Northwest Winter Drought Resumes

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


73 Responses to Northwest Winter Drought Resumes

  1. Vince Kemper says:

    83 at Flynn Prairie today. WOW.

  2. Dave in South Salem (500') says:

    And in case you wanted to go escape the inversion this weekend, it subsides for Saturday and Sunday…how convenient.

  3. Model Rider says:

    Noticed those models too Rob. We need it definitely to start moving up in time with each run though. Finally positives in the models no matter how slight they may be.

  4. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    6z, 12z GFS both have retrogression after day 10.

    12z EURO full run
    Watch the 500mb pattern progression HR 168-240. Something worth talking about might be how the flow bends around fairly sharply in British Columbia, Alberta and into eastern Washington. Note how the contours abruptly shift westward. It seems the ridge is squeezed a bit and very slightly backs offshore amplifying up through Alaska and Yukon, but it’s still not in the sweet spot. There could possibly be a glancing blow off to our east though.

  5. Jason Hougak says:

    We will be pushing 60 degrees today in foothills above Sandy! Clear and stary, beautiful with temp. of 30.3F.

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      Funky stinking fog down here. Burns the eyes. Starting to feel like an old Sherlock Holmes movie…
      A dark figure moves in and out of view
      under a dim gas light
      through a dense fog
      A howl pierces the silent muffled night
      Or was it a scream from fright?

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      It was a scream from a weather geek who’s losing his mind with boredom!

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Awe blue sky and sunshine, sorry flat landers

  6. schmit44 says:

    1/14/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:78 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)
    Low: 59 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:27 at ALGOMA(4157 ft)
    Low: 5 at CRAZYMAN FLAT (6100 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 50 degrees
    CRAZYMAN FLAT (55/5 ) (6100 ft )

    • EY (Oak Grove) says:

      Wow… 78? That’s insane. I understand that we can see 70s somewhere in Oregon in January, but that high? When was the last time we hit 78 anywhere in Oregon in January? And have we hit 80? I seem to remember reading that some station reached 80 this month in the past.

      Plus that’s one heck of a diurnal change.

  7. No Snow says:

    This weather is great! We get a lot more work done when it’s warm and dry.


    Because Erik likes hashtags. 🙂

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

    The greatest trick Ol’ Man WInter ever pulled was convincing the Pacific NW he doesn’t exist.

  9. W7ENK says:

    716 PM PST TUE JAN 14 2014

  10. Lurkyloo says:

    Aaaannnd it’s back … stagnant air and its advisory. Gaaaa!

    The fog looks really cool out there, though …

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

    Well, whaddya know – the last 5 frames of the 18Z GFS actually depict a trough in the western US. Nothing arctic, but at least it’s not a 580dm ridge.

  12. WEATHERDAN says:

    Curious thing in la la land. Vancouver gfs meteogram goes from 550 on day 8 to 517 on day 16.

  13. gidrons says:

    The latest Euro run is the driest and warmest yet (at 850mb).

  14. alohabb says:

    Hash tags on the weather blog now……. It must be boring weather!!!!

    • W7ENK says:

      I’ve never understood the reasoning behind using #hashtags outside of Twitter. Makes no sense to me, they serve no purpose.

      #toeachtheirown I guess. :facepalm:

  15. Muxpux (Castle Rock 175') says:

    Anyone know where to get these ensemble charts for the east Rutherford, NJ? Haha. I dunno if it’s a good fool to use for that area, but I’m curious, we should be getting close to having some idea of what the weather may do come super bowl

  16. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    00z GFS bone dry and mild. With the 500mb heights and 850mb temps progged as high as they are I wonder how much snow is going to melt in the mountains. Not good!

  17. Taylor says:

    Is this drought a danger to our water supply by any chance right now? Will we get rain in the spring?

    • Jason Hougak says:

      I work on wells for a living and you’d better believe we’ll be busy this year with dry wells.

  18. BoringOregon says:

    No more Weather Channel, on DIRECTV!!!

    • Taylor says:

      Yup and I’m pretty upset about it. I watch that channel to see what’s going on in the rest of the country and also for their coverage of severe weather like tornadoes and such. Been watching that channel off and on for a long time. Remember watching them during Hurricane Frances and was just absolutely fascinated by the power of a Hurricane.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Didn’t they replace it with WeatherNation? Probably better than TWC!

    • Taylor says:

      They did replace it with WeatherNation, but it’s not as good as The Weather Channel. Sure they show weather 24/7 but it’s taped not live like the Weather Channel which interestingly started showing 24/7 weather coverage when this Directv debacle started to show the viewers that they are dedicated to weather when in fact they show reality weather tv shows in place of coverage when weather is quiet and not 24/7 coverage. But, still the reporting on The Weather Channel is unmatched to anything else and watching coverage of severe weather outbreaks is exciting although unfortunate for those in the paths of those storms. Just seeing it unfold live is fascinating. I do think The Weather Channel needs to go back to what it does best and that’s 24/7 weather coverage and hope that this dispute and the cries of the viewers force their hand.

  19. Danny in Troutdale says:

    I want you all to close your eyes… and when you do, imagine this.

    It’s mid-February and the arctic blast has arrived. You wake up from a not so great sleep, because the night before all you wanted to do was window watch for the first flake to fall. But as you wake up, you run strait for the window/door that you always run to, just to see if you got anything overnight or how much.

    In this case, you got the mother load. your view is a winter wonderland not seen since 2008.


    • W7ENK says:

      You forgot the part where it’s mid-February, and it switches over to rain and is mostly melted away by 6am.

      If it’s not on the ground for at least 24 hours, it’s not a legitimate snowfall.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      I don’t know why mid February snow is so talked down, the biggest snowstorm I ever remember as a kid happened during my birthday week in 93′. We had a classic east wind with a low pressure sliding down the coast. Over running moisture actually caused a brief freezing rain but changed to snow. The low traveled south between Astoria and Tillamook cartwheeling in moisture! It snowed and snowed… In Boring, Oregon we had a solid 18″ plus. My bro and friends spent that entire week riding 4 wheelers, snowboarding and sledding. On of my favorite memories of all time. It took til late Febuary to melt! So don’t down play February… it’s winter until middle March. BTW Ihad six inches of snow in the foothills @ 1300′ in the middle of April 2007 so there. I wonder if China’s Three Gorges Dam is effecting of weather?

    • W7ENK says:

      Yeah, you’re talking about Boring, Cascade foothils, elevation between 700-1000 feet. I remember that storm, too. Down here in the valley, we had 8 inches, but it was gone the next day. It didn’t stick around for a week down here.

      Sun angle in February week 3 is the same as it is in early October. That’s why.

    • Sifton says:

      LMAO, & when you open your eyes Dan you realize you nodded off & it was alllll just a dream, just 1 big dream…..

    • Danny in Troutdale says:

      I gave you guys a happy thought…. That’s all it was, happy.

      If this happens, you better listen to me when I tell you that lightning will hit the same porta potty ten times in the beginning of June.

      The chances of one of these events happening sound about the same (lol). But are awesome.

      Lol sorry I just got of work, I’m tired, I know this post is stupid.


    • dharmabum says:

      Jason you are so right, here at Barton 300 ft. elevation we had a good foot or more of snow and it did stick around all month long, it was one of the few times in my 30 plus years here that I felt I was in snow country. Thanks for remembering that year!

  20. GTS1K' says:

    Well, thank God we’ve got you there to remind us, Eddie…

    You could also just not make your ‘helpful’ comments – but I suppose that wouldn’t make your poodle bark – eh?

  21. Punxsutawney aka HIOPHIL in Hillsboro says:

    Wow, did the 00z GFS really have no precip at all on it or am I picking up the 18z? Text output says 0.00″ at KHIO and that picks up a bit of the Coast in the extended 2.5 degree resolution. Mid January and a completely dry 16day run. Ridiculous!

    • Heatblizzard says:

      I feel like I live on Mars or something. Is THIS Oregon or some look a like we all woke up to?

  22. JERAT416 says:

    So much for a 1968 repeat……

    • JERAT416 says:

      Oh, and here is to Juneuary, Julyuary, Augustuary, and Septemberuary. This will surely mean no death ridge, no warm ridge, not ANY stinkin’ ridge or even a whole dry week for camping or any outdoor plans this summer. We might as well face the truth. It’s gonna be gloomy and probably even rain a quarter inch on July 4th……..

    • Heatblizzard says:

      And be very humid again for areas south of Portland.

  23. JJ78259 says:

    Let’s face it the northwest has really wet years (to many to forget) and now your having a dry year so enjoy the sunshine while it is there maybe you will even have a warm spring before it switches back to ugly. 74 and beautiful in San Antonio today trees are starting bud out. Get some sun on the bones while you can!

  24. Jason Hougak says:

    Was planning on riding today but with the snow changing to rain mid Sunday and freezing rain mentioned this morning I bagged it and worked. 😦
    CPC is forecasting the same dry weather into the end of January with much above temperatures, well if the low country isn’t fog bound. I’m actually looking forward to some 60’s. I wonder what future winter will make up for this one? Warm spring riding does sound nice after the snow base has grown… a bit.

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      IF it grows. Nothing in the long range maps would indicate we will see any more snow in the mountains for the next two weeks.

    • slim1357 says:

      You made the right choice. Timberline didn’t get Flood open until around noon. All morning it was Pucci in the fog and rain/sleet/snow. There was 1/2″ of ice on all the lift chairs. Still had fun though. 🙂

  25. boydo3 N Albany says:

    My pass to Hoodoo ski area is up for auction….bids start at $1…anyone?

  26. W7ENK says:

    This is true, but his bigger issue — which has been mentioned by someone on this forum who has been apprised by Kyle’s family of the situation — is his schizophrenia. It’s been shared in the past that he sometimes goes off his medications, so the references to his medications is not meant to be disrespectful, but more to serve as a reminder of sorts. I certainly hope no one has misconstrued such comments as insulting.

  27. W7ENK says:

    Yuck! Shoot me now, make it quick!

    Worst. Winter. EVAR!! 😥

  28. oldwxwatcher says:

    Mark’s fork is probably sprucing itself up for its grand entrance. “Won’t be long now” it thinks.

  29. We’ve had other dry Januaries…1.68″ in 2001 at my parents in Minnehaha. 2.1″ in 2005.

    In the winter of 2000-2001, I only had 6.75″ for December-February, that was my driest winter yet.

    2004/2005 had a similar outcome, with just 7.77″ for the same period.

    Both dry Januaries were followed by dry Februaries.

  30. Slavic S. says:

    Cmon wildcard february !!

  31. Rob - Southeast Portland says:


    Wow, just bad all around. Thanks for the post. 18z was even drier than 12z. Bad bad bad

  32. BoringOregon says:


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