Will We Get Freezing Rain Thursday? It’ll Be Close!

12:30 pm Wednesday…


Here are the highlights…


  • Most of us will see regular rain arriving between 11am and 1pm tomorrow.
  • Anyone above 1,000′ will definitely see rain only.  It’s warmer higher up.
  • It only takes 5 minutes of freezing rain to turn a dry road into an ice rink.
  • The morning commute should be dry.  But spots of freezing fog again where skies clear this evening and fog redevelops.
  • The evening commute should be fine, with rain showers and temps 35-40.
  • The central/eastern Gorge won’t thaw until evening, that includes anywhere east of Multnomah Falls.


  • To get freezing rain to “freeze” on pavement, the air temperature needs to be about 28-30 degrees or lower during the daytime.  Even at night, to get roads iced over, it needs to be down around 30-31.  Most spots will be at that temp or warmer at 11am-1pm, thus the reason I think most of us west of the Cascades will not see traffic issues.
  • IF THE RAIN ARRIVES BEFORE 10 AM, MORE WIDESPREAD FREEZING RAIN IS POSSIBLE!  Tomorrow is definitely a “watch the radar” day.
  • If the rain waits until noon-1pm, none of us westside should get freezing rain.

So what has changed since I posted about this event yesterday? 

Not much, but I’m being a bit more cautious.  It IS warming up dramatically above 1,500′ today.   I see some 50 degree temps in the foothills of the Cascades and the KPTV Tower temp keeps rising.  Thanks to Jim Little for this graph:


In the lowest elevations we had a round of freezing fog last night with the cold air trapped below an inversion; a common occurrence in wintertime here.  I was really surprised a few districts in the metro area cancelled classes based on freezing fog!  I’ve never seen that.  Both Portland and Vancouver did so, although none did in Washington County or Clackamas County.  And Portland was the only district to close in Multnomah County.

Skies are clearing in some spots, mainly where some east wind from the Gorge is drying things out.  Just a little mixing going on, I’m seeing temps getting close to 40 in parts of Washington County and near the Gorge.  Other than those “warm” temps, no changes through this evening.  It’ll be another mainly clear and cold night with spots of freezing fog developing.  Areas that don’t clear out today will just sit under low clouds/fog tonight.

So obviously that sets us up for possible freezing rain Thursday morning if the precipitation arrives early enough.  Models are still insistent on nothing before 10-11am.  They have been very consistent for quite a few runs.  That includes the new 18z NAM and 18z RPM.  There won’t be ANY mild mixing wind before the precipitation arrives, so that won’t help at all.

As a result it comes down to an epic race between the rising temperature and the incoming rain tomorrow morning/midday.  The best chance for freezing rain may be the calm pockets in Washington, Columbia, and Clark counties.  Areas near the Columbia River Gorge in the metro area might have the LEAST chance because of the mixing east wind going tonight keeping temps up.  Just a guess.  Our RPM even shows a few spots in western Washington County as the precip shows up around 10am:


The east wind in the Gorge will be dying quickly tomorrow, so I think it’s most likely we’ll only see freezing rain east of Multnomah Falls, assuming the rain waits until 11am or later to show up.  It’s possible the freeway will be mainly clear if temps rise above 30.  But I do not expect a widespread and dramatic warming during the afternoon, thus some ice accumulation is likely at Stevenson, Hood River, and maybe The Dalles.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


80 Responses to Will We Get Freezing Rain Thursday? It’ll Be Close!

  1. Model Rider says:

    And the 00z gfs brings the ridge back to the west again as in line with last nights runs. Ridge could use a little more amplification up higher into northern Alaska instead of southern Alaska. And timing has moved up as well which is always a good sign. Rob, Paul, thoughts?

  2. Marcustheweathernut says:

    Don’t even bother with the 00z gfs blah!!!!!

  3. Sandi (Wilsonville) says:

    My son was warmer up on Mt. Hood snowboarding today than we were socked in with fog and freezing temps all day. Roads are white with frost tonight.

  4. Roman~Snow-Zone-Monmouth, Elv. 223' says:

    Into the teens we go, 19.9F now. Found a dead goose the other day in the neighbors farm pond, water froze around the poor goose while asleep at night trapping him in apparently. The pond is solidly frozen over now, pretty amazing even small streams through town are showing signs of freezing over.

    • JohnD says:

      Sad. During the winter of Dec. 1972–in Monmouth–I similarly recall one disturbing image from back then that I will never forget–notably a large dog lying on its back with legs straight up–frozen to death. There were a number of days during that weather “event” with mornings below zero. Coincidence or otherwise, it was also soon after that I changed my major from pre-meteorology to philosophy/comparative religion–although both have been a part of my life ever since.

