequent as the first half of winter, but I remember at least two in the month of March.
  3. Minor Freeze.  All it would take is cold Canadian air surging south to give us a mild arctic blast like we saw in 2011.  I mean “mild” when measured against all other winter arctic air intrusions.  Obviously the 2011 event was spectacular for so late in the season.

So is Winter 2012-2013 over?  It MAY be, but we won’t know for a few more weeks.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

182 Responses to Is Winter Over? Probably Not, But Could Be

  1. Marcus says:

    feb 16- 23 all members on the 18z GFS ensembles are below 0c yayyyyyy!!!!! And tomorrow it will go to 10 days out!!!

    • Sapo says:

      Yes, but this could be a trend! 🙂 Inaccuweather has freezing rain Monday night (7 Days Out), but then again it’s Inaccuweather.

  2. SNOW! says:

    Starting to love that 7 day forecast at the end. Highs in the mid 40’s and lows close to freezing. The start of a mild arctic blast! 🙂

    • Sapo says:

      Haha yes, looks pretty good. Look at this:

      Looks good for about that time (Monday Night) but a quick warm up and who knows about the precipitation.

  3. Marcus says:

    O how I love drizzle!!! At least it could be snizzle,man what a bunk winter:/

  4. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Heavy mist and drizzle blowing around in the wind here. Feels just like the coast. Enough to wet the street, but nothing measurable so far.

  5. Looks to me that the ECMWF is trending a bit colder in the medium range. At least for more foothill snow and a bit of dry powder for the ski areas after next weekend.

  6. Marcus says:

    ECMWF ensembles look cold, kind of?? We shall see we may get some snow before all is said and done this winter!:)

    • gidrons says:

      And that’s why I rarely check the GFS past 5 days out. What I didn’t know was how much more powerful the global warming computers were than the POS that the National Weather Service is stuck with.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Kinda pathetic.

  7. paulbeugene says:

    Looks like another nor’easter in 5 days….this time affecting even more widespread area on I 95…while the GFS wants to give us some winter leftovers…scrapings off the bottom of the pan in two weeks…

  8. karlbonner1982 says:

    It was warmer and sunnier in the East Gorge than anywhere west of the Cascades, and a west wind has picked up in the afternoon and early evening both of the past two days. This is a VERY spring-like pattern!

    • Sifton says:

      Not here in da hood! Models, computers, science & personal opinions sure blew it on this Sunday forecast, I’m ticked!!

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      yeah, cold and cloudy the whole weekend wasn’t fun. But at least dry or mainly dry.

    • Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280 says:

      Oh, it felt nice and spring like for an hour or so Sunday morning out here. Sunny even.

      Then the clouds formed and that was it, never got any warmer even though it was only about noon. Never even got to 50.

  9. bgb41 says:

    2/10/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:66 at BROOKINGS( 79 ft)
    Low: 45 at NEWPRT Cape Foul(1024 ft)

    High:22 at CW7477 Lostine(7002 ft)
    Low: 8 at ANEROID LAKE #2 (7300 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 33 degrees
    KLAMATH NWR (46/13 ) (4531 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.28″ at BURNT RIDGE(2955ft)
    0.21″ at WANDERER’S PEAK(4350ft)

  10. I am getting excited for Spring! Don’t get me wrong, I always love the prospects of snow when they come to be. However, I love gardening and I am eager to get this boring winter over! Bring on 70-80’s weather!

  11. Sapo says:

    Wow, I really love snow and winter, but looks more and more like this could be it! Hope that means we’re due for something next year.

  12. Sapo says:

    Hi guys, this seems to be backing off a little:

    Looks like a high pressure will be too close to us, pushing the cold air eastward. Well, you can always hope.

  13. Garron near Washington Square says:

    Just an uber geeky thought. I was comparing my power bill’s for the last 18 years of winters’. The top 3 as far as (KIOWATTS HOURS USED) were: #3 December 1996 56, probably due to the fact I had just gotten married and over decorated the apartment with a jigowatt of lights, not due to weather. #2 January 2004 61 KWH, obviously weather, as well as # 1, Dec of 2008 66 KWH.
    Just in case, we are heading for colder winters’, I think I will spend part of my summer collecting firewood. I’ll bet those on the east coast will gladly exchange their power bill and snow for our “lousy-boring” weather!
    That said, I would still enjoy a couple of back to back winters’ like 78-79,79-80! My dad remembers his mom opening the east facing front door one chilly morning in January of 1950, and the snow fell into the living room. They lived in the Garden home neighborhood at the time, and story has it that the phone/power was out, back door lock frozen up and they had to tunnel through the snow drifts to get to a neighbor’s house because she couldn’t get the snow back out until dad came home.

    • Lurkyloo says:

      Garron, do you seriously have 18 years worth of power bills? Wow. I am very impressed with your organizational skills.

  14. bgb41 says:

    2/9/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:59 at BROOKINGS( 79 ft)
    Low: 43 at CW8449 Charlesto(322 ft) & NEWPRT Cape Foul(1024 ft)

    High:20 at CW7477 Lostine(7002 ft)
    Low: 2 at CRAZYMAN FLAT (6100 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 39 degrees
    Sand Creek (US 9 (42/3 ) (4525 ft )
    CRAZYMAN FLAT (41/2) (6100 ft)

  15. Lurkyloo says:

    **Brring! Brring!**
    Winter: Hello?
    PDX: Winter? Hey, man, what’s up? We’ve missed you!
    Winter: Yo! What’s up Po? I’ve missed you all too! I’ve been real busy out East …
    PDX: I just wanted to let you know that we’ve been thinking about you a LOT! It’s been a while since we had a big party. Any chance you’ll be around soon?
    Winter: I’m trying real hard to get out there, but I’m running short on time.
    PDX: Well we’d like to invite you to a party — any time between now and, say, March 15th? We’ll put you up big time! Promise.
    Winter: I’m gonna try my best to be be there! Thanks! If I can’t make it I’ll send my sister. Spring has been on vacation for a while so she needs to get back to work. But I’m sure she’s still ready to bust out! Haa.
    PDX: Okay, then. Love you, man! Hope to see one of you soon!
    Winter: Me too. Oh, and sorry about my drunk uncle Gloom. He loves it out there in the Pacific Northwest.
    PDX: It’s cool, I guess. We’re getting used to him … for now.

  16. Great AMS meeting today! Thanks to Steve Pierce, The AMS, and most of all, the Oregon Air National Guard!!

  17. runrain says:

    Felt very inversion-ish today. Didn’t see over 41 deg. Fun seeing all those polar plunge people jumping into the Columbia River during my run along Marine Drive today.

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