Winter Storm Warning: Here Comes The Snow & Ice

4pm Friday…

Wow, I just drove by the Freddie’s gas station; it looked like maybe Armageddon is upon us.  But don’t worry, it’s just another Snow-Icemageddon instead.  Our lives will continue on at some point after Sunday.

Confidence is now quite high that we have another snow/ice event on the way.  At least this time it’s on the weekend, so load up your Netflix queue and stack up that Amazon watchlist, and of course keep us tuned in here at FOX12 too.  I’ll be here until further notice…at your service.  Take a look at the map…almost all of Oregon covered by Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories…

markwarnings_winter-wx-advisory

 

 

PORTLAND/VANCOUVER METRO HIGHLIGHTS

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Saturday for much of our viewing area west of the Cascades.  This storm also affects Eastern Oregon of course.

  • One more mainly clear and cold night.  Strong and cold Gorge wind picks up and spreads across much of the metro area by sunrise…brrrr!
  • Snow flurries arrive between 8-10am, with steadier snow arriving by noon at the latest.  Get your errands done this evening or VERY early tomorrow to be safe.
  • I expect a Trace-2″ snow before a changeover to ice pellets and then freezing rain around sunset (4:45pm) “Deepest” snow likely west and south metro, lightest north (Clark Co.) & east
  • Then freezing rain is the precipitation type through Sunday evening.
  • 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.  Expect 1/2 to 1″ ice accumulation which will bring down trees/limbs/powerlines.
  • I don’t expect temperatures to go above freezing in the metro area until Sunday night.
  • A slow thaw (no real warm south wind) begins after sunset Sunday and continues through midday Monday.  Many roads will still see lots of ice leftover even on Monday AM.

IMPORTANT NOTES FOR THE METRO AREA

  1. Finish your traveling and errands (anything else that involves moving around on roads) this evening or very early Saturday AM.
  2. All roads will be frozen all day tomorrow and most of them stay frozen Sunday.  ODOT says they may finally be using salt in specific trouble spots on freeways from what I hear, so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s effective during freezing rain.  By Monday afternoon I think main roads should be back to normal for most parts of the metro area.
  3. Probably still lots of school closures Monday AM

WILLAMETTE VALLEY FROM LONGVIEW TO EUGENE

The same general plan with snow to freezing rain tomorrow.  Parts of the valley could see up to 3″ of snow, but I think Trace-2″ is most likely a good average number, lightest to the north around Longview.  Then freezing rain through at least Sunday midday.  Expect up to 3/4″ ice accumulation by midday Sunday.  This could be a damaging ice storm for many of you.  The valley will warm up above freezing probably Sunday evening a bit quicker than here in Portland.  Then the event will finally be over.

OREGON and SW WASHINGTON COAST

Temps will be slow to warm, but WILL eventually go above freezing by Saturday evening.  So expect a Trace to 2″ snow by afternoon, then a wintry mix of ice pellets to freezing rain the rest of the day turning to rain by evening.  The coastline should be all above freezing later tomorrow night through Sunday.

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE

As always, this area is the biggest problem because it’s the meeting ground of the Pacific moisture and cold eastside temps.  It’s the only place between Canada and California where that happens.  The midday/afternoon snow will be accompanied by the usual blizzard-like conditions at the west end due to the strong wind.  By tomorrow evening the far west end (Corbett/Washougal) will transition to freezing rain like the rest of the metro area, but the east end stays as snow through midday Sunday in the deeper cold pool.  The wind ends Sunday evening, but I don’t see a warming west wind; your snow isn’t going anywhere afterward for Monday/Tuesday.  Expect a total of 6-10″ at the east end, and a big ice storm again at the west end.  There will be some thawing Monday at the far west end.  A second, even wetter storm arrives at some point Tuesday and goes into Wednesday as the cold east wind returns.  This could be a real whopper with heavy snow east and snow or freezing rain west end.  Details uncertain on this one 4 days out, but prepare for an extended period of difficult travel in the Gorge Saturday-Wednesday.

CENTRAL & NE OREGON

More snow…but at least instead of 0 to -10 it’ll be more like 10-25 degrees.  Expect severe blowing snow and blizzardlike conditions again on I-84 through the Blue Mountains and Ladd Canyon.  The Grand Ronde and Baker Valleys will be a mess with the blowing snow.  All areas get at least 2″ out of the storm, but many higher mountains will see 6″ or more.




Discussion:

Whew, lots of weather in the next 5 days!  I feel pretty good about the forecast for the weekend; quite good agreement among the different models on the sequence of events.  Plus we’ve been through almost this exact situation many times in the past.  A few key meteorological points:

  1. Easterly flow increases through the Gorge and reaches a peak late Saturday night and Sunday AM at the same time it’s pouring in the metro area.  Perfect setup for a big ice storm.  That easterly flow doesn’t go calm until Sunday evening when a strong cold front passes overhead.
  2. Snow levels peak around 5,000′ or so WEST of the Cascade crest Saturday night too = high confidence for all liquid in P-Town tomorrow evening through Sunday.  Of course east of the crest the cold air banked up eastside means snow makes it all the way down to the Columbia River in the Gorge.
  3. The transition Sunday night is interesting.  We’ll be going from the “cold surface flow from the east wind+warm air overhead” setup, to a “well-mixed hilltop-snow type pattern with light southwest wind”.  By Monday AM the snow level is back down around 1,500-2,000′.  This will help mix out the very cold air at the surface, but my gut feeling is that we won’t have a sudden warming southerly wind Sunday evening.  Instead temperatures will just gradually creep above freezing overnight in the metro area and we’ll be sitting in the 35-40 degree range for the Monday AM commute.  That ice is going to be quite slow to melt.
  4. There is no real westerly wind in the Gorge the next 5 days.  The cold easterly flow returns (although far more shallow and with much higher dewpoints) Tuesday or Tuesday night.

Cold arctic air stays in southern Canada and northern Washington all of next week.  At the same time wet systems are moving into California and Oregon with the polar jet stream pushed farther south than normal.  This keeps the risk of interaction between the two airmasses going for a while.   A particularly wet one moves right over our forecast area Tuesday and early Wednesday.  This has the potential to bring snow or freezing rain to low elevations again close to the Gorge and areas north.  But the ECMWF is bringing the storm farther north, which would keep the metro area too warm.  This is still 4-5 days away and AFTER this current event…but just something to keep an eye on.  I’m feeling pretty confident that the next 5-6 days could be somewhat historic for snow/ice in the Columbia River Gorge though.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

 

54 Responses to Winter Storm Warning: Here Comes The Snow & Ice

  1. Jamis says:

    Not sure if north or high is helping out, but the hills above Longview are definitely a safer place than PDX. We still have 4″ plus, but adding two more + a 1/3″ ice-cap sure beats the forecast down+south!

  2. Kathy Watkins says:

    Blazer game tonight–can I go on the Max?

  3. Adam in SE says:

    I’m supposed to fly out of PDX mid-day Sunday, and for some reason Delta STILL has not issued a weather advisory that would allow me to adjust my flight and leave tomorrow instead. Do they just not pay attention to anything outside the Southeast??

  4. Diana F says:

    This may come off as a weird question, but has anyone here ever been to the Portland NWS office?

    Is it a “busy” place? How many people there at a time? Is it 24 hours?

    In the back of my mind I think of movie scenes where people are running around exchanging paper, and information a bit franticly. So it makes me try to think of what our favorite office “looks” like.

    Are they there for the duration perhaps when storms do come in?

    • Mountain Man says:

      Yup I got a full tour before they moved around 93. It was impressive then and I’m sure more impressive now with advancement in technology.

  5. Diana F says:

    Love what Mark just said on TV: This is going to be a bad one…..! Careful out there, please stay off roads. Charging phones and other devices super important!

  6. marinersfan85 says:

    Starting to look like zr might hold off a bit longer.

    • Lurkyloo says:

      zr can hold off as long as it wants — in fact, if it decided to not show up I wouldn’t complain!

  7. Wendy-Silverlake, WA says:

    From what I’ve been reading pulling up different towns in the area, it looks like I’m going to go from snow to just rain, but anything below me is going to be frozen. This happened in 2004 where everything lower than me was frozen but we weren’t and couldn’t go anywhere for quite a while until things thawed out lower. Everyone stay safe!

  8. tbanders says:

    I love all the detailed information that Mark, my meteorologist, provides for all of us. I have tried to tell everyone who worries about weather events to check out this blog. I enjoy the detail he provides, it is truly top notch.

  9. Jason Hougak says:

    Please stay all snow… 🙏🏼

  10. Andy says:

    21 degrees here in Jefferson,Or at 8:30…running colder than last night…low this morning was 14.

  11. High Desert Mat says:

    Lee, it’s people like you that spread Armageddon scenarios. Let’s face it, it’s 36 hours or so of snow and ice. I’m in Redmond and haven’t seen my lawn since Dec 4th. Roads have been covered with snow or ice at least half that time since. I guess the Deep South today was getting its first snowstorm in awhile and people were freaking out too. People here are getting around just fine. No chains (mostly) and no studded tires. Unless they’re skiers that go the mountain often.

    Bottom line, it’s winter, it happens, let’s not make believe the end of the world is upon us. Roads will be wet soon. Wish I could say the same for here. It’s a nuisance anymore.

  12. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    Latest GFS (I find this feature really fun to play with). Plenty of low pressure systems to watch on the long range runs this next week.

    http://meteocentre.com/models/get_anim.php?mod=gfs&run=18&stn=PT&mode=latest&map=na&lang=en

    Really eyeing the low pressure system Tuesday / Wednesday.

    My thoughts still are that if it goes further South we would be in position for snow. More model runs and consolidation (or lack there of) will tell. I think Sunday’s runs will be where the deal is sealed or not; I will probably be out of power by then…..

    Part nostalgia to the idea but then reality sets in lol!

    Anyways, stay safe everyone and hold the kiddo’s car keys this weekend. No going out. Period.

    Cheers.

    • Diana F says:

      Thanks for the link…and pleased to report it has now turned into a bit of an obsession! There are several similarly interesting sites that I seem to get caught up in at least a few times a day. Every Day. Without Fail. #Geekchic

  13. jeloughrey says:

    Thanks for this amazingly comprehensive summary, Mark. I only recently discovered your blog, even though I check your forecast whenever there’s a major weather event (I check all the local weather sources for comparison). Your blog is the most detailed analysis, and often the most accurate prediction. I appreciate your thoroughness and expertise. Many of the comments here are great, too.

  14. Scooter says:

    Wow…OMG….You’ve put the ‘fear of Mark’ into all of us sinners!

  15. Camas500 says:

    KTTD (Troudale) is down to 25 degrees with a dew point of 13, and the east wind is picking up – now over 30 mph gusts. Troutdale’s low temp was expected to be 25. So far it seems colder than expected. No?

    • Jake-(Gresham) says:

      Getting wind gusts of about 20mph here. Working in Damascus today I noticed the fir trees outside starting to move around 4pm.

      This is going to be pretty rough for the East counties. I can feel it.

    • Camas500 says:

      I agree, Jake. East of 205 near the Columbia and elevated (300 ft or more) may not rise above freezing until Monday morning. I’m on the east side of Prune Hill in Camas at 500-600 ft, and we usually take much longer than forecasted to break 32. We’re usually 2 degrees colder than Troutdale during winter storms due to elevation. Glad it’s on a weekend so I shouldn’t have to take any vacation days (well, Monday perhaps).

      Currently 25 and windy at my place. Today’s low 19, high 33.

    • Camas500 says:

      Update: Troutdale now down to 24, dew point still 13. East wind at 28 gusting to 37. Freezer door is open!

  16. Looks like the ice train will be leaving the station soon.

    On track for another January 1979?

  17. At least there won’t be any complaining at the end of this winter about how boring it’s been. Multiple snow/ice storms in Portland, multiple HEAVY snowstorms in the Gorge, snow along the entire I-5 corridor, lots of teens westside and subzero temps eastside!

    The westside and Gorge might escape this winter without any historically cold nights, but practically every other form of action has been flowing in abundance this year. And we aren’t even halfway through winter yet!

  18. Cove folks sit on edge
    Mark backs out of the screen shot
    Thanks Mister Nelsen

  19. Lee Wilson says:

    My Lord. All hell is about to break loose.. mark are you serious I about Tuesday?

    Please folks please get ready..

    This will never happen could happen.
    I beg you get prepared.

    I wish you all well.. I hope for the best and prepare fired for the worst.

  20. Gonna be a pretty quick transition here if the forecast is correct. It’s been cold enough long enough that people were skating on Gazzam Lake this afternoon. The ice is apparently 3″ thick.

  21. JF says:

    Thanks Mark!!! That pretty much covers it all.

  22. Diana F says:

    Wow I sometimes feel like I have my own personal weatherman, and I get the skinny times ten compared to the “simple tv viewer”! Thanks Mark, you are Viking-cool.

  23. Lisa Nowak says:

    Like January 1980 historic, or even more historic than that in the Gorge?

  24. Paul D says:

    Awesome update! Looks like staying home Saturday AND Sunday is the safe thing to do. Let’s see how many people ignore the warnings.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      And for some..Tuesday as well. Looks like possibility of a week of no school.

      I hope and pray for safety of all.

    • jeloughrey says:

      I hate to complain about a first-world problem, but I will anyway. It gripes me that when it’s obvious that the best thing to do is stay at home, organizations like the Blazers refuse to cancel their events due to weather because they don’t want to be out any money. Meanwhile, all the financial risk falls on the patron, causing people to take personal risks like travelling when they shouldn’t. People shouldn’t be forced to choose between their own personal safety or being out their money through no fault of their own. FYI I’m not talking about the Blazers per se, but another organization for which I have expensive tickets for this weekend. When I called their office regarding the weather, they said they never cancel their events no matter what. They do not state their policy on their website, either. It was the first time I ever tried to attend one of their events, and it will likely be the last.

  25. Laura -- Weather Group Outcast says:

    oh wow.. 😮

  26. JJ78259 says:

    After this episode there will be lots of firewood for next year! Watch the fir trees come down!

  27. Tyler Mode says:

    Amazing write up thanks Mark!

    Looks like no rest for the weather geeks out there!

    After being able to sleep for a couple years with braking weather things have finally changed!!

  28. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    You’re the man, Mark. Thanks for the very detailed and informative forecast. How awesome would it have been if we could have gotten by with all snow for this event? Alas, that is wishful thinking. Time to break out the ice skates.

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