ECMWF Ensemble Maps & Warm Rain Ahead

It’s Monday afternoon, which means 4 maps (1 for each week) from the ECMWF ensembles that take us through the first week of February.  Geez, is February just a few weeks away???  They show the 500mb height and anomaly for each of the next 4 weeks.  This is from last night’s run.  Also, more bad news for skiers; Hoodoo has now closed after just under two weeks of skiing there.  And the important MLK weekend coming up appears to be at least a partial washout.  Models have been trending higher and higher with snow levels.  Aim for Monday, although Sunday may not be bad at the higher parts of the open resorts.  I don’t see any snow at Government Camp until next Monday, and even then it may be just a dusting as cooler air arrives.

Week 1…now through Sunday, ridging overhead the next couple of days and then it gets squished by a strong westerly jet approaching the Pacific Northwest.  You can see a strong trough to our west, but it never moves inland.  As a result we get surges of rain Thursday-Sunday in the southwesterly flow.


Week 2…late this Sunday through all next calendar week…Surprise!  The ridging bounces back over us, mainly dry and not much happening.  With the ridge slightly to the west, we get cool easterly wind most likely.  This takes us through the 25th.


Week 3…the ridge retrogrades (moves west an north).  If so, this would be the time when we could get a shot of cold air from the north on the backside of the ridge.  Maybe.  So 2-3 weeks from now we might see some arctic action on the maps to get us all worked up.  This takes us to February 1st.


Week 4…first week of February.  Can’t quite tell what’s going on exactly but the troughing is getting  quite strong across the Eastern Pacific again and it could be turning very wet with this pattern all along the West Coast.


Remember as always that this is just one monthly run of the ECMWF, but it’s annoying that a strong ridge keeps wanting to pop up over/near us for the 3RD WINTER IN A ROW!  No anger there, just annoyed.

Short term, we have east wind picking up tonight through late Wednesday.  Easterly gradient peaks around 8 millibars through the Gorge tomorrow afternoon and night.  That should be enough to clear out any fog that develops overnight here in the metro area.

I’m surprised again at how warm the Thursday-Sunday systems are…much like we’ve seen so far this winter.  850 mb temps between +2 and +7 during the whole period means no snow below 5,000′.   The snow level should move up and down between 5-7,000′ through the weekend.  Right now it appears Saturday could be the worst with a rain out at both ski areas on Mt. Hood.  Wy’East is getting a nice winter coat this year up top, but he’s not looking so good down at the bottom.

Remember the good old days when we could have a week or two of snow levels between 1,000 & 3,000′?  I think it was the winter of 2007-2008 when for two months (late December to late February) I never forecast a snow level HIGHER than 4,000′.  We haven’t seen consistently low snow levels since the winter of 2011-2012.  Yikes…

If you’re looking for a good snowstorm here in Portland, that’s not in the cards unless we get some of that cold air+moisture between weeks 2 & 3.  We still haven’t seen measurable snow so it’ll be interesting to see if we end up with a “zero” winter.  Quite possible after the overachieving 8″ last winter.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

50 Responses to ECMWF Ensemble Maps & Warm Rain Ahead

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

    The end is near. Plant your peas!

  2. Brian Leroy says:

    Has anybody notice the resolution change as of 1/14/15 on the gfs op from the ncep website or has that yet to be updated? I may not have my info right so go easy on me, lol

  3. Mark: I’m curious as to your thoughts on why the inversion in the Lower Columbia Basin was relatively mild at the low elevations, as in low 40s by day and upper 30s by night? Does it have to do with the air being moist back when the ridging/inversion pattern first got started?

    I noticed that this inversion was quite a bit warmer than a more typical early January pattern; definitely too warm to earn the title “fake cold.”

    • David B. says:

      Warm on the West side of the Cascades, too. And I’ve also been wondering what makes for inversions that fail to get very cold, so add my vote to yours.

      My guess would also be moisture. If the dew point when the inversion event starts is too high, then each time the fog forms latent heat is released and it stops things from getting significantly below the dew point.

    • W7ENK says:

      David, I think that’s exactly it.

  4. CorbettTez says:

    Hey Mark, are these winds gonna die down in the gorge starting tonight? Got another downed tree (wind gusts in the 60’s today!) And wondering when I might be able to get out and safely chainsaw it up?! Thanks!!! 🙂

  5. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    I woke up a little late this morning (7 AM) and didn’t really want to go take pictures of the sunrise…BUT…with the rain returning tomorrow, and a new camera, there really wasn’t an excuse (though bed was soooo warm!)

    So, I title this one, “The One You Would Have Missed”

  6. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    At least it was chilly here this morning. 26 degrees. This follows yesterday’s sunny spring-like 54.

    So far this January is very similar to last January.

  7. schmit44 says:

    1/13/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:63 at Brookings Airpor( 459 ft)
    Low: 48 at BROOKINGS(79 ft)

    High:28 at DW9628 Richland(4046 ft)
    Low: 5 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 37 degrees
    CRANE PRAIRIE (45/8 ) (5500 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.18″ at Sexton Summit(3842ft)

  8. Sapo says:

    Very, very sunny day here in Tigard. Also, ya I would really like maybe one last winter cold in late January!

  9. WEATHERDAN says:

    In my humble opinion this has been a fantastic Winter here in Oregon. Mild days and a fair amount of sunshine. My heating bills are down and my mood is up. Looking out to January 29th there is no cold weather for us. Almost time to call Winter done. The bottom of the cliff beckons, join me. Oh by the way our next Winter with a lot of snow and cold may I believe be 2018-2019. As to why I would talk about a Winter 4 years distant it is thus. Our really cold and snowy Winters seem to average about 5 years apart. 68-69 cold and snowy, 73-74 cold with 300 inch snow depth at Timberline, 78-79 cold and snowy, 83-84 cold with a white Christmas, 88-89 cold with a big Arctic blast in February with a foot of snow and a low of minus 1 in Salem and snow on Christmas Eve, 93-94 cool with 2 4 inch snowstorms, 98-99 cold with a big Arctic blast and snow just before Christmas, 03-04 cold with 10 days of cold snow and zr in late December and the first part of January, 08-09 cold with lots of snow and a white Christmas, 13-14 cold with 2 Arctic blasts, 2 valley snowstorms with a low of minus 10 in Eugene. The last 10 5 year cycles have all been cold with generally more snow than average. So if that is your thing your wish may be granted in only four years, or maybe not. Only time will tell. Or as they say on the financial channels “Past history is no guarantee of future performance” Enjoy the sunshine and mild weather, I know I will. Peace.

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

    THE SUN!! We have sun!

  11. gratefulduck says:

    Gee.. thanks buzzkillington. AKA Mark N

  12. buffedman says:

    Milder temperatures should lower heating bills.

  13. My old friend the ECMWF is holding strong with the idea of a complete failure of winter in the PNW this season. I need to move east of the Rockies. :/

  14. CorbettTez says:

    So I guess this is just gonna be one of those windy winters all the way thru this year? Seems like we’ve been getting a ton of wind this year or is it just me? We get a break for a day and start some clean up and then bam….another round of wind! I know it’s Corbett, and it’s our cross to bear, but this seems to be more than normal?

  15. Mark was it your idea to start that oufitters guide?

  16. schmit44 says:

    1/12/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:57 at EW1135 Yachats1( 32 ft) & Yaquina Bridge W(120 ft)
    Low: 51 at Port Orford(0 ft)

    High:26 at CW7477 Lostine(7002 ft) & HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 19 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 19 degrees
    KLAMATH RIVER BE (48/29 ) (3288 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.66″ at W7KKE-3 Road’s E(89ft)
    0.64″ at CW9822 Dallas(459ft)

  17. You say warm rain but you’re predicting upper 40s and that is right about average this time of year.

  18. Brian Leroy says:

    And of course If pdx doesn’t get snow then seattle doesn’t get any snow either.

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

    I knew I shouldn’t have bought those powder skis…I jinxed the whole Cascade range for snow this winter 😉

  20. No Snow says:

    Someone is going to owe me Ruth’s Chris this year. 🙂

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