  5. dharmabum says:

    Fortunately most of us chose the life we live, with all the consequences, dangers and risk that follow. There are no guarantees, just the courage to live, and the dignity not to complain too loud when things (including weather) don’t quite go the way we would like.

    “Poetry knows we are as close as a feather to disaster.”
    Marianne Boruch

  6. paulbeugene says:

    EUG down to 18F at 6pm obs (was 22F 24 hours ago). I am not sure that the S winds are going to be able to mix down and scour out the cold air from the S Willamette Valley. Lack of cold air damming with winds from the S should favor mixing out the cold, but it will still be a bit difficult. The amount of rain forecast will not wipe out too much of the “snowpack” down here, so will still have tendency to radiate out the heat between tomorrow’s front and the one due in this weekend. We simply go from one inversion to another inversion, with a brief break in between, if any.
    GFS ensemble mean still quite cold with 850mb temps -12C over Seattle next week.
    The ECMWF model showed EXTREMELY cold air heading from Siberia over the north pole toward the North American continent. Minus mid-30sC 850mb temps over Montana would yield -35 to -50F temps.
    Operational GFS runs have trended toward ridge over 145-150W but not as amplified as what we have had in past week. Suspect the ensemble mean is a bit more amplified.
    This is what I would call the Christmas Arctic Outbreak Jackpot. Brutal cold for someone (un)lucky.

    Do whatever you have to do to encourage (discourage) the cold air from coming (back). As they say in the beer commercial, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

    • Roman~Snow-Zone-Monmouth, Elv. 223' says:

      I want that Christmas Arctic Outbreak Jackpot with lots of snow please!

    • Just chant this over and over before the 00z runs [in the voice of ‘Animal’ from the Muppets]… ((((( PIE-NAP-PULL )))))

      That should discourage the cold air from coming back…

    • JohnD says:

      Nice job Paul. Always astute commentary. I have personally communicated with a number of folks over the past couple of days regarding the current south Valley weather. I was born-raised in Albany, college in Monmouth, and here in Portland since late ’70’s and I well remember the comparable event of 1972 when I was a kid down there. Just wish I had been there for this one–although I still believe that because of the Gorge, we are more prone up here overall. Anyway (continue to) enjoy! We’ll see what the rest of the season brings!

    • Ryan says:

      Paul, would you be cool with a jan 2004 scenario where the arctic air doesn’t quite get to Eugene and PDX gets socked in for a week? I’d take that!

  7. Andrew (Beaverton, OR) says:

    After hitting 38 on my home station sometime this afternoon we are already back down to 32 degrees and falling like a rock.

  8. Wendy-Silverlake says:

    What direction is tomorrow’s system coming in?

  9. Ryan says:

    10 degree difference between Tigard and Tualatin right now. 38 vs 28. Now THAT’s a micro climate!

    • ocpaul says:

      Fascinating Karl. Who devised that formula? It’s a clever theory of ‘relative affect’ for different weather events. It seems like it would apply to other marginal plants as well.

    • I was assuming that highs below 32 and lows below 20 are about where the palms start to become “slightly uncomfortable” if it’s sustained for days on end. A freeze down to 10F west of the Cascades normally does not much more than minor discoloration of the leaves, but such freezes only typically last 3 or 4 nights. A sufficiently long stretch of nights in the teens and highs only upper 20s / low 30s ought to stress them eventually…

  10. Sapo says:

    GFS and ECMWF still showing cold arriving on December 19 and 20, but a quick warmup on Saturday the 21st.

    • Mark says:

      12Z wasn’t as kind, pushing in the high pressure to far east into the west coast – if that makes any sense… It’s the latest run, but only one run. Let’s see how it plays out.

    • JohnD says:

      And not good when Rob isn’t chiming in about
      positive signs upstream. Still you never know
      9 days out. A LOT can change–ONE
      way or another. Let’s get through tomorrow
      and then see what we see!

    • So does it appear that the long range models are now not leaning towards another arctic event in the next 8-10 days or does it still look to be cold and possibly snow during this time?

    • Brandan says:

      12z Euro ensembles. The GFS hinted it first this time… I think it will continue to trend cooler.

    • Sapo says:

      Yes Philip, models have not been “leaning away”, but they are not optimal for an arctic blast and snow.

  11. Brent in Tualatin says:

    According to Intellicast the temperature in Sherwood, Tualatin, and West Linn, all show 28. Then Lake Oswego it reports 37. Is this an error or there a cooler pocket of air as you move to the south?

    • Ryan says:

      It’s the fog. Anywhere still socked in with fog is below freezing. That’s what concerns me about tomorrow, the rain getting here BEFORE the fog clears out. No way we get above freezing until that fog is gone, and we wont have the sun to warm us to 40 even when it does clear. Thus the forecasted highs in the mid-30’s.

    • Brent in Tualatin says:

      Thanks Ryan

  12. alohabb says:

    Im putting my money on no ice tomorrow. Just to warm now. Back to gray and rain.

    • Ryan says:

      Clear skies tonight tho, have to remember that. I think it comes down to how thick the fog is. It was well below freezing still at 10am today. So if that happens again tomorrow(no signs it won’t) and the rain comes in by then…

  13. WEATHERDAN says:

    I will do any name calling. However it really does bother me when I see some posts where they want to see an icy mess. Even if it is not at commute time there are still plenty of vehicles on the road in the afternoon. Private vehicles, delivery trucks, school buses, taxis, emergency vehicles and such. And none of them will find it exciting if they are involved in an accident. Every night on the news they show pictures of multicar pileups due to snow and freezing rain. I know none of you means harm to these people but realize that every time we have an extreme weather people and animals do suffer. We all like exciting weather. Just remember it does come with a cost. Peace.

    • Ryan says:

      Call me out by name, I don’t care. I want frozen precipitation of any kind. Survival of the fittest out there. Just be prepared and you’re fine.

    • JJ78259 says:

      think Mountain Man, I have lived thru a couple of good ones in Portland, Ice Storms that is, they are pain in the *ss. They make great video for news people. I can still remember the new residents coming down the Road on Mt. Scott crashing all the way down absolutely priceless. They all had to try it and they lost. If you like no power, roof damage, auto body estimates not to mention tail bone injury. Your In!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Weather geeks like extreme weather.
      All extreme weather carries possible risk/harm to people.
      You’re on the wrong blog if you wanna encourage safe/boring weather. We know there’s a risk, that’s why we wanna go up to Vista House and see if we can avoid take-off in 100 mph winds!

    • dharmabum says:

      Dan, Dan, Dan

      Lighten up, as far as I know, no human has be able to influence the weather with their thoughts, so I would not worry about “wish-casting” influencing the reality of that we experience, like so many of my friends here have said, “It’s a weather blog”.

      “Anyone who thinks commenting on this blog makes them a weatherman, must also think that sitting in a garage will turn you into a car.”

    • pappoose in scappoose says:


    • Mike Ivie says:

      I just hope that if the school district does close they give a little more notice. I am a school bus driver and drove across town to get to work only to be sent home 10 minutes before my route starts. I don’t mind driving in the ice but at least I want to get paid for it.

      • Ryan says:

        Sorry to hear that. I agree, either make the call by 6am or deal with the consequences. It’s not just the kids and their parents that need to know. Bus drivers and school district employees have to make that same drive.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Hahaah! Funny stuff, dharmabum!

    • Aloha Rainshadow says:

      Man, aren’t we fickle. This is a weather blog and every single one of us get excited for extreme weather, freezing rain is just that! I love freezing rain as long as it’s not 4 inches and collapsing my roof! You can’t call someone out for liking frozen precip on a weather blog!!! Ryan doesn’t have control over the ZR coming or not…it’s gonna happen or it’s not, like Ryan said, just don’t be one of those idiots out there on the road…you are a weather enthusiast, you should be the first one to know it’s coming and be prepared!

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      I like a nice cold brisk day. I enjoy the snow gently falling on the trees. I enjoy the sound of thunder in the Summer. That is interesting weather to me. I don’t however enjoy extreme weather. If you do Ryan then fine. And no I don’t like boring weather anymore than Pappoose does. But for me the weather doesn’t have to be extreme to be exciting. In fact I find all weather to be exciting. That’s why I have been studying it for over 50 years. And Aloha please don’t say every single one of us likes extreme weather, some do some don’t. We do get extreme weather around here. And yes it is interesting when it happens. I just don’t hope for it. But if we did get 4 inches of ice and the roof on you house did collapse wouldn’t that be exciting? If extreme weather events happen then they will happen. Nobody has control over them at all. I will blog about them, maybe try to forecast then. I just don’t like to see people hurt that’s all. As some of you have said everyone of us is entitled to a say on this blog, this just happens to be mine. Peace.

      • Ryan says:

        Fair enough, I can’t argue your point. And yes, obviously it would suck if my roof collapsed. But if it did, I would deal with it. If one thing is going to damage my house, I’d prefer it be mother nature. That’s what insurance is for.

