Will There Be Skiing for Thanksgiving?

So far this November has not been kind to the ski areas.  First we had some warm/wet systems, then we turned cold and dry.  Here we are on November 20th and the Mt. Hood ski areas have 6-10″ on the ground at the base.  That’s leftover from the snowfall we had during the metro snow/ice freak out over a week ago.

To do a “full opening”, let’s say 50% of the runs open, the ski areas generally need 2-3 feet of snow on the ground.  Once we get up to a 50″ base, it seems that most runs are open.  That’s generally not too tough to do in late November since the atmosphere is cooling quickly on its way to winter.

You may remember last year was just terrible through January because we had dry conditions…there were just very few storms.

So far this snow season has not been very encouraging; it’s pretty obvious this November is not one of those when the ski season suddenly starts up before Thanksgiving.  Government Camp (on average) gets 32″ of snow in November, so far 12.5″ has fallen in one storm.  I could see another 10″ at Govy this weekend, maybe a bit more if we get lucky.

What’s ahead weatherwise?

  • Mainly rain tomorrow should wash away a few of those 5-10″ on the ground
  • A bunch of snow falls Saturday & Sunday, possibly 12-18″ above 5,000‘, a bit less below.
  • Much warmer air arrives late Monday and whatever falls from that time through Thanksgiving Weekend should be mainly rain. Some models dump a bunch of rain on the mountains later Monday through Wednesday morning, others push the rain north, just leaving us with warm and dry weather for a couple of days.  Warm and humid air is the greatest enemy of the Cascade snowpack, not the weak “winter” sun.  40 degree rain melts a lot more snow than a 55 degree sunny day.  So we want it to stay dry during that time to preserve the snow.
  • There is no other “big Cascade snow pattern” on the maps in the 7-10 day period, in general some sort of ridging or split-flow seems to dominate our weather into early December.

What could this mean for an opening?

  • Mt. Bachelor has already announced an opening for Monday.  They have 18″ and should get another 12-18″ over the weekend.  Looks good for a solid 30-35″ on the ground.  After that most likely dry down there the rest of the week
  • Mt. Hood ski areas should be sitting on 15-20″ by Monday afternoon.
  • IF it stays dry late Monday-Wednesday, I could see at least two ski areas opening some runs for the Thanksgiving Weekend, mainly to claim that early opening but also to give YOU a chance to go experience the first real snow of the season.
  • IF we get a bunch of rain up there during that period, that’s a big problem and I think openings are unlikely.

Here’s the graphic I used on-air tonight:

MarkSnow_MtHoodFcst_2013

Keep your fingers crossed!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

138 Responses to Will There Be Skiing for Thanksgiving?

  1. Jason Hougak says:

    My property elevation run 1285′-1340′ so this may be mix weekend or who knows we could get the goods. No matter what the mtns are gonna get it and that’s where it needs to go… for now. Wouldn’t mind a Buffalo effect however!

  2. JohnD says:

    The afternoon NWS AFD continues compelling commentary for the weekend. Lots of uncertainty at this point of course. But you never know how it all might play.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      What we really need is some good ol wet, cold, nwly flow to start building the snow pack. Lots of it.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      I’m located below 1500 ft!

      NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PORTLAND OR
      227 PM PST MON NOV 24 2014

      HAVE TRENDED THE FORECAST MORE TOWARD THE ECMWF…WITH SNOW LEVELS FALLING TO THE
      LOWEST NORTH OREGON AND SOUTH WASHINGTON CASCADE FOOTHILLS AND HIGHER
      ELEVATIONS OF THE COLUMBIA GORGE BY SAT NIGHT. THE ECMWF ALSO MAINTAINS A CLOSED LOW NEAR 35N 130W SAT NIGHT AND SUN WITH MOISTURE
      OVER-RUNNING THE COLD AIR BOUNDARY. THIS RESULTS IN THE THREAT OF SNOW BELOW 1500 TO 2000 FEET ACROSS THE N HALF OF THE FORECAST…AND
      EVEN LOWER IN THE COLUMBIA GORGE AND S WA CASCADES FOOTHILLS. A LOT
      OF MODEL DIFFERENCES IN THE SAT-MON TIME FRAME THUS OVERALL CONFIDENCE IN THE DETAILS IS NOT TOO HIGH. WEISHAAR

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Boydo3 I totally agree. Winter 08-09 was a great year for cold northwest flow. I believe that was a La Nina winter.

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    Who called that one…

  4. Benjamin (West Salem) says:

    Yesterday’s thunder and lightning was an awesome surprise for the third week of November. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting that at all. Lightning rarely makes it past the coast range this time of year since the storms weaken after leaving behind the “warmer” ocean waters. There was some serious instability present yesterday!!

  5. dharmabum says:

    “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth;
    whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul;
    whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…
    I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

    ~Herman Melville from Moby Dick~

  6. paulbeugene says:

    12z GFS trending colder for day 5-6. As long as models show just a sub 1040mb high pressure over BC/AB it is unlikely to get cold here. The strength of the high is correlated with depth of cold air.
    Seems there may end up being some Fraser outlow.

    • paulbeugene says:

      The Euro also looks colder.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      The trend is there but still looks backdoor and quick hitting. Warms up after only about a two day glancing blow but then another backdoor glancing blow seems to happen in the long range.

      Rob, any thoughts from ya?

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      Yeah, the EURO looks almost dramatically colder. I’m kinda surprised. It will be interesting to see if the EURO ens show the cold solution or if it was an outlier.

    • David B. says:

      NWS AFD for Seattle area is already mentioning a chance of Fraser outflow “later Friday and into the weekend.”

    • I’m going with meh on this one.

    • W7ENK says:

      I’m headed to Yakima on Friday with a friend to help move his mother into a care home and drive her vehicle back down here. Of course the roads are going to be a mess once I get out of the Portland area. :sigh:

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    NWS now mentioning cold air arriving in their forecast discussion on Sat, and that east wind train starts again.

  8. schmit44 says:

    11/23/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    Warmest:
    High:63 at Gold Beach (US 1( 60 ft)
    Low: 52 at LINCON Lincoln C(187 ft)

    Coldest:
    High:25 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 12 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 31 degrees
    WARM SPRINGS BAS (58/27 ) (1563 ft )
    CW2426 Warmsprin (56/25) (1572 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.60″ at MT HOOD TEST SIT(5400ft)
    1.40″ at NORTH FORK(3120ft)
    1.40″ at RED HILL(4400ft)
    1.32″ at LOG CREEK(2800ft)
    1.30″ at BLAZED ALDER(3650ft)
    1.17″ at SOUTH FORK(2257ft)
    1.14″ at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160ft)
    1.12″ at WANDERER’S PEAK(4350ft)

  9. Chris s says:

    Lightning and thunder here in west salem. And it’s really really dark out.

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    Where’s east wind Rob, has he been blown away?

  11. Jason Hougak says:

    Mark you got an weatherman observation on any of this colder weather?

  12. Leilani Baker says:

    Heard a couple good thunder rolls a few minutes ago in NE Salem

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

    Thunder rumblings here in the Garden Home/Multnomah area. Some heavy rain now, too.

    • Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

      Now the real heavy stuff is here, 3.84″/hr rainfall rate. Lots of red on the radar with this band of showers.

  14. Jason Hougak says:

    Got my midweek pass yesterday. Tline only has a 17″ base but Pucci and Bruno ( bunny slope ) are running. Watch the last drop before the lift, there are abundant rocks that aren’t covered well until a solid base occurs, 36″ or so.

    • W7ENK says:

      The warm rains this week should kill the rest of all that off. Ever tried skiing on mud? You may get your chance next weekend.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      What are you talking about Eric, a little warm up will just settle the base and by next weekend snow level drops again. Timberline should do just fine this week. The milder days only have a 20% chance of rain with a 8K snow level. Not worried unless I had a pass at slush ( mud ) bowl. Thanks for you info… for what it’s worth.

  15. runrain says:

    Thunder. Happy Valley. Three times.

  16. dringus says:

    Thunder and lightning here in Beaverton

  17. Jason Hougak says:

    If you all can remember back to Marks last ECMWF post just before the cold snap, the maps showed a cold change during the last week, which would be the first week of December. It may not have seen the Nov. episode but may be right on about a early December one.

  18. Garron near Washington Square says:

    Apparently we’re having a bit of a thunder storm!

  19. Jason Hougak says:

    Mat how reliable do you consider the weather street GFS 10 day. Cold air clearly builds in BC and even modified cold air in gulf. Advancing from day 1 to 10 you can see how cold air builds into BC and oozes south even into WA. This time western WA will have a winter impact.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Jason, its the gfs. The euro is following suit so I would call it reliable as long as euro keeps pace with it. Just watch the euro and put more faith in that one. 10 days is a little far out but its showing up around day 6 as well. I like the trend overall.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Ya I like the idea of it even out to day 10 as well. Who knows a long winter snow sounds great to me.
      What euro site do you use?

    • W7ENK says:

      I’m willing to bet it will be at day 10 again on tomorrow’s run, and Tuesday’s, and Wednesday’s, and….

    • High Desert Mat says:

      I’m willing to bet that you’ll still be a glass half empty guy for the next ten days as well.

    • W7ENK says:

      C’mon Mat, it’s the GFS. We’ve all been through this many, many times before. GFS is the Master of 10-days away!

      Laugh a little, it’s good for ya. 😉

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Come on gfs 18z!!!!! Lol

  20. Jason Hougak says:

    NWS map doesn’t even have a warning posted on the US watch and warning map???

  21. Jason Hougak says:

    The radar show the front diving SE, now from NW Oregon into SW Washington. Should be coming through our region soon. We are picking up steady rain and gusty southerly winds.
    Has there been a confirmed tornado?

  22. Jason Hougak says:

    Pauleugene
    That’s what I’ve been seeing but nobody else has confirmed but you now. Anybody else see this trend?

  23. Moosieman says:

    A barrage of thunder and lightning in castle rock for an hour straight!

  24. vernonia1 says:

    looks like there is a cell that is going to miss me . Headed to the south of me 😦

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