Cascade Meltdown: Bad News in The Mountains

As I mentioned in a post late last week, the brand new snowpack was going to have to endure several days of warm temps and rain this week before we get back to cooler weather.

It’s not doing well.  In just 24 hours or so, we’ve seen the nearly 2 feet of snow compress/melt down to 10″ or less.


That’s due to unusually warm weather (45-50 degrees at Gov’t Camp) and heavy rain.  It appears at least 2″ has fallen on Mt. Hood, possibly 3-4″ in spots too.  A 5 foot deep snowpack in midwinter could absorb that much rain and not lose too much depth.  But this rain is falling on fresh snow which can’t handle a deluge.

We have one more warm (but dry) day in the mountains, then another warm/rainy system for Thursday.  So most of the last 10″ will be gone by the time sunrise hits Friday.  At that point all three ski areas on Mt. Hood should only see patches here/there along with any snow harvested from parking lots or created through snow making during that cold weather.  Skibowl tells me they made 3 feet of snow on the tubing run during the cold weather, so that should survive.  Meadows has some new toys that allow them to move all the parking lot snow onto the slopes…that’s pretty clever.  This is not all that unusual to see a miniscule snowpack in late November…check out the numbers for the past 8 years:


So when DO we get new snow up there?  Possibly some on Friday…maybe.  Then forecast models are all over the place Saturday and beyond.  For now, you can assume there won’t be any big ski area openings through this weekend.  By that I mean 30% or more of the runs open.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

39 Responses to Cascade Meltdown: Bad News in The Mountains

  1. Gabriel (oh long Johnson) says:

    I’ve been heading the talks of snow or freezing rain=no bueno for us Oregonians.

  2. Jason Hougak says:

    Okay I’ve got to know, on the NWS in Libby Montana they have chance of rain Monday night with a low of 12F. I looked on Seattle NWS and for Sunday night they have lows in the region near 30F and low 30’s and mention rain. Are these computer generated? I’ve seen many times snow with high 42F. How dependable when a national weather service cannot even know that at 12F and rain they’d better change it to at least say freezing rain.
    If I worked like them is be outa business!

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    The warm front that drenched Washington state and to a little lesser extent Oregon has slid into BC and will return as a cold front pulling the Cold air down Friday. Interesting how fronts can change.

  4. paulbeugene says:

    Compared to three runs ago (18 hours) the GFS ensemble mean 500mb height anomaly over PDX went from about -70m to -160m. GFS Ens mean 500mb anomaly a bit colder on GFS 00z run than the Euro ensemble mean from 12z which at the time was colder than the other models.

    It may well happen that models converge and get colder collectively in next 24 hours. Highs over BC in upper 1030s still don’t get me too excited but will wait and see.

    It is safe to say that at least this will be the second intrusion of arctic or cold Canadian air or whatever you want to call it thus far this winter and it is still November.

    Let’s get those ski areas open before they become bankrupt. SkiBowl needs a break.

  5. 00z GFS was pretty chilly, fairly similar to what we saw earlier in November, maybe a nad colder…. I am not overly excited…. as of now. 00z ECMWF could come out and change that, or just suggest a quick cold snap and warm up

  6. High Desert Mat says:

    Come on Rob, any new thoughts since the 00z Nam? Gfs almost looks the same to me as the 18z. Subtle change but not much. Come on Euro!!!!!. Please post your thoughts soon and about euro as well.

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    We are having ourselves a bit of a weather yo-yo.

  8. paulbeugene says:

    Hopefully the short lived Canadian Blast is a warning shot for something 2-3 weeks from now. Being way down south in Los Eugenios am not anticipating snow here but won’t discount the possibility for PDX at some point in the weekend.
    Best guess is PDX gets to -6 to -8C 850 temps

  9. 00z NAM looks pretty cold… If we extrapolate from HR 84 to say 120 it would turn colder than what the end of the NAM run shows. Not bad. 00z GFS though is more important.

    1000-500mb Thickness
    FCST HR 84 – 510 line into Bellingham-Omak

    FCST HR 84 – The arctic blast is coming straight down from the north now too throughout Washington, not just focusing into north-central Washington/Columbia Basin.
    850mb -9c PDX already, -12c Seattle, -15c Everett, -18c Bellingham

    I have no doubt it’s being too aggressive with the cold air, but how much so? 00z GFS/ECMWF will iron out those details.

