Shrinking Snowpack In Lower Cascades

11pm Friday…

Take a look at the change in snowpack in the mountains over the past two months…





Quite a change isn’t it?  What was turning out to be a HUGE year for snowpack (and water supplies) across the region has now turned into a ho-hum snowpack.   Most areas are probably okay for water this coming dry season, but as of now the current snowpack probably won’t help entirely erase the drought in parts of Eastern Oregon.


It’s due to a classic El Nino split jet stream and subtropical ridging along the West Coast.  We’ve been seeing that for the past 8 weeks, since right after the New Year.  This is VERY NORMAL in an El Nino winter…most of the action tends to happen in the first half of the winter.    Due to this, we’ve had very warm weather as detailed in posts over the past few weeks.  Look at the snow depth (in red) and snow water equivalent (blue) at two sites near 4,000′ SE of Multnomah Falls and just east of Trillium Lake so far this year.  You see the snow depth at both peaked in late December, with a 2nd max just a couple weeks ago.  These lower elevations typically peak in the next few weeks even in a normal winter, as a result most likely below the 4,000′ elevation we’ll see the snowpack continue to dwindle in early/mid March with no cold/wet pattern in site.

Luckily for ski areas the few cold/wet systems have arrived just ahead of or during the weekends when most crowds hit (this evening’s rain wasn’t real helpful for night skiing).

As of now there appears to be enough snow to keep even the lower ski areas open until Spring Break (begins 3 weeks from today), unless we get some unusually warm rains.

Looking ahead, it sure does look like March with mild temperatures and occasional rain.  You do see breaks in the rain in the GFS meteogram from tonight’s 00z run:


Enjoy the dry day Saturday and if we get lucky maybe a hail shower or rumble of thunder Sunday afternoon?  Sorry, that’s the most excitement I can find in the weekend forecast.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


20 Responses to Shrinking Snowpack In Lower Cascades

  1. W7ENK says:

    105 PM PST MON FEB 29 2016


  2. alohabb says:

    High Wind Warning 3/1 for Beaverton issued?

  3. buffedman says:

    A wetter pattern for California

  4. W7ENK says:

    My girlfriend and I took the kids and the dogs up into the Mt. Jefferson/Opal Creek Wilderness this weekend, just randomly exploring NFS roads and whatnot. Snow cover kept us below 3,500 ft. Discovered a handful of unnamed waterfalls — probably seasonal, though some were quite large — all of them unique and beautiful. Saturday was nice, if not unusually warm and humid for February up in the Cascades. Winds got a little scary between 11am–1pm yesterday, estimate peak gusts better than 50mph based on the way the trees were violently whipping around and the size of stuff coming down. Didn’t realize we probably should have taken a saw, but thankfully that didn’t become an issue. Lots of heavy rain showers yesterday, with ice pellets (sleet?) and some chunky/sloppy wet snow mixing in by afternoon down to around 1,500 feet. Clouds finally broke apart just in time for the sun to get low to the West. Made for an interesting and somewhat complicated sunset on the drive home. Lots of Cb built up against the mountains, surprised we didn’t see any lightning. Perhaps a bit early in the year yet, I suppose.

  5. I got stuck in traffic headed north through Tacoma yesterday afternoon as a mild hail shower was moving through. Mostly just heavy rain, with some pea-sized slushy hail mixed in. No thunder.

  6. schmit44 says:

    2/28/2016 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:63 at CW2286 Monument(2021 ft) & NORTH FORK JOHN(1975 ft) & CW5984 Pilot Roc(1749 ft) & DW3057 Milton-Fr(1102 ft) & DW9612 Umapine(797 ft) & EAST BIRCH CREEK(1617 ft)
    Low: 50 at BUCKEYE(2264 ft) & PACCTY-2 Pacific(28 ft)

    High:62 at BUCKEYE(2264 ft) & PACCTY-2 Pacific(28 ft) & Mt Hood Meadows(7300 ft)
    Low: 17 at ALAKES Haines (7979 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 34 degrees
    Rome (62/28 ) (4049 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.10″ at RED MOUND(1753ft)
    0.80″ at SADDLE MOUNTAIN(3110ft)
    0.78″ at DW6452 Russellvi(1329ft)
    0.78″ at TIDEWATER(2035ft)
    0.77″ at CW3808 Enterpris(3927ft)
    0.76″ at CEDAR(2220ft)
    0.73″ at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160ft)

  7. Winds have been pretty brisk here as well through this afternoon; I estimate gusts up to 30 mph. I suppose the gales of March are on us a little early! 🙂

  8. EY (Oak Grove) says:

    I don’t want to be “That Guy” but the wind’s going bonkers at my place. This is only the third time this Fall/Winter I’ve seen the trees go full motion…

  9. schmit44 says:

    2/27/2016 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:64 at NORTH FORK JOHN(1975 ft) & ECHO(683 ft)
    Low: 51 at BROOKS(187 ft) & LINCON Lincoln C(187 ft) & Port Orford(0 ft)

    High:31 at Mt Hood Meadows(6540 ft)
    Low: 21 at CHLOQN (4231 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 33 degrees
    BLALOK (60/27 ) (277 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.70″ at NORTH FORK(3060ft)
    1.47″ at Timberline Lodge(5880ft)
    1.30″ at SOUTH FORK BULL(2690ft)
    1.20″ at BLAZED ALDER(3650ft)
    1.10″ at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160ft)
    1.00″ at LITTLE MEADOWS(4020ft)
    0.99″ at DW3605 Corbett(1755ft)
    0.97″ at YELLOWSTONE MTN.(3080ft)
    0.92″ at LOG CREEK(2800ft)
    0.92″ at CEDAR(2220ft)

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    This winter fizzled4shizzle

  11. Jason Hougak says:

    This winter fizzled4sizzle

  12. High Desert Mat says:

    Thanks for the new post Mark. Detailed as usual. Sure has been a ho hum type of winter over here as well. Started off great, then fizzled like it did on the west side.

  13. Foggy conditions here this morning, but otherwise mild and calm. I’m saying “Goodbye” to winter even if the month of February isn’t quite over yet. Yesterday afternoon I saw one of the biggest bumblebees in my life, flying around. I guess it knows that spring has sprung already. Camellia bushes are in bloom too.

  14. schmit44 says:

    2/26/2016 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:67 at BUCKEYE(2264 ft) & CW3255 Dayville(2441 ft) & USCRN SITE AT JO(2212 ft) & CW2049 Imnaha(1978 ft)
    Low: 50 at I-205 at Divisio(270 ft) & DW8151 Gresham(256 ft) & Fremont Bridge W(270 ft) & LINCON Lincoln C(187 ft) & Port Orford(0 ft) & ROCKWY Rockaway(450 ft)

    High:41 at Rim(7050 ft)
    Low: 15 at CRANE PRAIRIE (5500 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 41 degrees
    PRINEVILLE 4NW (65/24 ) (2839 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    1.40″ at RED MOUND(1753ft)
    0.93″ at EW4856 Brookings(1365ft)
    0.92″ at FLYNN PRAIRIE(1543ft)
    0.88″ at HEBOWX Mt. Hebo(3160ft)
    0.86″ at CW1063 Reedsport(0ft)
    0.86″ at QUAIL PRAIRIE LO(3183ft)
    0.82″ at EW6494 Florence(64ft)

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