Ski Season Update: New Openings Unlikely For Christmas Break

This is turning into the worst start to the ski season in a long time.

Many years we see a sudden turnaround with a bunch of snow sometime after mid-December.  But this winter there is no sign of improvement on the horizon.  That would be about 10 days out right now.  In patterns like this (stable with a strong upper level ridge), we can look out farther with a bit more confidence than when the jet stream is flipping around all over the place.  As a result, it’s unlikely ski areas that haven’t opened yet (Willamette Pass, Hoodoo, Skibowl, Cooper Spur, & Summit) will be able to open during the Christmas Break.  I don’t remember the last time we’ve seen that happen.

Ski area operators depend on the two-week Christmas Break for a good chunk of their income each year; that’s because kids are out of school and many families take time to go stay up in the beautiful Cascades.  The good news for YOU is that it’s still beautiful up there of course.  If I had reservations for a mountain resort I sure wouldn’t change them!  There is still snow up there, just not the quality and terrain you would normally see.  And I see some discounted lift tickets too.

Here is our 7 Day outlook for Mt. Hood Ski Areas:


Not good eh?  This weekend is a bit iffy because the snow level remains quite high.  Normally I would think “rain-out”.  But the precipitation looks quite light, and specifically Mt. Hood Meadows is on the SE-E side of the mountain.  So sometimes in this westerly flow they can stay out of some of the precip.  We’ll see.  Hopefully nothing falls Sunday because it’ll be well above freezing up there.  And we definitely don’t want a bunch of rain with such a thin base.

We get a cold front later Monday for some fresh stuff, but not much.  Then it’s on to ridging through the end of the week.  Models have a very weak system about 7 days from now (Friday/Saturday), then another round of ridging for a few days.

I’ll be on vacation for a couple days so no posts through early next week.   I will probably post-Christmas evening when I work again.  You won’t be missing anything since the weather looks real slow for about a week.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

186 Responses to Ski Season Update: New Openings Unlikely For Christmas Break

  1. Heatblizzard says:

    WHAT ARE THE ODDS that will will have some light offshore flow winds to kick this fogversion crapola out? WHAT NEEDS to happen to conspire that in reality?

  2. Beautiful day…south of Mill Plain in Vancouver. Then it was a wall of fog!

    Managed 34 here in BG…after a low of 30.

  3. BoringOregon says:

    Dense Fog out here. With a high of 37…

  4. WoolyBully [mthood] says:

    Record Highs on 12/23 for The Dalles and Yakima (since records kept in 1909). Previous highs were 56/55 respectively. New highs are 57/56.

  5. MasterNate says:

    Signs of change in the long range:)

  6. Muxpux (Castle Rock 175') says:

    So The Daily News in Longview published a photo today of the Columbia river at the bridge with rainier and ice flows, from January 1930, along with the statement that on Jan 21st 1930 the temperature hit -20 in Longview and the month had 4 nights below zero. I haven’t looked at historical data for other areas nearby yet but that seems a bit ridiculous to me

    • Mike says:

      I’ve have a weather history book showing a car driving across the Columbia on solid ice. I think it was around 1889.

    • Weather Lurker says:

      Automobiles weren’t real common before the Model T in 1908.

    • gratefulduck says:

      Mike.. umm car on the frozen columbia in 1889?? think you need to cind a new book that is based in reality

    • Hal in Aims says:

      The Columbian has an article and pics from Jan. 31, 1930…..

    • Randy says:

      Froze over a few times in the last 150 years. 1950 was the last time.

    • Mike says:

      Sorry everyone I can’t remember what year. I know They show solid ice on the west side of the cascades with a car driving across from Washington or Oregon.

    • ive heard stories, but -20 seems outrageous. i mean, 1919 mcminnville hit -24 and they say thats likely the coldest in the area below 1000′ ever. and the only other crazy cold i saw was salem at -5 and a couple other below zero readings but nothing that brutal. i dunno where to find more info.

  7. Model Rider says:

    And it’ll be like a switch. Two weeks from now alot on here will be saying, “I want to see the sun again, I hate all this rain, cant we get some arctic air?” this will all too soon be a faded a memory.

    • W7ENK says:

      I hope you’re right Mat, but with how stubborn this blocking pattern has been lately, I’m not going to hold my breath. It will truly be a bad situation for the PNW all around if things don’t change for us soon.

      Definitely a weird one, just not the kind of weird most of us enjoy.

    • Chris s says:

      Well it’s the 18z, but let’s hope it’s a start, as it finally shows moisture in the extended period!!

  8. paulbeugene says:

    Avg temp in EUG for December thus far is 32.4F. I we stay fogged in through New Year’s Day (decent chance), we might break all time December cold avg temp record, and could be coldest month since January 1979.

    Heating bills will be atrocious.

    This NE Pacific ridge pattern needs to die. Need some sushi to ride the jet from Japan and flush out the region with some 80-100mph wind gusts. I have forgotten what a cinnamon roll looks like.

    • W7ENK says:

      Can we get some of those winds (mybe on order of 60mph) at the surface up through the Willamette Valley? If so, then +1

    • MasterNate says:

      OMGosh! This is a sign! I was seriously eating a cinnamon role when I read your post Paul. Things are about to change. This just released forces that we can not control nor understand. Prepare for a wild January/February. Wax those skiis and snowboards! Saddle up everyone! A change is coming!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

  9. ocpaul says:

    ‘inversion-orama’ Low tower temp the coldest, high tower temp the
    warmest. Boring, boring, boring, blah, blah, blah.

    • W7ENK says:

      I sea ewe!!!

    • ocpaul says:

      Interesting blog! Monumentally depressing. 😦

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

      At this rate California is in for a world of hurt. I was in the Central/Southern Sierras last June and areas where there would typically be plenty of snow pack, there was none. Not even in the highest elevations, >12 feet. Stream flow was so low that the fish hatcheries were rushing to get fish into the streams before they went dry. June should be typically one of the highest stream flow months with the snow pack in full melt.

      Another similar winter and it will be really ugly. And before we in PNW feel any smugness about our water, even with our own problems, remember all the food that is grown in California’ central valley.

      Later January and certainly spring could turn active of course.

  10. 18 years ago today I started taking weather obs at my parents house in Minnehaha. My parents help to this day to continue weather observations there.

    To date here are some extremes:

    Highest High: 105.2, July 29th, 2009
    Lowest Low: 7.2, February 2nd, 1996
    Highest Wind: SSW 77, January 16th, 2000
    Most Precip 24 hours: 2.82″, November 19th, 1996
    Most Snow 24 hours: 8.5″, December 20th, 2008

    I’ve measured nearly 650″ of precipitation, with 112″ of snow.

  11. schmit44 says:

    12/25/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:67 at SILVER BUTTE(3973 ft)
    Low: 55 at BALD KNOB(3630 ft)

    High:19 at NYSSA(2172 ft)
    Low: -3 at HEREFORD (3599 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 46 degrees
    COFFEE POT FLAT (62/16 ) (5206 ft )

  12. Woodie the Hoodrat says:

    All-time record dry year for Southern California — less than 4 inches in L.A. for the year.

    Merry Christmas!

  13. JohnD says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Thanks for everyone’s input.
    I really do enjoy following everyone on Mark’s blog–especially during the winter months!
    ‘Just got back from a 9 mile walk along the river.
    Simply spectacular weather today for Dec. 25
    And the current inversion at least kept local temperatures “seasonal”!
    Here’s wishing for a great New Year!
    AND a migration of the West Coast ridge SOON!
    I was just reviewing notes from Dec. 2008.
    There is always hope!

  14. W7ENK says:

    Merry Christmas, everyone! ^_^

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      Merry Christmas to all and to all say goodnight to winter.. cuz the big block seems ready to cancel it. Hope not but…….

      • Mark Nelsen says:

        Hey…too soon. If the maps look like this at the end of January, then yes. But there is plenty of time for things to change. OR, we’re due for another drought winter and this is it. Who knows right now.

    • Sifton says:

      GOODNIGHT!! See you again Nov.2014!!

  15. BoringOregon says:

    Merry Christmas…Wishing for a snowy new yr!!

  16. Lurkyloo says:

    Merry Christmas, blog friends!

  17. Model Rider says:

    Finally hope on the horizon per the new euro. High breaks down and we get zonal flow then a trough. Whew

  18. Jason Hougak says:

    I’m sure windmills aren’t causing the problem, just wish we had a big enough one to get that stubborn high pressure packing! All I want for Christmas would be a winter like 1950. Still young enough, maybe I’ll get one. Hopefully sooner than later. Merry Christmas to ALL of us wild winter weather lovers!!!

    • David B. says:

      It’s difficult to tell from writing only whether or not someone is being serious, because so much meaning depends on vocal cues. And there *are* some folks here who believe some pretty outlandish things (e.g. “chemtrails”), which further confuses the matter.

      We’re almost certainly not going to get a 1950-style winter, but I’m hoping for more snow sometime. There’s still at least a good 6 weeks for that to happen, even figuring in the bleak outlook for the next week or so.

  19. pappoose in scappoose says:

    “How about an interesting fact about Mark? He was big into ducks & pigeons as a kid, and drove his parents nuts!”

    Sorry Mark,
    It’s the youngster in me!

  20. Model Rider says:

    Merry Christmas to all. Hope everyone enjoys this day.

  21. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Merry Christmas to all!

  22. schmit44 says:

    12/24/2013 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:61 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)
    Low: 45 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:27 at ANEROID LAKE #2(7300 ft)
    Low: 3 at HEREFORD (3599 ft ) & NPOWDR (3212 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 37 degrees
    AGENCY VALLEY DA (56/19 ) (3307 ft )

  23. runrain says:

    Enjoying nice 70 deg weather in Phoenix (shorts, etc.). I don’t want to sound TOO much like that JJ San Antonio guy, though!

