Strong El Nino This Winter: What It Means In The Lowlands

Let’s talk about El Nino again.  I’ve already covered the basics in a post earlier this week.  I suggest you read the first few paragraphs of that posting first

First, we tend to see a changed jet stream during El Nino cool seasons.  Typically the Pacific jet stream flows generally west to east and runs into the northern half of the USA West Coast.  Thus the heaviest winter rains tend to fall in the Pacific Northwest, as opposed to California:

MarkElNino_PacificNorthwestEffects

But during most El Nino winters we see the southerly part of the jet stream suppressed farther south, partly due to a stronger area of low pressure in the eastern Pacific.  Actually the subtropical jet is pushed farther north than normal, heading into California.  At the same time we tend to see more episodes of upper-level high pressure over the western part of Canada.  This shunts arctic air farther east than normal, giving the Northern Plains a warmer than normal winter.  Meanwhile that wet (and warm) westerly jet running into California gives them a wetter than normal winter.

MarkElNino_PacificNorthwestEffects2

MarkElNino_PacificNorthwestEffects3

Notice the Pacific Northwest is a mix of weather.  The northern part is strongly influenced by the upper-level high, the southern part (southern Oregon) often gets in on the edge of the California moisture action.  As a result, southern Oregon ski areas and basins receive normal or even above normal precipitation.

It’s important to point out that though many El Nino winters follow this pattern, sometimes they don’t .  No guarantees!  It has also been noted that in the very strong El Ninos, the heavier precipitation appears to make it farther north.  Both 1982-83 and 1997-98 (strongest since 1950) both featured near or above normal rainfall even up here in Portland.   1983

1997

Compare that to 2009-2010, the traditional El Nino signature…

2009

What about extreme cold during this winters?  A bit of a mixed bag because even in a mild winter it only takes one 4 day arctic blast to trash your plants.  4 out of 15 Strong/Moderate El Nino’s had a significant outbreak of “arctic” air.  If you take just the STRONG events, only one in the past 40 years has given us a days-long arctic blast event.  That was 2009-2010.  We hit 12 that year!  So the likelihood of a long arctic blast is quite a bit lower than normal, occurring in only 27% of moderate/strong years.

MarkElNino_ColdPDX

Of course what everyone really wants to know is…will it snow at MY house this winter???

A misconception to get rid of is that a warmer/drier winter means no snow in the lowlands.  Not true at all. El Nino does NOT mean NO SNOW.  Check out the last 6 moderate/strong El Nino winters:

MarkElNino_SnowPDX

We saw decent snow storms in January 2007, January 1998, & February 1995.  And who can forget the fiasco in late December 2009…the surprise (crappy forecast) snow event that gave us the worst evening commute in many years!  There is one common theme in each of these events; they all lasted just a short time, then the mild winter resumed.  I distinctly remember shoveling feet of drifted snow (Corbett) in January 1998 under a “hot” 50 degree sun once the east wind stopped.

To summarize…

It’s unlikely we have a snowy/cold winter ahead, but it’s quite possible we get some sort of freezing rain or snow event at least once during the upcoming winter.

One more point…one of the most hated parts of winter for part of the metro area is the cold east wind.  The Columbia River Gorge produces what we call a “gap wind” when high pressure east of the Cascades sends air rushing through the sea-level gap through the mountains.  The east side metro area near and south of the Columbia River is fully exposed to the wrath of this wind.  It begins to appear in late October and reaches a peak from November through February.  Then the wind disappears in early March as the seasonal westerlies begin.

Does El Nino mean more or less east wind?  Based on my experience, it’s generally a case of MORE east wind.  That’s because during El Nino years, we have a split or blocked jet stream more often, leading to more time under surface high pressure.  And much of the time that’s centered east of the Cascades.  Notice the most easterly wind the past few years was during our last El Nino event in 2009-2010.

EastWind

TO SUMMARIZE ALL OF THIS:

  1. Most likely we have a generally milder and drier winter than normal.  Or at least milder temps with normal rainfall if we get lucky.
  2. Long periods of cold/snow are very unlikely
  3. We could easily see a snow or ice storm at some point
  4. Widespread regional flooding is unlikely this winter
  5. Expect a bit more east wind than normal this year again

Here is a chart showing some of the data I used while researching past events:

Capture

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

103 Responses to Strong El Nino This Winter: What It Means In The Lowlands

  1. () says:

    Ten bucks says we won’t even get a tenth of an inch from this whole weekend of supposed “rain”.

    • Boring Oregon says:

      I bet my buddy $100 that this winter would be similar to last year. He said it’s going to be like 2008 so i felt comfortable putting $100 on the line. And I do agree with you. This weekend will probably be a non event.

  2. runrain says:

    Has anyone else noticed all the little white flies that have been flying around lately. It almost looks like it’s snowing in the evening towards dusk.

    • Boring Oregon says:

      I’ve only snorted like 100 of them so far.

    • W7ENK says:

      Yes, they’ve been all over Milwaukie and Oregon City for the last several weeks, and now since late this last week I’ve started to notice them in the afternoons on my ride home from downtown down along the river. They seem to be increasing in number as the days progress.

      Maybe soon they’ll start to accumulate and we can pretend it’s snow?

      100th!

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    El Niño better get a handle on California and NOW! Insane how many homes have burned, 1500-1600 in one fire alone!

  4. WEATHERDAN says:

    And now for something completely different. WINTER WEATHER FORECAST. No not mine but rather the ones from the CPC and TWC. Both are calling for much above normal temps and below normal precip for this Winter. Hmm sounds a lot like last Winter. Well it might not be that bad. But it doesn’t sound like an epic Winter with a two week Winter wonderland. Please don’t attack me for delivering this message. I’m only the messenger. Actually nobody save for God himself knows what this Winter will be like until it happens and as far as I know the good lord hasn’t come out with his official forecast yet. Still many people have voiced their opinion including me as to what this Winter will be like. And on October 24th the professionals can embarrass themselves with their What Will Our Winter Weather Be Like forecast at OMSI. Mark will tell us what the past Winter was like. Mark you da man. The GFS 16 day forecast which last week had PDX forecasted for 2.69 inches ib now just .28. A slight difference to be sure. Summer is over at 1:20 AM on Wednesday. Autumn looks to get off to a normal start with highs of about on Wednesday. One would have thought that this September has been cooler and wetter than normal but this it turns out has not been the case. As of yesterday KSLE was averaging 77.0 for a high and 52.9 for a low. Both above average just not record warmth. So far this month we have had 2 days over 90 and 8 days over 80, just about on. With today’s .05 we now have .95 on the month. About where it should be. It’s been so incredibly hot here this Summer that normal seems cold. 68 and sunny at 1:00 PM. On our way to 74. That is 2 degrees below average. Brisk Northeast winds with bright blue skies. Sure feels good out there today. Hey isn’t this where the Washington Post March is supposed to start. With apologies to Monty Python, peace.

  5. W7ENK says:

    Yesterday was muggy and gross. The DP at my place hit 70F during the 2pm hour, and although the temperature wasn’t all that high, it still felt blazing hot down at the Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have it sunny and warm over the rainy and cold we get some years, and it was certainly nicer than last year when all the smoke blowing in from the Estacada fire burned the eyes and made it difficult to breathe (and sing), but still… a 70F dewpoint is just a tad bit ridiculous for the Willamette Valley any time of the year, but especially in late September!

    Farewell, Summer 2015! It was a long and glorious journey, but I’ve officially had my fix. Our time together is over, I’m ready for Fall. It’s now time for squash, dried yellow corn stalks, flying colorful leaves and amber harvest ales, all while keeping warm in my hoodie beside the firepit as the fog rolls in.

    • runrain says:

      I hope the warm weather didn’t cut short your rendition of the Chicken Dance (video, please!)

      It felt quite warm at the OSU game Saturday as well. After the sun went down, however, it was about as perfect as you could want for a game. Even stayed at short sleeves and shorts conditions as we post-game tailgated into the 10pm hour. As that may have been our last win of the season, glad we were at least rewarded once with pleasant game time conditions.

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      I watched others do it but was too chicken to do it myself. Peace.

    • W7ENK says:

      No Chicken Dance, but we did perform this…

      🙂

    • W7ENK says:

      Oh, and BTW, I know for a fact that the soloist in this song is a long time lurker of this blog.

      Shout out to Joshua!

  6. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Hahaah! Darn those arguing models anyway!

    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PORTLAND OR
    329 AM PDT MON SEP 21 2015

    .LONG TERM…FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY…THERE REMAIN SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE GFS AND THE ECMWF REGARDING THE DEVELOPMENT
    AND TIMING OF THE NEXT FRONT. HAVE GONE WITH A BLEND OF THE MODELS FOR NOW WITH POPS ARRIVING AT THE NORTHERN COAST THURSDAY AFTERNOON
    AND SPREADING INLAND THROUGH FRIDAY. DIFFERENCES AMONG THE MODELS BECOME EVEN MORE PRONOUNCED AFTER THAT SYSTEM MOVES THROUGH WITH
    FORECAST CONFIDENCE ABOUT AS HIGH AS IF A DART BOARD WERE ACTUALLY INVOLVED.

  7. I am a journalist about the environment and tourism. Today I had the opportunity to talk with an expert about the weather. And I already know that the current El Niño is beginning to affect our weather, many places have been very severe drought

  8. () says:

    Yawn….wake me up when we see some drizzle because this is some boring weather. Same old dry sunny weather every day. Rinse, repeat. As soon as we hear about rain coming it disappears before it even gets here.

    • Paul D says:

      We keep getting teased every time there’s rain in the forecast and we end up with a drizzle.

      But wait! There’s rain in the forecast in a few days! Oh boy! Oops….nevermind….

    • Certainly wasn’t boring where I live yesterday; A pretty strong wind(up to 40 mph) brought in a cold front yesterday afternoon. That’s the 3rd wind event we’ve had here in 3 weeks. It’s a bit early to predict I know, but could this El Nino be a repeat of 2006-07? That one gave us one windstorm after another.

  9. leer` Geddy says:

    The coolest morning lows for settle this week since early May with lows in the low to mid 40’s via NWS, something we would see in mid to late Oct not late Sept but ill take it now.

  10. schmit44 says:

    9/20/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    Warmest:
    High:94 at EW1735 Central P(1285 ft) & MERLIN SEED ORCH(1144 ft)
    Low: 66 at JUNIPR(359 ft) & RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    Coldest:
    High:58 at SADDLE MOUNTAIN(3110 ft) & HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160 ft)
    Low: 21 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 57 degrees
    CROW FLAT (78/21 ) (5172 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.26″ at MEARES Cape Mear(1421ft)
    0.15″ at CEDAR(2220ft)

  11. WEATHERDAN says:

    79 at 4:00 PM under mostly sunny skies. Had a few clouds earlier this afternoon. Wonder if that was the remains of the weak front or something else. New NWS forecast warmer and drier than last nights forecast. Autumn starts on Wednesday the 23rd. Just seemed like Summer began yesterday. With a warmer climate in place here in the PNW one of these days in the next ten years or so PDX will hit 70 in December or January during an inversion in the valley. With the freezing level at or above 12,000 feet Salem and Eugene stay foggy and in the thirties. However PDX usually gets quite a bit more sun and thus is quite a bit warmer. Already we see some places in the foothills and along the coast at 70 degrees under these circumstances. Sooner or later you will see it in Portland. In January of 2013 while Portland was partly sunny and 46-56 Salem had two weeks of fog and 28-36. Our Winter air masses are getting warmer. I am sure we will see some days in December and January in the 60-65 degree range. Only 64 shopping days till Christmas. Ho ho ho. Peace.

