Winter Is Over In The Lowlands


It’s overdue, I’ve held out as long as I can, but I can’t stand it any longer.  I’m sticking a fork in winter because it’s quite obvious winter is over here in the lowlands of western Oregon and SW Washington.  Luckily John Rinier from Forest Grove made me the nicely stained solid wood fork for these big weather days.

I know what you’re thinking…one of 3 things:

“What Winter?  I only saw snow once!”


“Yeah, real tough forecast…after 5 days in the 60s this month!”


“Are you nuts?  Winter doesn’t end until the 3rd week of March!”

We did actually have quite a bit of winter this year.  All of it was in December and the first few days of January.   Looking back, winter more or less “ended” for us west of the Cascades after the 1st week of January.  This winter will be remembered for one month only…DECEMBER.  Flooding rains, high winds, storms, mudslides etc… Before December 1st and after the first week of January nothing of interest occurred.  Due to this, as of mid-February we are in our 4th warmest winter on record here in Portland:


Here in the lowest elevations of the Pacific Northwest, west of the Cascades, almost all our significant winter weather events happen between mid-November and mid-February.  Snowstorms, windstorms, ice storms, & flooding.  You get the idea…it’s rare to have these events (not so much with wind) outside of this time period.

Looking ahead to the next 15 days it appears the warm pattern will hold.  We can see general weather patterns on our models a good 10-15 days in the future and no models are showing a stormy or cold pattern through the first few days of March.  I see more of the same for the next two weeks.  So…


What does that statement mean?  These points apply to anywhere west of the Cascades (including the Coast) below 1,000′.

1. You can take your snow tires off IF you plan to stay in the lowest elevations (below 3,000′) for the next few weeks.  Wayne Garcia was the smartest…he gambled and didn’t bother putting them on!

2. You can unwrap your pipes, or any plants that need to be protected from temps below 25-28 degrees.

3.  More school snow days or delays are unlikely in these lowest elevations.

4.  Strong and cold east wind episodes are finished in the Gorge.  Still windy at times, but not the really cold stuff we saw in January.  The east wind always disappears in early March and then reappears in the fall.

5.  Dense and widespread valley fog is unlikely between now and October.  Inversion season is just about over.

Here’s a good idea of what we won’t see again until next winter and what is still possible:


Of course we all remember March of 2012 when wet snow fell several times in March. That’s always possible, but we’ve only seen March snow in the lowest elevations 3 times in the past 20 years!  And each time it’s been the wet/slushy overnight and morning stuff in the metro area.  Plus, we haven’t seen March snow in a strong El Nino winter since 1966.

What about Cascade Skiing?  We should be fine through Spring Break (late March), but it’s pretty obvious now that the best skiing was in December.  That’s perfectly normal in an El Nino year when most weather action in the Pacific Northwest tends to happen early.  Then winter gradually fades away in January and February.

Luckily we had a ton of snow in December and it returned over several weekends lately.  That snow is going to be very slow to melt even with these warm systems and above freezing temperatures.  That said, the weekend rain did continue the melt in the lower Cascades, mainly below the 4,000′ elevation.  I see a few (only a few) rocks at 5,000′ from our Skibowl Camera that I haven’t seen since before Christmas.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

31 Responses to Winter Is Over In The Lowlands

  1. JJ78259 says:

    For an El Niño year San Antonio has only had .34 inches of rain since January 1 it has been a great spring so far!

  2. schmit44 says:

    2/16/2016 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:64 at Brookings Airpor( 459 ft)
    Low: 53 at ROWEWS(104 ft) & Arlie Mitchell R(1629 ft)

    High:36 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 18 at DIMLKE (4726 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 36 degrees
    Lorella (60/24 ) (4160 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.83″ at Astoria Regional(10ft)
    0.71″ at DW3605 Corbett(1755ft)
    0.70″ at K7FU Warrenton(33ft)
    0.70″ at NORTH FORK(3060ft)
    0.68″ at N7CVZ Corbett(840ft)
    0.53″ at MEARES Cape Mear(1421ft)
    0.53″ at AA7OA Astoria(240ft)
    0.51″ at N7HAE Knappa(105ft)

  3. WEATHERDAN says:

    On January 10th I said on this blog Winter was over. And several individuals said I was way too early to call Winter over. I did it because I didn’t see anything upstream that screamed Winter. Now this February is looking eerily familiar. Just like 2015. Will this be another hot Summer. My guess is yes, but not as hot as the last two Summers. More like 2013. Of course Summer is a few months and things could change so we shall see. Only .02 last night. Not much to speak of. Mostly cloudy but mild this afternoon. Peace

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      0.58″ up this way, quite a difference!

    • Boring Oregon says:

      I recieved 0.43 last night/this morning.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Pretty typical winter up till now. Rain, some flooding, couple mediocre cold spells, snow in the mountains. That’s a PNW winter. Any actual snow and cold is icing on our damp, moldy cake.
      Now its on to croaking frogs, daffodils and trying to mow a wet lawn. 🙂

    • rubusleucodermis says:

      Because it was too early at that point. You just got a little lucky, that’s all. Note I said “a little;” it is an El Niño year, and those tend to be milder than average, particularly after the new year. So the odds were with your prediction all along.

    • rubusleucodermis says:

      @Boydo3 – The tree frogs have been going at it for a week or two already up this way. Bet they’re at it down your way, too. Go to a wetland area (preferably one with trees) after dark and see.

  4. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    3.74″ is the heaviest one day total reported on

    Not even half an inch here.

    And, less than 2/10″ in the Olympic rain shadow.

    This February will go down as warm for sure, but the precip stats will be varied quite a bit north to south.

  5. Well, it’s been obvious for some time, but I understand Mark’s caution after that one March that saw big dumps of lowland snow from about Salem southwards.

    Sunday I removed the protection from an outside faucet and reconnected the hose, which I needed to hose off a mountain bike after some trail riding. I did NOT bother to remove the hose or put the protection back on.

    Interesting weather day yesterday. Wind and drizzle all day long, from before first light to well after dusk. Only .23″ in the gauge, to give an idea how light and misty the drizzle was.

    I saw blooming jonquils on the way in to the office this morning.

  6. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    0.51″ so far today. 3.24″ for the month.

  7. This is the first time I’ve seen “the fork”: Very impressive- and amusing! Yeah, I’m thinking that winter is over for my area as well. Comparing my maximum temperatures with yours in February, I see we were a bit lower(except on the 9th), but it’s been still too warm to call it winter anymore.

    • Oh, a minor correction: On the 12th we were 2F warmer as well, but overall from the 3rd-15th, my daily maximums were 6F cooler. And- a “Good Morning!” to Marco Rubio: Someone inform him he’s welcome to visit our city anytime and get to know it better! 🙂

    • I believe it’s the first time that particular fork has existed for Mark to wield.

  8. Paul D says:

    A truly sad moment. Lets put the flag at half-mast in memory of winter. Another year where the grass is growing in February. I feel ripped off. Back to the yard word too early. I am officially in a bad mood. 😦

  9. JJ78259 says:

    I love it when Mark forks Winter. I could do without winter at this point in my life.

  10. schmit44 says:

    2/15/2016 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:68 at AGNESS2( 247 ft) & CW5302 Roseburg(410 ft)
    Low: 55 at HEPP(311 ft) & DW9634 Tygh Vall(984 ft) & ROWEWS(104 ft)

    High:34 at Mt Hood Meadows(6540 ft)
    Low: 25 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 30 degrees
    Lorella (61/31 ) (4160 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.51″ at CW2527 Florence(46ft)
    0.40″ at Astoria Regional(10ft)
    0.35″ at POINT PROM II(6607ft)
    0.35″ at CEDAR(2220ft)
    0.35″ at MEARES Cape Mear(1421ft)

  11. W7ENK says:

    Heads up! Looks like it could get quite windy in Los Portlandiego on Thursday…

  12. W7ENK says:

    Perfect timing, too. Had my first 50+ overnight temperature of the year last night.

    And the daffodils are blooming.

  13. marinersfan85 says:

    Que Jesse’s “warm bias” psycho babble.

  14. I think you can add a sixth statement to the “Winter Is Over, what does that mean?” list. It ties into the

    The ending of inversion season, also means any big upper-level ridges between now and mid-October are likely to be quite “thermally productive” in the Portland area, the Willamette Valley, the Columbia Gorge and the Columbia Basin.

  15. Mark bergal says:

    For all intents and purposes, is the blob gone and no longer influencing our weather? I would think el nino is at least partially to blame for the warm month we have had.

  16. GTS1K' says:

    In the immortal words of Tom Jones: It’s not unusual…

    AGW notwithstanding.

    Unwrap my pipes, indeed….

    I’ll get the hang of this deal any minute, now.

  17. Dottie Belknap says:

    Was I first?

  18. Dottie Belknap says:

    Love the photo, Mark

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