    • David B. says:

      You have it far better than he. You’re just on vacation. JJ has to be in Texas in the summer.

  24. snodaze says:

    welp.. Mark won’t say it because he works for public TV (so he can’t because the idiots would fire him for saying this)…

    Merry Christmas.

    (fyi.. mark… tell your bosses to f**k off next time)

  25. MasterNate says:

    FYI, Santa just left Ohio and is headed this direction. Better head to bed. Merry Christmas everyone,

  26. MasterNate says:


  27. MasterNate says:

    Just FYI, Santa is in Ohio now and headed this way. You might think about getting to bed. Merry Christmas everyone.

  28. Muxpux (Castle Rock 175') says:

    Got a weather station for Xmas. Nothing fancy, but it has a 3 in 1 sensor, temp, humidity and wind

    • Awesome! Have fun with it! You’ll appreciate some smaller things now!

    • Muxpux (Castle Rock 175') says:

      Haha, just gotta find a good spot to mount it. It’s wireless up to (it says) 330 feet, and we do have a bit of land but also lots of trees. It doesn’t do wind direction or connect to the Internet or have a rain gauge but it’s a start. And I don’t really expect the parents to shell out for a high end one lol

    • That’s the way it started with me…18 years ago tomorrow…Now I have 18 years of weather records…interesting for sure!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      You would laugh if you saw the sensor I have in the back yard! Have a plastic flower pot inverted over the sensor on a plastic pipe about 3 feet off the ground! Really funny stuff!


    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Good for you Muxpux. Have fun with it.

  29. Heatblizzard says:

    In theory an energy off the coast of Oregon from magma movement and underwater volcanoes combined produces a stationary weak but permanent source for heat and pressure. This could effect weather like a stationary high pressure zone. This could produce enough of and impediment to redirect storm tracks which will follow lesser energy routes.

    The difference between this and a normal high pressure would be tht this does not absorb or move until the energy below stops or cools.

    Storms could over ride it if strong enough but the high pressure would keep coming right on back if the source remains which is why storms normally sufficient enough to overcome it fall apart causing busted forecasts left and right.

    For the last several years there has been a major volcano off Southern Oregon and immovable high pressure zone in that same area.

    Last year there was a big lava flow underwater off Bandon about 12 out to sea. It is in the papers once in a while but you have to be looking for it.

    In conclusion, they should try to have weather models account for a weak high pressure that does not move nor disintegrate like normal ones usually do after interactions with low pressures or other weather phenomena that kill it.

    Note. This is only a theory based off of studying effects of ocean and weather as well as what’s going on at our coast. We have had lots of earthquakes and magma movement off the coast of Oregon the last several years.

    The volcano has been there for a decade at the very least and the earthquakes are increasing in frequency and strength.

    • ocpaul says:

      I’ve read about the affect of under water volcanism on climate.
      But I had no idea that it was such a local occurrence. Thanks for the info.
      And, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good snow!

    • Model Rider says:

      That’s ludicrous heat. I don’t buy it

  30. Heatblizzard says:

    What needs to be input into the models is energy off the ocean.

    One thing that would cause his high pressure is if a bunch of unmonitered underwater volcanoes go off releasing heat into the water and water takes a longer time to cool then land.

    Heat will create a higher pressure then the surrounding area and if it’s a bunch of underwater volcanoes you get a lot of heat in a wide area.

    The Eastern Pacific is ripe with such volcanoes that can go off at anytime but we wouldn’t know about it unless we had special instruments down there tracking them.

    If there are any links that would be nice to know but most of the talk is either the Artic or Atlantic ocean which would effect the NAO pattern for them. (North Atlantic Oscillation).

  31. Jason Hougak says:

    I believe that our windmill technology is affecting our weather pattern. I even saw them on the island of Maui last January. If only there was an island in the gulf of Alaska, then we could blow this high pressure outa here!!!

    • David B. says:

      Any extra friction from power-generating windmills is mere dust on the gears compared to the existing natural friction from the Earth’s surface.

      If you’re concerned about extra manmade friction, that created by buildings and cities would dwarf windmills, simply because there are far more buildings than windmills.

      There’s very real reasons to be concerned about human impacts on the climate, but friction from windmills is not one of these concerns.

    • I always knew the gorge was windy. This summer I found out why. Hundreds of windmills! They should point them south so they will draw in cold air from the north and stop global warming.

    • W7ENK says:

      Hold on a sec… Do you actually think that “windmills” (the correct term is wind turbine, by the way) actually generate wind?? You realize that it’s the wind that drives the turbines, not the other way around, right? They’re not giant fans…

      Did I suddenly stumble into Art Bell’s blog??
      Oh man! 😆

    • W7ENK says:


      I shared this “fan” tidbit with one of my electrical engineers here in the office, and his manager overheard. The three of us just spent the better part of 10 minutes laughing histerically… Oh, my sides, how they hurt!

      We agreed though, this can’t be serious. If this was goodhearted trolling, then my hat’s off you you, bravo, well played! If you’re for real, then Lord help us all… lol

      They’re like giant fans…

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