One More Sunny Day, Then An Ice Storm For Many of Us

3pm Thursday…

The sunshine has been beautiful and the lack of wind (for most of us) has been nice.  But check out those low temps this morning.  It was the coldest temp in Portland in over 3 years:


A cold airmass is sitting over the Pacific Northwest and is going to only partially loosen its grip over the next week.   What????  “I thought it was going to warm up?” that’s you are thinking right?  By “partially” I mean for many parts of the Pacific Northwest east of the Cascades and in the Gorge, this crazy snow/icy winter continues through next week.  More on you folks farther down.  West of the Cascades we have a “transition event” on the way this weekend.  We’re transitioning back into mild & wet weather, but it’s going to be an icy mess before we get into the “warmer” weather Monday.



  • Winter Storm Watch is up for much of the Willamette Valley for Saturday afternoon
  • Clear and cold continues tonight and Friday.  One last sunny day, but reasonable high temps in the mid-upper 30s
  • Strong east wind returns tomorrow night and Saturday in the metro area
  • Moisture arrives Saturday morning in the south valley and central coast and moves north; similar to previous systems.  Precipitation arrival time (it’s still 2 days out)  can only be pinned down to sometime in the afternoon.  We’ll refine that timing tomorrow.
  • Most likely it’ll start as snow, then at some point after sunset transition to freezing rain for most areas west of the Cascades.  I see a Trace to 2″ for most of us in the metro area.
  • Heavier freezing rain (ice glaze accumulating on objects and roads) continues through Saturday night and into Sunday morning for the entire metro area
  • For much of the metro area, this means an ice storm begins Saturday evening and continues through Sunday evening as the cold east wind continues to blow
  • Warming southerly wind to finish the event won’t arrive until Sunday night; although some parts of west and south metro, as well as the Willamette Valley may warm a bit above freezing Sunday PM.
  • There is a possibility the central/eastern Columbia River Gorge doesn’t get much above freezing until later next week.  More on that below.


  1. Finish your traveling and errands (anything else that involves moving around on roads) by midday Saturday
  2. It may briefly be wet on roads when it starts Saturday PM, then freeze up after dark
  3. Plan on staying home Sunday


The downtime has been nice today and tomorrow will be a slow weather day as well…just sunny & chilly.   But the weather action picks up again on Saturday and seems to continue through next week.

Cold air is firmly entrenched over the Pacific Northwest with high pressure centered east of the Cascades.  The high is quite a bit weaker than 24 hours ago so easterly wind through the Gorge has backed off.  Check out the 3pm temps though!


East of the Cascades most areas didn’t even make it to 20, and some only in the single digits.  That’s because ALL of eastern Oregon and Washington is covered in snow:


This plays a large part in the forecast for the upcoming week.  As low pressure approaches the coastline Friday night and Saturday, pressures lower west of the Cascades and the strong easterly flow returns.  With such a cold low-level airmass pouring into the metro area and north Willamette Valley, we’re going to have trouble getting above freezing Saturday, especially with thickening cloud cover.  The moisture arrives, now a bit earlier on models, at some point Saturday afternoon.  I think we’ll see a snow start for most of us based on the depth of the cold air and lack of a warm push higher up until after 4pm.  But during the evening the snow level jumps up to around 4-5,000′ west of the Cascades.  That’ll turn our precipitation to freezing rain for any spot west of the Cascades that is below freezing (most areas).

From Saturday evening through Sunday evening precipitation in the Portland metro area and maybe as far south as Salem will be in the form of liquid rain, with temperatures below freezing.  The reason I lowered high temps to around freezing Sunday is due to all models showing the “freezer door” being wide open during that period.  That low-level cold air from the snow-covered terrain east of the mountains will be funneled through the Columbia River Gorge…actually more like “blasted through”.  Unfortunately this means we have an ice storm on the way, potentially as destructive as what we saw one month ago on the east side of the metro area.  Thickest glazing will be on the hills and central/east metro area where temperatures will be coldest, due to that easterly wind continuing.

When do we warm up above freezing?

For the metro area, that should occur Sunday evening/night as a cold front moves by overhead, greatly weakening the easterly pressure gradient and possibly evening turning it light westerly in the Gorge.  At the same time a mild southerly wind should move up the valley.  This should end the freezing rain threat WEST of the Cascades.  But I’m doubtful the cold air totally scours out of the Gorge.  That leads to a 2nd storm coming Tuesday.  This one is a very wet soaker with a surface low pressure that tracks right up into Oregon.  In this case the gusty east wind returns and could give at least the central/eastern Gorge a 2nd even bigger snow/ice storm.  The WRF-GFS and ECMWF are both hinting at 1.5 to 2.5 feet of snow in the Gorge between the two storms!  Lots could change before that time of course, but it’s possible winter is going to get tougher the next week east of the mountains and in the Gorge.

Enjoy the bright sunshine Friday, and use the calm weather to prep if you live in the Gorge or hills (generator, gas, firewood, chains, etc…)

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


87 Responses to One More Sunny Day, Then An Ice Storm For Many of Us

  1. WEATHERDAN says:

    Today the sun was nice and shiney. But tonight you’re going to freeze your hiney. Enjoy the storm everyone. Peace.

  2. Lurkyloo says:

    Went to the store to get supplies in case I can’t get down my hill for a couple of days. Lots of people seem to be taking notice of the forecast — might as well have been Christmas Eve, the way the parking lot looked at Fred Meyer.

  3. Mark says:

    What of the NOAA suggesting snow again Tuesday and later next week due to the gorge outflow?… I highly doubt that, but why then are they suggesting it?… other than they work for the government and all that…

  4. Roland Derksen says:

    Just a few light flurries of snow here today. Barely enough to show a trace on bare ground. Tomorrow evening we could see some significant snow. However, I don’t know if it will change to rain, or become mixed or stay as snow on Sunday. And after that? Well, looks like more snow…

  5. Scooter says:

    Gettin’ ready for the ice load, this stuff really adds up:

    Approximately 5lbs per square foot by 1 inch thick, that’s 5 tons of ice on a 2000 square foot roof.

  6. Stan says:

    From the wishcasters, the PUD ranters, the wannabe amateur overthinkers who have polluted this site….This blog has gone downhill.

  7. W7ENK says:

    13 degrees when I left the house this morning.

    FWIW, Kellogg Lake in Milwaukie is completely frozen over now. Probably not walkable yet — the days of the old Milwaukie Community skating rink on Kellogg lake are long since passed — but it was closed up 100%.

    Page 18, if you’re interested…

    “Rains would still come – this is Oregon – but it would be a week or so of skating.” -Don

    “Every year.” -Adele

    “Yea, our uncle, he checked it out for ice skating every year. And when my mother was growing up the Willamette froze over so much you could drive a car over it. ” -Enid

    “Now we only see a little scum of ice-but never enough to skate on it. I think it’s because it’s too warm.” -Adele

    • JJ78259 says:

      Eric my grandmother who lived on the end King Road in Milwaukie which was just east of Grant Street and King. She moved to this Property from Austria in 1902. While she was growing up King Road went thru her property. She told me many stories about Kellog lake and the different things that went on. She met my Grandfather at the Dance Hall on Elk Rock Island. She had many memerories of the winters of the past in the Milwaukie Area.

    • runrain says:

      I grew up 8 blocks from 45th and Johnson Creek. Used to catch trout and crawdads in that creek. Now you can only catch things with pharmaceutical-like names. I was in 8th grade and living in that neighborhood during the ’68-69 winter storm I mentioned below. If you missed that post, I mentioned the most perfect winter day happened during that storm. A high temp of 10 after a low of 8, strong east wind and snow all day. The drifts covered all the curbs so you could not see where the streets ended and the sidewalks began. It was brutal outside that day and I have my doubts there will be another like it in the future.

    • runrain says:

      An upper low sat just offshore Astoria, spinning cold air from BC out over the ocean and picking up moisture to dump on Portland. The perfect setup!

    • …i can still see bob lynotts grease pen drawing that!!…

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      Bob Lynott was a master of the squeaky pen dotted line.
      That was back in the days of the big three TV networks and the lone KPTV.

    • JohnD says:

      Can’t help but recall the 100 year Nov. cold in 1985–followed by big inversion low level cold Gorge outflow in Dec. with very dry weather. Skateable pond at Laurelhurst Park for 6 weeks.

  8. Andrew says:

    GFS showing large snowstorm Tuesday night into Wednesday for PDX.

  9. Scooter says:

    8.6 degrees this morning after a 7.0 degree low on Thursday here in rural Clackamas County.

  10. JERAT416 says:

    So has the timing moved up on the snow and ice? It was Saturday evening, now around noon?

  11. Alohabb says:

    13 here at my place in aloha. Good grief!

    And my phone weather app puts snow in forecast for next wed, fri, and sat. Action packed winter for sure this year.

  12. Lee Wilson says:

    Were at 19°F.

    So mark, will you sing the weather report to the tune of frozen?

    OK here is my attempt ant drama….

    OK folks listen gonna get snow…and not just any snow …this gonna be heavy wet snow….it will be breaking trees…man and some may explode to…and trust me you ain’t wana be around no exploding. Tree….and if that ain’t good enough far ya it gonna get icey …whoooey ..lame tell you about that dare ice..who boy it gonna be ice so thick them there power lines will be
    Be sagging on den dare poles so such that them poles be snapping…and out a power you’d be after them pole done snap…

    So better get a generator and be makes ng your own power..And don’t no you become a fool and going and driving on that there ice…why …your car gonna be like a figure skaterand be all over that there road….I guarantee it.

    You be driving along and wind up in DAT there river or ditch and den you be asking…how did I get here in xis dang ditch..and then a voice dumb fool you drove on the I e and your car. Done he came can ice skater and it done sliding to the ditch or river…

    Noe den dare ice storms are no joking matter…they will kill you dead ..

    So best stay home….an enjoy ….your loved ones…

    Hmm….well I think I listen to much of a certain Cajun comedian…

    I bet none here know who he is …and no it not Mr Red Skeleton…although he to was good comedian…

    “I Gurauntee” if you heard of this guy…then…you’d be knowing where Cajun come from..

    Oh..and mom gave me 3 Record Of Justin….

    So we got some entertainment come no power time.

  13. Lee Wilson says:

    I am hoping people learned from their mistake from last time.
    It won’t happen is happening.

    Aso in my opinion any bosses forcing people to risk their lives..unless they be police or fire men. Should be charged with wreckless endangerment of human lives.

    Even FedEx and UPS are observing closely weather watches and storms.

    If these 2 companies pause delivery during this event then all businesses should cease.

    I myself will understand if my deliveries are late in arrival.

    Further more, any one driving in this stuff I’ll prepared should be accepting natures terms and conditions… You drive, you may lose that car of yours…
    Natures ToS.. Obey it and live.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Supposed to coming up to Portland for a gig Saturday night… totally bummed at the icepocalypse forecast. Grrrrrr!

  15. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Alright so, not to get ahead of ourselves but taking into consideration most (if not all of us) generally don’t love an ice storm. I thought to move on and show this:

    Hit play.

    If that low tracks in further South (ideally square into mid coast Oregon). We’re possible looking at a snowstorm depending on how much of that arctic air stays with the storm and also comes over land.

    These setups are the most fickle (the air easily moderates over the ocean, the storm could track North, and what arctic air does come over land might be late, ect.). Having said that, it’s also the greatest ‘surprise’ setup for a few snow days.

    Anyone know if we still got a La Ninia going and what the ocean temperatures are around that longitude and latitude?

    • boydo3 N Albany says:

      Gotta love it if you love breaking trees, downed power lines, multiple pile ups on the roads.

    • flurball says:

      Don’t love it but in a strange way it might be necessary to remind people that this is not a anomaly for the PNW. Folks in the SE have become complacent recently in regards to hurricanes because a few years pass with none or a busted forecast. I had studs for sale for the last couple years with no bites and then sold them on the first post a week ago and many others offering more than what I sold them for. Switched from oili to gas this last fall. Was naturally expecting a record warm winter which would be my dumb luck. Daddy got a pair of shoes instead ! Lived here for years without needing AC and BAM. Two summers ago the box fan in the window at night was no longer going to do it. I see things from both sides now- Judy Collins

    • sds says:

      I don’t know how many of you were around the winter of ’67/’68. but we had a real blizzard in Parkrose and east county that plugged all the side streets full of 3-4foot drifts and abandoned cars and trucks. They plowed Sandy Blvd. and 82nd, but you couldn’t get down any side streets for days. It was in the teens for lows for days and one morning I woke up to an inch or two of frozen rain drops! Crystal clear little frozen ball bearings covering the ice crust on the snow–no ice coating, just this layer of loose rolling round clear rain drops–very slippery–very pretty too.

    • Diana F says:

      I love it because it’s a dang complicated forecast, and the report reads like the NWS is dog paddling! It’s pretty fun to analyze; that’s my thing with meteorology! I am pretty sure most of us are good and honorable people who aren’t wishing for dangerous, icy conditions. Just snowstorm conditions. HUGE difference! : )

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Here here, and what snow we do get Saturday is going to be buried in such thick ice the kids much less the animals won’t be able to get to it (goodness did I try as a kid lol!!! I’m weird).

      For at least a few counties this is going to be quite serious.

    • runrain says:

      Winter of 68′- ’69 was the best ever. On the peak day, the high was 10 and the low 8, snowed all day, east wind blew all day. Street curbs ceased to exist due to all the drifting. It was the ultimate winter day. Just before New Years, I believe.

