Avalanche Kills 2 in Wallowas

It’s been 4 years since we’ve seen someone die in an avalanche here in Oregon, but it happened today.  In the southern part of the Wallowas two cross country skiers were killed in an avalanche.  There have only been two other deaths since at least 1998 according to the avalanche.org website:


Most likely because we don’t have a lot of the real steep avalanche terrain like up in Washington and in the Rockies.

A nice surface low is getting very close to the Washington coast this evening, and we should feel the strong south wind soon here in the valleys; not crazy strong, but real windy.  I’d guess a peak gust of 38 mph at PDX.


The coast is getting slammed with 50-60 mph gusts now and will probably get a little stronger, still, it doesn’t get exciting out there until the gusts are in the 70-80 mph range.

Looking ahead…lots of rain and mountain snow.  I don’t see any one “big storm”.

Models still show cooler troughiness next week and snow levels maybe a little below 2,000′ somewhere around Sunday.  Then a colder trough with snow levels at least down to 1,500′ next Thursday/Friday.  The new ECMWF is a little cooler with potential snow almost to sea level.  But, it’s the annoying “showers in northwest flow” pattern where some folks get an inch or so in the morning and then it melts in the afternoon.   The bar has been set pretty high after last week!

Beyond that, it looks milder again.  To sum it up, you could say winter is likely over except for some occasional close calls with low elevation snow.  No sign of a late season arctic blast.  But I’ll wait to pull out everyone’s favorite graphic until after the cold trough next week.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

68 Responses to Avalanche Kills 2 in Wallowas

  1. W7ENK says:

    Yes EY, my point exactly. Thank you!

  2. WEATHERDAN says:

    56 and mostly sunny in Salem this afternoon. Best weather in months. Really feels like an early March day outside. Some have suggested snow in about a week from now on the valley floor. That isn’t going to happen. Maybe a few wet flakes to 1k but that’s it. Normal high in Salem on the 20th will be 54 degrees. We will probably see one or two days in the 40-42 degree range for highs, but no colder. Wishcasting isn’t reality. The cold hard facts are. Sticking snow can happen even in March but it is very rare. Most likely we will see some cold showers which will drop our temperature a few degrees during the heavy ones. I just said goodbye to 18 inches of snow a coup;e of days ago. That is enough for me. I hope to see 60 degrees real soon. But if you really want some more snow why Santiam Pass is right up the road about 70 miles East of here, enjoy. Peace

  3. W7ENK says:

    1221 PM PST THU FEB 13 2014


  4. EY (Oak Grove) says:

    The odds are drastically cut, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But again, we struggle to get all the ingredients to line up in December, January and early February. It’s even harder beyond mid-February. So if someone’s skeptical, let them be. They want to see snow too, but instead of throwing all their eggs into one basket, they’re staying back before hopping on the train.

  5. dharmabum says:

    As a general rule of thumb, February 20 is the cut-off for the likelihood of arctic weather here in the valley, after that it’s just a probability of wet snow events that don’t last long for the rest of winter.

  6. Jason Hougak says:

    CPC- Oregon 60 percent below normal and 70 percent above for precip. The mountains are going to get hammered!!! Who called the Febrary recovery…. ya baby!

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    I’m really thinking an elevation snow event… the lower the temps in Portland mean snow will stay instead of melt away up high. I hope to get my snow base back, I miss it already. The remaining snow mounds that slid off my metal roof are lonely! 🙂

    • David B. says:

      Just so long as the r-dg- mostly stays away until summer. (Mostly… some dry spells are fine but this persistent endless dry spell stuff has got to end until summer kicks in.)

  8. chris s says:

    JohnD, we had over 6 inches of snow down here in salem on march 20th, lasting into the next day. Hugging the window of a one day snowstorm is not even close yet. Hugging the window for an event that we just saw however is. And Erik, i think if someone has the data somewhere, i would be willing to bet 850 temps were warmer than -7 during that event. Dont count it out just yet.

  9. JohnD says:

    There is a great deal of difference between
    Feb. 19 and Feb. 28. Feb. 19 is hugging the
    window but it is still, definitely, possible.
    As ALWAYS, EVERYTHING has to set up perfectly.
    We’ll see!

  10. Aloha Rainshadow says:

    That’s a pattern where you’ll see the temp quickly pop up to the lower/mid 40’s then as a passing shower comes by, you’ll cool off to mid 30’s…then pop back up again after the shower. If you get any shower overnight however, it will be snow and will most likely stick for a very early morning show…then it will be gone after about an hour or two of daylight. Typical Portland winter pattern. Hopefully we could get some sort of stratiform precip or organized shortwave poppin in overnight, that would make things interesting, especially with the wetter snow, it can pile up pretty quick.

  11. W7ENK says:

    Now you’re talking late February, where sun angle starts to make a difference. 850 temps of –7C won’t yeild high temps in Portland in the 30s that late in the season, more likely 42 or so. Agreed on the 500-1000 ft snow level. Maybe some sloppy flakes mixed in to the valley floor during the overnight hours, if there’s any precip. Unfortunately, under that cold pool showery pattern, the Coast Range tends to eat up all the moisture before it crosses into the valley.

  12. W7ENK says:

    There are two things you will never hear me complain about:

    1) Too much snow

    2) Too much sunshine

    I’d also say HOT weather, but I think I might start whining once the temperature tops 110 or so.

    As for this winter, I’m all good now. Maybe even a little extra to make up for the preceding 5-year deficit? But, I could always take more!

  13. MasterNate says:

    Looks like we will be switching from pattern “D” to pattern “E” starting around Sunday. Copious amounts of snow in the mountains. Even a teaser for us by late Wed or Thurs next week.

    • MasterNate says:

      Meaning possible valley snow by wed or thurs. Clarification.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Not a tease for some, more like a possible frightfest!
      It’s surprising to me how many folks are in a hurry for winter to end.

    • MasterNate says:

      I for one would like to see more snow. I really don’t want that ridge back until June 1st. Would like to see a near normal snow pack by mid March. Heck, lets throw in the latest ever Artic outbreak to top it off!

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      Two years ago we had 9″ of snow on March 20-21st. I live around 450-500′ elev. Downtown in Albany and Eugene they had at least 6″. It was so weird. Snow deeper than the daffodils. It also did a ton of damage to trees and shrubs. I for one, am not interested in that stuff again. I’d rather see the first 70 deg day! 🙂

    • MasterNate says:

      That guy is weird. Should be “One Marble Productions” because he’s lost most of them.

    • W7ENK says:

      After about the 15th of February, you won’t get sticking snow down to the valley floor with an 850mb temp of –7C without an arctic airmass at the surface. That’s hard enough to do December-January, and absolutely not during the day. Yes, just two weeks can make all the difference.

    • W7ENK says:

      The only exception to that would be if precip rates are heavy enough to force cold air from above all the way down to the surface a la March 2012. Even at that, PDX missed out at the lowest elevations. Central Valley and the coast got lucky, that was a HUGE fluke, not likely to be repeated again for many, many years.

    • W7ENK says:

      Those were meant for the next post below, not sure what happened… o_O

    • chris s says:

      Erik you can always hope for a March 1989 repeat for the Portland area!!! Way overdue!!!

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      Chris, what was March 89 like for us here in Salem? I was not around at that time. Was it an onshore flow snowstorm like march 2012 or was it a cold offshore flow like what we just recently saw.

    • W7ENK says:

      I don’t specifically remember March 1989, though I was quite young.

      My Dad has told me stories of a big March snow dump over Spring Break some year back in the 60s. 1962? 1968? I don’t know, exactly. He lived out in East Multnomah County back when it was all farms, so it might have been an “East of I-205 only” type of event for all I know. Long-time Portlanders like Larry et al might remember?

    • Chris s says:

      Benjamin, I was just a teenager at the time, but I know we had some snow here in salem for a few days. I think it was more of a mini arctic type situation, but not sure of it. I think portland fared better then salem during that event though.

    • David B. says:

      In march ’89 I was in eastern Washington. I remember a big dump of snow, and that Seattle and Portland also got significant snowfalls.

    • JohnD says:

      Yes and cold east winds in that early March storm
      too. I am pretty sure a record low of 19′ was
      set on one of those days as well. So extremely
      rare but NOT unprecedented!

  14. schmit44 says:

    2/12/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:63 at CW1244 Pendleton(1145 ft)
    Low: 52 at NK7G Roseburg(472 ft) & EW0059 Myrtle Po(174 ft) & EW3367 Coos Bay(98 ft) & North Bend Munic(16 ft) & CRN SITE NEAR CO(39 ft) & W7KKE-3 Road’s E(89 ft)

    High:32 at Timberline Lodge(7001 ft) & Mount Hood Meado(6601 ft)
    Low: 27 at NYSSA (2172 ft ) & HARL BUTTE (6071 ft ) & CW7477 Lostine (7002 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 26 degrees
    Arlington (56/30 ) (449 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    9.15″ at RED MOUND(1753ft)
    4.99″ at QUAIL PRAIRIE LO(3183ft)
    4.40″ at DIAMOND LAKE(5315ft)
    4.28″ at Brookings Airpor(459ft)
    4.28″ at BROOKINGS(79ft)

  15. Model Rider says:


  16. Matt says:

    The group was backcountry, which is essentially downhill w/o a chairlift. The guides are very experienced, put safety first and are expert level with formal training. I was scheduled to join that group today. While I didn’t know these guides, I do know their peers. They are very saddened by this event. By all accounts, they took all precautions, yet were below the avalanche. One guide paid with his young life. The other stayed with the injured through the night building a protective tent and aiding in comforting two severely wounded… and is right now assisting in the 4 hr ski-out rescue as the helo can’t reach them. I echo Jason’s sentiments. Very sad.

  17. W7ENK says:

    Only two gusts of wind last night that were noteworthy enough to wake me around 2:30 am or so. Other than that, last night was just another wet and breezy Oregon winter’s night, nothing out of the ordinary.

  18. Sapo says:

    12z ECMWF pretty cold, adjusting timing of cold air closer to the GFS. Still looking possible for a potential quick snow event for Portland in the next 6-10 days!

  19. David B. says:

    I actually don’t care that strongly about whether there is another snow event this year, but I don’t want that darned rdg (I do not want to mention such a dirty word in a family-friendly blog) to come back. Winter should be stormy!

  20. David B. says:

    Wild nature is not a theme park with signs and safety rules everywhere. It’s your responsibility to learn and understand the various risks.

  21. Sapo says:

    12z GFS very close to the 6z…Arrival of cold air about the same, on Wednesday, February 19th, but slightly less with the precipitation. Still plenty of precip though. I’m interested in what the 12z ECMWF will have to offer. Does anybody know where I can find ECMWF precipitation maps?

  22. Tomas W. says:

    Above average temps extend over 85% Contiguous United States.
    “6 to 10 Day Outlooks”


  23. dharmabum says:

    “You pays your money and you takes your choice.” You are responsible for your decisions and cannot blame anyone else when what you have chosen is not successful.

  24. Tomas W. says:

    Thumbs up PNW cool zonal flow..i.e. cold weather sucks

  25. Sapo says:

    GFS is getting colder each run, currently the ensemble mean is down to around -8c, and the majority of the ensemble members have it cold enough for snow here. The ECMWF is chilly too, although the ECMWF has the cold air arriving slightly later than the GFS. Either way, looks like there will be lots of precipitation, so as long as we are cold, it looks good for snow!

  26. Gust to 50 last nite on my home station. there wasn’t a wind advisory posted. But now cast short term forecast for G45 just issued.

  27. JJ78259 says:

    We could see our first 80° weekend here in San Antonio that should get er going after some cold air yesterday!

  28. schmit44 says:

    2/11/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:59 at CW5925 Coos Bay( 49 ft) & EW3335 Jacksonvi(1390 ft)
    Low: 51 at W7KKE-3 Road’s E(89 ft)

    High:27 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 15 at HEREFORD (3599 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 32 degrees
    AGENCY VALLEY DA (56/24 ) (3307 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    2.64″ at YELLOWSTONE MTN.(3080ft)
    2.50″ at NORTH FORK(3120ft)
    2.26″ at CEDAR(2220ft)
    2.19″ at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160ft)

  29. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    I’m really glad in a way that the Pacific ocean is warm enough to moderate any arctic air that drops over it because could you guys imagine getting snow from every single low? Winters would be down right brutal really.

    • David B. says:

      You can go north and see what that would be like. Google “valdez alaska snow”.

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Oh I’m not complaining, I love snowstorms in general I’m just pondering how crazy it’d be if the scenario I described was in fact a reality. 🙂

      As David mentioned like this for example:

    • DIana says:

      wow that video is incredible, the sheer magnitude! I’d love to invent some sort of device that could be used to protect those in the path of an oncoming avalanche…..futuristic no doubt….

  30. Longview - 400 ft says:


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