Cooler Weather Ahead: But Not Much Rain or Mountain Snow

What a spectacular run of February weather!  It’s been 20 years since we’ve seen so many 60+ days in Portland.  We hit 60 again today in Portland and with the very dry air mass it was crystal clear.  This was the 7th day at/above 60 degrees this month; the most since February 1995.  We’re in a “Central Oregon” climate for a few days with the low dewpoints, clear air, and chilly nights.  That will end after tomorrow.  By the way, we did a story on people suffering from allergies early this year.  Most likely the allergens are “ahead of schedule” along with our temps.  Notice it’s been warmer than normal for 3 months now:


We finally have some snow on the way for the Cascades…The last time we saw significant snow at Government Camp (more than an inch or so) was two months ago!  Only 2″ has fallen there since January 1st.  Here’s our forecast for the next 8 days.


Your next question is likely “…Hey, I thought we were entering a period of snowy mountain weather and rainy valleys?“.  Well, things have changed a bit in the past week since I posted those monthly ECMWF ensemble maps last Monday.

Instead of the big upper-level ridge pushing well off to the west, models have gradually decided to keep it much closer to us.  In a position quite close to where it was much of November.  Compare these two images.  ECMWF run a week ago for March 2nd-9th (next week):


That was a “Week 3” forecast.   Now look at the current “Week 2” forecast, same time period:


The cool and wet trough is gone.  With the ridge much closer we just get some disturbances sliding down the coastline this Wednesday/Thursday and maybe another next Monday/Tuesday.  That’s it.

Now take a look at “Week 4” from last week, followed by the new “Week 3” this week.  Both are valid for March 9th-16th:



Much different, a weaker ridge off to the west, but the cold trough is gone on this latest run.  A bad sign if we want to build snowpack in the Cascades.

March has been the catch-up month for Cascade snow in most of the really bad years.  If it doesn’t change this month then it’s too late to have a recovery in the elevations below 5,000′ in the Cascades.  Take a look at 3 different SNOTEL sites at Red Hill (north of Mt. Hood), Mud Ridge (near Gov’t Camp), and McKenzie (McKenzie Pass).

redhill mckenzie mudridge

Thick blue line is current SWE (snow water equivalent on the ground) and light blue is the average.  These are all in the 4,000-5,500′ elevation.  All have little or nothing on the ground right now.  In an average winter/spring they max out in depth between late February and April 1st because rising spring temps and melting periods at these elevations are able to balance out the snowy periods.  Obviously in April then there is more melting than accumulation and the snow pack melts rapidly (in a normal year).

I know I’m making a bit of a leap here, but these maps imply the closed ski areas may NOT be able to open in the first half of March.  They need a good 3 feet of snow since they are starting from zero again.  And a week or so after that it’s mainly over for the lower elevation ski areas even in a normal year.  Most skiers lose interest after spring break because it’s…well…spring.  Yes, I know hard-core skiers continue in April or May, but most others move on to spring activities.

Here is Week 4 of the latest ECMWF monthly run (from last night):


There we go…just when Oregon’s Spring Break arrives, supposedly a cool trough centered just to our south.  Actually the ridge is still to our northwest with no sign of a wet westerly flow coming at us.  This could just be a slightly wetter pattern.

Just in, the 00z GFS is even more pitiful, showing ridging popping back up over us around days 8-13 and less than 1″  precipitation in the next 13 days!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

52 Responses to Cooler Weather Ahead: But Not Much Rain or Mountain Snow

  1. JohnD says:

    Talk about a king sized boring winter. At work today I sensed something strange on the outside! I went to the window and then had to exclaim: “Come look guys, it’s raining outside”!

  2. JJ78259 says:

    It was 80 degrees both this past Friday and Saturday in San Antonio now we have a chance of snow this coming Friday morning! I love the change of seasons!

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    We’ve got drizzle… uhhh… Peace???

  4. …the low level trolling here is becoming old….

  5. W7ENK says:

    It was drizzling in Estacada about an hour ago.

    That’s the most weather excitement I’ve had in a couple of weeks…


  6. schmit44 says:

    2/24/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:69 at AGNESS2( 247 ft)
    Low: 50 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:40 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 3 at DIMLKE (4726 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 59 degrees
    CHRISTMAS VALLEY (64/5 ) (4360 ft )

    Other Large Diurnal Changes:
    EW6078 La Pine (63/8) (4259 ft)
    Horse Ridge (US (61/6) (4160 ft)
    CABIN LAKE (63/9) (4560 ft)
    DIMLKE (57/3) (4726 ft)
    LaPine (US 97 MP (63/10) (4600 ft)

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    Sunny again, I saw a sparrow swallow a worm, a leaf budded out 5 seconds ago on my pussy willow, the grass grew about 3cm, may need a mowing but we may pay for it this summer. Barf

  8. schmit44 says:

    I thought I would post some of the high desert max min values for today. Some areas in Central Oregon had nearly a 60-degree swing today (Christmas Valley 64/5) for example.

  9. paulbeugene says:

    Looks like we will be finally experiencing some negative temp anomaly days next week.

    The Euro operational and ensembles most supportive of some sort of cold air/arctic event in 7 days, with Canadian model trending a bit in that direction while GFS ensembles have trough more over Rockies with less cold weather here.
    All 3 ensemble means (euro Gfs and Canadian) trending colder.
    With all the cold weather in the NE USA in past six weeks, finally things may be shifting.

    If Euro is right then we are looking at coldest March arctic event in the past 15 years, if not since 1989.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

    • Brian Leroy says:

      Weatherdan is not gonna be happy but payback is a bitch dan and now it’s our turn for some fun aka snow/cold sorry for the reality check man but u can’t always get what u want,

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

      “but if you try some time, you get what you need”..

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      Do you seriously think we are in for an Arctic snow event here in Portland next week? You must be smoking the good stuff. Yes the coldest air is shifting from the Northeast to the Midwest. And yes we we see cooler temps here as well. But snow, really? No way no how. This weekend and early next week we might see some light snow in the Cascades down to 3000 feet. 2500 feet in a real heavy shower briefly. Between now and next Tuesday we might receive .33 to .50 inches rain, all rain in the valley. Highs should be in the low 50,s. Then as we stay in a drier NW flow aloft dry with temps slightly below normal at the low to middle 50,s. The CPC has us returning to above normal temps in the 8-14 day run. Where is this alleged Arctic air mass come from? Mark has backed off a long cool and wet pattern. The forecast models have backed way off as well. The NWS doesn’t have snow for the lowlands, and neither does the CPC. Oh wait the 16 day GFS meteogram does have snow and heights of 520 for Portland 15 and 16 days out. La la la la la land. It’s one thing to cite evidence as Rob and some others do to support your forecast. I respect Rob even when I don’t always agree with his forecast. He shows why he thinks something is going to happen. But you guys are something else. Mark has us at 45 degrees the last I looked. He is a little too cool for next Tuesday except maybe out around Troutdale. Portland I believe will be in the upper 40,s to near 50 and Salem will be in the low 50,s. But let’s say Mark is spot on with his 45. That is not an Arctic outbreak. This is March 3rd with a higher Sun angle and thus almost no chance of snow with our longer daylight hours. You seem to think I hate snow. Well I don’t. It would be kind of nice to have a little late season snow. But wanting it is not the same as forecasting it. You remind me of my friends I knew when I was a child. Bob Lynott or Jack Capell would say that there was a chance that East Portland had a small chance of some wet snow early in the morning before 9:00 AM near the gorge. Then my friends would tell me they heard on tv that Salem was going to have a blizzard and a foot of snow. Their excuse was that they were children, what’s yours. Tell us exactly why you thing it will be cold and snowy next week. I would love to see your reasoning for your prediction of this historic event. Peace.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Jesus Dan, you just came off as an arrogant a$$ ho$%. What’s your excuse for that? And one really shouldn’t say peace at the end of their posts when sometimes theres nothing peaceful about them. Remember last year you made a post about a crashes airliner then you finish it off with a peace. Strange, just sayin’.

    • Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

      Calm down, Danny Boy. Paul is a respected prognosticator here, just like Rob. He cited his evidence – the most recent runs of the Euro & Canadian – but that was yesterday at 6PM. “Trending colder”, “may be shifting”, “If the Euro is right…” – Paul did not predict any snow, he just mentioned the possibility of a March arctic event.

      BTW, the last 2 runs of the Euro have backed off on the extent of the cold air intrusion, as is usually the case. But you probably already knew that…

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      My remarks were not intended for Paul. Sorry if it came out that way. My remarks were for Chris and Mat and Brian and Boring. I respect Paul a lot. He is one of the great bloggers as well as is Rob. However now that you mention it the winds aloft charts do look decidedly milder. Specifically the 18z GFS. And Paul what March 1989 Arctic event are you referring to. Is it the one on Saturday March 4 1989.? On that day Salem had a max of 39 and a min of 29. We had some heavy wet snow that melted as it fell in Salem. During that 3 day cold snap we has temps of 41/31, 45/29, and 39/29. Cool but not an Arctic event. But yes it does look like some cooler weather in here early next week. But the cool spell looks to be short lived if the CPC is correct. Peace.

    • Well Dan the good stuff was just legalized.

    • chris s says:

      Dan, I didnt post in this discussion… until now. But again your changing your forecasts every 6 hours, as usual. Also, it is considered a arctic outbreak when highs are around 40 in first part of march, considering that is about 15 degrees below avg temp wise for a high. If the high was around the upper 20’s in December, wouldnt we call that a arctic outbreak basically. Another point, I think everybody knows that looking at the 6z and 18z are kinda almost pointless, the main runs are 12z and 0z, and ya the 12z Euro today backed off a bit on the cold for next tuesday wednesday timeframe, but not by alot. Its really tough to not say you have a warm bias, when you completely ignore the euro for the past few days, but jump on the 18z gfs like its the be all end all, its gonna be 60 and sunny next week bandwagon….. Oh and once again I am still sticking with my forecast I made nearly 2 weeks ago….. are you?????

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      No Chris. I change my forecasts as weather conditions change, which just by way of coincidence is usually about every six hours. How long do you think Mark Nelsen would be chief meteorologist at Fox 12 if he kept the same forecast for two weeks? Forecasts change because available data changes. Models, radiosonde balloons, radar,and satellite imagery. A forecast made two weeks ago is useless. If you want to believe a two week old forecast and something out of la la land go right ahead. I’d rather see what Mark has to say after looking at current data. Peace.

    • Chris s says:

      So then has the forecast drastically changed since 2 weeks ago??? Again Dan, for someone who claims to know a lot about the weather here, you seem to not grasp the idea of seeing pattern changes anymore than 6 hours out, as once again you are confusing in day and short term forecasts with stuff that happens a week or 2 out. So once again, are you gonna stick with your 6000ft snow level for this weekend or something else??? You change every 6 hours, yet really in the past 2 weeks not much has changed about the upcoming next few days.

    • W7ENK says:

      Ladies, ladies, please… for the love of God!

      Reading the two (three?) of you kids go back and forth the last couple of days is like watching a couple of children fight over which Pokemon is better…


    • W7ENK says:

      Ladies, ladies, please… for the love of God!

      Reading the two (three?) of you kids go back and forth the last couple of days is like watching a couple of children fight over which Pokemon is better…


    • W7ENK says:

      No Boring, you would make 5…

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Am I 3 or 4? Not talking about age either.

  10. WEATHERDAN says:

    61 in Salem so far this afternoon. This is the 9th time over 60 so far this month. Nice to see all those early season flowers. Though if the snowpack doesn’t improve significantly we will all pay a price come Summer. Peace.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Well say goodbye to those 60’s and probably 50’s as well for awhile over the next couple weeks.

  11. Garron near Washington square says:

    Mark, thanks for the week to week comparison! It was very helpful. Just as you grade your forecasts, I love to compare models and grade their performance! I am not shocked by the data trending drier/warmer as this seems to be the pattern, for this year, but it is alarming that we don’t have infrastructure to deal with possible farming issues. We need better water storage to contain rain water in case this is a trend, or just to deal with east coast residents moving west to avoid the winters’ they receive!

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

      The latest operational models don’t look warmer. Will be a waste of cold air with little to no moisture tho…

  12. David B. says:

    FTR. (F*ck the ridge.)

  13. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    28.9 here this morning, my coldest low since January 21st.

  14. Chris s says:

    Euro is a bit interesting for next week….😊

  15. schmit44 says:

    2/23/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:69 at Brookings (US 10( 150 ft)
    Low: 51 at Brookings Airpor(459 ft)

    High:29 at FISH CREEK(7900 ft)
    Low: -7 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 47 degrees
    EW6796 Prinevill (53/6 ) (3773 ft )

  16. Mark

    Even though I have not done it recently, I noticed the Rampart Ridge trail loop that starts in Longmire is completely snow free it appears from what I saw on the clean air webcam today at Mount Rainier pointing down the Nisqually Valley. I have no recollection off hand when the last time that happened during this point of the winter season but I think it might have been the dreadful winter of 2004-05 because I was hiking in bare meadows at Paradise that Spring of 2005 in the first week of June. The ridge tops out at 4,000 feet and is almost all forested.

  17. What kind of temps associated with the 00z GFS early March ridge? Could we see the big SEVEN-OH?

  18. Chris s says:

    Mark it seems the euro weeklies lately have not been too reliable? I mean those are fairly substantial changes in a week, what’s to say that next week it doesn’t flip back. I am sure not sold myself.😊

    • David B. says:

      Yeah, the models are evidently having difficulty with long-range forecasts at the moment. At this stage, I’m taking anything they say with not a grain but 50 lb block of salt.

  19. Purplehaze says:

    Anybody who knows how to search look up SBX Transmitter and learn.

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