  12. WEATHERDAN says:

    77 and partly cloudy at 2:30 PM. Might squeak out another 80 today which would tie our all time record of 94 set last year. Had a real blast at Oktoberfest yesterday. Lots of beer and good German food zehr gut. GFS 16 day meteogram on Thursday had 2.69 inches for PDX. By today it only has .52. And EUG has but .04. This next front coming in looks very weak but may bring a few showers in Western Washington. For the valley for Monday-Wednesday partly to mostly sunny with highs low to mid 70,s and lows in the 40,s. In other words fairly normal for late September. Maybe some showers for Thursday or Friday, we shall see. Big story in the paper Saturday about how Detroit lake is fast running out of water. Another dry Winter certainly won’t help the situation but the odds are for a drier than normal Winter this year. Go Dodgers. Peace.

  13. Jason Hougak says:

    What about a La Niña post along with going in a Maunder Minimum during 2017. Could be rather interesting.

  14. David B. says:

    Wind is strongly from the west, which puts me in the Olympic rain shadow as long as that lasts. Sunny and 70 degrees this afternoon here. And windy. Don’t have an anemometer, but I bet we’ve seen 40 mph gusts. Power was out between 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM this morning.

  15. schmit44 says:

    9/19/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    Warmest:
    High:88 at AGNESS2( 247 ft) & DW5789 Eagle Poi(1463 ft) & EW1735 Central P(1285 ft) & CW6811 Grants Pa(947 ft)
    Low: 60 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    Coldest:
    High:53 at MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 17 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 55 degrees
    Beatty (80/25 ) (4320 ft )
    CROW FLAT (72/17) (5172 ft)

  16. Jason Hougak says:

    Excellent day exploring the underworld of the Ape Caves in Washington. Cave temperature was a comfortable 42.7F. My 6 and 4 year old were able to complete the upper cave and hike back down, was very happy. Had a few minor episodes with four kids with is but alls well that ends well!

  17. () says:

    I think because everyone from California is here, we are experiencing more weather like California. Where is the rain!!!!?!

    • catku pdx says:

      If the weather was more like that in California, we would have had a lot more rain this year. California gets soakers and I have never seen that here. Merely sprinkles with sun breaks.

    • Boring Oregon says:

      Proof that Californians ruined this state. There, I’ve said it.

  18. MasterNate says:

    Last 80 of this year, by by summer. Im sure we will see you next year, say May sometime.

    • David B. says:

      Maybe a few more for PDX. Next couple of weeks are supposed to be cool and moist, then warmer and drier. 80s in October in the Willamette Valley aren’t as exceptional as they are up this way. Then again, a few weeks ago the extended forecast was for cool and moist for a few weeks, then back to warm and dry. So who knows.

    • Paul D says:

      Good riddance, 80’s. I won’t miss you and don’t look forward to your return next year.

    • I’m pretty sure I won’t see another 80 here until next May. I might see a couple of days well into the 70’s if we get a return of the ridge before mid-October.

  19. Jason Hougak says:

    I think everybody is thinking the up coming strong El Niño is going to be a life saver to drought stricken California!
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
    Check out So. Cal.

    • 6 says:

      I am sure thats a classic analog prediction based on previous el nino winters, no other variables or factors thrown in. We shall see

    • David B. says:

      @6: Bingo. It’s based on an overall el Niño scenario, with no allowances for this one being exceptionally strong. As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I think this one’s going to be different, due to its strength, as other strong El Niños have been. That said, the prediction of California having a wet winter does seem a safe one.

  20. Jason Hougak says:

    Prime firewood cutting and chanterelle mushroom picking weather.

  21. Jason Hougak says:

    Cannot contain it, every fall I’m on pins and needles about our coming winter. Would love to have another 2008-2009 one again up here.

  22. schmit44 says:

    9/18/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    Warmest:
    High:82 at DW5789 Eagle Poi(1463 ft) & MERLIN SEED ORCH(1144 ft)
    Low: 58 at John Day River B(305 ft) & RUFUS(185 ft)

    Coldest:
    High:47 at MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 16 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 51 degrees
    Lorella (76/25 ) (4160 ft )

  23. Jason Hougak says:

    I don’t think we have typical PNW weather patterns anymore

  24. Brad says:

    Thank you, Mark, for continuing to feed my weather geek!

  25. It would be nice from now on if we could distinguish Arctic blasts/snowfalls as conventional or gorge induced. Haha

    I grew up with grandparents in Portland, on marine drive, and I used to get so bummed hearing them talk about the snow they had while I look out the window and see 40 and rain. Haha.

    • W7ENK says:

      How do you think I felt? As a kid, going to bed with the TV weatherman saying “We’ll be waking up to snow in the morning! 2 to 3 inches on the ground by 8am…”, waking up the next morning and seeing the live coverage, reporters all over the city, snow piling up everywhere, cars sliding into each other, the list of school closures scrolling on and on and on and on and on… only to notice NC12 missing from the list, and looking outside you see everything is green, brown and wet because it’s 35 degrees and raining.

      This happened more than once. Many, many times. 😥

    • It’s a general west coast phenomena, not just confined to Portland. One time years ago when I was attending High school, we had a forecast of a day with snow arriving sometime in the late afternoon. Well, I was excited, particularly as hourly forecast updates continued to discuss of higher and higher amounts. Finally, as the precipitation began(it was early evening) we saw the first snowflakes. To make a long story short, after about an hour of snow coming down, the temperature rose above freezing, it changed to rain and what was supposed to be about 10 inches of snow turned out to be an inch of rain. 😦

    • W7ENK says:

      Well, it’s particularly frustrating when you’re IN the Portland Metro area and it’s snowing literally only 2 or 3 miles away in all directions around you, even at elevations lower than yours, but you’re just getting rain. It’s quite baffling, really. Hence this crazy idea of The Dome over Milwaukie! It diverts thunderstorms, too.

      Maybe one of these years I’ll compile all the historical data (or have accumulated enough of my own?) and write a scientific thesis about The Dome. There’s definitely something tangible going on there, you’ve all witnessed it. Some of you have even experienced it for yourselves! It’s just too common an occurrence to be random chaos or coincidence. Besides, I don’t believe in coincidence.

    • Haha, I always theorized the steam from the mills up here warm up the atmosphere JUST enough to melt the snowflakes

    • Also, we are a Portland news market (though we also get a couples Seattle stations) so yeah. I know all about waking up seeing all the snow on the ground in Portland and realizing we had nada.

    • runrain says:

      With Bob Lynott’s forecasts, you’d go to bed with the expectation of 2-4″ of snow on the ground in the morning and it end up being 40 deg and raining EVERYWHERE west of the Cascades! Misery loves company so I guess that was better than some getting it and others none.

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      Many is the time PDX gets snow or zr and we get rain. Or you get 50mph east winds and we are stuck in the fog. Of course the opposite is true in the Summer when PDX has low clouds till 11:00 AM and we are sunny all day. sometimes a few miles can make a big difference in climate. In 1980 while Portland had a big snow event we had rain and temps in the forties. Same thing happened in January of 1998. However in early February of 1989 PDX got very dry strong East winds and the airport had 1 or at most 2 inches Salem had a foot of snow. And in February of 2014 PDX got 4 inches at the airport and we had 18 inches. So sometimes you get more snow and sometimes we do. It just depends on the cold air set up and the moisture supply. In December of 1968 as an Arctic front made it’s way south KGW radio said it was snowing hard in Portland and 22 degrees. At that time we were 40 degrees with some sun a a strong South wind. Of course 2 hours late when the front went through we were also 22 with snow. The weather never fails to surprise me. In reference to what Jason said we do seem to be having a lot more extreme weather than we used to. Our weather used to be a lot more predictable then it is now. I expect a fair amount of extreme weather of one sort or another this Winter. Probably just not the sort that most of you want. Peace.

    • runrain says:

      That December, 1968 storm was my favorite of all time. The one day (I think it was December 30th), we had a high of 10 and low of 8, snowed most of the day, 2 foot drifts, strong east wind. It was brutal to go out sledding but you just HAD to!! I was living in Eastmoreland so yes, the Dome got it too.

    • And to think runrain that we had more arctic blasts and snow later on that winter in January of 69. 🙂 That day (Dec 30th) PDX recorded their lowest high ever. 14° Sure miss those days

    • BlazerFan32 says:

      Well W7, you could always move to a higher elevation and then your snowless troubles would probably be solved almost every winter instead of having to wait every 5 or so years for a massive snow dump in Milwaukie. I don’t think there is such a thing as the dome and never has been. I think it’s just your elevation which in turn leads to your rotten chances for getting snow.

    • …the dome has been there for a long time; i used to wonder about it growing up in that area many many years ago….

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      The dome is real. I spent a few years living in Milwaukie, watching/wondering/praying.

    • W7ENK says:

      The Dome is tongue-in-cheek, of course, but conceptually it seems to exist. Be it terrain, industry, subterranean magma bubble or strictly an influence of collective negative thought creating self fulfilling prophecy, there is absolutely something going on around there that generally keeps our temperature a few degrees warmer than the surrounding area throughout the entire year, and it’s definitely not elevation dependent.

      I should add that when Milwaukie actually DOES get snow, we tend to get amongst the highest amounts.

      Two examples:
      December 2008 – PDX saw something like 14 inches, whereas I had 23.5 inches total.

      February 2014 – PDX saw roughly 7 inches, whereas I had 13 inches total.

      But it cannot be denied or ignored, fact of the matter is, more often than not, snow falls as cold rain (or fails to fall at all) and thunderstorms split around us. Because Dome.

  26. W7ENK says:

    In my observations, El Niño winters tend to give us our highest chances of seeing ZR events. Because of the abundance of East winds through the Gorge, coupled with a tendency for modified Arctic air to slide down through the Columbia Basin at the same time we get warmer low pressure systems moving up along our coast (displacement correlation?), it’ll be 25 degrees at the surface in PDX Metro with a raging dry East wind, while at the same time it’s 60 degrees up at 850mb where the frontal system precip is moving in, overriding the cold air trapped in the valley below. A perfect recipe for ZR, and it’s been quite a while since we’ve had a widespread genuine ZR event. Aside from 2004 — which was a two week potpourri of winter insanity — I think our last decent ZR was back in January 1996 or 97? I was in high school, and I got trapped at a friend’s house overnight when my dad spun his car into a curb and bent a wheel on his way to come pick me up.

    I think we stand a high probability of seeing a widespread significant ZR event in the Northern Willamette Valley this winter. I’ll even go so far as to say: Within three days — give or take — of January 12th. Why not?

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Portland is due for a significant zr event. Could be the year but who knows. I lived there for the ’03-’04 potpourri event. It was crazy. The memories of that time will always be with me. Thinking it was going to warm up every day only to have the east winds kick back up and more cold air to flood through the gorge. Two weeks of bliss.

    • W7ENK says:

      Yeah, I’m kind of jealous. I was living in K Falls then, and that first Sunday I was heading back after spending Christmas up here in Portland with my family. When I left, it was in the low 40s here, but it was 23 and snowing hard in Seattle, with the arctic front blasting its way South through Puget Sound toward Portland. It followed me the whole way down to K Falls, but fell short of reaching there. Granted, I had 3-1/2 feet of fallen snow in my yard and a drift against the side of my apartment that had my front door buried under about 5 feet of snow — I literally had to dig my way into my apartment — but we had just run of the mill normal cold temperatures down there, nothing to do with that arctic air. While you guys got slammed repeatedly by alternating layers of snow and ZR, it was mostly sunny and (relatively) mild in Klamabama. It was a little disappointing.

    • David B. says:

      I was living in NW Portland at the base of the West Hills and the astounding thing from that event there was the amount of sleet. I forget exactly how much but it was around six inches of sleet. Very little actual freezing rain. My theory is that the gorge outflow was piling up against the West Hills and making the cold layer just a little bit thicker in that locality.

      And yes, it kept going and going and going. The forecast seemed always to be waking up to rain and temperatures in the forties next morning, instead it would be in the twenties with sleet showers still clattering down. Long after it was rain and in the forties (and even fifties!) elsewhere in the lowlands, the ice storm kept raging on in Portland.

  27. WEATHERDAN says:

    Fog starting to clear, now mostly sunny. Going for 77 today. Around 80 this weekend. Had a little water in my basement from the .48 we received between Noon and 1:00 PM yesterday but it’s gone now. Really looking forward to a sunny and warm weekend. GFS meteogram has dropped their 16 day rainfall forecast from 2.69 to .95 for PDX. More likely they should receive on the order of .50. Sat through Mon looks like right around 80 then a few days in the 70,s. This is the 50th anniversary of the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest in where else Mt. Angel. Plenty of beer and sausage and you get to do the chicken dance. There has been plenty of talk of late about whether we will see snow in the valley because of the very strong El Nino we are entering. While it is true that we used to have some snow with El Ninos that amount has been decreasing the last few decades. In fact as Mark has pointed out before our average snow that the lowlands have received has gone down decade by decade for all phases. Now an interesting snow pattern I have found is starting in the Winter of 68-69 our coldest snowiest Winters seem to come 5 years apart. Although once or twice it has been 3 or 6 years. If that trend continues ( a big if ) our next cold snowy Winter should be 18-19, or possibly 17-18. This is not a forecast but rather a possibility. As for what could be causing this pattern I don’t know. It could be pure chance or an unknown cause. In any case I think it unlikely we get any significant lowland snow. But we should get some. About 1-3 inches is likely. But then no one really knows do they. Maybe that is why Mark does not make a Winter forecast at O.M.S.i each year. As for next Summer our long term decade by decade average for days over 80 each year in Salem have been rising steadily. From 55 in the sixties to 61 in the eighties to 67 in the double aught’s to 77 the first six years of this decade. So even a 25% drop in such days in 2016 would give us a hot Summer by the standards of 50 years ago. Not every Summer from here on out will be a hot one. But just like the stock market with it’s peaks and valleys the peaks and the valleys look to each getting higher in the long term with our temperatures as well. Welcome to climate change. Here’s hoping you get the weather you seek. Peace.

  28. High Desert Mat says:

    I have a feeling freezing fog is going to be a prominent theme this winter for me I’m Redmond. Grrrr.

  29. Logger Bill says:

    Was not the winter of 1969 a El Nino winter.I moved a lot of snow that year in the south Willamette Valley.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      That was 1968-69 and it WAS an El Nino winter

    • Boy, that is sooo hard to believe! I remember the 1968-69 winter(I was 10 years old). The Fraser River was frozen solid, so an icebreaker from the government was used to break up the ice.
      To read that was an E.N. winter!? Incredible…

    • oldwxwatcher says:

      I remember that one, too. During the week after Christmas 1968 there was an east wind/snow event which dropped several inches of the white stuff and it drifted a lot in places. Transportation in Portland was a mess for several days.

    • BlazerFan32 says:

      January of 69…The Seatac Airport piled up 20 inches of snow that month.

  30. Jason Hougak says:

    Great day blue sky and a white mountain again 😀👍👍

  31. David B. says:

    A combination of wishcasting plus science leads me to predict the coming winter will most represent ’97-’98. Strong El Niño, warm PDO phase both now and back then. Precip was near normal for most of the Pacific NW, and there was some lowland snow, despite temperatures still being warmer than average. Both a good analogue, plus I personally don’t want another no-snow winter.

    Time will tell — and I freely admitted that wishcasting was part (though only part) of it.

    • David B. says:

      OK, it wasn’t technically a no-snow winter, since both Portland and Seattle got a dusting in November, but it was still overall disappointingly snow-free — and not just in the lowlands.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I agree, either 82-83 or 97-98 seem most likely. And the chance of getting a snow/ice storm is totally random. The setup for the January 1998 snow storm was just around for a few days with arctic air coming close to us then getting pulled through the Gorge by a strengthening westerly jet that show a surface low by just to our south.

    • I found the ’97-98 El nino winter to be quite a bit drier than the one in ’82-83.

  32. ockman says:

    Hi Mark Nelson.
    IM ready for the cold winters in Oregon with snow in the mt its good for it we need it because the rivers where very low because of drought this summer and the hot hot hot weather to.
    Also if we get a milder winter will get wicked windstorm events to.
    I Would like to know how strong will they get? they happen a lot in the fall and winter months September October November December January February march april to.
    Also what about ice storm events to in the metro area to?
    AND COLD SNAPS TO.
    IT Has been a hot hot summer like Houston texas.
    Brandon bockman

  33. MasterNate says:

    So basically, Doom & Gloom as in FOG. Boring & Mild. I would like to see a correlation of foggy days compared to normal for El Nino years.

    • David B. says:

      Well, at least that would make the blah periods in between storms feel like winter instead of spring like they felt most of last “winter”.

  34. Jason Hougak says:

    Seems to me freezing rain would become a more real threat this winter.

  35. Another informative post! It was intresting to compare a couple of recent El Nino winters in Portland with my area. (2006-07 and 2009-10). The first one here didn’t follow the usual script; We had lots of snow in November and again in January. 2009-10 was similar to yours except we completely missed the late December snowstorm.

  36. Doppler Dave PDX says:

    Thanks for the informative post, Mark!

  37. Yep strong El Nino does NOT necessarily mean no snow. In the winter of 1997-98 I got dumped on here in Southeast Tacoma with 6 inches of snow that did not last long. 5 inches fell in the Spanaway area on the same day in the same dump of snow. I remember this so well because I headed off to work at Dutch Harbor Alaska on January 14th of 1998 to work in the imitation crab meat and snow crab plants up there based on land with UNISEA.

    Incidentally also a few days before I got up there a gust of wind to 118 mph was recorded at a ridge top wind station there and the roof of one of the UNISEA warehouse got peeled off.

  38. Benjamin (West Salem) says:

    Thanks for the update!! As always I look forward towards fall/winter and the exciting weather that is possible each year. Half the fun is the anticipation and the model riding. So often the weather here is a let down, but when that one arctic event or windstorm does come around it makes it that much more enjoyable. I would gladly take a Jan 98 or Feb 95 event this year. A similar event to the Feb 2014 event wouldn’t hurt my feelings either…. 🙂

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I think 90% of our love of weather is the anticipation of events. Especially since we see stuff coming ahead of time on the maps…and sometimes it’s a surprise too!

  39. schmit44 says:

    9/17/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    Warmest:
    High:74 at BLALOK( 277 ft)
    Low: 62 at BOARD(290 ft)

    Coldest:
    High:36 at IRAWS 49 (ROADS(7940 ft)
    Low: 25 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 27 degrees
    CW8689 Burns (65/38 ) (4219 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    2.27″ at YELLOWSTONE MTN.(3080ft)
    2.20″ at LITTLE MEADOWS(4020ft)
    2.20″ at MCKENZIE(4770ft)
    2.07″ at EW3720 Lebanon(535ft)
    1.80″ at NORTH FORK(3060ft)
    1.59″ at TROUT CREEK(2268ft)
    1.45″ at LOG CREEK(2800ft)
    1.44″ at EW7517 Portland(282ft)
    1.40″ at SOUTH FORK BULL(2690ft)
    1.40″ at BLAZED ALDER(3650ft)
    1.40″ at MARION FORKS(2590ft)
    1.40″ at DALY LAKE(3690ft)
    1.39″ at DW9430 Albany(207ft)
    1.38″ at PEBBLE(3450ft)
    1.32″ at CHARLOTTE RIDGE(1220ft)
    1.28″ at GELLATLY(860ft)
    1.27″ at GOODWIN PEAK(1800ft)
    1.23″ at HORSE CREEK(3402ft)

  40. Monica cory says:

    You are usually right. But I want you to be wrong.

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