A Quick Snow Melt This Spring

11pm Tuesday…

April has been a record warm month here in the lowlands; as of tonight it’s the warmest April on record in Portland.  That, plus a warm end to March, means the snowpack is melting earlier/faster than normal again this spring.  Take a look at the numbers from the SNOTEL sites operated by the NRCS:



The faster melt means reservoirs fill quickly of course, but it also means less water in the streams in the late spring and early summer.  A warm/dry May would definitely cause a few issues, but even just a few weeks of cool/wet would be extremely helpful.  We’ll see how things go.  Speaking of snowpack, I love this pic sent in by an anonymous photographer:


It’s the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway just beyond Mt. Bachelor a few weeks before it opened LAST spring.

We have warm spell #3 of this spring coming up starting on Sunday.  You can see it on the GFS meteogram from this 00z run this evening:


Also note the very dry weather for late April and early May.  I love this chart that shows the last 3.5 days of GFS runs and their respective precipitation forecasts:


The latest run is on the bottom, from left to right.  The run 6 hours ago is the 2nd line up, and you continue back in time through previous runs as you go up.  Notice how dry the model is showing us for the next 10 days.  Almost time to start watering this year already!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen



45 Responses to A Quick Snow Melt This Spring

  1. JohnD says:

    What a great summer like day today. Hard to believe. B-t-w, like all of us I am an affectionado of the blog, for sure. But–especially in the spring-summer–I don’t get around to it as often as I “should”!

    Does anyone know what guru Mark’s criteria is for checking in?! Obviously he gets his fair share of PTO, etc. (and should.) But it does appear that it has been quite a few days this time, for example. Just wondering.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      when something interesting is worth noting, the guru will come out of his trance and notify his disciples..
      until then, keep your concentration on the ECMWF

  2. Hal in Aims says:

    blown wind forecast today……forecast for here was east 13 to 15, gusts as high as 22……..east wind has been stupid strong all day…..just came in for lunch and no power…….pretty sure a tree is down somewhere…….

  3. pappoose in scappoose says:



    • I agree- temperatures were essentially a month ahead of time. 56.3F was my mean for April. But precipitation at 1.06 inches was more typical for July for my location.

    • Paul D says:

      I’m hoping May will be average for April 🙂

  4. Paul D says:

    Tuesday can’t get here fast enough!

  5. WEATHERDAN says:

    Great way to end our warmest April ever. 66 and mostly sunny. 80 by Sunday. Next weekend looks great as well. Maybe even a TRW on Wednesday. Great way to start May. Peace.

  6. A “perfect” evening to finish off April: Clear skies here with a nice SW breeze. A maximum of 68F. Tomorrow the heat comes in and we should see it well into the 70’s. A nostalgic note: this date 30 years ago, I saw my latest recorded freezing temperature with 32F in the morning.

  7. W7ENK says:

    Laid down for what was supposed to be a few minutes, was startled awake by thunder an hour later! Not sure which direction it came from, but I’m assuming it was from the cells to my West that have since moved down to my South?

    Looks like some new cells blowing up right on top of the radar, possibly on track to hit downtown Portland and — dare I say it? The Dome?? We’ll see…

  8. Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

    Lightning & thunder currently in Tigard… there are strays wandering about.

  9. Some hope for those of us hoping for some real winter weather next season:

    Note how outlooks are trending cooler and wetter than normal for next winter.

    Of course, it’s early enough in the game and the logic they use is crude enough that these should be taken with a block not a grain of salt. (If I recall correctly, long-term outlooks were going for a dry winter last year and that certainly didn’t materialize.)

    Regardless, unless there’s specific reason to doubt the general rule that neutral to La Niña years are cooler and wetter in this case, it’s a pretty good guess. That the long-term outlooks busted for last winter was no surprise to me, given that super-strong El Niño years typically are not dry for us.

  10. Light(and I mean light) showers moving through my area presently. I doubt we’ll have enough to measure- perhaps 0.04 inches at most when it’s done. The month is almost over and it’s virtually certain this will be the 3rd driest April in my record books.

  11. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    Zaffino won’t give up with the 90 on Monday. Not happening, Matt. Talk about a warm bias.

  12. High Desert Mat says:

    I wonder if Jason (supervisor) will ever get his raft up and going. Owyhee’s calling!!! Bad blog title for his trip lol.

  13. A few light (very light, actually) showers here this morning and some more to come tomorrow morning and then we’ll join you folks for the heat this weekend. I could see another 80+ temperature for May 1st. Here’s something I discovered about “MayDay’ weather. In the past 40 years, it’s had the highest temperature for the month of May 6 times in my records: 1976,1977, 1991, 1998, 2004,2014. (and second by 1 degree in 1980). So May can start warm, but it often cools off.

  14. W7ENK says:

    My timelapse video of last week’s thunderstorms.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t capture any lightning, even after reviewing a combined 7-1/2 hours of video from 3 different cameras. Despite this, I still think came together pretty nicely!

    Lots of mammoomies… 😉


    • runrain says:

      That is pretty cool. Thx!

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      Good video, thanks for sharing!!!

    • W7ENK says:

      Thanks, I’m glad you guys enjoyed it!

      I just really love the way the scene transitions and the thunder rolls synced up with the music. The lead-in may be just a tad bit too long, and I could have done without all the electrical wires in there, but other than that, I think it’s perfect. 🙂

    • Lurkyloo says:

      I’m late on the draw Erik, but I really enjoyed that. It was quite mesmerizing. I liked the way the streetlight came into play …

      Nice job!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Warm and dry again. Blecch. I prefer my summers to not be as parched as Southern California’s.

  16. My alter ego says:

    More 80,s on the way, outstanding. May is usually the month that our Summer weather patterns start to set in. Looks like it came a little early this year. I imagine WEATHERDAN will be a happy camper all Summer long. Peace.

    • Paul D says:

      A Little? That’s funny! We had 80’s how many weeks ago?

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      We will see about all Summer come October, but yes right now a happy camper. 58 and partly cloudy at noon on our way to 66. Way to go blazers, rip city. Peace.

  17. runrain says:

    The river downtown PDX is definitely up. I’m guessing they are letting more water out of the reservoirs now? Or maybe it’s just the rapid melting. Or both.

  18. Schrauf says:

    Keep in mind most of the SNOTEL sites are in the 3500-5000 foot elevation range, and in a year like this that was warm but wet, there is substantially more snow, as a percentage of average, the higher you go. So that bodes well for the water supply later in the summer, compared to a generally dry year that happened to have SNOTEL percentages the same as they are right now. Yes, there’s much more potential snowpack in the 3500-5000 foot range, because that includes much more land area than exists above 5000 feet, but that lower snowpack is ALWAYS almost gone by sometime in May or early June…

  19. Jason Hougak says:

    Don’t worry Paul, El Niño is packing and La Niña is on its way! Too bad the snowpack is melting very quickly. I remember many times not getting into Cascade hideaways until July because of the snow. Climate is definitely in a warm phase.

  20. Yes it is warm spell #4. I am hoping for a wetter May and June than last year. When I reviewed the weather data I collected in 2015, I came to the conclusion that it was those 2 months which really made last summer so dry.

  21. Paul D says:

    Oh no, not time to water already!?! We need more rain!!

    • Lurkyloo says:

      I hate watering! Dumb to post just that, but really, I hate watering!!

    • Paul D says:

      Not dumb to post that at all! Everything in my yard is automated, but I hate paying for it. Hillsboro increases their water rates every year, and it’s expensive in the summer!

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      I hate watering too! That’s why I don’t!
      Love it when the grass goes brown and the mowing is over!

    • Paul D says:

      I’ve got an HOA that watches my yard. Gotta keep it green. Sigh….

  22. It’s actually warm spell #4, Mark. First one was late March/early April, then two more in the middle of the month. 😮

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