Whew! Major Flooding Avoided & Lower Snow Level

December 21, 2014

Some good news all around this Sunday morning:

1. It appears no river in our FOX12 viewing area has or will have major flooding

2. Coastal rivers have already crested and are dropping since the rain has tapered off our there

3. Snow levels have already dropped back to around 5,000′ this morning, saving some of the snow in the higher parts of Timberline & Meadows!

By the way, Portland tied a record high temperature before midnight of 59 degrees…that was weird to step outside late in the evening as the rain stopped and feel totally comfortable on December 20th!

As expected, the main rain band shifted south late yesterday evening and we haven’t seen rain at PDX since midnight.  Our RPM model did really well showing less than 2″ in most north Willamette Valley locations.  You can find the latest totals from the NWS here.  It’s still raining in the mountains and those totals have been amazing too.  Lots of 5-8″ totals in both the Coast and Cascade ranges.  Close enough since our models were showing widespread 5″+ and some spots to 10″.  That’s as of Friday evening.

River model forecasts and actual observations are lower now, so no rivers are forecast to go into the MODERATE or MAJOR FLOODING category.  In fact the Coast Range rivers have mainly crested and are falling.  That’s typical for them…they drain quickly.  Note the Wilson River:

tlmo3_hg

The flood warning has been dropped for the Santiam and North Santiam Rivers, and the forecast crest for both the Sandy and Clackamas has been lowered quite a bit.  Here’s the Sandy as of 8:30am.  It’ll be interesting to see if at that location (near Dodge Park), the river is actually cresting right now much lower than forecast.  It looks like that could be the case:

sndo3_hg

and the Clackamas at Estacada, hitting flood stage right now.  Note the forecast crest is about 4 feet LOWER than what appeared to be possible when I left work Friday evening…good news:

esto3_hg

and Clackamas at Oregon City:

clacklower

It’s farther down the river of course so the crest will be later.  Still, just a bit above flood stage which hopefully means minor road and field flooding only.  Again, it appears we may be avoiding a big flooding event on the Clackamas.

Let’s talk snow…it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been because as the band of rain has shifted south, snow levels have fallen to around 5,000′ or so.  Looks like a mix or all snow at both Timberline and the lodge at Meadows right now.   Both locations appear to have around 16-18″ on the ground…not bad considering at one point it looked like we’d see two days of heavy rain and hardly any left!  Those ski areas may be able to get a lift or two running for Christmas Break yet!

Snow level will sit around that elevation today, then it should be mainly dry Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday is a rain to snow day as a strong cold front crosses.  That means maybe 6″ or so new by Christmas Eve.  Dry after that for a few days.  Beyond that, the pattern is still pretty bad with ridging and mild temps wanting to hang around in the mountains.  But maybe we’ll gradually build some sort of base for the higher ski areas.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen