Spring 2015 Wrap Up: Warmest and Driest in Years

Comparing this posting to the previous summer outlook these probably seem to be reversed, but I was out-of-town when the final spring temp/precip numbers were released by NCDC.

The highlights:

In Portland it was the warmest spring since 2004 (11 years) and the driest in 8 years.  That said, since April we have been on track for record dry.  The April through June rainfall is the driest we have seen in over 70 years (driest ever at PDX).  Airport records go back to around 1940 and rainfall stats were in a different location before that time so it’s an apples/oranges comparison.


What about the rest of the region?  Temperatures nationwide show Oregon saw its 3rd warmest spring on record.


And the Cascade climate zone of Washington was the warmest on record:


We’ve come a long ways from the cold and wet springs centered around 2011.  Take a look at just the Willamette Valley spring temps over the past 100+ years and you see the huge rebound the last 3 years:


Note that this HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST.  Check out the mid-1920s and late 1950s…very cool and then a sudden swing upwards.  I’m not discounting any manmade effects, but the point is we tend to focus on small periods of time.  I was so wound up after those cold springs that I built a greenhouse.  Wow it’s been hot in there this past month!  Seems kind of silly now, but I’m sure cool springs will return again.

Precipitation?  The bad news is that a wet May east of the Cascades was not able to overcome the rainfall deficit except in the extreme SE part of Oregon.  The spring total was still a bit below normal due to dryness in March and April:


Looking ahead, I know there has been lots of chatter about a “record heatwave” showing up on the ECMWF and to a lesser extent the GFS.  Here’s the ECMWF ensemble chart showing the insane +30 degrees 9 days from now.


Note that not a single member of the 51 ensembles was that hot.  BUT, note the ensemble mean is around +21 and look how long it is way above average (green line).   That plus other models gives me pretty good confidence that we may see a heatwave the last week of June, starting right at the end of our 7 Day forecast.

Right now our June average temperature in Portland is just barely the warmest on record.  If models are correct, June 2015 will be our hottest on record.  We’ve seen 4-90 degree days and I could easily see another 3-6…what a scorcher.  It’s also unlikely we’ll see rain the rest of the month, unless we get sprinkles tomorrow morning.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


115 Responses to Spring 2015 Wrap Up: Warmest and Driest in Years

  1. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Easily the best display of northern lights I’ve seen down here! You could see the curtains and pillars moving. It was very cool!

  2. Paul D says:

    The 7 day forecast now only has one 100+ degree day. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  3. schmit44 says:

    6/22/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:91 at CW6811 Grants Pa( 947 ft) & MERLIN SEED ORCH(1144 ft) & GRANDE RONDE RIV(1594 ft) & JOHN DAY RIVER A(1742 ft)
    Low: 67 at ECHO(683 ft) & John Day River B(305 ft)

    High:57 at Newport(30 ft) & HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160 ft)
    Low: 26 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 52 degrees
    CROW FLAT (78/26 ) (5172 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.37″ at LYNHART RANCH(4092ft)

  4. David B. says:

    By the way, the aurora borealis may be visible tonight. Best chance is around midnight local time.

  5. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    Say what you will about climate change, but there fires in Alaska and it’s funky in Fairbanks…

  6. JohnD says:

    Mark’s predicted high temperature for this Sat. @ “103-107′ ” is, obviously, (I’m sure Mark would agree) at this point subject to “fine tuning”. Still, the potential is, apparently, there for a Portland “all timer”. No doubt a big component will be whether or not cloud cover ensues–along with potential t-storms-at the point of the most intense heat in the current pattern. One thing does appear to be a lock: We “should” be able to add a bunch of 90’+ days to the tally over the next week or two. And it is only June?! Seriously?!

  7. Boring Oregon says:

    There are officially t-storms in the 7 day forecast!

    • David B. says:

      Up this way, too. Well, a chance of them. We shall see.

      I can’t get too peeved if I miss out this time given how much I scored on T-storms when camping last month.

  8. W7ENK says:

    210 PM PDT MON JUN 22 2015


  9. WEATHERDAN says:

    The thing to concentrate on is not the absolute high of this event which I still feel will be between 102 and 106. But the extreme length of this event We could have 12 days in a row over 90. If you add humid conditions to the mix the misery index really soars. Thankfully today is very pleasant. Peace.

    • runrain says:

      I’ll miss a lot of those 12 days, which I’m fine with. However, if PDX should hit the record 108 while I’m gone, I’m going to be VERY upset! Looks cool and somewhat damp in New England in the next week, with temps barely hitting 70. As long as it doesn’t rain on the Freedom Trail!

  10. Garron near Washington square says:

    I know it’s just a bit too far down the window of predictability, but we’re going on day 18 of no measurable rainfall. To get to record territory, we’d need to go all the way to July 31st. (top 10 dry spells). To make a new record, we’d need to get no measurable rainfall until August 12th. I think we have a better than average chance to at least get into the top 10 this summer. Jet stream being forced well to the north, combined with a strong El Nino forcing monsoonal moisture to push further east than usual. Warmer waters off the west coast. Just throwing it out there, as a yard stick to make our summer weather worth measuring.

    • Garron near Washington square says:

      71 DAYS 1967 JUN 23 – SEP 1
      62 DAYS 1984 JUN 30 – AUG 30
      55 DAYS 1960 JUN 20 – AUG 13
      55 DAYS 1952 JUN 30 – AUG 23
      53 DAYS 1980 JUL 5 – AUG 26
      52 DAYS 1951 JUL 7 – AUG 27
      52 DAYS 1985 JUN 8 – JUL 29
      *** 8. 51 DAYS 2012 JUL 21 – SEP 9 ***
      47 DAYS 1998 AUG 1 – SEP 16
      47 DAYS 1981 JUL 13 – AUG 28


    • W7ENK says:

      I don’t think that’ll happen…

      PWAT — Valid 18z Sunday

      ~2 inches over Portland and the Willamette Valley.
      Now imagine that with temperatures over 90+ degrees.
      Florida much??

  11. paulbeugene says:

    I’m leaning toward max temps in 95-100 range this weekend with increasing high clouds from monsoon moisture headed in our direction.

    • I think it may have been you that mentioned convective debris last year during a hot spell. Looks like a similar set up this time. One smokin hot day followed by one that is 10f below forecast just due to the residual cloud cover from storms. I would not be surprised to see a 70f low somewhere in the valley during this time.

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