11pm: Major Gorge Snow & Ice Storm Developing

After checking all the evening maps and models one thing sure stuck out.  The cold air in the Gorge isn’t going anywhere until Saturday when a westerly wind should push it out.  My previous thinking and forecasts were based on this being a somewhat marginal event temperature-wise.  The problem is that the thick snow cover through the entire Columbia Basin is going to keep the “freezer going” through the day tomorrow.  At the same time we have a somewhat rare situation where overhead freezing levels are pretty low to start with…around 3,000′ tomorrow.

So precipitation will remain as snow in the central/eastern Gorge through tomorrow evening.  That’s a lot of precip still to go!  Most likely another 8-12″ from Cascade Locks to Hood River and 5-8″ at The Dalles.  That’s quite a snow storm when added to the ~8″ that has already fallen.


Then there is another issue I didn’t anticipate related to that colder than expected air.  The east wind will back off, but still deliver a thinner layer of cold air into the WESTERN Gorge.  Looks like a solid .50 to 1.00″ of rain coming to that area.  That’s a LOT of heavy glazing on trees and powerlines.  This might be a bit overdone, but you get the idea on the ice accumulation forecast from our RPM model:


Stay safe if you live in the Gorge!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

75 Responses to 11pm: Major Gorge Snow & Ice Storm Developing

  1. Ryan says:

    Currently 31 and ice continues to accumulate near Wilshire Park and 33rd. Freezing rain definitely an issue west of I-205.

  2. High Desert Mat says:

    What is that? A t-storm heading towards pdx?

  3. boninepaul says:

    I’m in North Portland. The last shower that moved through here was sleet and freezing rain. I was up to 33ºF for just a bit earlier but now I’m back down to 32ºF- and nothing has melted all day. So when are we going to see those 40ºF? I and my trees and shrubs are ready for a melt.

    • Brad B says:

      I agree…I’m on Mt Tabor…the temp here hasn’t moved from 30 degrees since Wednesday night…I need this garbage to thaw so I can get to work, Ive used 20hrs of PTO yesterday and today and I work tomorrow and Sunday as well…not what i want to be using my PTO for darn it! I moved away from the Midwest to get away from this junk……

  4. Max in Fairview says:

    Been hearing arcing which would be sagging trees touching powerlines.

  5. Jason Hougak says:

    12Z ECMWF amazing run for Friday December 16. 850mb temps -6 to -8 with low dropping south along the Washington coast just off Astoria. If it stalls like the low did in 1994 we’ll get quite the snowstorm. We had over 18″ in Boring during I think February of 1994.

    • W7ENK says:

      If 850mb temps are –6 to –8C, then that low will produce a whole lot of 33 to 37 degree rain showers.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Wrong Erik. It would pull drier air through the gorge and create the wet bulb. Plus it’s going to be plenty cold this side of the mts by then

    • Ryan (Walnut Grove) says:

      I believe that comes with offshore flow and we finally have snow in the Columbia Basin. At the same time Pendleton is only topping out in the teens for highs.

      That should be enough to give us snow provided there is no warm air advection from the incoming system. Rather see it go into Newport than Astoria to avoid that.

  6. Jason Hougak says:

    The 12Z ECMWF is amazing. Shows low pressure off Astoria dropping south along the coast.

  7. Windsday says:

    Rapid thaw on the way here in the Scio/Aumsville area. Temp slowly sneaked up to 38F then did a jump in one hour to 46F around noon and now is 47F according to my weather station.

    Hope the river’s don’t rise here rapidly as they are moving pretty fast from the melting snow up high unless it cools to a more reasonable level again later.

  8. Lee Wilson says:

    With out a ruler I will estimate we got about 3 inches of snow.wet snow that is the good sticky stuff

    • Windsday says:

      We got a grand total of a trace of snow! Oh boy! The most I’ve seen in several years. Better then nothing.

      This may be our only snow for another couple years. Sheesh what is our warming planet coming too?

  9. Hal in Aims says:

    finally lost power……..still -zr and hovering between 30 and 31……..

  10. Jeff Smythe says:

    In Dallas we had 1+ inches of snow, then a little less than 1/4 inch of freezing rain. Just now starting to melt, 32.8 degrees.

  11. Lee Wilson says:

    Oh Dear God, Please not a rapid Melt.. we hit 37…oh man…this is going to suck! Yup, Freeze snow Flood , I bet this is what is going to occur, then we will re-freeze..oh this will be pure hell.

  12. Wendy-Silverlake, WA says:

    It just got really foggy here and the temps are going down rather quickly. Things were melting pretty good, but now there’s a layer of ice on things.

  13. Jack in Corbett says:

    Here in Corbett we are occasionally seeing additional icey precipitation and currently 28 degrees with strong east wind. Everything covered with ice. Morning temp was 26 so only two degrees higher now.

  14. I finally got to use the snow water equivalent feature of my CoCoRAHS gauge (take the gauge apart, put only the large outer cylinder out, take the cylinder in, let the snow melt, then pour the contents into the inner cylinder to measure). The 3″ of last night’s wet snow held .43″ of moisture.

    No ice here. As is typical for the Seattle area, it went straight from snow to above-freezing rain. Bellingham, closer to the source of the Fraser outflow, may well see sleet or ice today.

    • It’s looking like this may well be an epic month for winter weather.

      Took a look at The Weather Channel’s15-day forecast for my location. What can I say but “Wow!” Cold air comes back on Tuesday the 13th and from then on (forecast period ends on the 23rd) temps stay in the 20s and 30s with multiple lowland snow events.

      Of course, the standard disclaimers about long-range forecasts apply.

    • W7ENK says:

      I might have to use that grain of salt on my front walkway…

    • Given that The Dome will keep most all the snow and ice away from you, one grain should be about all you’ll need. 😐

    • GTS1K' says:

      ONE GRAIN – my God, man – DON’T oversalt!!! – think of your blood pressure; think of your driveway; think about spalling!!!!!!!

  15. Max in Fairview says:

    Everything still a sheet of ice out here. East cold winds refuse to let up.

  16. Mountain Man says:

    Well, after sleet and freezing rain overnight, it’s snowing again here in western gorge foothills / Skamania. Warm layer above must have backed off some.

  17. W7ENK says:

    What a fiasco TriMet was this morning!! After leaving my house (the first time) at 5:45, it literally took me 4 hours to get downtown. Walked up to the bus, 4 consecutive no-shows (an hour). So I walked back home, bundled up and then walked 2+ miles all the way down to Downtown Milwaukie. No trains running. Waited on an icy platform until 8:45, when FINALLY a bus shows up — t’was an Orange Line “bus bridge” — so we crammed 90 people in. another hour later and I finally walk into my office.

    4 — FREAKIN’ — HOURS later.

    Oh, and the shuttle didn’t take us all the way into downtown. They could have simply rounded the corner and gone a few more blocks, but no, they instead dumped everyone off at SW 3rd and Lincoln and made us all walk on slick, icy sidewalks that last mile in to the Bus Mall.

    Let’s hope they figure out how to operate their trains again before the afternoon commute…

    • TriMet seems to keep forgetting that the only way to keep light rail open during an ice storm is to run trains around the clock to keep ice from building up on the catenary. Once ice does build up, there’s nothing that can be done but wait for it to melt.

    • runrain says:

      Can’t do that. If they run ’em around the clock, there wouldn’t be enough money for the administrators Christmas bonuses this year. 🙂

    • Scooter says:

      Obvious symptom of a sick society on a slippery slope (no pun intended). Oh, and I’m not referring to TriMet.

    • W7ENK says:

      Oh, no? So what would you be referring to then, Skootie?
      I’m curious…

    • GTS1K' says:

      Pay attention, W7 – I’m confident that the Scut is an expert on all things sick…

  18. JJ78259 says:

    After a frigid 42 degrees we warm up to the mid 70s next week had hit the heat on 1st time

  19. Andrew says:

    What’s up with next week? Weather.com suggests a long stretch of frigid temps and on/off snow. Looks like 2008! Can someone with more knowledge of models and local trends corroborate? I know the focus has been on this week, but what I’m seeing looks like a much bigger story potentially. Thanks.

    • Joshua Downtown PDX says:

      It’s looking dry during the cold weather next week. Maybe we can eek out another transition event like yesterday. No 2008 repeat in sight.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the reply. Interesting that weather channel is so bullish with the precip. I’ll take the local perspective that we’re likely looking at a more typical cold/dry spell.

    • W7ENK says:

      I dunno, that’s not what the CFS says…

      Looks really snowy right on through Christmas.

    • I’d take those maps with a grain of salt, given they show several inches of snowfall in California’s Central Valley.

    • W7ENK says:


      They also show a couple inches in Tijuana, Mexico!

      BOOK IT!! 😆

    • Lee Wilson says:

      To be honest, Intelicast is stating the same thing. its like 2008 all ever again ..well..almost

      So who is here enjoying the up coming PUD Bill?
      I just hit 156 KWh.
      I found out that our Furnace we have usues 44.4 ammps for the blower and 55 amps for heating.

      we shut that sucker off and went to our 3 heaters. and were running them off the generator.

      I do not plan to feed the pud any more money than needed.ok our furnace has a blower rated for 4.5 amps
      heating ellements rated for 55 amps
      that is 257.5 amps.

      or 54,450 watts.

      now go do the math an figure out the watt hours on that bad boy.

      Our heaters use 740 watts each
      that is 2,220 watts.
      we have one in the front room, one in our kids room and one in the bedroom

      but right now they are running off a generator.

      you see we just received a 156 kwh alert from our PUD Via Track my usage.

      it gives you an idea at how much power you are consuming.
      so I Decided to do a little test.

      This weekend. I am going to see if we can lower that to just 11 kwh used.
      basically were taking everything off grid and loading it on to the generator minus the washer,dryer and hot water tank.

    • GTS1K' says:


      FWIW, amps, watts, KwH are all different things. While your strip heater in your air handler may be rated at 55A, at 240V that equals 11,200 watts. aaand, it doesn’t stay on 24/7,Your furnace fan probably does use 4.5A at start up, but running current for a typical 1/3 HP blower is about 2A (or 250W). Further, the strip heater cycles as needed to maintain temp – it’s not on all the time. Your plug-in space heaters may use 740 watts set on low, but probably ~1520 watts on high. If they never shut off that’s 4560 watts all day/night, or ~43,200 KwH

      KwH is a measure of the total energy used – that’s where the H comes in – 1KW for 1 Hour is 1 KwH.

      Also, your heat pump (assuming that’s what we’re talking about), although it’s less efficient at lower temps, still can contribute cheaper heat than electric resistance heat. The strip heaters merely augment what the heat pump can produce to reach whatever needs your thermostat calls for.

      Electric heat is electric heat. Your “furnace” and your space heaters are equally efficient – i.e. 100% (minus the fans’ draw, which is miniscule in either compared to the resistance elements).

      Your generator, on the other hand is waaay less efficient – especially if you use only a smallish percentage of its rated output. Its efficiency varies depending upon fuel type and rated output but usually, for <10KW backup gas types, your cost per KWH is more than triple that from your PUD.

      But hey, if you like the noise, rock on…

      …you are not, however, saving money.

    • W7ENK says:

      You don’t know, maybe Lee’s house is 50,000 square feet, and he actually needs a furnace that burns through 150kW/H… or not.

      I don’t think Lee realizes that a generator (with engine) capable of producing 150kW per hour is about the size of a mid-sized pickup truck. No, not a mid-sized pickup truck’s engine, the whole mid-sized pickup truck. They’re commonly mounted on dual axle trailers, or bolted to a concrete pad. And they burn diesel or natural gas.

      I know this, I used to work on gen sets. The smallest one was a 150kW, the largest was 2MW at 12,470V. It was about the size of my whole house…

    • GTS1K' says:

      CAT – Diesel Power – 150KW – any color you want as long as it’s yellow…

    • GTS1K' says:

      …and black, that is.

    • W7ENK says:

      Yup, pretty much! Unless you want it in Onan green, in which case you’ve dialed the wrong number…

  20. JERAT416 says:

    I live up on Bull Mtn at about 650 feet. The small side roads wet still sheets of ice this morning. I drive a front wheel drive Maxima , with no snow tires and I didn’t use my chains. I did ok but quickly got on main roads. The other roads in Tigard are just slushy. Same with the roads near PDX which is the area I work in. Freeways were fine. Hopefully the trip home this afternoon will be fine.

  21. GTS1K' says:

    Heavy drizzle/light rain here – 28.4

    Ice crust already almost too thick to stomp through on top of the snow and growing. Trees/shrubs won’t escape this one unscathed.
    No wind to speak of – the loudest sound outside is the creaking and crackling of the trees.

    Nobody going anywhere today up here…

    …except the crazy people, of course.

  22. 33 degrees F, drizzling and melting here. About 3″ total accumulation before the snow changed to rain/drizzle overnight.

  23. David says:

    I was planning to take the kids up to Leavenworth this Saturday night, but the Gorge is looking pretty treacherous right now. Any chance it’s passable by Saturday a.m.?

    • My daughter is in Leavenworth right now but wants to visit her Grandmother in Yakima on the way home today and drive back through the gorge Saturday. I’d love to hear any options of whether it is expected to be safe too.

  24. Aleta-West Gresham says:

    He moved from Grants Pass to Klamath Falls a few years ago. Funny enough my brother said they had freezing rain down there yesterday morning.

  25. Longview 400 ft says:

    For most of the early morning the temp has hovered around 32.0

  26. SR says:

    I’m at work (all night) on a hill above Troutdale. Just got back from a run to Cherry Park Subway. VERY icy conditions– worse that February 2014. Going to be fun getting out of here in the morning!

  27. Aleta-West Gresham says:

    I’m assuming by that map Gresham stays socked in with ice through at least tomorrow morning! Is there a possibility it’s cleared out by 10:30 or so tomorrow morning? I’ve been sitting at a pretty steady 28* or so for at least 12 hours. My 81 year old dad got to experience freezing rain for he first time ever this visit, I think he might already be done with this weather though! 😄

  28. anon says:

    Guess everyone else is burned out by the weather; glad to say, first!

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