Warm South Wind Has Arrived!

January 18, 2017

9:30pm Wednesday…

Portland suddenly jumped to 46 degrees this hour as a warming “Chinook” wind arrived.  The same thing happened in Troutdale and Corbett as a cold front passed by.  That front mixed out the cold air lingering at the far west end of the Gorge.  In fact Troutdale is the warmest location in the ENTIRE metro area this hour!


By the way, the term “Chinook wind” was first used along the Pacific Coast, then the term was adapted to use in the Rockies and Great Plains to describe the warming west wind there in wintertime.  It refers to a sudden warming after a cold spell in winter.  That pretty much describes this evening.

But a south wind won’t make it far into the west-east oriented Columbia River Gorge.  Temperatures will only slowly moderate 3-5 degrees above freezing from Bonneville to The Dalles Thursday.  The cooler east wind does return on Friday and I don’t see a setup in the next 5 days that would push a warm wind all the way through the Gorge.

The NWS has dropped the Ice Storm Warning in the Gorge this evening due to precipitation tapering off quickly now that the cold front has moved by.

This ice storm is the most destructive I’ve seen in the central Gorge with 1-2″ solid ice accumulation from Troutdale to Stevenson/Cascade Locks area.  From what I hear the damage is especially extensive in Skamania county and around Cascade Locks to Dodson.  Hood River was spared the thickest glazing due to part of the storm seeing ice pellets instead of liquid rain.  I-84 has been closed now for about 30 hours and will remain that way until at least sunrise.  There is beauty in the ice though…take a look at some of the pics, which I’ve put into a gallery below:

I’m so glad we ended up slightly too warm in the east metro area or we could have seen something similar in Gresham, Fairview, & East Portland.

Tomorrow’s weather will be uneventful with scattered showers and maybe even a few sunbreaks.  Enjoy the slowdown.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen