2013: A Very Dry Year


What a strange set of wet seasons.  Last year, we had extremely wet weather the first half of the wet season, then it dried out.  This year it’s been drier than normal the entire time, except for the freak week of wind and rain back in late September.  The combo of a dry end to the wet season last winter, and a dry start this winter means we had an unusually dry year.  Just 26.72″ for the year at PDX.

That means it was the driest calendar year since 1985, and the 5th driest since airport records began around 1940.

How does that rank with the last couple of decades?


Not much of a trend, some ups and downs.  You can see the wet mid-late 1990s nicely though.

Eugene, Salem, and McMinnville each had its driest year ever.  In downtown Portland, it was the 7th driest.

So what’s ahead?  Looks like drier than average the next 10 days, but not as dry as we saw in December.  A very weak system comes through late Thursday, and a few that are a little wetter next week.  Models seem to generally agree on some sort of zonal or split flow for a few days next week, beginning Tuesday.   But they also all show a very strong upper level ridge developing right around the 15th.  That’s true of both the ECMWF and GFS.   Here’s the 00z GFS ensemble chart showing the ridge (warmer temps)



About a week ago some of us were getting excited about the GFS showing a possible change to colder weather late this weekend and early next week.  Instead that cold air is headed into the Great Plains and Great Lakes as the upper level ridge develops right over the top of us.  One more reason I trust the ECMWF which has shown this all along.  Unfortunately the result is a continuation of the boring weather.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen



21 Responses to 2013: A Very Dry Year

  1. Sapo says:

    At least it’s looking like we might get a change in the long run, hopefully giving the Cascades the snow they need.

  2. Mike (Orchards 255') says:

    Driest year here since I’ve been keeping records (1999).

    32.19″ for 2013.

  3. Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

    “Winter Storm Hercules”… give me a break. If the Weather Channel used some kind of a numeric system to identify storms, I could understand that. But “Hercules”? Come on.

  4. WEATHERDAN says:

    You want some cold weather here in Oregon? Here’s what you need to do. Get about 100 megatons of high explosives. Put them along a 50 mile stretch of the Montana Rockies and set them off. Boom! When the smoke clears there will be a big hole in the continental divide where the Arctic air will start to flow Westward. Then we can have very cold Winters and more humid Summers. Of course the people in Montana might not want you to blow up their state and the homeland security people might be suspicious when you order 100 megatons of high explosives. And you will need to come up with a few billion dollars for insurance and materials. But at least you can finally experience a very cold Winter firsthand. Or if you don’t want to spend quite as much money you can take a month long vacation, rent a cabin in the Lake of the Woods Minnesota in January and experience the same thing for around $3,000. Happy New Year everybody. Peace.

  5. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    Things looks encouraging for a pattern change to wetter weather and mountain snow(which we desperately need), but as far as arctic air/snow chances that looks very dismal at best.

    6z GFS Ensembles takes us into mid January and it only looks less promising if anything. We’ll have to see how the models look in 5-7 days.

    • Heatblizzard says:

      As long as the energy remains off the NE pacific it is not going to change. I can guarantee that ridge is going to keep coming on back.

      Just watch. The models are struggling over it but will come back to that agreement and give us doggy poo weather.

  6. Jeff says:

    I saw that first graphic on last night’s news. Very interesting. Also interesting to think where we would have ended up for calendar year 2013 if not for the “freak week of wind and rain” back in September. Maybe drier than fifth since 1940?

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    Oregon is such an awesome state but why can’t we get the huge snowstorms that hammer the east coast. The watches and warnings for snow have colored up the NWS national map. My friend Eric from Pennsylvannia lived here several years had kids and moved back to New Hampsire for family says that the winter storms we get are nothing like noreasters 😦
    I want a norwester with cold fraser and Columbia arcitc air outflow please… Owe and ample moisture to show those east coasters!

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      We would need to get rid of the 50 degree ocean next door. That’s the main issue.

    • Heatblizzard says:

      Then it would be completely dry. We would get a lot of east wind that would kill the precipitation.

      Yes it will be plenty cold but not a drop of moisture to be found.

  8. Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

    5.53″ in 2013 here. Record driest year since records began. Same can be said for Medford, Roseburg, Mt Shasta City, and a few others… I think.. lol

  9. BoringOregon says:

    Well we could be back east I guess and miss out on all this nice weather… Maybe I could use my rain gauge, a little if it rains!!

  10. Sifton says:

    SCORE!! No snow in sight!!!

  11. schmit44 says:

    1/1/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:66 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)
    Low: 55 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:23 at NYSSA(2172 ft)
    Low: 7 at NYSSA (2172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 41 degrees
    Lakeview, Lake C (55/14 ) (4734 ft )
    Lorella (53/12) (4160 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.11″ at La Grande/Union(2717ft)

  12. 00z euro operational run clearly shows trough developing gulf of Alaska 8-10 days out with slightly cool 850 temps, decent moisture, should start building the mtn snowpack.

  13. W7ENK says:

    29.57″ at my place in 2013.

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