    • W7ENK says:

      I like extreme weather, mostly. Snow is fine, I can handle snow. Dump 10 feet of snow in my yard, that would be great! Freezing rain on the other hand, I can do without. IMHO, there is nothing good about ZR. It’s treacherous, it’s dangerous, it’s destructive, it can be deadly, and it doesn’t take much at all to really screw things up, badly!!

    • dharmabum says:

      For gosh sake, this is the beautiful weather of our mother planet, enjoy it in whatever form or ferocity it comes in, it really is all good. We are a society that depends on very sophisticated technology for everyday life to appear simple and assured. It sometimes can create an illusion of a greater measure of control than is realistic or possible. End result, much dissapointment.

    • Darlene in Boring says:

      I agree Erik, as a native Oregonian of 47 years, I have also lived through severe ice storms. They suck. Period. I remember being without power for over a week in NE PDX because of a “silver thaw” in 70’s…stunningly beautiful but scary and treacherous. At the time, my dad loaded barges in Camas. He still had to go to work and it made is job very dangerous. Not everyone can just stay home. The last ice storm did a lot of damage to my property. It literally sounded like a war zone outside at night. I nearly broke my neck trying to get water to my livestock because with no power there is no pump for the well. Freezing rain and high wind storms make me a tiny bit anxious. Weather truly fascinates me but mostly I follow it because I need to be prepared. My husband is responsible for the freeways around town, so I am solo here when weather events occur…sometimes for many days in a row (’08). It’s my responsibility to care for my animals and home. I need to have enough feed and water for my livestock and enough wood brought in to heat the house should things get ugly outside. I follow the weather so that I am as prepared as possible. It makes my life easier. Now, bring on the snow!

  14. W7ENK says:

    I don’t believe we will. Maybe in Troutdale and up into the Gorge, as well as areas down the valley where this cold air is firmly entrenched and aided by snowcover, but here in the metro area? I’m going with no.

    • gidrons says:

      I go along with Erik. Temps and dewpoints are too high in the metro area. I’ll take Mark over NWS anyday. Eugene will be interesting.

      • Ryan says:

        Mark, can the rain fall into fog? Or does the fog have to be gone in order for rain to fall? Assuming no wind at all.

    • gidrons says:

      Low dew points can pull the temperature down as rain is falling. Low dew points also get colder temps at night.

    • Model Rider says:

      I cant believe Ryan just asked that.

      • Ryan says:

        Or you could just answer the question. I’m not a weather expert, I know nothing about it.

      • Ryan says:

        I think it’s a fair question, Model Rider. They are saying freezing fog in the morning again with rain coming in around 11am. So that would be a pretty small window between fog clearing and rain starting. That’s why I asked. Not like I asked “can it rain when there’s no clouds in the sky?”.

    • chris s says:

      Yet you seem to answer peoples weather questions like you know what your talking about Ryan… 🙂 and dont seem to care that while we cant control what mother nature brings, wishing for freezing rain that creates a safety hazzard for people who must be on the roads is pretty childish.

      • Ryan says:

        I answer the stuff I know and I ask the stuff I don’t know. Simple as that. And yes I want freezing rain tomorrow. A lot of it. I am very childish when it comes to exciting weather and I don’t really care.

  15. alohabb says:

    Epic fail for PPS schools. 42 and dry and sunny on a called snow day.

    • Seahawks Fan - NE Vancouver says:

      I know I’m in Vancouver, but the roads were worse than any other point in the last few years. Accidents everywhere. Not worth it. Plus, what’s the point in sending kids to school for 2-3 hours when the roads finally clear?

  16. Ryan says:

    28 in Canby and 42 in Troutdale. It’s simply stunning that we can have such extreme micro climates in the NW.

    • Seahawks Fan - NE Vancouver says:

      Reminds me of the Denver area. Denver International Airport and downtown Denver have such varying climates and they are even closer in proximity.

    • Heatblizzard says:

      Their has actually been a debate on the poor decision to move the official weather station to the DIA. The old airport was several miles closer to the city and the climate reflected that more .

  17. Ryan says:

    C’mon rain! Get here faster!!!

  18. BoringOregon says:

    I would say it warms up and rain comes in after we warm up above 35.

  19. Matt in eugene says:

    Mark – Any thoughts on the southern willamette valley? Thanks.

  20. Brandon says:

    So you’re saying we’ve got a chance… Temps in the metro just really shot up within the last hour.

  21. Jane - Forest Grove says:

    Going to be an interesting morning….Phil V is saying a high of 36 for our area Thursday.

  22. SnowedIn - North Plains says:


%d bloggers like this: