Cold Days Ahead

9:45pm Monday…

We could all feel it today…the cold and dry air has been pouring into the Pacific Northwest the past 24 hours.  The peak easterly wind gust at PDX has been 36 mph this evening and temperatures are below freezing.  As a result you feel the windchill temp, which is now in the teens!  Dewpoints are dropping quickly too, that’s a measure of moisture in the air.  It’ll be very dry the next few days.  The air mass doesn’t cool much more in the next 24 hours, we’re just about finished with the advection of cold air into the region.  Looking at the Troutdale profiler, you can see the increasing depth of easterly flow coming out of the Gorge and over the Cascades since last night at this time.  The most current sounding is on the LEFT side of the image.  Time goes from right to left.  I added the thick blue line.


With the upper-level low just offshore (and moving very slowly farther offshore) snow showers were very persistent today.  Basically the forecast busted with clouds and snow showers instead of mostly sunny.  Salem ended up with off/on snow much of the day.

Outlying areas west of the Cascades that clear out AND go calm tonight (not many areas do that) will see temps down in the teens tonight.  Most of the metro area stays in the 20s due to the wind.

Speaking of wind, it peaks tomorrow night and Wednesday morning with gusts in the 40-50 mph range in the east metro.  This will be enough for some power outages and trees down.  Not a massive east wind storm, but enough to cause some trouble.  The wind backs off dramatically Thursday and Friday.

Models have come into very good agreement on the Wednesday system crossing southern Oregon; the ECMWF was right, it’ll stay dry over the north/central Willamette Valley or we just get a few flurries.  All the main snow action will stay to our south and east.  But what a storm it’s going to be down there!  Check out the WRF-GFS snow forecast…


big snow across much of “Oregon’s Outback”.  Not a good day to drive in the triangle from Bend to Burns to Lakeview & Klamath Falls!

High pressure weakens a bit Thursday and Friday, thus the lighter east wind.  So I lowered PDX low temperatures.  With clear skies, dry air, and a cold air mass we may actually get down into the teens even in the city.  For sure in outlying areas.

Models have come into much better agreement on our “transitional event” Saturday & Sunday.  It’s a classic setup for brief snow and then freezing rain across much of at least the northern Willamette Valley and into the Gorge.  It may only last Saturday and then we warmup Sunday, or it may take until Sunday night or early Monday to get rid of the cold air.  A couple of brief thoughts on it now:

  1. I’m leaning toward freezing rain more than snow due to system coming in from the southwest with relatively warm temperatures above coming in quickly.   Snow levels jump to around 4-5,000′ with this system and the deep cold air over us is gone by that time.
  2. Pretty good agreement that Saturday is the day
  3. The low-level atmosphere over us Friday doesn’t go anywhere until at least sometime Sunday.  Easterly flow out of the Gorge continues through that time and there is no sign of warming southerly surface wind until Sunday at the earliest.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

58 Responses to Cold Days Ahead

  1. Jason Hougak says:

    I for one liked the blog better in the past. The hard part is that people slip in here and really distract the main goal and that’s weather. The weather bloggers who are on here truely enjoy seeing how weather will play out. We enjoy facinating on the next memorable storm while trolls do everything to turn this into a circus. I’m actually surprised Mark has allowed this to go on. We know this time of year he is busy but I agree with others below that it’s going down hill. Posting weather and wish casting shouldn’t be a negative on a weather blog. Getting on here and being a pest just to get yourself a laugh should be. Mark you know who your loyal bloggers are and the ones trashing it. Time to clean up the mess.

    Was 19F at 7PM with light northeast wind. Now strong gusty winds with blowing snow and 23F. A beautiful clear night with the stars and moon. The wind is blowing snow out of the trees and swirling it about.

    • Sapo says:

      It’s not really that bad, was worse maybe a month ago but lately (for example this post) most discussion has been about weather, predictions for Saturday’s event, etc.

  2. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    27 degrees and just had a wind gust to 29 mph. Larch now gusting to 57 mph and 23 degrees.

  3. Alohabb says:

    26 now at my place in aloha. Below 25 seems likely for me.

  4. EA_TTD says:

    This blog used to be great. 48 comments for a cold snap/transition event? Wow. What or who wrecked this place?

    • Diana F says:

      We’re feeling a bit let down by the cold snap that moderated before it even got here, and the likelihood of missing the transition event here too.

      Not to mention, the more we talk about “it”, the more the naysayers call us window lickers and wishcasters. That sorta spoils it.

    • SW says:

      Yeah, I have become very disenchanted with this site. Rob and Paul were great! I wish mark could have done something to prevent this site from being ruined.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Facebook. Far easier and more immediate for commenting/conversation. There are two groups that have almost constant discussion here in the metro area.

    • Dave in South Salem (500') says:

      To be fair the transition event is 4 days away. Long time for things to change and they often do. I’m pretty sure 4 days before yesterday it wasn’t saying it would snow all day like it did.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was a regular at one time and still find great value in reading Mark’s posts. It is a shame that we have lost people like Paul. Hopefully, Mark will continue to provide this opportunity for people to share their thoughts on the weather. Trolls are just an unfortunate part of life.

  5. W7ENK says:


    –0F in Kelso tonight? How does that even work??

    And no way in Hell Portland drops below +25F.

    Now, that –23 in Redmond? No clue…
    Possibly, I suppose.

  6. Joe says:

    I am extremely new at reading these models so I need some explanation from some of you more experienced people.

    the ECMWF-MSLP model:

    This (to me) shows the low coming down from the north. Of course this is just one model so is mark disagreeing with this? I thought he was saying the system was coming from the south and that’s why it’d warm up. How could this possibly be so opposite from other models?

  7. GTS1K' says:

    chilleh, windeh, I remember this drill…

    …power out at the least convenient time.

    23F and, did I say, windeh!

    If I did then moderate it, please.

    The wind, that is…

  8. JohnD says:

    Yep frustrating indeed for we winter weather hobbiests, when all the ingredients are in place for a Portland snow event and the storm simply doesn’t track here!

    I have always said that if you want snow in your own back yard, you don’t live here. At least more often than every few years. I guess the 2 inches that we miraculously managed a couple weeks ago will be about it.

    Also, talk about an under performing “Arctic event”. Unless you live in Bend or Burns!


    • Michael says:

      You can have some of the 7-8 inches we got here in Beavercreek. Or I’ll give away free tickets, you can come and get tired of it too

    • JohnD says:

      Yeah I do get that part of the equation. A lot of the intrigue lies in the elusiveness. My wife from Massachusetts reminds me.

    • JohnD says:

      P.S. I enjoy the novelty of shoveling!

  9. Fraser outflow was causing an interesting cloud formation today.

  10. Josh "The Snowman" from Gladstone, OR says:

    At least I know a good guy that knows how to collect bullets and guns and makes some good jungle juice. I’ll know where to go when the liberal idiots allow foreigners to invade further.

  11. High Desert Mat says:


  12. W7ENK says:

    BOOM!! Nailed it.

    Another failed attempt at a sub-freezing high today.

    Try again tomorrow?

    • High of 35 here today after a low of 23. Now 29.

      Not terribly optimistic of having a subfreezing high tomorrow. Roland said it was 14.4 °F at his place in Vancouver, BC last night. Maybe some of that colder air will filter south tonight. Who knows.

      Personally, I don’t expect a sub-20-degree low in this event. It would be different if there were snow on the ground.

    • GTS1K' says:

      Careful your head don’t explode, W7….

      …just remember to self flagellate accordingly when your “forecasts” bust – keep it real and all 🙂

      Love, GTS1K’

    • W7ENK says:

      I’ll always be the first to admit it when I’m wrong, don’t you worry about that.

      I’m just waiting for the day… lol 😆

    • marinersfan85 says:

      Cloud cover tomorrow will keep us below freezing.

  13. 23 for a low overnight here. By dawn, a weak sea breeze had come up and warmed things up to 27. 33 with Fraser outflow breezes at the moment.

    Low twenties instead of teens for lows and the highs are creeping above the freezing mark. It’s cold but I’m not sure if it really qualifies as an “arctic blast.” If the leading moisture had dumped a widespread 3″ of snow it would doubtless be about 5 degrees cooler right now and it would be a different story.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      14.4F for a minimum here this morning. That’s because we were mainly out of the wind. The last time we were lower than this in January was back in 2005 on the 14th (13.5F). That month was memorable because a few days later the Pineapple express hit us with heavy rain and mild temperatures. Someone was killed when her house slid down the mountain in North Vancouver, while she was in it.

  14. Marc Stegmaier says:

    *Why is this message in Spam?* It has a from address in but has failed’s required tests for authentication.

    On Mon, Jan 2, 2017 at 9:45 PM, FOX 12 Weather Blog wrote:

    > Mark Nelsen posted: “9:45pm Monday… We could all feel it today…the > cold and dry air has been pouring into the Pacific Northwest the past 24 > hours. The peak easterly wind gust at PDX has been 36 mph this evening and > temperatures are below freezing. As a result you feel ” >

  15. pappoose in scappoose says:

    18 degrees was a good call, Mark.

    03 Jan 7:00 am 19

  16. W7ENK says:

    Had an overnight low temperature of 28 degrees, which was actually one degree warmer than the upper end of what I was anticipating. This is due to the fact that we never lost the East winds overnight, which always keeps the temperature up. Winds are expected to increase throughout the day and remain at their strongest overnight tonight, hence the Wind Advisory issued this morning by the NWS. For this reason, I don’t expect a sub-freezing high today, nor do I expect overnight temperatures to drop into the teens as forecast. Expecting a high around 33-35 today, staying in the upper 20s again overnight tonight, maybe just a touch colder than last night. 25-27 sounds reasonable again. Definitely not the 12-15 that was being forecast.

    Everything still looks on track for snow moving up the valley tomorrow, with the Northernmost extent reaching to somewhere between Albany and Salem. Might see some flurries as far North as Woodburn, maybe Wilsonville (if we’re lucky,) but snow in PDX metro is entirely off the table at this point.

    By the weekend, still looking like marine air will flood the Willamette Valley in the hours leading up to the weekend’s system. Should be good for 37 degree rain at onset of precip. ZR through the Willapa Hills in SW Washington perhaps, snow to the North on up through the Puget Sound basin and beyond. After that, the whole pattern nudges even farther off to our East, just enough to allow warm SW flow to dominate West of the Cascades.

    On that note, I’d like to remind everyone of something I said almost 6 days ago now, which was in reference to something I had said 3 days prior to that…

    Maybe someone from the peanut gallery could pick it apart and explain to the group what I said that was so wrong, and why?

  17. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Looking at the last model runs of the Euro and GFS:

    The latest Euro is aligning with the GFS on the South wind appearing Saturday due to a weather system coming in from the South, scouring out all the cold air, and shutting down the gorge in the process.

    One interesting note, it’s putting us back into some cold coming down from the North (which many models have shown in past run) around Monday morning. If it shows this air mass coming more over land and thus colder. Things could get interesting. Right now that’s not happening.

    Sadly both the Euro and GFS want this recursion to largely come from via the ocean direction. So just cold enough for a nice refreezing of what will be icy mess of the weekend. Doubt the recursion shifts East over land and sticks around long enough for another shot at a snowstorm.

    We are really looking at a slow miserable thaw as of now with all of PDX frozen and in caked in ice with what’s coming Saturday. Then Monday reinforces our entombment.

    Monday Morning GFS:

    The other thing that makes me believe this will largely be an ice event on Saturday is that the Euro has 3 / 4 Celsius air over us at peak of the system coming in. Too warm for snow – great for ice:

    Personal novice opinion is I would say this is consolidation and warning from the models. Ice to thaw event 80% probability vs. snow to thaw event. Hold on to your butts!

    • Sapo says:

      Yeah, models may be underestimating the gorge effect a little, and I’d expect it to start as snow, probably anywhere from 1-2″. There is a southerly flow aloft but I doubt we lose the east wind until Sunday, and then slowly moderate from there. We’ll see

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      If you had a chance to look at the Low’s projected path? Looks to be coming in at the SW tip border with CA and then just slides up North. That will dump that amount but you have to admit it will then be a solid ice coating on top. Lol! We are screwed at this current trend.

      The gorge will shut down pretty quick but I agree it’s not straight South to North path on the low. I see where you’re coming from now.

      I agree on East wind till Sunday morning. That does make sense. Thanks, even more depressing image.

      Frozen solid PDX and wind! 😛

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      SW angle at the tip of Oregon with CAbleh

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Man, the weather system this Wednesday is going to be a goldmine for Winter weather in Southern Willamette valley and Eastern Oregon (Bend, LA Pine…. again). Latest GFS run literally shows the Low stalled for 3 / 4 slides, just sitting there.

      I’m of the opinion that we have not missed out this hard in PDX
      in some time. I remember one time a weather system falling apart 48 hours out before delivering a promised, “good snowstorm” back in I think 2012?

      This week I think is going to take the cake for me. Everyone in the Northern half of the US from New York to Seattle but us!


    • JohnD says:

      Thanks for the weekend discussion. An equal frustration involves Wednesday. Another hundred miles and we could have had a classic set up of all snow for Portland. Very frustrating indeed.

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Dating if the computer weather models was a real model:

      Wednesday’s date:

      Tease Tease Flirt Flirt


      Doesn’t answer phone call.


      Doesn’t answer phone call.


      Agrees to go on date. Slaps you in front of
      everyone at the restaurant


      Requests to add you as a friend on Facebook.


      Beer, burgers, and a moving van.

  18. Marc (Brush Prairie, WA) says:

    When you say brief snow, you mean less than an hour’s worth, right?

  19. Jason Hougak says:

    Just my opinion but the 00Z ECMWF loop sure looks interesting in the loop.

  20. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Thanks Mark!

    Alright, who upgraded the dome.

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      So went to go see Star Wars Rogue One at Century 16 (great movie theater). Got home fine but I have to say I-84 is looking pretty mean now.

      A few places starting to have white frost and had one car blown half way into the left lane around Mall205 going North on I-205 just in front of me.

      Winds howling and it’s cold. Gorge is definitely awake.

      Drive safe folks.

  21. Gregg in Bend, formerly Troutdale Gregg says:

    Another snowy day here in Bend today. Have picked up another 5+”. Will be getting ready for snowmadgedon 3 on later tomorrow into Wednesday. Looks like we will be the bullseye again. 6-12″ forecasted, but seeing we could get as much as 18″. Snowiest winter yet for me here.

    • Diana F says:

      Uh, so Greg…you’re hosting the #felloweathergeek get-together at your house on Wednesday, right? That’s so awesome since you have the most snow!! No worries, there’s only 20 or so of us….and we’re bringing sleeping bags and cameras!

  22. Anonymous says:

    We in the Hood River area had, still have and expect to continue to have for days, a lot of snow. We probably got 6-8″ this morning.

  23. Ron says:

    Still hoping the north coast will see some interesting weather this winter. So far no snow, and a disappointing lack of wind storms.

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