Deadest Winter in 10 Years; Ridging Sticks Around At Least 2 More Weeks

It’s looking more and more like the Winter of 2014-2015 is going to be our once in a decade dud.

So far we’ve seen two minor/moderate wind storms (late October and mid December), some minor flooding (early January), and one unusually early blast of cold air (mid November).  That’s it.  No arctic blasts, no region-wide major wind storm, no snow in the western lowlands, and no real flooding.  That’s why I call it a dud.

Early this week models were pointing (especially the ECMWF) at some decent snow on Mt. Hood early next week.  They’ve gradually trended a bit warmer and now it appears little or no snow falls at Government Camp, or even up at 5,000′ in the next week or longer.

The same general weather pattern with unusually warm weather continues into at least the first half of February.  Last year at this time we could see the big change ahead on our models with a blast of cold air and then much wetter weather beyond.  Right now there is no sign of a big change like last year, at least in the next two weeks or so, which takes us into mid February.

Actually a good chunk of these past 3 winters have been a disappointment for weather geeks and skiers/snowboarders .  We’ve seen one episode after another of upper-level ridging over/near the West Coast in 2012-13, 2013-14, and now in 2014-15.

Ski conditions are definitely as bad as 2004-2005 now.  In the next 10 days it looks like the snow level only briefly gets as low as Government Camp next Monday night through Wednesday morning.   But it’ll be drying out then.  After that only occasional warm storms with only rain at Gov’y.  Right now Meadows has 30″ on the ground, and Timberline 41″.  Of course there is less snow at the lower parts of those resorts and more on the higher parts.  Yes, I’m fully aware that on the runs there is still plenty of snow for skiing and if you want to have fun you can still do that.   But Heather Canyon hasn’t opened this winter at Meadows, and HR Meadows terrain must not have enough snow for skiing since it hasn’t been used for a few weeks.  The Flood Express at Timberline hasn’t operated for quite a while from what I have seen too, it drops down to below 5,000′.    There is less snow on the ground than at the beginning of the month.  Wow, the average of the western Cascade reporting stations is below 20% of normal!


Based on forecast models, I don’t see any closed ski lifts at resorts opening in the next 7-14 days.  And it’s possible snow conditions could be a little worse 10 days from now.


Because the warm upper-level high pressure ridging along the West Coast is going to stick around in one form or another for ANOTHER 2+ weeks.    Take a look at the ECMWF monthly run from last night,  each map is a one week average of 500mb heights.  Notice the positive anomaly along the West Coast the entire month of February, although it’s quite a bit weaker in the 2nd half of the month.





That last map takes us to the first day of March.

The GFS model’s 10 day snowfall forecast:  gfs_10daysnow

Pretty much nothing on Mt. Hood, with an episode or two of warm rain again.  This is the 10 day total precipitation forecast.


On the plus side, the unusually mild weather we’ve seen in January will likely continue into early February; great for getting outdoors.  The average high temp moves into the lower 50s through the 1st half of February, so temps well into the 50s will become more common the next couple of weeks.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

52 Responses to Deadest Winter in 10 Years; Ridging Sticks Around At Least 2 More Weeks

  1. PurpleHaze says:

    It’s funny looking back with everyone and their momma hyping up the epic winter of 2015 in which January would have one or two block buster events by mid month.

    Guess what? The total opposite as if God or somebody was laughing in our faces for trying to hype cast!

    Mark please push you’re weather control button with the snowflakes button to shut down the warmer ocean currents!

  2. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    I don’t mean to stir the pot or anything but with the boring weather I thought you guys might find this a bit interesting:

  3. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    It was an amazing day hiking above the inversion!

  4. David B. says:

    39 now after a high of 47, yet that reading makes it the coldest day in weeks. Would have been colder if the fog hadn’t burned off around 2PM and given us a couple of hours of sunlight. Fog presently re-forming as the temperature drops.

  5. jimbo says:

    Gotta be the warmest January on record. Has to be.

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      2006 was warmer at my station in Vancouver, by about 2 degrees…mainly the overnight lows.

  6. EY (Oak Grove) says:

    Gonna be nice and slow and basically dead. We’ll have an extended false spring event that goes through most, if not all, of February and then March comes and we have two months of winter weather with everyone lamenting that “if only X happened in January/February we’d see epic snowfall.”

    Is it just me, or has this become something of a broken record? Most of the years it seems that we see Winter in March and sometimes into April. The seasons are getting confused leaving us trying to diagnose the disorder.

    To me, the March/April winter-time style weather is a dud. So a dud Winter and a dud early Spring is what I’m guessing. I’d be happy to see the mountains get more snow, but wish it would happen during winter.

    I’m afraid to even wish for a normal Spring due to how pathetic the snow pack is.

    • Actually your plan doesn’t sound bad. We get our unusually warm February and then the mountains get spring snow, with the seasons going backward.

      However, I’m rooting on both February and March being epically warm, and analyze how far along the spring landscape has emerged by the end of March.

    • W7ENK says:

      If that happens Karl, I’ll be rooting for dry lightning to start a massive wildfire that sweeps through The Dalles — your neighborhood, specifically — sometime in mid/late August. Maybe then you’ll learn a hard lesson that will finally quell your ridiculous pining for all this extended warm and dry pseudo-Mediterranean BS. I feel bad for your neighbors…

  7. MasterNate says:

    The yard needed mowing, and so I did, in January! WTH!

    The chickens loved scratching through the yard debris.

  8. High Desert Mat says:

    That had to be one of the most depressing blog posts this far. Blah

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

    12Z GFS turns to a wetter pattern (but still warm) in about a week.

