Extremely Dry; Any Hope For A Soaking?

9pm Thursday…

You are living through the driest late spring and early summer we’ve seen in many years.  In fact it’s the driest in 23 years!  Do you realize here in Portland we’ve seen less than 2″ of rain in 3 months?


There have been 5 years (including this year) in which we’ve seen less than 2″ of rain during that May-July period.  That includes 1938, 1944, 1992, 2003, & 2015.  So if you depend on a well for water like I am, you might be wondering if there is any sort of significant rain in sight.  I’m getting a bit nervous; worried about what happens if we go 5-6 months without significant rain (April-September).  Good question.

It’s as if we’ve been transported to the Hood River or Rogue Valley.  Of course vegetation (trees and bushes) are adapted to those drier climates, but it’s quite a shock to our native vegetation.  So you should probably be watering trees/bushes that you don’t normally water

History tells us that extremely dry years often continue dry right on through August and often in September too.  In every year mentioned above, plus a few others with just over 2″, the dry conditions continued into early fall!  That’s not good news.  That said, there’s no reason the pattern can’t change and we get a week or two of cool and wet weather within the next month.

So will the pattern change?  Short term we have a cooler and wetter pattern Sunday through Tuesday (and maybe Wednesday) of next week.


Take a look at the pattern; a cool upper-level trough moves to just offshore, sending surges of showers up over the Pacific Northwest.  This would be the June weather that we missed this year…in August.  After Tuesday models are in total disagreement; the ECMWF gets the trough out of there, the GFS keeps it around through late week.  Note the much higher rain totals on the GFS, especially in the southern half of Oregon:


vs. the ECMWF which just gives the valleys of western Oregon light showers here and there:


How about further into the future?  The monthly run from the ECMWF is very dry, showing 1″ or less in the next month over most of the western lowlands in Oregon.  That takes us into the first week of September.  The CFS model latest run shows less than 1″ through the end of August:


So, most likely we don’t have a week or two of rain ahead, at least rain that would make a meaningful contribution to our yards and veggies.

The good news is that the cool and moist/wet weather for next week is EXCELLENT news for the fires burning around the region.  I have a feeling that one week from now there might not be any big blazes “out of control” in Oregon.  In fact the NW Interagency Fire Center forecast shows lots of green and yellow (low fire danger) as we go into next week.  Eastside that forecast is a bit tougher because of lightning with the showers.  In general though the next 7 days should put quite a damper on fire action at just the right time.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

74 Responses to Extremely Dry; Any Hope For A Soaking?

  1. JohnD says:

    Interesting that Portland tied the apparent “all time” 90’+ days @ 24 today–with a huge likelihood of exceeding that value–perhaps even on Thurs..
    Does anyone know (or care) if the 24 day figure includes downtown data from readings observed well prior to those @ PDX!?
    ‘Always frustrating that way.
    Soooo envious of locations where one data source has been in place since antiquity!

    • Purplehaze says:

      If we have even a normal spell this fall/winter I’ll be tickled pink.

      Western Weather folks must have had one too many tonight or it’s the smoke that’s getting to them from all the fires based on the comments today.

      P.S: Why can’t it be simple to put your name and email in here? Email should be called email and user name the same instead of it being invisible where you have to guess what each box means.

  2. Chris says:

    91 for a high at PDX yesterday, 91 today and again at least 90 again tomorrow. I am actually surprised not much is being made of this heat wave (3 straight days over 90). Is it because models didn’t show this or we are accustomed to 90+ degree weather already and only 95+ is note worthy now?

    • PurpleHaze says:

      Don’t rely completely on models is the best answer. Models shmodels. They are only as good as the information given in them and so far it’s not good.

      Old fashion climate knowledge and in our case what’s going on with the ocean does have local effects and this case the models are not imputing the warm blob as it’s called or otherwise there would be surgery in our forecasting.

      So until it does your going to keep getting surprised by the continued warmth. I am actually more surprised that so many people still have faith in the models advertising the coo downs and troughs when no mechanism exists for such when looking at other external factors.

