Wild Gorge Wind, Ski Areas Close, & A Look Ahead

8pm Thursday…

Forget about the fog, wind is the weather story in the metro area this evening!  Easterly pressure gradients have jumped much higher than models forecast, currently approaching 10 millibars from Troutdale to The Dalles.  Combine that with the very shallow inversion over us and the easterly flow of wind is being squeezed down to a very small area at the west end of the Columbia River Gorge.  That means very high wind speeds.  Vista House gusted to 91 mph after 5pm, which is only one mph lower than the highest I’ve seen there the past 3 winters.  It’s safe to say it’s gusting over 110 mph on those special “Steve Pierce/Keely Chalmers”  steps.  Corbett has been gusting around 70 mph too.  It’ll continue all night out there.

Over the past few hours the wind has been spreading farther west across the metro area.  We’ve gone from calm to gusting 25-30 mph on our brand new FOX12 weather sensor on the roof on the west side of town along US 26.  I see gusts 30-35 mph at Sunset Transit Center and I205/Division too.  Winds should peak overnight or tomorrow morning and then gradually drop off all areas the rest of tomorrow through Saturday.

Let’s talk snowpack…the warm temperatures have slowly taken their toll on the snowpack the past 4 days.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, the weak sun angle and short days of January mean even 55 degree days don’t melt much snow up there.  Warm rain is far worse.  Of course 55 degrees in March or April up there will melt the snow more efficiently.  Regardless, the ski areas that have been skiing on just a few Christmas storms have now closed.  Mt. Hood Skibowl announced today that they are suspending lift operations until new snow falls…from their Facebook page:


Willamette Pass and Mt. Ashland ski areas have closed as well.  There is still 33″ and 44″ at Meadows and Timberline.  That along with modern grooming techniques is enough to allow for lots of skiing, but it’s hard to believe we’re sitting here a year later and once again we are in this position (a terrible snowpack).  Right now most of the Cascades only have about 30% of normal snowpack:


Pretty bad eh?  Not quite as bad as last year, but close.

What’s ahead?  Little or no snow in the Cascades for the next week.  But likely a change late next week.  This has been hinted at by models for a few days now.  Notice the ECMWF showing precipitation arriving next Thursday:


Will it be snow or rain in the mountains?  Check out the ECMWF 850mb ensemble chart from this morning’s run:


Consider pass-elevation snow to be right around the “zero” line.  Looking at the chart, that means we get rid of the very warm air overhead and drop to more normal 4,000-5,000′ snow levels during that wet period.  Note that not all ensemble members are in agreement, but in general it looks cool enough to drop some decent snow in the mountains just in time for the MLK 3 day weekend.

Farther ahead?  The monthly run of the ECMWF was last night and here are the 4 weekly charts:





It doesn’t look like the wet pattern starting a week from now sticks around for more than a week.  Notice the following two weeks show ridging just to our north or northwest; similar to what we’ve seen this winter so far.  That last week is interesting in that it doesn’t show any significant ridging nearby.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

86 Responses to Wild Gorge Wind, Ski Areas Close, & A Look Ahead

  1. WEATHERDAN says:

    Which is worse in January? A cloudy drizzly day with a temperature of 48 or a sunny day with a wind chill of minus 10. One looks better from inside and one feels better outside. I admit that this weather that we get our here in Western Oregon during our Winter months is rather dull and somewhat depressing. And yet we get a lot more done outside during the Winter. Some people even Golf this time of year. Our cars don’t rust out after 5 years like they do in Chicago. Our heating bills don’t usually run to $1000 a month like they do in Vermont. And the construction industry doesn’t grind to a halt like it does in Minnesota. Having an epic Winter is fine so long you have a lot of money or you aren’t the one paying the bills. Oregon is the number one state when it comes to inbound moves. 67% of all moves in Oregon are inbound. So our weather can’t be too terrible of a deterrent. I admit a little more variety in our Winter weather would be nice. It used to be that way a lot more often than it is now. As far as to the why that is I will leave to the climatologists. So if you want an epic Winter take a vacation or move to where they get them. Because your chances of getting an epic Winter in Oregon are getting slimmer and slimmer each year. On the other hand we do have the Ducks and the Trailblazers. We also have some really groovy scenery and some amazing Summers. By February we usually start to see more sunshine and less rain. By March we usually see a day or 2 up in the low 70,s. And by April we usually have a day or 2 up near 80. So the worst of out really dull and dreary weather only lasts about 90 days out of the year. I consider myself lucky to live in the best place in the country. I can golf in January and ski in July. I have oceans and mountains and deserts all within a few hours drive. So if days like today are the price I have to pay for being an Oregonian I will pay it gladly. Peace.

  2. At least long-range (read: end of run) over the last 2 GFS Operational runs are providing some eye candy. Perhaps repeat of last February’s event?

    • Brian Leroy says:

      Any snow we do get this late in season would be nothing more the a wet slushy mess that would only stick on the grass for a day at best, so what’s the point of getting excited even if these 2 runs do pan out.

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      Like last February’s snow Brian? The snow I had on ground for a week? Including the road.

    • So you’ve already forgotten the snow storm from 2014 I gather? As I recall it was a widespread 5-8″ before turning over to freezing rain for a period and then back to rain over a 4-day period.

      We can get good snow storms into the middle of February. We can still get decent snow events into March (albeit rare).

    • 18Z GFS Operational keeps the notion of cold air to end the though it is warmer than the previous two runs.

      Then there is the whole onshore/southerly winds during the same time period. Glancing blow #3 for now.

    • Chris s says:

      Your obviously too young to remember February 89′ there Brian, but doesn’t surprise me,you often post things that are inaccurate.

    • W7ENK says:


      Yabbit… February 2014 was so last year! C’mon guys!!

  3. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    I’ve seen more sun since it’s been up today than I have the last two days total.

  4. schmit44 says:

    1/11/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:54 at BROOKINGS( 79 ft) & Gold Beach(16 ft)
    Low: 50 at BROOKINGS(79 ft)

    High:28 at Mount Hood Meado(6601 ft)
    Low: 16 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 23 degrees
    CRAZYMAN FLAT (43/20 ) (6100 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.32″ at EW4856 Brookings(1365ft)

  5. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Another day that screams NW.

    High of 45. Low of 42.

    Cloudy all day. Rain/mist/drizzle/fog.

    Yet only 0.08″ measurable.

    Peak wind of 5 mph.

    In fact, I haven’t seen a wind over 15 mph yet this month. All but two days have been below 8 mph.

  6. WEATHERDAN says:

    This is the 7 days forecast for all those fine fine folks in the North Chicago suburbs. They seem to have plenty of cold and snow this Winter. But then they usually do.

    Local forecast by
    “City, St” or ZIP code
    Location Help
    Wintry mix possible from Mississippi Valley to southern New England Sunday into Monday

    A storm system near the Gulf coast of Texas will spread moisture northward on Sunday and Monday. The moisture will encounter colder air which will allow a wintry mix of precipitation to fall along a swath from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. The most significant freezing rain is forecast in central Indiana where an Ice Storm Warning is in effect tonight.
    Read More…
    Hazardous Weather Conditions

    Special Weather Statement is in effect
    Hazardous Weather Outlook is in effect 

    Current Conditions

    En Español
    More Sharing ServicesShare | Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email Share on print Share on gmail




    Wind SpeedSW 5 mph
    Barometer30.24 in (1025.8 mb)
    Dewpoint22°F (-6°C)
    Visibility9.00 mi
    Wind Chill22°F (-6°C)

    Last Update on 11 Jan 8:55 pm CST

    Current conditions at

    Chicago/Waukegan Regional Airport (KUGN)

    Lat: 42.43°N Lon: 87.86°W Elev: 709ft.

    More Local Wx | 3 Day History | Mobile Weather
    Waukegan IL
    7 Day Forecast
    For More Weather Information:

    Chicago, IL Local Forecast Office


    Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 70%


    Low: 16 °F




    High: 18 °F


    Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%


    Low: 8 °F


    Slight Chance Snow Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%

    Slight Chc

    High: 19 °F


    Partly Cloudy


    Low: 1 °F


    Mostly Sunny


    High: 18 °F


    Mostly Cloudy


    Low: 10 °F


    Partly Sunny


    High: 27 °F


    Partly Cloudy


    Low: 17 °F
    Detailed Forecast

    Tonight Snow likely, mainly before 2am. Cloudy, with a low around 16. North northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
    Monday Partly sunny, with a high near 18. Blustery, with a north northwest wind 10 to 20 mph.
    Monday Night A 40 percent chance of snow, mainly between 7pm and 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8. Wind chill values as low as -7. North wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
    Tuesday A 20 percent chance of snow before 7am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 19. Wind chill values as low as -8. North wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon.
    Tuesday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 1. West northwest wind around 5 mph becoming southwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 10 mph.
    Wednesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 18.
    Wednesday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10.
    Thursday Partly sunny, with a high near 27.
    Thursday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 17.
    Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 32.
    Friday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 25.
    Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 35.
    Saturday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25.
    Sunday A slight chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34.
  7. PurpleHaze says:

    Has anybody ever been able to figure out what Weather Phil actually means in his conversations if you can call it that?

    He seems on the forefront to know a lot about tropical forcings and the migration of the Hadley Cells but beyond that seems like a bunch of mumbo jumbo trying to look Kool as he seems to flip out anytime someone asks him questions instead of worshiping his feet.

    He has threatened to leave the weather forum several times but never really did being an epic fail.

  8. Today was about as nasty a day as you will see…Had the fire going all day, Had to get a few things done outside which was unfortunate. 43/40.

  9. …not much action at the bottom of the cliff when there’s no cliff….

    • Boydo3 N. Albany elev. just under 500' says:

      Yup, this winter never got to the point of expectation, I guess. Can’t jump if you never leave the floor.

  10. Ted Berry says:

    Still in the Idaho Ice Box, rarely above freezing, beautiful snow covering everything. Watch out for an upset by OSU 24-21.

  11. Fog has lifted but the weather still looks shittie: /

  12. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    And just hit the 12 hour mark of a temp of 42 degrees. Pea soup fog here.

  13. schmit44 says:

    1/10/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:56 at AGNESS2( 247 ft)
    Low: 49 at Port Orford(0 ft) & OCNSID Oceanside(22 ft) & UMATILLA RIVER B(587 ft)

    High:28 at OWYHEE RIDGE(4400 ft) & KB7DZR Joseph(3984 ft) & Joseph State Air(4120 ft)
    Low: 16 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 26 degrees
    PRINEVILLE 4NW (51/25 ) (2839 ft )
    DW9630 La Pine (51/25) (4256 ft)
    GRIZZLY NEAR CUL (51/25) (3635 ft)
    EW6078 La Pine (50/24) (4259 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.34″ at CEDAR(2220ft)
    0.32″ at PACCTY Pacific C(253ft)
    0.26″ at Detroit Lake(1675ft)

  14. runrain says:

    About as ugly and murky a day as you can get in Portland today. However, it was nice to see quite a few people out running, bike riding and walking along the waterfront this morning and afternoon.

  15. PurpleHaze says:

    Interesting temp change last night. I hit my low of 36F at midnight and then it slowly creeped up to 40F by daybreak rather then either stay the same or drop to freezing.

    It’s hard to believe in the 1950s or earlier this EXACT inversion pattern we would’ve had a solid lock of 32-28F nights in the valley and we would be talking about a string of sub freezing nights and hoar frost.

  16. Boydo3 N. Albany elev. just under 500' says:

    12z euro and gfs both showing a more active pattern developing in about a week. Maybe even some more snow in the mountains. Hoping they’re right!

    • PurpleHaze says:

      Why is everyone think there is some sort of cooling going on when the last two summers most of the west coast has been hotter then average without any extreme ocean telecommunications to add to the boot!

      Where is this Global Freezing frenzy coming from? Most of the world has had warmer then normal temps except a few selected areas that are well below average fooling people.

      Is it because these weather forums never talk about the western USA? If so why isn’t the wild west ever talked about from a climate standpoint?

      It seems most people’s view of the west is the SW Arizona/California border area when it comes to a Warming talk and the Midwest/East Coast when it comes to denying global warming……I mean Climate Change……….Oops forgot again!

      I mean climate disruption. What will be used next?

    • And everything you look at can be biased you got NBC, CBS, CNN, and yes even FOX news can be biased that’s why I’m not sold on “climate change.”

    • Sapo says:

      @Boydo3 ya looking like at least cooler temps. @PurpleHaze I haven’t really seen anyone running about the internet yelling “global freezing” lately, but ya I would like to look at statistics for west coast summers and winter temps in the past 10 years vs. earlier.

    • PurpleHaze says:

      Hey Boring as for Links just look at any forums that have climate debates. There is no specific link I ain’t you’re daddy and it would take too long to type.

      Just go to any forum that has a large group base and it’s climate pissing galore.

    • Red pen police: purple you incorrectly use you’re it was supposed to be your…

    • W7ENK says:

      Time for your meds again, Kyle…

  17. I went boarding yesterday and the snow can’t get much worse. It’s like a sheet oF ice.

  18. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    So I know we’re not even half way through January but I’m going to say I told you so! This month is turning out to be dry (for the most part) and boring as ever. Never fails! )_(

  19. schmit44 says:

    1/9/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:65 at CW5925 Coos Bay( 49 ft) & FLYNN PRAIRIE(1543 ft)
    Low: 51 at DW2405 Tierra De(13 ft)

    High:27 at EW4395 Milton Fr(3455 ft) & Suttle Lake (US(3460 ft) & OWYHEE RIDGE(4400 ft)
    Low: 12 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 27 degrees
    K7ZQU-7 Santiam (59/32 ) (4790 ft )
    CINNAMON (58/31) (4834 ft)
    CRAZYMAN FLAT (51/24) (6100 ft)

  20. WEATHERDAN says:

    MLB Spring training is now just 5 weeks away. Daylight Savings time is only 58 days away. We might see some cherry blossoms and daffodils within a month. We should see some crocuses within 3 weeks, Usually but not always a warm Winter is followed by a hot Summer. Since the Winter of 57-58 7 of the 8 warmest Winters were followed by hot Summers. The lone exception was the Summer of 1983 which was quite chilly. Does that guarantee us a hot Summer in 2015? No of course not. However about 85% of the time over the last 60 years when we have had a very mild Winter we have has a hot Summer following. This has naught to do with climate change but rather a local trend. Or as Bruce Sussman might call it trendcasting. In any case it is mostly sunny with some scattered Cirrus clouds in Salem this afternoon. Our temperature is 45. A great way to start the weekend. Peace.

  21. W7ENK says:

    Tuesday’s fantastic sunset, looking out over the Willamette River from Milwaukie.

    • pdxgeologist says:

      Our planet is bitchin. Nice work Eric.

    • pdxgeologist says:

      Uh oh – moderation. Is b*tchin a naughty word (I DID get sent to the principals office in 2nd grade for saying it)?

    • Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

      Tuesday’s sunset was special. I tried to capture it with my iPhone, but this is much better. Well done, W7.

      And welcome back to town, pdxgeologist.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      But I can say that sunset was “bitchin” because I run the blog!

    • pdxgeologist says:

      I’m only in town virtually. 3 more months in Panama and then I get to hang with you all for reals (put the red pen away Mark, I want that ‘s’ to stay). Oh, and thanks for letting my little 7 letter word through.

    • W7ENK says:

      Thanks! 🙂

      How’re them earthquakes working out for you down there? Quite a bit of activity as of late…

  22. W7ENK says:

    Sad. With the way things are going in the mountains this winter, it won’t be more than a couple of weeks before SkiBowl starts talking about dusting off their Alpine Slide.

    FWIW, Jacksonville, Florida has now officially received more snow this winter than Portland. FML. 😦

  23. pappoose in scappoose says:

    I really like dry days this time of year.

  24. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    The Ten Minute Sunrise

    Ten minutes from home, ten minutes of good color, ten minutes back home.

    Notice the birds in this one, they were really flying around this morning.

  25. Left Wing Pearl District says:

    Global Warming…

  26. schmit44 says:

    1/8/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:72 at YELLOWSTONE MTN.(3080 ft)
    Low: 57 at FLYNN PRAIRIE(1543 ft)

    High:27 at NYSSA(2172 ft) & NPOWDR(3212 ft)
    Low: 10 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 45 degrees
    CRANE PRAIRIE (59/14 ) (5500 ft )

  27. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Thanx for the news Mark.

  28. jimbo says:


  29. Jeff (parkrose) NE PDX says:

    First*** some hope on the horizon for our winter to kick up? Lets hope! Thanks mark!

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