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    Remember winter 08-09 was a fantastic winter both high and low. Many buildings in Govy. suffered damage from the weight of the snow. I replaced a pump in Govy. for Hans the maintenance man for the Bowl. They had to cut a road to the well with a front end loader. My truck hoist is 37′ tall and only about half was above the snow pack.
    The long end of the short is that winter has not even started and I’d rather have a late start to the start that a big early dump and bust winter.
    I don’t understand how many of is can be happy that we have warm mild winters.
    Oregon is dependent on mtn. snowpack for many different things. Look at poor California, if your happy it’s warm and mild then go down there and see the hardship they have for water. How’s your water bill? Next year it WILL go through the roof. Water is going to cost more than petroleum products in the not too distant future, count on it. So enjoy the warm soaking rain and laugh that it’s melting tremendous amount of snowpack. Next summer I’ll know I’ll be busy!

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Oh I’m personally not happy, I’m merely being sarcastic at the dismal prospect of us possibly having an El Nino take effect come January or so. I think like any other weather enthusiast we were hoping it’d just go away.

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      I was*

      (lack of sleep makes me say things in plurality I suppose lol!)?

    • dharmabum says:

      Glad to hear you’ll be busy.

  11. W7ENK says:

    What’s this? This can’t be! I was told just yesterday that my assertion the snow would melt away and the ski runs would be mostly mud by the weekend was absurd.


    • Jason Hougak says:

      Eric Timberline will have the mile open, it’s been groomed and packed by the Tline crew. More upcoming snow, so hahahahahaaa.
      Glad your freaking happy it’s melting!

    • Runtmc says:

      Let’s all take a moment to give old W7 an “air” pat on the back. After all, he told us so and he was right.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      There was nothing about that being absurd. It was obvious that the snow level would rise and rain would come. The truth was Timberline should hold some of their snow. As for ski bowl, it’s a no brainier, glad you could fill us in.

    • You are always right Erik. I just wish Jessie would learn from your warm bias. It will never fail us.

    • W7ENK says:

      I’m not happy it’s melting away, quite to the contrary in fact. I want it to snow in the mountains, I love skiing. I haven’t been on the slopes in two winters now, and I miss it.

      Andrew, I have a reality bias, pure and simple. Unfortunately that gets me labeled as a pessimist. But, take a look at what reality hath provided. It sucks, I know, but no one can wishcast reality away. It just is.

  12. ….El Niño Watch…..
    Update prepared by: Climate Prediction Center / NCEP
    November 24 2014

    – Neutral conditions continue.*
    Positive equatorial sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies continue across most of the Pacific Ocean. There is a 58% chance of El Niño during the Northern Hemisphere winter, which is favored to last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015.*

    Latest weekly SST departures across Equatorial Pacific
    Niño 4: 0.9ºC
    Niño 3.4: 0.9ºC
    Niño 3: 1.0ºC
    Niño 1+2: 0.8ºC

    With the next 3 month mean update ‘SON’, we could be up to a ONI of 0.4c in my opinion….

    Full detailed and technical info

    Click to access enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

  13. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Just saw the posts on the other blog topic. I stand corrected on the El nino bit (I thought we were already in an official El nino according to that report). I value getting my posts right so I’m sorry if I upset anyone on that. With that said, I’m still sticking to me guns and saying January will be dry and inactive. Awaits tomatoes

    • Brian Leroy says:

      The cfs maps are showing well below avg precip and above norm temps starting in January and lasting thru may at lest.

    • Brian Leroy says:

      Were are u chris I know u have something to say about that, lol

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Yeah no I know I just put my bets on January because most of us I think care about that month (winter weather wise) over the other trailing months. I just hope it doesn’t rain till July after that lol!…

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Wow, imagine that. The cpc’s are showing that!!!! Crazy with a developing el Nino, maybe, that they would say that. Get back to me in February Brian. Maybe get your own forecast instead of simply following the CPC which is constantly wrong. “Air” pat on the back for you if your right. Wait, the CPC would be right, you would be just copying what they say. Bravo

    • Brian Leroy says:

      Sensitive ppl on here over a damn post and weather of all things in life, matt.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Sensitive? Ya ok. I’m the least sensitive person on here. You’re the one posting nonsense all the time about warm warm el Nino el Nino dry dry. Get a life dude. We are being optimists here and you want to try to act like you know what you’re talking about but don’t really know. Thanks though, that was funny, Mark of all people know I’m not too serious.

  14. Tyler Mode says:

    60 here today. Too warm, but averages are just a collection of extremes 🙂

  15. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Welp on the bright side… at least we get good enough snow pack for Christmas?

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