Cold Air Stuck in Gorge: Ice & Snow Continue Tonight

4pm Friday…

Well, in the past 24 hours here in Portland the temperature has warmed…wait for it…3 degrees.  But it’s worse.  I see it’s only risen 1-2 degrees at Troutdale, which is the location where the freezing cold air coming out of the Gorge enters the metro area.  But I know better and shouldn’t have fallen for the “quick warming” again!


After countless events like this, I should have realized (again) that unless models forecast a significant southerly wind push up the valley (like they have been showing for days for Saturday), or a decent westerly wind in the Gorge, temps won’t warm up quickly at all.  As a result we are still in the same low-level air mass we were in yesterday at 4pm, and it has modified (warmed) by just a few degrees.  You can see how thin the cold air is overhead.  Check out the Troutdale profiler (in place for a Gorge wind study through this winter only):


The left side is the most recent data, and time is in UTC.  23 is 3pm our time.  See the warmer layer above?  It’s less than 1,500′ above us.  So basically just above the top of the West Hills and Mt. Scott it’s in the 40s right now!

This situation will continue through tonight as well with no obvious warming until a gusty southerly wind picks up midday Saturday.

TONIGHT:  East of I-205 through the western end of the Gorge (and on the hilltops) temperatures remain at or below freezing and ice accumulation will continue.  That’s especially true on objects vs. roads.  I don’t think any metro roads are WORSE than they were this morning, but the increasing load of ice is going to be taking more of a toll as we go through the evening and overnight hours.  So the NWS is continuing the Freezing Rain Advisory for these areas and the Ice Storm Warning continues in the western Gorge.


I saw one inch of ice in Corbett at 1-2pm when I headed into work:


That’s a 6×6 or 8×8 sign post and of course because of the wind the ice is only on the upwind side.  By the time temperatures warm above freezing Saturday morning/midday, there could easily be 1.5″ to 2″ of ice accumulation, one of the biggest ice events we’ve seen out there since the disastrous December 1996 back to back ice storms.

Farther east, in the central/eastern Gorge (Bonneville to The Dalles) snow is continuing to fall so the Winter Storm Warning continues there through the night.  A total of 18″ is possible in spots:


Although we’ll see quite a warm southerly wind in the valley tomorrow (and into parts of the western Gorge), that’s unlikely to translate into a big push of warming west wind farther east.  There won’t be a dramatic warming in the central/eastern Gorge tomorrow and temperatures will only rise a few degrees above freezing.  The kids can enjoy the snow for another day.

Sunday the slow thaw will continue with a better chance of a good westerly push of wind.  Regardless, temps should rise to around 40 degrees.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

47 Responses to Cold Air Stuck in Gorge: Ice & Snow Continue Tonight

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good Morning, Will we see a white Christmas this year?

  2. Hal in Aims says:

    power came on briefly last evening, then went out again…….has been out all night….still out…..going to be a very busy chainsaw day if and when we can safely get out and get started….

  3. Anonymous says:

    Power has been out all night….going to be a busy chain saw day when it,s safe to go out…

  4. Windsday says:

    Pretty warm here actually and we have the heat set on low. So far we’ve had the heat set on low most of this fall. Our bill has been unusually low as a result. 🙂

    It was 34ish most of the night and then right around noon jumped to 47F. Now it’s 45/46F holding steady.

    Rainfall has 1.01 inches in the ole bucket with heavy bursts of rain at times almost like Ohio style here in the Aumesville/Scio area.

    This morning it was the tiny Oregon drops you could walk in and barely get wet. Now we have had 1 inch of rain in less then 12 hours type.

    That’s something!!

    I bet it’s all ice up in Portland. Y-U-C-K! Don’t worry though the 45F weather is heading your way?

  5. Mountain Man says:

    And here the Ecmwf goes all dry next week too in its ooz run. What’s up with it coming around to the GFS? Isn’t it supposed to be the good model that the GFS comes around too?

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      I have to admit the models are eluding to some interesting factors. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much precipitation potential with cold temps. since 2008. Usually, it’s one or the other. I still think we’re too far out though personally? I’m thinking Saturday night runs. You?

    • Mountain Man says:

      Or maybe Monday night lol

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Yeah, loL!!!

  6. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park. We’re officially in the fireworks phase now. Trees and transformers can’t take anymore.

    One street light got pulled almost to the ground when a tree fell on its power line. Never seen a steel streetlight go like that at its base.

    Something you see from car hits! Current temp. 34F

    • Aleta-West Gresham says:

      Hearing some really loud bangs tonight. I have a feeling a very large tree branch just gave way at a neighbors. Pretty amazing!

  7. Mountain Man says:

    Totally back to pure snow just past brindle butte and eastward. Accumulating snow north of community of Skamania. Warm layer has been pushed west of your forecast in the western gorge Mark. Areas of freezing rain and sleet all day are now all snow here in the gorge!

  8. boninepaul says:

    Worst ice storm I’ve seen since Dec.26th, based on the tree damage in my N. Portland neighborhood. Lines are down all over. This was kind of an epic forecast fail. 31.7ºF here with moderate freezing rain.

  9. GTS1K' says:

    OK , power out as of 8:40, creaking and crackling of the trees has given way to loud reports and crashing sounds. I dread seeing the damage come the AM…

    …not to worry, though, my 1.5 MW generator is purring like a kitteh.

  10. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    Am I imaging things, or did I just see two lighting strikes to the east?!

  11. JJ78259 says:

    Maybe this December will break warmer than Normal monthly cycle the Northwest has been seeing!

    • Windsday says:

      It’s sure warm here in the Scio/Aumsville area. Holding steady at 46F with steady rain almost Ohio like at times just coming down pretty good.

      I have 1.02 inches in the old bucket all falling after 3pm. Quite a bit in less then 12 hours.

      Most of the time the 1 inch rainfall if it happens is in a 24 hour period?

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      In most ice storms it freezes up in the first half hour. Always cool to see it go from gusting 70+ mph to zero in a short time. Last night it took longer because there was a long period of ice pellets too

  12. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    Funny that Mark Nelsen would just happen to live in one of the most extreme weather areas in Oregon! 😉

  13. Mama Druid says:

    The temp has remained a steady 34 at 658 feet in Happy Valley all afternoon. Is there a chance of a refreeze this evening? My UO student is driving home tonight for winter break. I’m a little worried!

  14. High Desert Mat says:

    There’s no way you made that 7 day Mark did you?

  15. Brad B says:

    sigh thanks for the update….yuck

  16. Roland Derksen says:

    Snow arrived here only early this morning (about 5am) and was quite intermittent. I was tempted to call this forecast a bust, but since the morning we’ve had some heavier intervals of snow. I could see about 4 inches in total when it’s either done or changes to rain tomorrow morning. Temperature is at 32F.

  17. Hal in Aims says:

    losing big limbs (3″ to 4+” at the butt) and 20 or so feet long off the firs……lots of crashing going on……going to have a mess by morning…….has been a few years, though…time for a bit of pruning mother nature style……

  18. Aleta-West Gresham says:

    Thank you!! I was wondering what tomorrow morning was going to be like! Guess we’re up nice and early to make the icy trek to the train station! I did notice driving back to Gresham today that 82nd Ave. seem to be the cut off on I-84. It was 34 to the west and 32 to the east. Quite interesting!!

  19. Max in Fairview says:

    A large branch from my neighbor’s tree across from my place snapped not too long ago from all the ice. Very lucky that it seemed to only hit part of the gutter and not the roof.

  20. Mountain Man says:

    Mark, I’m sure we would love to hear thoughts about next week too. The Euro is cold with a few lows right up against the Coast. The GFS is very dry. The GEM is very cold with lows way off the coast. Each model being consistent with itself run after run. Seems the 7 day is favoring the GFS solution with a hint at the ECMWF… We’d love your thoughts… When you get a chance.

  21. Mark says:

    … and next week? What we just had may be nothing more than a small sample of what is to come…

  22. Zigzag1 says:

    What’s the snow level looking like in the cascades this weekend?

  23. Lee Wilson says:

    We been bouncing around 35 and 34 pretty much all day.
    On our way back from town we had snow mixed with rain.
    Not sure what that was all about., but hey..this is finally a real winter.

  24. marinersfan85 says:

    All that snow building up in the gorge and east side should only help fuel and thicken the cold. Assuming the models are right about late next week

  25. anon says:

    First. Thanks for the update Mark.

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