Icy Roads Continue Through Tuesday AM plus Freezing Rain Possible

9pm Sunday…

The past 5 days have been quite a ride with the snowstorm, then raging east wind, and very cold temps.  In fact today was the coldest day in Portland in 3 years; we only made it to 28 degrees under full sunshine.


THAT is a cold low-level airmass and it isn’t going anywhere until sometime Tuesday when southerly wind arrives.  Check out the warming in the Cascades today:


So we now have a trapped cold airmass below about 1,500′ and cold air still pouring through the Gorge.  In fact the flow from the east has increased again this evening.  Wind gusts over 70 mph have returned at Corbett…like the relative that left and is back at the front door.  Easterly gradient through the Gorge is back above 8 millibars.

Models don’t handle the lowest part of the atmosphere well in this case.  The WRF-GFS thinks it’ll be about 45 tomorrow, our RPM says about 45 as well, so…30 seems like a good number to me.  At least we know humans are still needed in certain weather patterns.

A very wet and warm weather southwesterly flow of air arrives overhead Tuesday and continues through Wednesday.  This means lots of rain, but not historic, Noah-like totals.  We’re NOT in for some sort of 1996 flood.  In fact we’ll likely just have localized flooding/ponding of water due to the snowmelt Tuesday night and Wednesday.  By Thursday we’re back to light showers.  Here’s the WRF-GFS, showing 3″+ in the mountains and 1.50-3.00″ in the valleys.  The snow on the ground is probably worth about 1″ as well once it’s melted


I see two big issues in the next 48 hours:

1. Roads & Commuting

  • Those roads with solid packed ice, ruts, & snow will be exactly the same Monday morning and almost the same Tuesday AM.  The current rough conditions continue through the Tuesday AM commute.
  • I don’t see how schools can have widespread openings Tuesday with all the snow/ice on the ground in a good chunk of the metro area.
  • Finally by Tuesday evening after some rain and temps above freezing the solid ice should soften up, but then you have deep slush all over…what a mess!
  • Wednesday morning’s commute will likely be the first in a week that is pretty close to normal.

2. Freezing Rain Tuesday

Rain arrives soon after sunrise Tuesday west of the Cascades.  With temperatures below freezing, this is a perfect setup for a freezing rain event in at least part of the metro area and an ice storm in the Columbia River Gorge.  There is no sudden warming southerly wind in the metro area during the daytime Tuesday.  Lighter easterly flow continues through the Gorge through even early Wednesday.  The very cold airmass will only slowly modify Tuesday and Wednesday in the Gorge.  Since temps are starting very low in this cold airmass, I think there is a very good chance temps in the Gorge remain at/below freezing through at least morning/midday Wednesday!

  • Assuming temps are below freezing in the metro area Tuesday morning, prepare for freezing rain (liquid rain freezing on contact) for at least a few hours in the morning for at least a part of the metro area.  We’ll have a better idea of the coverage by tomorrow afternoon/evening.
  • By afternoon temps should be above freezing in most of the metro area and most of us should be in the clear.
  • Roads may become “freshly iced” for many of us Tuesday
  • The Columbia River Gorge has a major ice storm coming Tuesday and at least early Wednesday.  Very heavy rain is on the way this time…possible 2-3″ liquid in the central Gorge through midday Wednesday.  IF temperatures remain below freezing this will be a crippling event east of Multnomah Falls.

By the way, this ongoing snow/ice fiasco on metro (mainly Oregon) highways and arterials (5 days after the storm)  is well covered by Cliff Mass in his blog post today:  http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2017/01/portland-fails-to-clear-snow-and-ice.html.  I call him the “Godfather of NW Weather” and of course he has his own opinions.  I won’t rehash all his points, but it’s definitely worth a read.  It’s too bad there isn’t some better alternative (than salting), but a metro area of  almost 2 million people shouldn’t need to shut down for day after day after day when we have an event like this every 4-8 years.    It last happened in 2008, and 2004 before that.  I really like his idea of sharing snow removal equipment too since the two metro areas usually don’t have snow/ice storms at the same time!  Seems like it probably wouldn’t work logistically, but interesting.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


38 Responses to Icy Roads Continue Through Tuesday AM plus Freezing Rain Possible

  1. W7ENK says:

    I’m still just blown away by the magnitude of this snowstorm. A foot of snow in one dumping, and here we are almost a week later and I still have at least 6 inches on the ground! I haven’t seen my grass, nor the pavement in front of my house for 6 days now. My roommate and I improvised a curling match in the middle of our street on Saturday night. I’ve had not one, not two, but THREE BBQs in the snow, with beers around the firepit. Everywhere I’ve gone, I look around in awe, marveling at how much snow we still have, imagining I must be in Minnesota, or Alaska, or Estonia — because I certainly can’t be at home in the Portland area… right? No way, not possible! But, here I am, right at home, everything still all white, fluffy, and crunchy.

    What an incredible experience!

    What an incredible Winter!!

    • Same here (well, minus the barbecues). We’ll remember this one for years to come.

    • JohnD says:

      Absolutely feel the same way guys. Simply awesome!

    • Longview 400 ft says:

      I hear ya, I have not seen my yard since New Years Eve. I love it, and marvel at this weather phenom we are experiencing. I too look out my window and joke with my wife, “How long do you want to stay here at the Lodge and enjoy all this snow before we go home?” At times, I look out the window in amazement. We also have not parked in our driveway since New Years Eve, our driveway is to steep. I never let myself get negative because when will our weather give us the goods like this again. 2008 – 2009 I had a total of 3 feet of snow that year, currently the total is 19 inches.
      It was a marvel last Tuesday to watch the temp fall from 41.5, start to rain and as the temperature dropped, the rain change from chunky rain, to snow and rain, then to all snow when the temp dropped to 34. This experience was something one always dreams about, but then get to live it out was so fun and intriguing.

  2. Registered Nerd says:

    Link I mean, not “look”

  3. Registered Nerd says:

    I’ve been enjoying the snow while it lasts… One thing I know, or at least expect, is that we won’t have another event like this for awhile. I appreciate it for what it is, and epic sledding to boot with the kiddos. Around the turn of the new year the GFS had 1 run that pegged the snow storm perfectly, I remember thinking “what the chances”, then boom it happened!

    For the GFS, I use http://wxweb.meteostar.com/sample/sample.shtml?text=KPDX

    What is a good look for an ecmwf numerical model data?

  4. Jason Hougak says:

    3 new record lows 17/11/19 for the month in Portland. That sure verifies a cold snap. Personally I’ve enjoyed this cold snowy weather. Average low 23.7 and high 33.7 mean 28.7!!!

  5. Marc (Brush Prairie, WA) says:

    Looking for a more detailed update this afternoon on impacted locations. Would schools benefit from a late start? The timing of all this would likely have school buses already on the road picking up students. I can imagine people leaving with dry, or snow packed roads, only to see freezing rain fall when it’s already too late.

  6. Dave in Sherwood says:

    Finally a real winter! Hope we get a few more chances for lowland snow before the sun angle is no longer optimal.

  7. Alohabb says:

    Man, still icy , cold and little thawing. Freezing rain sure seems likely.

  8. JERAT416 says:

    We keep pushing back the warming! I miss it when Sunday was 39 degrees, and 45 Monday with rain. This evil frozen precipitation needs to stay above 2,500 ft in the mountains.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      We need this cold to kill off bad bugs!

    • W7ENK says:

      That’s a ridiculous assertion. Central Minnesota can reach all the way down to –60F (or colder), frequently staying below Zero for weeks on end, yet they have some of the worst mosquitoes in the Summer. Mosquitoes so big, and so numerous, you’d sweat they could grab you up and fly you back to their swamp. They get fireflies, ants, bees, spiders, cockroaches, etc… just the same as everywhere else. It’s the same in much of Alaska. This week-long “little” cold snap won’t do anything to curb the bugs here come Summer. It may — in fact — make them stronger and more numerous.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Survival of the fittest!

    • W7ENK says:

      *sweat = swear.

      Thanks autocorrect!
      You really do a bang-up job sometimes… -_-

  9. W7ENK says:

    504 AM PST MON JAN 16 2017



  10. Dave_in_Troutdale says:

    I’m starting to feel as though this cold and snowy weather isn’t as fun as a lot of you thought it would be??? As sick as some of you are of it, it probably won’t happen again for a long while. But, it is fun right? Not! In my opinion, keep it in the mountains. They’re only a short drive away after all. Just my 2 cents. Thank you Mark for your hard work. Peace and everyone chill and smoke a little greenage. Hey now!

    • Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

      Aiko Aiko!

    • marinersfan85 says:

      I don’t understand anyone that gets upset over weather or try to dictate where what should happen. Considering the lack of control any of us have over it. Just take it in stride and move on. It is what it is.

    • Well Mariners, how bout you pay my bills then? THAT is why some of us get upset. You want buy my groceries next week I will chill right on out. Until then maybe you should step outside your box and realize that not everyone has the luxuries and resources you might have and quit judging us or treating us like party poopers. That is just unbelievably egocentric.

    • W7ENK says:

      Wow, really?? Someone who whines and wishes to bend Nature’s ways at will because they don’t have all “the luxuries and resources,” calling someone who chooses to yank themselves up by their own bootstraps, put on their big boy pants and get out there to face the elements as they come “egocentric.”

      That makes absolutely no sense…

  11. Windsday says:

    Wouldn’t it be funny if it winds up the east winds don’t really die off and we all just get a bunch of ice instead of heavy rain?

    Instead of a mid valley snowstorm we get a mid valley ice storm! Icky Poo!

    Still at 24F here at Aumsville/Stayon and no sign of warming.

  12. After a week of temps below/around freezing, 54 F on Wednesday should feel incredibly mild. I’m sick of treading ice and bundling up outside. We live in/near Portland, not Anchorage.

  13. Lee Wilson says:

    Before I hit the hay, I just want to say good luck and God be with us..
    I hope and pray for no tragedies to occur.

    Remember we have Perma frost that will need to blmelt..

    And on earth that msltd…remember tr=so with shallow root $ won’t like it.

  14. Jake-(Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park) says:

    Not looking forward to the transition event. If the forecast was still for Monday afternoon for the moisture to arrive I’d be more optimistic because of solar radiation helping out what it could.

    Now, the weather system arrives in the morning and the fact that the moisture arrives later also tells me this arctic air is more serious since it’s prolonged even further (moisture initially was supposed to come Saturday according to the models but kept pacing backward).

    It really tells me two things. Shovel the street drains tomorrow and buy more food. Sigh.

    We have ice crusted snow hanging off our roof like we live up in the mountains. Very picture perfect but with the winds outside at 15~20mph gusting to about 28mph? Not going to be good here. Only thing going to save the bacon is the previous ice event back in December “trimmed” the trees so to speak. Why can’t we ever just have snow! Bah! )_(

  15. Lurkyloo says:

    I figured that would be happening – the damn freezing rain. This is so played out! Gahhh! I have 2 teenagers at home who only had one day of school last week! I haven’t been able to park in my driveway since Tuesday. Waahh for me, but I’m ready for this snow to go away. I Sketchily made it to Freddies this afternoon — my first outing in a while …

    I would like to thank Wendy for mentioning that thing about the downspouts. One of mine broke loose and has a huge icicle hanging out of it. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it had she not made me think of checking it.

    Hang in there, everyone. Hope the next few days don’t bring too many problems.

    Oh, on the bright side, I never lost power this whole time! WooHooo!

  16. Paul D says:

    Sounds like no school Tuesday!

%d bloggers like this: