A Very Early Dry Season Start?

11pm Monday…

It’s starting to get dry out there…you know that if you’re a gardener like me.  In the past 16 days Portland has seen less than 1″ of rain.  If you add in the much warmer than normal temps, soils are quickly drying out.  Feels more like June…

What’s ahead?  Unfortunately I see drier than normal or even mainly dry conditions over the next 10+ days.  That takes us to mid-May.  Why?  It’s that persistent upper-level ridging over the Western USA we’ve seen off & on this spring.  It is breaking down right now, we get some normal temps midweek along with some showers, then the ridge pops back up over us this weekend and early next week.

Take a look at the GFS rain forecast for Portland for the past 3.5 days. GFS_precip  Each horizontal line is one run of the model out to 10 days, the most recent forecast is at the bottom.  Incredibly dry isn’t it?  Looks more like July.  All models are staying with the “much drier than normal” theme through mid-month…PDX rain for the next 10 days:


Do you realize that 8 monthly record high temperatures have been tied or set in the past two years?  One of those occurred twice (both Oct 2014 & 2015):

AUG 2014
SEPT 2014
OCT 2014
MAR 2015
JUN 2015
OCT 2015
FEB 2016
APR 2016

So when you look at the all-time warmest months here in Portland, 7 of the 12 have occurred in the past two years!  That’s an amazing run of warm weather.  Wow.   A huge climate test will be this fall and winter if/when La Nina conditions take hold.  If we turn cooler than normal with abundant mountain snow that will be great.  If we get a so-so winter with just average winter temps then it’ll be a bit more clear that the warming seen around the globe is beginning to have more of an effect in the Pacific Northwest.  Deep thoughts for 11pm…enjoy the more reasonable temperatures tomorrow!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

43 Responses to A Very Early Dry Season Start?

  1. Lee Wilson says:

    We hit 92 here on Sunday and just in case you think the station is in error..I included my car’s reading aswell.

    I highly doubt they would both be in error.

    • W7ENK says:

      Car thermometers are notoriously inaccurate. Think about it, they’re mounted near the hot engine of a hot metal car, hovering only a couple feet above hot pavement that’s baking in the hot sun. How accurate do you expect that to be? There’s a reason why car thermometers aren’t aggregated into temperature data by the NWS. And a poorly placed temperature sensor compared against a car thermometer is, well, a poor comparison at best.

      Now, that being said, my place reached to 86 on Saturday. Milwaukie tends consistently run 2-4 degrees warmer than PDX, and my sensor is rarely if ever more than a full degree +/– from my nearest online stations, (KORMILWA5), (KORMILWA12) and (KORPORTL410).

      You’re in Kelso/Longview, so it would be wise to compare against stations listed here: http://wxug.us/1uk6t

      By looking at the history for Saturday, I see the following high temperatures for your area:

      73 at Longview (KWALONGV5)
      77 at East Kelso (KWAKELSO14)
      77 at Kelso (KWAKELSO14)
      78 at Kelso (KKLS – Official)
      78 at West Longview (KWALONGV23)
      79 at Longview Heights (KWALONGV12)
      81 at West Kelso (KWALONGV30)
      84 at Beacon Hill (KWALONGV32)

      I’m sorry Lee, but your station is inaccurate.

  2. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    The last few Springs have been unusually dry and warm BUT looking back at our garden notes, March 2012 we had 6″ of snow on March 21st. Spring of 2011, “so far another cold wet spring”..
    Spring 2010 ” walla wallas failed, too wet and cold. Cold and wet till July 6″. “4/19/08 snowed on the 19th”
    Yada yada yada…..

  3. My alter ego says:

    Hasn’t hit 70 yet but still warmer than yesterday. Currently 67 with a few clouds. Mothers day looks to be the coolest of the next 7, go figure. Peace.

  4. W7ENK says:

    The “current forecast” on that precip chart (above) doesn’t show the 0.17″ of rain I got overnight Tuesday night, and that was right in the immediate range. A lot’a good that thing is… 😆

  5. MasterNate says:

    The 7 Day looks like a broken record.

  6. High Desert Mat says:

    Deep thoughts are right Mark. In the meanwhile, it has been thundering for the last 3.5 hours on and off. Soaking rains too. We needed it here. Grass looks like its happy. Booms right overhead today and raindrops the size of silver dollars. Great to see here. The dry canyon behind my house isn’t so dry anymore.

  7. vernonia1 says:

    mark’s lightning map is off 😦

  8. Actually I think there are already signs of global warming effects in the numbers, if you look carefully. The extended La Nina cycle from late 2007 through early 2012, gave us a scattered mix of cool and average months. We still had a very hot summer thrown in there (2009) and a few other warm curve balls (September 2011, anyone?). There were quite a lot of cold months, but I don’t seem to recall ANY of them being “record cold.”

    As depressing as the late 2000s-early 2010s may have seemed to the warm/sunny crowd, it never came anywhere close to the 1950s in terms of temps. It’s just that warmer weather in the 1990s/early 2000s made the most recent cool cycle FEEL depressing.

    Also…notice how warm the nighttime temps have been the last 2-3 years. Not just in the cities, but rural areas too. In the past the super-warm months often had nights only slightly above average, due to lots of ridging and clear skies. Warm nights are logically consistent with higher CO2 levels trapping more heat at night, regardless of whether it’s clear or cloudy.

    My guess is that the “warm night effect” was also in play during the cool cycle several years ago. We may not have noticed it much because, well, it was a cool cycle. But I bet the persistent troughing patterns we saw back in 2011-12 would’ve produced even bigger cold departures, if we still had the CO2 levels of 50 years ago.

    The only thing to do is to wait for the next pronounced La Nina or cool PDO cycle, to see if the cold departures continue to get squeezed. Especially the nighttime lows; if they come out close to climo, that’s the best sign of climate change we will have.

    • Boring Oregon says:

      But still, you’re basing the fact of global warming on just 70 years of data.

    • Anonymous says:

      No butts about it there will always be climate change deniers, it’s the “Zoom Zoom Way”!

  9. Paul D says:

    Since summer starred three months early, maybe fall will be early!

    Wishful thinking…..

  10. Paul, the last time I recorded a July with “normal ” temperatures was in 2011. That’s the only one I’ve got here in Vancouver,BC for the past 10 years. Maybe it’s a similar story in Portland? In any case, I think we’re in for another very warm summer, whether we like it or not. Sorry…

    • Paul D says:

      I’m predicting an unseasonably cool July only because I won’t be in Oregon for most of the month. I took a five week road trip a few years ago and that’s exactly what happened – my kind of weather while I was gone….

    • I did a survey of July precipitation records at my place over the past few decades. Up to and including 2005, there used to be a good chance (I’d say at least 60%) of seeing fairly cool temperatures and showery conditions through the first half of the month. It was usually after the 15th, that the heat and sunshine really got turned on. (I realize that in Portland, that “switch” happened earlier in the month)Anyway, since 2005, the change has been noticeable; We don’t get that first half of “June-like” conditions like we used to.

  11. boninepaul says:

    Weird as a nursery owner plants that were only thought of as temporary or hopelessly tender are now become landscape staples. The last twenty years has brought not only milder winter but cold spells have been brief and these warm dry springs- two in a row have been a boon or such fruit trees as Apricots, Pluots, Peaches, once thought of as dicey in our climate.- Peaches without sprays. And Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) once only grown for its edible flowers now has gotten enough heat to regularly set fruit and ripen it. Lilacs have begun to bloom two years in a row in late March, my friend Roger Gosslar of Gosslar Farms in Springfield remembers when Lilacs commonly bloomed on Memorial Day. Thats quite a difference. I give a talk on global warming and gardening and interest is very high. Its not a panic freak out talk. i show the temperature rising slowly for the last 60 years and then what experts predict for the next 60. I think we should be alarmed. And at the very least prepare not only our infrastructure but our gardens for a changing climate. The last two years were the warmest ever and that seems like a weird coincidence. Maybe we’ll have temporary forays in to what was once normal but its looking a lot like we should expect toastier conditions. I own a nursery that specializes in drought tolerant plants and these hot dry summers- which we’ve always had have given gardeners impetus to change. And may be it isn’t so bad that we move away from high summer irrigation. In a climate that can and has had at least three months of very little rain it makes sense to look for plants more adapted to the climate. We can conserve irrigation for edilble crops and smaller lawns and designate it there- low water or no water zones can be just as vibrant and pretty as our irrigated lush past which was based on the English model of gardening. There’s is a summer rainfall climate- even New England a summer rainfall climate has influenced us. Maybe we should move away from these models of gardening and find our gardening lifestyle. Just food for thought.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m thankful for tonight’s rainfall in light of the upcoming dry spell – .17″ so far this evening.

  13. W7ENK says:

    Things are blowing up on the Westside, more coming together to the South.

    Maybe some thunder within the next hour?

  14. Boring Oregon says:

    The Earth has been around 4 billion years and we only have about 150 years of records on weather. Things have been getting warmer the past centry, no doubt, but I will not accept the idea of global warming unless this warm weather continues the rest of my life. It’s definitely a topic people have strong feelings about but in the mean time, we should all just calm down and wait and see what happens in the next 30-40 years.

  15. schmit44 says:

    I hope these warm spring/summers never end.

  16. My alter ego says:

    After having lived through more than a few cold wet Springs where Summer starts in July I am really enjoying this years long stretch of very warm weather. I hope it continues. Partly cloudy and 71 at 2:00 PM. Peace.

    • Paul D says:

      I like summer starting in July. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

    • JERAT416 says:

      I agree! I remember many springs where it’s cool and rainy into June and we are lucky to hit 75 degrees more than a couple times. Then Summer starts and even some of that is a little cool. It’s all about balance. I won’t get into A.C.C. / G. W. now but I think all this is the El Nino and La Nina in effect for us. This is such a difficult area to predict. Years from now when we are lucky to see the sun much at all before July, we will look back and remember these warm, dry springs. It’s all about balance!

  17. Ashley watson says:

    Whatever you wanna call it this warmer weather sucks for those of us that enjoy snow and cold or just plain cooler springs and summers. For me I just moved to sunriver where this winter we got 94 inches of snow. Our average is 58. It was a warmer than normal winter to. For those that have to stay in portland, I feel you pain. I was once in that situation to.

  18. Steven James says:

    I noticed the SPC has us under a thunderstorm outlook. Is there really any chance of that, or do the models forecast something entirely different?

  19. The clouds changed from Ac to Cu and Cb clouds late yesterday evening. Even saw a brief thundershower after 10pm. It didn’t last more than 2 minutes, though.

  20. Paul D says:

    Sounds like Mark is providing plenty of fuel for the global warming side of the argument 🙂

    • Farmer Ted says:

      There is no argument amongst rational minds.

    • Eric says:

      Once upon a time I lived in the upper Midwest. This was after years of low precipitation in the late 1980’s. I remember the lamenting about how it would take a decade (or more!) for the lakes to recover to their previous levels. It took less than two years to refill all the lakes and reservoirs. A year later the “Great Flood of 1993” arrived and everything overflowed. Lesson learned: Just when we humans think we have the weather & climate all figured out, nature will throw us a curve ball!

    • GTS1K' says:

      You WILL be assimilated – just look at Ted.

      Or don’t…..

  21. Garron 1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro Airport says:

    Is it still hip to be 1st?

    • Garron 1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro Airport says:

      This will be a very interesting test to see what our climate locally does to adjust from strong El to La nina. It seems like the RRR is making another appearance?

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      You in!

    • My alter ego says:

      Maybe a repeat of 2014-2015? Hot Summer with a cold and snowy Winter. Or maybe not. Either way we won’t find out for many months. Peace.

%d bloggers like this: