Ski Season Update

So much for a nice November start to the ski season!  No Mt. Hood areas have been able to open anything other than a run or two.  But it’s a brand new month full of white possibilities…so what do I see?

1. At least one more week of temperatures continuing warmer than normal.

2. No pass elevation snow in the next week.  Great driving!

3.  More rain than snow will fall below the 6,000′ elevation.

4.  Snow WILL fall at times above 6,000′, so the base should gradually grow above Timberline Lodge and on the upper half of Mt. Hood Meadows.  Skibowl may be left out in the cold (or warm in this case) for another week or so.


There were two reasons we didn’t see a decent snowpack start to build in November.  One is the persistence of ridging over or near the West Coast, which means warmer than normal upper-level temperatures.  So when we did get precipitation, more of it fell as rain than we would typically see.   The other reason is that we saw weak systems most of the month due to energy in the jet stream splitting at times.  The total rainfall at PDX was only about half of the November average.

So we need more precipitation and cooler temps.  Unfortunately I don’t see a change in the next 7-10 days.  There ARE hints that heading into mid December we could see cooler westerly flow and wetter weather.  Take a look at the GFS & GEM ensemble 500mb height anomaly for next Tuesday (the 9th)  gfs_8days gem_8days They are both similar.  But one week later, 15 days out on the 16th of the month?  Quite a bit different.  The GFS pushes the ridging to the east with a cooler and wet westerly flow…lots of Cascade snow. gfs_15days  But the GEM keeps strong ridging along the coastline for that entire week and it’s still there on that date


The ECMWF at 12z looked more like the GFS above…definitely wetter.

It’s possible a developing El Nino is affecting our “winter” weather pattern already.  As of today’s weekly ENSO update,  the ONI is now +1.0, which is on the border between weak and moderate El Nino.  The monthly ENSO diagnostic discussion comes out Thursday and they will probably say we are officially in EL NINO CONDITIONS.  Just to avoid arguing in the comments, here is NOAA’s definition:


Note the last paragraph implies we are about to head into, or are already in, EL NINO CONDITIONS.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

48 Responses to Ski Season Update

  1. Jason Hougak says:

    Every model run I looked at has a deep pool of cold air in the gulf. Looks more like a La Niña setup.

    • Brian Leroy says:

      But your fooling yourself thinking it’s la nina year when in fact the sst are above norm not below norm, far from la nina, hate to burst ur bubble but positive confession doesn’t work otherwise I would be a billionaire right now I know I tried that theory before over and over.

  2. How far north will that moisture around Eugene make it?

  3. Jack in Corbett says:

    Here in Corbett were currently having wind gusts in the 80’s at our place which is about a mile from Vista House. Crown Point now having measured gusts at 90+ MPH.

    Very hard to stand up when going outside this evening! Need a break?????

  4. 2 hours straight of 80+ mph gusts at CP…..Now we’re talking amazing…….

  5. runrain says:

    Tried to get out to run along Marine Dr. this afternoon before the east winds commenced, but didn’t make it! Amazing how fast it went from call him to guesting around 30. Pretty cold, but not near as bad as last year when I went out when it was 23° with winds gusting from the east at 40 mph. Never do that without a face mask!

  6. Max in Fairview says:

    East Wind been howling like crazy here in Fairview.

    • Aleta says:

      Yep!!! And we lost power for the first time ever in an east wind storm. 😦

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Aleta are you in Fairview? We had the power go out here for about a minute around 3:30pm but then it suddenly came back on (I’m just West of Fairview).

    • Aleta says:

      I’m real close. Right around 196th and Stark. We also lost power with the South wind storm earlier so this is the second time this year. I can literally count on one hand how often we have lost power in 20 years and now twice in a month?!

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Oh okay yeah I’m around 181st and Glisan and we had the power go out on the first East wind event this month as well. We just dodged this one it looks like.

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    Thanks Mark for confirming my previous post on your past post👍
    2008 was a La Niña winter and snowpack for November was horrible but turned out being epic! El Niño / La Niña doesn’t matter I guess we’ll see how winter went by spring. There’s more factors to effect our climate than just ocean conditions.

  8. High temps today in Boring were 6 degrees below forcasted

  9. Lurkyloo says:

    Ouch! The east wind out here near Rocky Butte is a b-word …

  10. schmit44 says:


    Here are the result of the November 2014 Contest. Brian Quigley was this months champion.