    • MasterNate says:

      Pineapple express anyone? Record rain possible Feb. 5th through the 10th as per models. Say goodbye to the little ice that is left on the mountain.

  10. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    16th day of fog at my place this month. Goes to show how stagnant the weather has been this January.

    The difference today is, it’s actually below freezing.

    Sad to see that Timberline sits at 41 though.

    • David B. says:

      Congrats on at least getting below freezing. Only made it down to the upper thirties up this way. The particularly sad part is this is about as cold as it has been since the last Fraser outflow event wound down.

      It’s really pathetic when lows in the upper 30s and highs around 50 become relatively cold day and it’s January. Alas, it’s looking more and more like my prediction several weeks ago that the rest of the winter is going to suck was basically spot-on.

  11. MasterNate says:

    BREAKING NEWS!! Winter has arrived on the West Coast. There are reports of ICE, yes ICE on car windows this morning. Foggy with frozen windshields this morning near Molalla. FWIW.

  12. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Ba-humbug I say to all of it! 😦

  13. schmit44 says:

    1/29/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:63 at AGNESS2( 247 ft) & ILLINOIS VALLEY(1394 ft) & ROSE LODGE (P395(174 ft)
    Low: 50 at RED MOUND(1753 ft) & Port Orford(0 ft) & CW1403 Paulina(3688 ft)

    High:32 at N7GSU Condon(3340 ft)
    Low: 15 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 35 degrees
    Worden (56/21 ) (4080 ft )

  14. The weather is so boring right now I almost dread to take the daily weather observations anymore here in Southeast Tacoma. If I was a meteorology professor up here I would give Mother Nature a BIG fat “F” this winter for her work on Pacific Northwest weather.

  15. Paul D says:

    I’m dreading the next few weeks when it looks like I’ll have to start doing yard work! 😦 This is happening way too soon!

  16. David B. says:

    2000/2001 was a pretty sucktackular winter, too. I remember because I had moved back to the PNW after living in California for a year, and was looking forward to a nice, stormy winter with maybe a lowland snow event or two. There actually were some flurries early in the winter, then nada. Week after week of ridging. I remember being able to sit on the ground in January and February and not get the seat of my pants wet, it was that dry. What a disappointment!

    We’ve done far better on storms (though they’ve tended to be warm storms) than that winter.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I remember that one, although at least we had a minor ice storm in mid-December that year.

    • David B. says:

      That would probably account for the flurries I remember. I was staying at a friend’s place in Seattle at the time. Moved to Portland right after New Year’s and it basically did nothing of significance the rest of the whole winter.

  17. CorbettTez says:

    Much higher winds today than I thought was coming our way….looks to be higher still tomorrow here in the gorge. Is it sticking around all weekend?

  18. steve says:

    Damn this man made global whatever to hell

  19. GTS1K' says:

    Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

    -Mark Twain

    (or Charles Dudley Warner)

  20. WEATHERDAN says:

    Okay, we need snow in the mountains, i get that. But I am still enjoying this nice Winter weather. I never wish for weather to harm anybody. And yes I know that some people will be harmed by this snow drought. But there is nothing I can do about that. So I try to enjoy what we have. I will probably save $300-400 in heating bills this heating season. And I have had much less in the way of SAD this Winter. I too was hoping for a White Christmas. Well we didn’t get one and now it’s time to move on. Winter 2015 was a dud like Mark said. But Spring and Summer often have exiting weather as well. I have a lot of friends and relatives in Illinois who don’t think month after month of snow and bitter cold is exiting. I won’t repeat what they think. you can’t say that here. Going into February we are likely to see a slow warm up. I would expect to see 3-5 days over 60 this February. And hey in 38 days our sunset will be at 7:09 PM. Peace.

  21. pdxgeologist says:

    +PDO anyone? Based on a very quick review of this table:

    It looks like December (most recent available data) was the highest positive PDO since 1900. This assumes that I am looking at what I think I’m looking at. It would be nice to graph this out and put it up against – well, a bunch of things: snowy winters, dry warm winters, windy winters…you get the picture. Now, one of you geeks with more energy than me go out and do this please. I would like a nice color chart, in triplicate, on my desk in the morning.

    • pdxgeologist says:

      Oopsie..’97 had a couple of warmer months.

    • slim1357 says:

      1941 had some at 3 and above. 1983 had a 3.5. 1987, 2.8. etc.

    • pdxgeologist says:

      Slim…chart? Triplicate? My Desk?

    • W7ENK says:

      I started to draw you a graph, but then my ADD took over and I got distracted by the sunshine coming through my window, and then I noticed that I need to start mowing my grass again, and then I remembered I need to get some new grass seed planted because the cherries that fell off my tree while I was in Estonia last summer killed off all the grass by my firepit again, which reminded my I need to burn some papers while the weather is dry, and…

      I’m sorry, what were you saying? Where the hell are my keys??

      Don’t judge me.

    • pdxgeologist says:

      Finally – Results! Not what I thought it would portray though. You should maybe take it out to 2 standard deviations. Don’t worry about the triplicate this time; I know carbon paper is expensive (but it does sequester).

  22. I’m curious about the daytime temps on the Week 2 map (Feb. 8-15), since the ridging is centered ALMOST directly overhead, plus the fact that we’re entering the “spring outro” of inversion season by then.

    Shooting from the hip, I bet we see a sunny 60+ at PDX before Valentine’s Weekend is over.

    • Sapo says:

      That would be great! I’ve given up on any chances of winter weather, so now I want some mountain snow, and then, sun!

  23. W7ENK says:

    Oh, at first I thought that headline said “deadliest”, and I was like, whaaat?? What happened?!?

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