      As much as it is outdated The Oregon Weather book is still a good guide to PNW weather and it’s many hiccups with information for each climate zone if you are new to forecasting weather in the Pacific Coast.

      I’d almost sell my soul for an updated version of the book but non exists.

  3. WEATHERDAN says:

    83 and sunny at 1:00 PM. Feels humid out today. DP is 59 at present.Our minimum temperature was 61 this morning. This marks 10 of the last 15 nights that have stayed above 60. 27 on the Summer. Through 2012 our record was 17 nights. 2013 was 29 nights and last year was 33. Now we already have 27 +60 nights. Should hit 91 today and close to 90 on Thursday. Friday looks to be around 76 with some showers and maybe some TRW,s. Then back to sunny and warmer after that. Next week looks like sunny and 86-92. In fact after Friday I don’t see a good chance of rain for at least the next two weeks. Peace.

    • PurpleHaze says:

      The air quality is very bad especially looking towards Salem. Looks like you are in ground zero of the ick.

      Does it look to you as bad as it does from here looking west?

      I am extremely sensitive to bad air quality and don’t know how elderly folks stand it.

  4. W7ENK says:

    Tacoma-Seattle area getting slammed with some pretty good thunderstorms this hour… :-/

    • runrain says:

      Waiting for a report back on that from my buddy in Seattle.

    • David B. says:

      Well, pretty much your typical PNW wimpy thunderstorms, actually. But still thunderstorms. Was on the ferry when they hit and got to see a few nice bolts of lightning.

      Another big forecast bust, too. Today’s forecast was dry, sunny, and hot with highs near 90.

    • David B. says:

      Guess I better eat some of those words. Pretty wimpy downtown, but SeaTac got hail and a good downpour out of it. Still mostly cloudy up this way. Doesn’t look like Seattle will hit 90. Fine by me.

    • I’ve noticed an increase in high clouds here and some winds. Could be that we’ll see some of that action come up here from Seattle. Anyway, I’ll be watching…

  5. W7ENK says:

    Now that I’ve returned home from BC, I see the PDX thunderstorm teases have commenced once again…

    Last Thursday was wet, to say the least. A total washout! I would estimate at least a half an inch of rain fell in just the two hours it took to drive the Sea-to-Sky highway from Vancouver up to Whistler. Dumping rain with lots of standing water on the roadway, a hilly, windy road, unfamiliar territory and an overwhelming multitude of a certain stereotypical group of transplant Canadian drivers who apparently have no peripheral vision nor the ability to turn their head and look before making sudden lane changes or pulling out into traffic — all combined together to make a nearly terrifying white-knuckled drive.

    Saturday was wet, but not so bad as Thursday.

    The rest of the time, the weather was fantastic! I am, however, glad to be back home in a place where I can read the weather by simply looking up at the sky…

  6. I have a headache this morning! I seem to get them when the barometer takes a dip! There are rain showers on the radar off the Oregon coast will we see those today!

  7. runrain says:

    91 deg in Portland yesterday. Are we getting close to that record of 24 90+ days? Also, we’re 5 deg ahead of yesterday. Could that mean 96 deg today? It’s that blob out there, I’m tellin’ ya!

  8. schmit44 says:

    8/11/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:105 at Rye Valley(I-84(2229 ft)
    Low: 71 at Rye Valley(I-84(2229 ft)

    High:62 at YACHTS Yachats(72 ft)
    Low: 38 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 52 degrees
    CW1102 Wallowa (98/46 ) (2946 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.30″ at OCHOCO MEADOWS(5430ft)
    0.20″ at SANTIAM JCT.(3740ft)
    0.20″ at HOGG PASS(4790ft)
    0.16″ at Meacham(3724ft)
    0.11″ at La Grande/Union(2717ft)

  9. EY (Oak Grove) says:

    I saw some lightning flashes around 9:15pm WAY off in the distance to the west. About a half dozen flashes from the top of a cloud. Looks like it may have been over Hillsboro/Forest Grove or something?

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      There was a cell that moved NW towards Tillamook, perhaps you saw the lightning on the top of that storm??? I hope we get some great storms tonight. I feel like tonight has some good potential.

    • EY (Oak Grove) says:

      That almost seems impossible. I live east of the Willamette River (JUST east, but still) and can only see over the West Hills. It did seem pretty far out, but I’d be shocked if I saw a cell that was west of the Coast Range about 100 miles away.

    • Katrina in forest heights says:

      I saw flashes too, more like a dozen, looked like over Forest Grove. In the top of the cloud.

    • runrain says:

      That cell was over by McMinnville. Was hoping someone was near it. I saw it build around sunset (I’m in Happy Valley) and it drifted north and out to sea from there.

    • W7ENK says:

      Closest lightning strikes last night were about 50-75 miles offshore sometime after 1am.

  10. geo says:

    interesting, temperature went up 2 degrees from 9 o’clock obs. to 10 o’clock obs. at ttd. 79 to 81.

  11. steve says:

    Totally blew this forecast

  12. My next chance for a soaking seems to be friday. (the 14th). 60% possibility of showers… hmmm. I think I saw the same thing last week and all we got were some light sprinkles.

    • David B. says:

      Weather Channel is going for “scattered thunderstorms” on Friday for me, 50% rain chance. Given how recent episodes have tended to fizzle for me, too, I’m not that excited.

  13. schmit44 says:

    8/10/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:96 at CW2049 Imnaha(1978 ft)
    Low: 71 at ROWEWS(104 ft) & EW3497 The Dalle(486 ft)

    High:59 at Rim(7050 ft)
    Low: 32 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 48 degrees
    CROW FLAT (81/33 ) (5172 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.61″ at CW1102 Wallowa(2946ft)
    0.60″ at MUD RIDGE(4070ft)
    0.32″ at DW6879 Union(2792ft)

  14. WEATHERDAN says:

    81 at 1:00 PM. Some ACC with some cirrus all quadrants. Call it partly cloudy with a DP of 48. So fairly dry atmosphere. I think Mark made a very good forecast last week based on available info. Then he had the guts to change his forecast on Friday evening which explains why he is the best tv met in Portland. Today looks to be close to 90 if it stays partly cloudy, say 88-91. If it begins to cloud up we should still be in the 54-87 degree range. The next two days look fairly similar and the we come to Thursday which looks to give us our best chance for any substantial amounts of precipitation. Then over the weekend we get up close to 90 once again. No big heatwave in sight but a lot of 86-92 over the next two weeks and very dry except for maybe Thursday. Salem has had .01 over the last 69 days. This should be a very interesting Winter Weather Conference at O.M.S.I in October. Peace.

    • Paul D says:

      I agree that Mark is the man when it comes to forecasting! I just wish he would have posted a blog a day or two ago explaining the changes. I always enjoy how he explains things.

    • EllaD says:

      I live in Salem and I was wondering if we are going to be able to see the meteor showers clearly tonight?

  15. runrain says:

    Wow. Watch out Pendleton!

  16. runrain says:

    Would be great to hear Rob’s take on the thunderstorm potential later today and tomorrow, especially the possibility of stronger ones, as the NWS is mentioning.

  17. David B. says:

    Light rain this morning on Bainbridge Island. Yay!

  18. Paul D says:

    Was hoping to see another blog entry from Mark by now explaining what happened to all those 70-something temperatures. Where’d they go?

    • David B. says:

      The ridge is baaaack. As usual. Long-range models suggest things will basically stay this way until summer of fall of next year.

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      Pretty simple reasoning actually.

      The upper level low (ULL) is sliding out over the Pacific vs. coming right over the Pac NW. So, instead of cooling here, it’s pumping up warmer air around from the south and SE.

    • runrain says:

      I think that blob in the Pacific is having an effect on just about all weather activity this summer, causing us to be warmer when we would typically see cooling, etc. It’s making weather forecasting difficult too (80’s this weekend instead of 70’s). Gonna be weird until its gone. Should we change our name to Portashland, or maybe Porthoodriver??

  19. schmit44 says:

    8/9/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:96 at Rye Valley(I-84(2229 ft) & Ontario Municipa(2188 ft)
    Low: 73 at JUNIPR(359 ft) & HEPP(311 ft)

    High:59 at Port Orford(0 ft) & YACHTS Yachats(72 ft)
    Low: 33 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 49 degrees
    CROW FLAT (82/33 ) (5172 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.08″ at DW3793 Cove(2949ft)
    0.07″ at LOG CREEK(2800ft)
    0.06″ at Joseph State Air(4120ft)
    0.06″ at CW8673 Elgin(2782ft)
    0.05″ at DW6879 Union(2792ft)

  20. Lee Wilson says:

    Castle Rock know is on a well system and I was wondering the same thing.

  21. Lee Wilson says:

    My .my has a well that is the kind that will not run dry. Something about an underground aquifer system of some kind.

  22. WEATHERDAN says:

    84 and partly cloudy at 3:00 PM. It looks like we have a fairly decent chance of seeing some heavy TRW,s in Western Oregon somewhere between Monday and Thursday. Though the odds are still against it. the odds look a little better today. Last Friday when it looked like this ULL was dropping down over us it looked to be in the wrong position to give us our usual Summertime pattern. However it now looks like it may hit us from the Southwest which puts us in a more favorable position. And with highs running from 86-91 the next few days we have another necessary ingredient-heat. Still I put the chances of a big boomer at around 30%. Also Monday-Wednesday looks to be partly cloudy and humid with highs from 86-91 and lows from 60-65 with DP,s around 60. Of course with thunder comes lightning and that usually means trouble. Peace.

  23. WEATHERDAN says:

    we are possibly in the most interesting weather pattern we have been all Summer. An upper level low sits just off our coast and is continuing to drift South. It should be of the The Norcal coast coast by Tuesday. This has several effects. First with the flow backing up from the Southeast we might get up to around 90 Monday and Tuesday and maybe even Wednesday. If not 90 at least into the mid to upper 80,s. Secondly we have in increasing chance of TRW,s in Western Oregon some of which could be severe. Fourthly our overnight lows might be in the low to mid 60,s all week long. Then lastly as the system moves into Norcal and the Southern Oregon area late Wednesday or Thursday the atmosphere really destabilizes and we could be in for a round of heavy TRW,s all over Oregon. Finally it looks like we dry out and warm up to the 85-90 range next weekend. It really clouded up quickly on Saturday. Then the winds came up to the West at almost 30mph. No rain fell but it kept us up to 63 overnight. Now we are at 75 at noon on our way to about 86. Feels somewhat humid outside this morning. But at least it is mostly sunny for the moment. If we don’t get a real soaking with these TRW,s which we may not, then by next weekend we will be talking about all the forest fires in Oregon. In the meantime I hope you all have a chance to enjoy the great weather this weekend.

  24. Yes, we all need a good soaking! I saw light showers yesterday afternoon, and another shower came through here just under an hour ago- but it hardly amounted to more than a trace.

    • David B. says:

      It really felt like a storm was coming in yesterday evening. The wind picked up, and a few showers started sending rain pelting against the windows. Then, nothing. Only got 0.01″ out of it. And now today’s forecast is dry and warm. Phooey.

  25. schmit44 says:

    8/8/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:94 at MERLIN SEED ORCH(1144 ft) & UMATILLA(270 ft) & CW4888 Pendleton(1066 ft) & DW1597 Troy(1612 ft) & GRANDE RONDE RIV(1594 ft)
    Low: 70 at BLALOK(277 ft) & John Day River B(305 ft)

    High:59 at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160 ft)
    Low: 29 at DIMLKE (4726 ft ) & MAZAMA (4596 ft ) & KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 51 degrees
    CW9027 Ukiah (85/34 ) (3415 ft )
    Horse Ridge (US (84/33) (4160 ft)
    MAZAMA (80/29) (4596 ft)

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.15″ at CEDAR(2220ft)
    0.10″ at SADDLE MOUNTAIN(3110ft)
    0.09″ at USCRN SITE NEAR(39ft)
    0.09″ at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160ft)
    0.08″ at TILLAMOOK(11ft)
    0.07″ at EW6494 Florence(64ft)
    0.07″ at YACHTS Yachats(72ft)
    0.07″ at MEARES Cape Mear(1421ft)

  26. Boring Oregon says:

    I’m very glad the nights are getting cool again. Makes it a lot easier to sleep.

  27. WEATHERDAN says:

    88 in Salem today. Beautiful sunny weather and a nice North breeze. Tonight we still have clear skies but a brisk West wind. Lots of stratus in the valley tomorrow clearing in the afternoon with a high of 81. But likely no rain. Partly cloudy and 80 on Sunday but again a low chance of rain. In fact our rain chances in Salem the next few days hover at around 20%. Possible but not likely. Highs the next 5 days should run between 79-84 degrees. Below normal but not cool and wet. The more sunshine we do get the more likely we are to see TRW,s. By next Thursday we should see more sun and low to mid 80,s. The heat such as it is may get here by the 15th. But even so we are not likely to get above the low 90,s anytime soon. Peace.

  28. schmit44 says:

    8/7/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:95 at Rye Valley(I-84(2229 ft) & HEPP(311 ft) & JOHN DAY RIVER A(399 ft) & CW3932 Central P(1290 ft) & Celilo – East of(225 ft)
    Low: 65 at RUFUS(185 ft) & Bradley Wayside(649 ft)

    High:57 at Newport(30 ft)
    Low: 28 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 50 degrees
    CW5507 Camp Sher (88/38 ) (3020 ft )
    CROW FLAT (78/28) (5172 ft)

  29. I had less rain from May to July than all of April 2015 as well. Looks like we’ll get showers through the next 3 days- but just how many?

  30. Did Mark use the “Hood River/Rogue Valley” analogy on TV last night, regarding the dry weather? That was pretty clever. But yeah…the hydrological seasonal patterns in NW Oregon would have to be a lot more “Mediterranean” than normal, this year…

  31. WEATHERDAN says:

    Already up to 77 at 12:00 NOON Should top out around 88. NWS says low off coast not especially strong nor is it strengthening. In fact the largest chance of precipitation may come from some TRW,s. Even the borderline possibility of supercell TRW,s. Might be exciting. Now for the silliest comment from a tv anchor in a while, Last night the anchor for KOIN tv said it felt like Autumn out this morning. The low was just about spot on normal and he said it felt Autumnal. We must be so used to the heat that now normal feels cool. Peace.

    • Ann says:

      I think it’s true (so used to hot normal feels cool). I’ve been feeling like it’s autumn the last week, too!

  32. Paul D says:

    I knew it would turn cooler than normal when I left town. It always happens…… Grrrrr!

  33. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Well worth keeping an eye on, yes!

    322 AM PDT FRI AUG 7 2015


  34. Benjamin (West Salem) says:

    The latest run of the GFS tonight shows a decent amount of precip falling here in Salem. We’ll see if that actually comes true. It would be nice if the EURO showed more precip like the GFS.

  35. schmit44 says:

    8/6/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:92 at Brookings Airpor( 459 ft) & EW1735 Central P(1285 ft) & CW6811 Grants Pa(947 ft)
    Low: 64 at Rye Valley(I-84(2229 ft) & JUNIPR(359 ft)

    High:56 at MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 24 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 56 degrees
    KLAMATH NWR (83/27 ) (4531 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.06″ at Bend(3650ft)
    0.02″ at MALHEUR RIVER BE(3305ft)
    0.01″ at Baker Valley(3420ft)
    0.01″ at CW2768 Beaverton(236ft)

  36. WEATHERDAN says:

    I just don’t a big dump of rain over the next few days in Oregon except on the North coast where they may get ,33. Portland maybe .10-.15. Nothing or at most .03 in Salem. Two weekends ago I didn’t think Salem would get anything and we wound up with .01. This looks like a similar situation to me. Of course now that I’ve said it we will probably get an Inch. Anyway we really do need the rain. Because the heat will be back. Peace.

  37. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Would love a good soaking of 1-2″ then back to sun:)

    I stopped watering my trees I planted after 3 years…until this year…everything is getting watered again.

  38. timbers15 says:

    We really need rain!

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