  11. Whenever the temps drop into the 20’s and the wind isn’t whipping the steam coming off the towers at the nearby BOC gas plant is dense enough that it generates a good 1/4″ worth of “snow” that covers most the neighborhoods. Sometimes it just ends up making a really think frost that covers just about everything as well. For whatever reason it seems to be more common over the last few years.

  12. Wendy-Silverlake, Wa says:

    We made it up to 33 today before the clouds came in and now it’s down to 32. The frost is getting as thick as the leftover snow from Saturday. Pretty impressive to still have snow from the little bit four days ago.

  13. runrain says:

    Winds gusting to 85mph at Vista House while PDX airport reporting calm. Gotta love our Gorge!

    • Incredible! Crown Point now 60mph sustained! Gusts of 60mph would be High Wind Warning criteria for those of us down in the Valley and they are seeing it sustained! I think this is the highest sustained winds I’ve ever seen on the sensor. – 02 Dec 3:17 pm PST3010ESE60G82

      Peak gust thus far on the sensor is 88mph, which means 100-120mph away from the building near the stairs.

    • New peak gust Crown Point 89mph on the sensor! 3mph below the record 92mph recorded back on November 17th.
      Today* 02 Dec 3:36 pm PST 29 9 ESE 58G89
      17 Nov 10:57 pm PST 31 13 ESE 46G92

    • Like it’s been said before, I would not be surprised if these wind speeds happen frequently every season.

    • It just happened. There it is! For only the 2nd time that we know of Crown Point sensor has recorded a gust of 90mph! 02 Dec 3:47 pm PST29 9 ESE 56G90

    • True, Mike, but I have been tracking east wind events for a very long time and ever since there has been a sensor up there I’d say 90mph is a threshold we rarely see on the sensor. I do have to wonder if it has hit 100+ during the biggest of Gorge gap wind storms….

  14. High Desert Mat says:

    Freezing fog here with a temp of 24.3. Streets are a mess and light snow falling from the low stratus deck. Expecting maybe an inch or so tonight with upcoming weak system.

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

    Not to nitpick, Mark, but the reason the GFS & GEM ensemble 500mb height anomaly maps for Tuesday the 9th look so similar is that you didn’t include the GEM – they’re both the same GFS map. But I’ll take your word for it!

  16. Brian Leroy says:


  17. PurpleHaze says:

    Do anybody sense the winter if you can call it that of 1976 creeping in?

  18. schmit44 says:

    12/1/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:66 at BROOKINGS( 79 ft)
    Low: 53 at BROOKINGS(79 ft)

    High:22 at MIDDLE MTN(2544 ft) & EW3690 Dufur 9e(2444 ft) & WASCO BUTTE(2272 ft)
    Low: 2 at KB7DZR Joseph (3984 ft ) & EW2270 Athena (1739 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 30 degrees
    KB7DZR Joseph (32/2 ) (3984 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    2.83″ at North Bend Munic(16ft)
    2.61″ at EW3367 Coos Bay(98ft)
    2.48″ at USCRN SITE NEAR(39ft)
    2.42″ at SEVEN MILE CREEK(438ft)

  19. Austin-East Vancouver says:

    i know that cali needs the rain and all, but i dislike split flow very much.

  20. paulbeugene says:

    Worth pointing out that Nov 2008 was even worse for the ski areas. If I recall correctly, the Terwilliger ski run opened about three weeks later in Portland. (Does anyone know if someone tried to ski down and somehow get across/under I-5 and go up the gondola for another run down?)

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Yeah I remember November of 2008 was mostly dry and fairly cold – it wasn’t a very active month. But is it really fair to compare because that was a La Niña winter if I’m not mistaken?

    • chris s says:

      It wasnt cold Jake, most the highs were in the 50’s and 60’s. It was a fairly mild Nov.

    • Average high for November 2008 was 55 and average low was 43 and 4.15″ of precip for the month. It was a pretty dull month overall for sure. This November was drier and slightly cooler than 2008 – per Weather Undergrounds almanac pages at least.

  21. paulbeugene says:

    Even out at 15 days, the GFS ensemble mean for 850mb temps is around 1-3C over Oregon. Still a bit mild for the skier’s taste. But then again, it is 15 days.

  22. Brian Leroy says:

    Big storms and flooding rains coming to California should be our first clue that el nino is already effecting the weather pattern.

  23. vinnybob says:

    1976-77, That would be horrid

%d bloggers like this: