Oregon Now Completely In Drought

The USDA released their weekly Drought Monitor today, declaring a drought disaster across portions of 11 western states.  Oregon hasn’t been included in that category…for now.


It shows drought conditions creeping farther north than a few weeks ago.  Pathetic snowpack and the driest water year since 1976-77 for some parts of the Pacific Northwest mean unless we get significant rain in the next two months we’ll have serious drought issues.  Now of course I’ve played this game before and remember several years where it was looking bad and suddenly it turned around.  Many times it’s in late February or March.   But the Drought Monitor shows conditions NOW, not what could change in the next few months.

For the next 7-10 days, no sign of change.  The upper-level ridging along the West Coast stays put.  Tonight’s 00z GFS showed no precipitation until the 31st (only two weeks away!).

Today we were incredibly lucky in the Portland area.  Only 4 millibars easterly gradient through the Gorge was enough to clear out the area west-southwest of the Gorge all the way to McMinnville.


The east wind itself at the surface didn’t make it even to Troutdale either!  Just the mixing up around 1,000′ was enough to do it.  The gradient is becoming SLIGHTLY stronger this evening, and quite efficient at producing wind.  It has gusted to 58 mph at Biddle Butte and 49 mph at Corbett.  That’s also the warmest spot in the metro area at 47 degrees this hour.  The rest of us will just sit in the fog.  I’ve noticed the low-level airmass (below 1,000′) has cooled the last couple of days; more freezing fog Friday morning will be the result.

Enjoy the fog (or sun) tomorrow!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

44 Responses to Oregon Now Completely In Drought

  1. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen

    00z EURO full run
    GOOD RIDDANCE western ridge!

  2. vinnybob says:

    Anyone remember what the summer was like after the 76-77 winter? I don’t.

  3. Some high temperatures today:

    Humptulips, Washington: 71
    Brookings, Oregon: 70
    Tillamook: 66
    Quillayute: 64
    Redmond: 62
    Bend: 61
    Government Camp: 60
    Timberline: 57
    Astoria: 54
    Vancouver: 41
    Battle Ground: 37

    Nice job Battle Ground…

  4. The Governor of California has declared drought emergency. This link has a chart of the conditions for major reservoirs in the State.

  5. Garron near Washington Square says:

    My dad lives in Costa Rica, and has a weather sensor at his house. Is there a way for him to link his sensor to the NOAA or MESOWEST data link?

  6. John Liu says:

    How often does Oregon go into drought, and what does it mean for people, animals, fish, forests etc? I don’t have a perspective on that. Is it just a meteorological oddity, or something with significant implications?

  7. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    East wind is really ripping now near the mouth and western Gorge.

  8. Model Rider says:

    Ensemble link please

  9. Sapo says:

    As others have said, 12z runs are pretty bad. At least the GFS Ensemble is showing moderate precipitation in early Feb.

    • Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

      FWIW, the 12Z GFS operational was one of the warmest members of the ensemble suite, a real “outlier”. The last 5 frames of the 18Z operational depict a trough in the PNW, more in line with the recent ensemble trend.

    • Sapo says:

      Yeah, the 18z better.

  10. Lurkyloo says:

    Lame. I hope we don’t end up in a drought situation. I lived in TN for a summer in ’77. We depended on a well for our water and it dried up. Had to haul water from what was left of the creek up to the house to flush the toilet, water the garden, wash anything … I doubt it’ll come to that here. Hope not. I still abide by the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” rule. Sorry if that’s TMI, but every little bit helps.

  11. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    For the middle of January I don’t think you can get an uglier suite of 12z runs than we had today. Simply awful. That isn’t me being negative either, it’s just reality. I really hope we see a major change in the operational and ensembles in 5-7 days.

    • dharmabum says:

      A whole lot of drama, weather and climate just is, not good nor bad, not ugly or awful, it just is. No one in a year or two will remember all this over reacting and high drama to the natural oscillations of our local weather and climate.

  12. BoringOregon says:

    Cant wait to see how warm it gets this summer!!

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

    12Z ECMWF not good. West coast ridge firmly in place thru the entire run.

  14. WEATHERDAN says:

    A reliable source (my girlfriends mother) just emailed me to let me know that it was snowing in Silverton. Probably from the very low clouds. She said the sidewalk in front of her apartment was white. Just thought I would pass it on fwiw. Peace.

  15. GTS1K' says:

    Sunny and 35.7 here at 1000’…

  16. boydo3 N Albany says:

    56 deg at 5600′ in the mountains right now.
    32 at 320′ in the Valley
    This is worse than last winter.

  17. cgavic says:

    25 and clear skies at 860 ft. sandy.

  18. W7ENK says:

    “…no precipitation until the 31st”

    Wouldn’t that just figure. Hmmph!

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


    Ok, Snizzle, but it’s turning the roofs and the ground white here at work, and even some patches of asphalt.

  20. Rob - Southeast Portland says:


    00z EURO full run
    The demise of the unbreakable western ridge? Obvious retrogression of the PV as the flow bends around quite sharply in British Columbia and Alberta. The cold air gets oh so close, but as the “head” of the block is pinched off southwesterly flow tries to move into the picture. This shoves the cold air back up into the Canadian prairies. At least a pattern change is showing up before day 10 now.

    00z WRF lots of breezy to gusty east wind over the next 7+ days. I’ll take it if it means we clear the gunky muckness out of PDX metro.

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