    • John Fairplay says:

      The snow in the backyard had drifted to probably 2′ high at the fence, and maybe 2″ by the patio. I tried to sled down this “hill” with predictable results.

  16. Scooter says:

    So, I guess it’s time to shore up the greenhouse frame again, that ice sure can be heavy. Fill and stage the generators, fill the gas cans, sharpen the chain saw, park the vehicles out away from the tall fir trees…… we go again.

    • muxpux (Longview) says:

      I’m sure Lee is a few steps ahead of ya, lol

    • Lee Wilson says:

      I got fuel for the…just in case..hey..we might get a power outage? Right?…and…I wish you well on your green house..oh…I remember as a kid as to witnessing 3 feet of snow up at the farm. We had a wood stove…

      At any rate the plan we case of power outage move main heater to bead room…an use that as a living space.

      Also uses less fuel to heat.

      We would aid aid assist our neighbor who is a state employee.

    • W7ENK says:

      What exactly do you use the bead room for, may I ask?

  17. marinersfan85 says:

    If you love freezing rain and cold rain. Tonight’s 00z Gfs is your friend.

  18. John says:

    Can anyone comment on what I could see in east Gresham for this weekend and beyond? Helps me plan my work drive, that is if I can get out from the east side to sylvan hill. Thanks!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Sat is the day for the ice, and Fri will be a normal commute home, I hope.

  20. I used to have the link for the daily high resolution color MODIS imagery. Does anyone have it?

  21. Wendy-Silverlake, WA says:

    That was a very thorough analysis of what is going to happen in the metro area, west of the metro area, east of the metro area and south of the metro area, but please add an update for all of the viewers that live NORTH of the metro area. Thanks.

    • Ron says:

      Same for those of us at the coast, although from the graphic Mark posted it looks like we’ll be skunked again.

  22. Deer Is. at 750' says:

    I run a tree service,, thinking I should post an ad to hire more people.

  23. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Eesh, other mets barely have us going bellow freezing Saturday night and then calling for highs of 36 ~ 38F with rain on Sunday.

    I’m not seeing that, as Mark has posted his 7 day forecast seems far more likely.

  24. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Thanks for the update Mark!

  25. Alohabb says:

    .73″ of ice forecast….say it ain’t so…..

  26. Marc (Brush Prairie, WA) says:

    “Unfortunately this means we have an ice storm on the way, potentially as destructive as what we saw one month ago on the east side of the metro area.”

    I was waiting for a 2004 reference in terms of ice, but no, just a month ago.

  27. Not much of a “transition event” for me, just snow to plain rain. I suppose there might be a surprise ice storm a-la 2012, but that’s a real outside chance. Such events simply do not happen that often in my neck of the woods.

  28. Al Koholic says:

    Time to stock up on Beer and whiskey and watch football with a fire raging

  29. Christiana says:

    Thanks for the update 🙂

  30. As says:

    Came for the weather update, stayed for the penguin picture. Haha.

    Thank you so much for the information!! Love it. We changed our weekend plans so that we will be safe at home. Can’t wait!

  31. W7ENK says:

    I had a feeling you were just waiting for the NWS products to come out before you said anything…

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Thought that would be wise since the phrase “Winter Storm Watch” was in my posting the past 90 minutes…waiting for it.

    • marinersfan85 says:

      I’m gonna do the “Weagle” for this one. Not because I want it to snow a lot more. I just don’t want the ice.

      Here’s to a quick transition above freezing or just plain snow.

  32. Laura -- Weather Group Outcast says:

    I’ll have to dig out my ice skates. Thanks Mark!

  33. Alohabb says:

    So I guess we can’t make the tourney at 8 am in Longview this Sunday. Darn

  34. Diana F says:

    And it looks like I will be binge watching Vikings AGAIN this weekend. Darn it. Shoot. Dang weather. Grr.

  35. Diana F says:

    1) AWESOME post, Mark. Love the lengthy ones. Thank you!

    2) #fellowweathergeeks & window lickers, let’s all line up!

  36. CorbettTez says:

    What changes with the winds so that sometimes we’re getting 40-50mph winds here in Corbett and also at PDX and over most of East county and other times we’re getting 40-50mph winds here but nowhere else? What causes that exactly? Nothing seems to change here in terms of intensity, but sometimes it’s only here and not further in……just curious

    • WXNINJA says:

      Downslope wind, comes over the mountains and down the other side, versus a gap wind that blows just through the gorge. The downslope wind will affect more areas versus the gap wind. The gap wind tends to stay around the areas near the gorge but can head South down 205 if it gets strong enough.

  37. Alohabb says:

    So what your saying is just stay home. Ok. Don’t have to tell me twice!

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