The Slow Thaw Continues

Whew!  Close call, but temperatures rose after midnight sparing us from an ugly mess this morning.  Clouds returned and as expected most of the metro area saw only regular rain this morning.

  • There was generally no refreezing of wet roads for the morning commute.
  • Roads will only get better today as temperatures rise into the upper 30s, a bit warmer than yesterday.

I see lots of schools with wet roads are being extra conservative with delays or closures; that may be due to leftover ice on sidewalks?

Of course in the West Hills/Mt. Scott areas and near the Gorge where temperatures were slightly cooler and ice is already on the ground, it didn’t matter…still icy roads for a 2nd morning.

The world’s slowest thaw continues today.  But we are running 3 degrees warmer this morning at PDX compared to 9am yesterday.  Two things are going on.

 1. The cold airmass about 3,000′ thick in the Eastern Gorge and Columbia Basin continues to slowly moderate.  It sure isn’t going to suddenly warm up, but it’s moderating.  The Dalles is 5 degrees warmer than 9am yesterday, Troutdale is 2 warmer.  Baby steps… You can see it on the Troutdale profiler too:

Capture

Time runs from RIGHT to LEFT.  Note the slowly warming colors as you move left on the graph and also note that at Troutdale the cold airmass pouring out of the Gorge is very shallow, less than 1,500′ thick.  It’s in the 40s above that elevation.  This low level cold airmass coming in from Eastern Oregon isn’t going to disappear, but it’s becoming a “little less cold”.

2. The leftover cold air in the valleys west of the Cascades that is “detached” from the cold Gorge wind will continue to slowly warm up as well.  No or little/weak sun this time of year sure doesn’t do us any good for warming, that’s why it’s so slow.  As a result we’ll see temperatures only rise into the upper 30s in the valley.  If somehow the warmer air overhead could mix down to the surface where we all live (it wont), the valley would jump up to around 50 degrees today.

Moving On…

Models are having a tough time with timing/amount with one last surge of showers and/or light rain moving north from California tomorrow.  It might arrive during the AM commute OR later in the day.  Or it may hardly make it here and just be a few sprinkles.  My one concern would be that we could see clearing tonight and colder temps than forecast (like the first half of last night).  It’s something to keep an eye on.  As of this moment I don’t see another round of freezing rain for the Wednesday AM commute except possibly in the Gorge.

It is pretty clear that with cold air still coming out of the Gorge the next 5-7 days we’ll be close to a frozen precipitation event again IF moisture decides to show up.  At this point it looks mainly or all dry though through early next week.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

 

 

41 Responses to The Slow Thaw Continues

  1. I finally made it up my driveway this evening! It’s about 100 yards long with a slow steep curve so you cannot get up speed for it, and chains were useless. After a day near 40° I am finally in the garage again, for the first time in several days. Time to get AWD it seems..

  2. Diana F. says:

    Total major freezing rain right now in East County Vancouver. Danger ranger WATCH OUT!!!!

  3. alohabb says:

    huge rain shower passed through Aloha drenching everything and now temp here is 32!

  4. Sapo says:

    About 31 and dropping here in Tigard and all the streets are super icy..

  5. Being old enough to remember those snows of the ’60’s, I agree: Schools weren’t closed very often back then , even though we had some big snowfalls here in Vancouver BC.. However, I think one reason why they seem to be closed more often now, is because a lot of parents drive their kids to school , rather than making them walk. There is a school in my neighbourhood that seems to have a regular traffic jam every morning before class starts. In my day, I’d never see so many cars around the place. Add to that, many schools are situated on side streets that haven’t been plowed or salted.

  6. Sapo says:

    Latest mm5-NAM looks interesting for a potential winter event on Saturday, if the precip got here. According to the NOAA the ECMWF gives us some precip on Saturday and also the GEM looks decent. Something to keep an eye on.

  7. JohnD says:

    ‘Still don’t “get” the criteria for the “extended” on the “Fox12” weather app. E.g. The extended scroll shows a predicted high of 46′ and a low of 40’ a week from Thurs.

  8. Paul D says:

    Precipitating in Hillsboro. Sounds like it’s a bit icy.

  9. Anonymous says:

    New here. Stars are out in Keizer, Or too.

  10. muxpux (Longview) says:

    Stars are out in castle rock

  11. Sapo says:

    Is there any way to access ECMWF maps for free (besides the 850mb temps)? Like surface temp or precip maps? Thanks

  12. JohnD says:

    Does anyone know what the “official” NWS PDX snow totals were for this past Sunday January 3–as well as the prior week–Sunday December 27?
    Thanks!

    • Sapo says:

      I think I saw that we had exactly 1.0″ of snow this Sunday but not sure about last Sunday-I’m guessing just a trace or nothing at all.

  13. JohnD says:

    The City of Portland has 55 snowplows/sanders ready and waiting . Sometimes they get a bit rusty between uses–hehe! Even “snowbelt” cities get a bit unnerved during their first winter storm. The only difference there is that our “first storm” may be our “only” storm.

    Portlanders–even amid our marine climate–know full well what snow is and we love it. We are close to a complex array of climatic zones and never more than a relatively few miles away from copious snow when we care to drive to it.

    Many of us always pull for it to come to our own backyards!
    Here’s hoping for more of that this year!

  14. Mike says:

    does anyone know wher to get those radar images of our past snow storms?

  15. WEATHERDAN says:

    One more month. In just one month from now our chances for snow and cold drop off drastically. Until then we have a good chance of more Wintry weather. I would like to see one more decent snow system before Spring. But in one month we should begin to see crocuses and daffodil shoots poking out of the ground. We should also see at least a couple of 60 degree days on February, So go ahead and snow, better weather is likely just a few weeks away. In the meantime how about some snow on Saturday. Peace.

  16. Pretty well the same scenario up here with early morning snow that gave away to cold light rain showers this morning. I’m seeing a forecast of continue cool temperatures through to Sunday. Intresting… So far this El Nino isn’t making the impact I thought it would.

  17. Do you think there’s any lingering chance of Gorge winter driving conditions by the 14th/15th of January, Mark? That’s the main thing I’m focused on at this point because of plans….

  18. pappoose in scappoose says:

    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PORTLAND OR
    840 AM PST TUE JAN 5 2016

    THE COOL AND DRY OFFSHORE FLOW…REFRIGERATED BY SNOW COVER EAST OF THE CASCADES…COULD SET THE STAGE FOR ANOTHER WINTER WEATHER THREAT IF A SYSTEM UNDERCUTS THE UPPER RIDGE AND APPROACHES
    FROM THE SOUTHWEST. THE 00Z ECMWF SUGGESTS THIS WILL HAPPEN ON SATURDAY…WITH ABOUT 30-40 PERCENT OF THE NAEFS ENSEMBLE MEMBERS
    DISAGREEING WITH THE 00Z/06Z OPERATIONAL RUNS OF THE GFS AND SIDING WITH THE 00Z ECMWF. WITH 850 MB TEMPS NEAR OR SLIGHTLY BELOW 0 DEG C
    AND OFFSHORE FLOW…THIS COULD BE A SNOW SCENARIO ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE LOWLANDS.

    • The recent storm system has been weak for us, so it has allowed the Columbia Basin cold pool to persist, albeit with some weakening. (A strong storm would have simply broken it up and dispersed it.) It will probably start re-strengthening once the split flow regime starts diverting storms away again.

      January is shaping up to be a cold month.

  19. W7ENK says:

    Everything is pretty much thawed in the core of the Portland area. Still some slushy snow left in grass and along the curbs, but that’s it.

    • W7ENK says:

      It was fun while it lasted!

    • Pete says:

      And yet Portland schools this morning changed from two-hour delay to full closure. I concede it’s a tough, complicated call for administrators, but c’mon; if we can’t go about our business in this morning’s conditions, we’re a pretty sad bunch.

    • W7ENK says:

      In Minnesota, they don’t cancel schools unless they can’t physically plow the roads or keep the building warm.

      But, this ain’t Minnesota.

      I agree, it’s laughable!

    • I grew up in the Midwest and the Rockies and always thought it odd there were places that cancelled school over a mere inch or two of snow. I was used to it taking a foot or more to do that. (And cancelling school just because of mere cold? Forget it! So its twenty below zero this morning? Put on some extra layers and go out there and catch the bus to school.)

      Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest and got to experience snow in places that lacked much snow-removal equipment, as well as drivers who got lots of practice driving on snow and ice, and it seemed a lot less odd.

    • oldwxwatcher says:

      During the colder period during the 1940s-1960s Portland’s schools didn’t close as often for snow or ice as they do now. That type of weather was more common then and people were more used to living with it. I walked to school (Glencoe Elementary) several times in ankle-deep snow.

      Also, snowfalls were common enough back then that there were several steep streets around the city that were designated as sledding hills and would be closed to vehicular traffic if enough snow fell.

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