Windstorm Wrap & Possible Gorge Snow Tonight

9am Wednesday…

I had two days off and flew back into PDX around 4pm yesterday…a bit bumpy!  A huge change to go from warm and sunny southern California to pouring/sideways rain on the way home.  Then 30 minutes after I got home the power went off for the next 5 hours.  My wife didn’t seem to appreciate it when I remarked something like “this great!  Better than coming home to boring 45 degrees and cloudy…”.  She just doesn’t share the weather geekery!


Tuesday’s windstorm was a rare event in the western/central Columbia River Gorge and then out into the Columbia Basin.  The 69 mph gust (near ground level) at Bonneville Dam was the strongest wind I’ve seen at that location.  In fact I can’t remember a damaging westerly wind event in the past 20 years in that area.  Even the sensor at Vista House, all of 18″ out from the stone wall, somehow recorded a gust to 48 mph (direction is broken) from the southwest.  Biddle Butte, at 1,400′ above Cape Horn, had a gust to 59 mph.  I haven’t seen that the past few years either.  Due to those strong winds lots of trees fell across or near I-84 so the freeway has been closed for about 12 hours eastbound.

In Eastern Washington it gusted to 71 mph at Spokane; more damage/outages in that metro area than the 1996 ice storm.  I also saw reference to that gust being the strongest non-thunderstorm wind gust on record for them.  Don’t know if that’s true or not.  But a huge windstorm for the Inland Northwest.

Of course for much of the Portland Metro area the wind wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for November, lots of gusts 30-40 mph, barely even worth of a wind advisory.  This was a Gorge and East of the Cascades event.

11_17_PeakMetroGustsPDX actually gusted to 43 mph; the 40 was a mistake.  Note the Troutdale profiler (in place for research this winter and next) shows 60-70 mph wind just 1,500-2000′ above the surface


The pressure gradients were amazing for this event.  17 millibars from Eugene to Olympia shows the potential was there for much stronger wind in the metro area.  A typical guess for south wind in our area is 3.2 X EUG-OLM gradient.  That gives gusts 50-60 mph in our area.  We underachieved a bit.  And 27 millibars from North Bend (OR) to Spokane!  About the highest I’ve seen.

Models showed a very tight gradient ahead of the cold front, maybe a little weaker than what actually showed up westside and definitely underdone a bit in Eastern Washington.  Here’s the 4pm forecast from yesterday morning’s WRF-GFS:


I checked the 4/3 km high-res run for the western/central Gorge and that didn’t capture the big surge of wind.  We still have some things to learn!



We have a weak system moving through the area tonight on a totally different track.  No dramatic rain/wind issues with this one, because it’s a weak surface low coming right across the central Willamette Valley.  The bulk of the rain/snow is headed south of the Columbia River…maybe .50-.75″ of rain overnight total in the metro area, then drying quickly Thursday.

There is one interesting part; with the surface low approaching wind turns easterly in the Gorge and light easterly in the metro area.  That means snow will fall to relatively low elevations in the central/eastern Gorge.  Note the morning WRF sounding for Hood River at 7am Thursday:


Expect 1-3″ snow up around 500-1,000′ in the central/eastern Gorge overnight.  Just rain at the west end.  It could even be white for the first time this season down in Hood River by sunrise.  Winter is getting closer!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen




104 Responses to Windstorm Wrap & Possible Gorge Snow Tonight

  1. paulbeugene says:

    Have seen basically everything that 00z has to offer, including GFS, Euro, GEFS, Navy, UKMET, Canadian.

    Overall there is fairly good agreement (still) that there will be short wave digging S from the AK panhandle that will usher in a period of cooler to cold weather for this time of the year by early to middle of next week.

    The 00z runs were at least a touch less cold than the previous. The Euro is showing high temps in 46-50F range through Monday, then low 40s Tues, then upper 30s to around 40F for Thanksgiving with lows in mid 20s. Given the overall pattern, could see temps at night a bit colder than that.

    It looks like a nice Thanksgiving weekend, if you ask me. For ski area operators, we still are looking at lack of moisture for much of the 10 day period and thus lack of sufficient snow to get much open.

    The GOLU model run for 120h comes out 120h from now.

  2. 00Z a touch warmer but same basic pattern advertised by 12 & 18Z runs.

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    Nice heavy rain coming across the metro now on radar, pile up that mtn snow!

  4. Jason Hougak says:

    “I’m gonna go with my gut instinct on that one… saddle up partner!”

  5. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    First time I’ve seen snow mentioned for my area (Battle Ground) this season:

    Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain and snow showers. Highs around 40.

  6. High Desert Mat says:

    Grrrr, that post was meant for Jasons up at the top.

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    Come on don’t 🎈💥📌

  8. Jason Hougak says:

    00z GFS is 51% done, it’s coming in

  9. paulbeugene says:

    will comment after 00z GFS ensembles come out in an hour. Operational run less cold for sure.

    • Mark says:

      How many times have we seen the models bounce back and fourth until they finally settle in? Quite often this time of year. I am pleased with the GFS and ECMWF both aligning fairly well for 7-10 days out. Unusual during the winter months… I’ll chalk that up as a good sign.

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    If this hits there could definitely be plant and crop damage. Most valley locations haven’t even had a frost yet. This will become a major shocker. Mark you calling this one early on the news?
    November is becoming our January, seems it has been having more cold than any recent January that I can recall.

  11. Jason Hougak says:

    What a difference a day makes on this
    Yesterday showed no cold weather, looks like all models other than the NAM are showing the cold air invasion. Just need some precipitation !

  12. Mark bergal says:

    Maybe my memory deceives me but i cannot recall such dark blue directly over our region, as in those maps. I recall many times, that shade was further inland and we were on the outer flanks. If this cold wave pans out, it would seem we are in the epicenter, and that seems fairly remarkable for so early in the season

  13. Jason Hougak says:

    Funny how Mt. Hood Meadows is calling this a Wnter Storm Warning with 8-12″ and 6-10″ tomorrow while the NWS has a Winter Weather Advisory with 5-12″. I guess Meadows is trying to stoke up their pass holders… we’ll see.

  14. High Desert Mat says:

    Hopefully Mark will give us a new thread about next weeks cold snap after tonights 00z run. Which by the way starts in 93 mins. I know its a ways out Mark but ensemble agreement is there and has been pretty consistent for awhile now. I remember last Thursday seeing this on the gfs and thinking whatever. Now its almost a week later and has gotten even “better”, by personal definition I guess. Precip amounts are really a moot point to talk about right now but the cold surely can be discussed. We wont know about a surface low forming out of the arctic air until about 48 hours out if we’re lucky. So Mark, your thoughts please. We all want to know what you think about it so far.

    • Dave_in_Troutdale says:

      I think answering Mat is getting to be at least a part, if not full-time job around these parts unknown. 🙂 But, I for one can agree, things are getting interesting. Time will tell High Desert Pat.

    • Paul D says:

      Bring it!

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Wait a minute, where are you again Dave? I think New Orleans so change your name please.

    • Dave_in_Troutdale says:

      I’ve been back in Troutdale for a few days HDP. Hopefully I won’t have to go back to the Big Cesspool, I mean New Orleans, any time soon. Did set the 3rd most one day rainfall record while I was there though. I think it was around 7 1/2″ or so. Saw 26″ in 24 hours one time during a typhoon in Okinawa. Both places took this weather in stride by the way. Anyhow, it may be to early for Mark to comment at this point…..

  15. runrain says:

    O Weatherdan (sung to the tune Oh Christmas Tree)

    O Weatherdan, O Weatherdan,
    Come write a post as soon’s you can,
    Some certain bloggers don’t give a d**m,
    But all your thoughts should not be banned

    The Salem weather is the best,
    The arctic fronts will be the test,

    O Weatherdan, O Weatherdan,
    Please don’t tell us you’re on the lamb

  16. High Desert Mat says:

    Mark, you said 500′-1000′ in the gorge, what do you think about Redmond?

    • runrain says:

      Mark’s response: nice town, great weather, lots of sagebrush and great views of the Cascades. But that’s not important right now. We should talk about the possibility of snow in Redmond. (Yes, I just watched Airplane again!!)

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Nice reply! Whoever is north of the low in north-central Oregon should get some well-deserved snow. Somewhere north of Bend it should change to snow. Good time to be in Madras I think.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Shirley you jest 😉

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Dont call me Surely lol

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Thanks Mark. The Mets here are calling for a low of 36 and rain in Bend. Currently I’m at 40.6. Seems warm to me. Where is the low’s track suppose to be?

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Madras 2200′, Redmond 3000′, Bend 3500′. Amounts off top of your head. Getting shadowed pretty good right now. Need some kind of wrap around with the low if it tracks south.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Ever been in a Turkish prison kid?

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Not this year.

    • Garron (1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro airport) says:

      Kid on field trip to FOX 12 studios, talking to Mark Nelsen…”My dad says you don’t have a REAL job! You only work 5 minutes per hour, and you use computers to make your forecast!”

    • runrain says:

      I picked a bad week to quit model riding…

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Tell your Dad to try chasing those newsies in and out of the newsroom for 4 quarters while following Zaffman’s forecast every day!

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Good one Mark. That made me laugh.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Its exploding Jason. Not too bad but looks like not as cold with a more negative tilt with the block. Its one run and we have alot more to go. We’ll see what happens but its pretty much up in the air at this point. Let’s strive for perfection and settle for what we get lol.

  17. paulbeugene says:

    18z ensembles trending colder yet. With consecutive runs trending colder than the previous, odds looking fairly decent for colder weather next week. I don’t expect snow anywhere near valley floor given lack of moisture but may have a chance at overrunning event later on past Thanksgiving.

    Still a week away from core of possible early season arctic air intrusion, still some uncertainty.
    I have thought that our best chances for cold air were going to be the first month or so of the cold season before el-Niño influences take hold.
    I a quite concerned about prospect of a Rex block setting up over west coast of NoAm keeping us high and dry. With El Niño you would hope there is enough southern stream energy to kick out those upper lows from the SW USA. Will wait and see.

    • Sapo says:

      Interesting..ya definitely trending colder! Ya not much moisture available..potentially a brief rain/snow shower or two on Tues Night/Wednesday, but likely not (you know how those things go lol)
      Ya an overrunning event would be the best bet but with this, and many other similar scenarios we’ve had, precipitation is hard to find.

  18. High Desert Mat says:

    18z run looks to be the coldest run yet to date. Unless my eyes are deceiving me, the runs seem to be getting colder and colder for the last few days or so. It also throws in some moisture over us. The details wont be definite for a few more days, (probably Sunday or Monday), but the trend is definitely our friend. Also looks to be a cutoff low that forms in southern Oregon or N. Ca. Perfect setup if u like cold and snow.

    • W7ENK says:

      As long as I can get to the airport, and my plane can get off the ground without any problems next-next Monday, the weather can do whatever it wants! 5 days in Vegas for a convention, staying at the Venetian, 3 meals a day, all expenses paid for by my company (except alcohol, of course)…

      DON’T GET IN MY WAY!!!

    • runrain says:

      Nice! Thanksgiving turkey in a gandola!

    • Garron (1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro airport) says:

      Erik, if you wanna get loose while your down there, go to the MGM. Hang by the bar, and look for a short blond cocktail waitress named “Flavia”. Live rock music, and the best drink service in town! We didn’t even have to really gamble, just tipped her $5 the 1st time she came by, and great time! She’s been there since 2002. Have some serious fun down there!

    • Boring Oregon says:

      Garron, he’s going to a convention so he can’t get too wild now!

    • W7ENK says:

      I’ll be down there the week after Thanksgiving, and yeah, not much free time to be had. One of my coworkers who’s also going has already booked up both of our only free evenings with comped tickets to Blue Man Group and the NYNY amusement park… not that I have any problem with this!

  19. Sapo says:

    Wilson River and other coastal rivers flooded last night..Wilson River RV park was evacuated..

  20. Sapo says:

    Looking really cold next week..but not much, if any, moisture available.

  21. Winter77 says:

    Portland and is nice as well as the Tuesday weather calling for rain or snow. High 40 low 30.

  22. Garron (1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro airport) says:

    That was a great storm, for us, wish I’d been at the coast to watch the waves crashing. Assuming things stay on track for a week from now, I’m really looking forward to your next posts! At the very least, maybe it will be cold enough to kill those little white bugs that have plagued us this year!

  23. Jason Hougak says:

    Yo Eric that didn’t help with saving name and email. It use to save but not any more. As Boring said we must still be on the naughty list😫

  24. WEATHERDAN says:

    Enjoyed our brief sunny morning after the wind and rain of last night. NWS calling for lots of rain and mountain snow for next week. Hopefully the ski resorts can open for the TG weekend. Next week looks wet and chilly for us but no AR. Still lots of snow down to 2k ft and maybe even our first frost. Some exiting weather maybe. Happy Thanksgiving one and all. Peace.

  25. Jason Hougak says:

    Timberline opens this Friday 😀👍👍❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

  26. Snow Maniac says:

    I really want to believe The Weather Channel forecast for us next week but it seems like they always change their mind! According to them it says rain/snow mix next Tuesday, then highs in the 30’s and lows in the teens and 20’s from Thanksgiving Until Tuesday with snow showers Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights. Hopefully that will come true! But who knows? :/

  27. W7ENK says:

    Jeez, these guys just can’t seem to make up their minds…

    119 PM PST WED NOV 18 2015

  28. Boring Oregon says:

    Though we may not get snow next week, I think it is pretty certain that it will at least get colder and we can have some overnight lows in the 20s.

  29. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    Still looking tasty for next week.

  30. Josh "the snowman" from Gladstone, OR says:

    Where is all my drinking and blogging buddies at?

    On a serious note. What is the latest on the cold snap next week? Is it real or a figment of our wish casting imagination? I want Mark to chime in on this because the ensembles look real good.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Josh, dont act like you dont know about next week. Ensembles look good, operationals as well. You follow “the forums” alot too.

      Going to get really cold over here by looks of latest models. Thinking below zero at face value for lows and highs in the teens. Should be great for east winds into PDX with it being this cold over here. Snow cover will only add to the crispiness.

    • Chris s says:

      I thought weatherdan told us it was gonna be dry and warm….. With no chance of snow, and no chance of arctic air…. I notice he hasn’t chimed in for a while………:-)

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      Yes Chrissie, I did post today. And gee guess what, new info comes in to suggest cooler weather ahead. So I changed my outlook to reflect it. And while we are at it I never said dry and warm. I said cooler with a progressive weather pattern. That is what the NWS is currently calling for. They are not calling for any Arctic weather next week. But they might change their minds. Please do not misrepresent what I say. Peace.

    • chris s says:

      Lol, you can never admit your wrong Dan…. its not new info, this was bouncing around in the models days ago… get off your high horse of thinking you know everything when all you do is parrot every model run, except for the last few days, because they are showing arctic air, and so you cant post about that or you would be wrong!!!!! Funny how you jump on a solution 2 weeks out if it shows warmer than normal, but then when it doesn’t, its crickets to be heard from you.

  31. runrain says:

    I was watching the front on radar last evening and went for a run downtown about an hour before it was due to hit (5:30 or so). Finished just in time but didn’t want to miss FROPA so hung outside soaking wet to watch everyone dodging the puddles. Didn’t slow the biking commute down much. Yes, I saw them riding right through it. I can tell you the new Tilikum Bridge is a fun place to be in a good wind. Interestingly, the west anchorage of the bridge seemed to have the strongest wind. It actually wasn’t bad running in that stuff overall because it was so warm. Almost like taking a lukewarm shower with a cool hairdryer blowing in your face! Not pleasant but not all that uncomfortable. Had it been 10 degrees colder I would have definitely rescheduled my run.

  32. Some exciting weather in the Pacific Northwest to talk about-finally! Like most others, I’m intrested in knowing how cold it might get and if there will be snow. However… bear in mind this is an El Nino winter. I’ve seen this basic scenario before (early start to cold weather, ect.) Then comes January and the blahfest begins! Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope this time it will be different.

    • All the more reason to root for this event to materialize, I say. Though I don’t think this will be a “blah” winter; it’s shaping up as one of the strongest El Niño events on record, and past super-strong El Niños have had near to slightly above average precipitation.

  33. How does the low Gorge snow work when there’s no cold air to the east????

  34. Jason Hougak says:

    Mark can you have your blog please save our name and email

    • W7ENK says:

      Try clicking the little box that says “Notify me of blah blah blah whatever it says.”

      Also, every time you run a scan that cleans out your browser’s cache, cookies, history, etc… it will wipe that info and make you reenter it the next time.

    • Boring Oregon says:

      Remember Jason, we are on the naughty list…

  35. Mark bergal says:

    What is the latest on this cold snap next week? What kind of animal is this?

    • W7ENK says:

      Hoping for a penguin…

    • DEL X V says:

      I remember one year the temperature fell to around 12 degrees in Portland around November 12. Hope it does not sort of repeat that cold snap. The year may have been in 1950s.

    • DEL X V says:

      The temperature fell to 14 degrees at PDX in 1955. There were 7 consecutive days below freezing. I was at OSC at the time working for Fred Decker who started the Oregon Branch of the AMS. Cliff Watkins,

    • DEL X V says:

      That is November 1955.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Wow Del, you ARE and old guy! I thought I was one of the oldest here but I do remember the 60s cold in the Valley.

    • DEL X V says:

      I went to work at the PDX Weather Bureau in 1947 as a map plotter. Salary $2168 per year….got raises later.

  36. Ann Merklin says:

    Will we get ANY snow in Salem this Winter????

  37. gidrons says:

    Next week looks cold. It might even be our only shot at winter. All Aboard!

  38. Hal in Aims says:

    definitely a mess here………..still no power….road still closed…

  39. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    I walked about 6 blocks from the Streetcar stop to my place right as the FROPA was happening. The passage way to my building is always a bit of a wind tunnel, but yesterday it was more of a hurricane tunnel. Sideways heavy rain and wind difficult to walk against. I was very happy when I made it to the door. Fun times though.

  40. W7ENK says:

    Last evening was pretty wild… for about 20 minutes.

    I got home from work around a quarter to 5, light winds gusting maybe 15-20 mph max and some light to moderate rain. At 5:30 the lights started blinking, but there was no increase in the winds in my neighborhood. About 10 minutes later, just as I was leaving for dinner, all heII broke loose! Several strong gusts, leaves swirling everywhere, branches coming down, power flashes in the sky, street lights blinking out, sheets of heavy driving rain, rushing flash floods and deep standing water seemingly everywhere… and by 6 o’clock or so it was all over, like someone flipped the off switch!

    I couldn’t believe the amount of standing and flowing water along McLoughlin. At several points I worried about the depth of the water coming in the doors and floorboards of my car. Kellogg Creek rose so quickly that it had inundated the bridge at the bottom of Oatfield Road, water nearly a foot deep was flowing fast across the bridge deck. The intersection of Oak Grove Blvd at McLoughlin was a lake clear across, probably 2 feet deep on the corners. All that water was rushing down the highway toward Gladstone, and for nearly a mile long stretch between there and Roethe Rd, cars were plowing water almost continuously.

    Dashcam video processing, to be uploaded later.

    1.08″ when all was said and done yesterday, about 2/3 of that falling after 4:45pm.

    Peak gust at my location SW 25.4 which probably translates to about 40 mph if not for the stand of 100′ tall evergreens a block and a half to my South.

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