Northwest Winter Drought Resumes

January 13, 2014

There is no significant rain or mountain snow in sight.  By that I mean none of our models show anything other than a shower or two for the next 7-10 days; our bizarre dry winter has resumed after a week of normal wet weather.

A little over a week ago I was talking to another local forecaster; he specializes in long-range forecasting for energy needs.  I asked him if he thought the western ridge might possibly die a painful death soon.  He guessed that we’re stuck with it through the rest of winter.  “Winter” in this case probably means at least through mid-February, since after that time it is extremely rare to get arctic blasts of any significance west of the Cascades.  Same with flooding, days-long snowstorms, or ice storms.  Interesting because I thought he would probably say we’ll see a change soon.

I am very confident that the ridge is bouncing back strongly the next week or more.  Take a look at the 12z GFS and 12z ECMWF ensemble charts; showing 5,000′ temps up around +16 by Friday.

tseries_850t_000-384_Portland tseries_850t_000-360_Portland

That’s temps around 60 or so way up at that elevation!  I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a few 70+ temps in the foothills of the Cascades Thursday and Friday too.  We saw that a year ago in mid-January.  Notice the above average temps continue through the entire extended period on both charts.

Thus I’m feeling more confident that January will end up below average for precipitation again, unless we get a sudden change in the closing days of the month.

Here is last night’s ECMWF monthly run.  Strong west coast ridging for the next two weeks.  But it’s interesting that anomalies pretty much disappear after the 2 week mark.  Not sure if that’s because the ensembles are all over the place cancelling each other out to average, or if it means the flow just goes very flat and zonal.  I don’t get the actual ensemble maps to see what they look like.





This is really bad news for the ski areas again, it was not enough snow to open up Skibowl, Hoodoo, or Willamette Pass.  At least Timberline and Meadows have a more reasonable base, although in sunny areas it’ll shrink by a few inches over the next week or two.  Luckily no pineapple express events in sight either.

Here are the weekend snow totals; quite a storm that produced almost exactly what our models said it would.


Rumor says the ski areas were jammed Sunday with lots of lines.  But when you only get a few fresh snow days in a dry winter; that’s bound to happen.  At least those ski areas were jammed with people having fun!  And for the rest of you that can ski during the week, enjoy the warm spring conditions later in the week.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen