Warm South Wind Has Arrived!

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

41 Responses to Warm South Wind Has Arrived!

  1. Roland Derksen says:

    4.60 inches of precipitation is the amount here up til last evening. We’re getting some rain today, but I’m thinking this January could end up being one of the driest for me since 1988.

  2. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Severe Weather Hazard
    Weather Condition: Snowing Hard and Continuously
    Road Surface: Packed Snow
    Current Chain Restrictions: Chains Required. Traction tires allowed in place of chains on vehicles under 10,000 GVW and not towing. Vehicles towing must use chains.
    Current Temp: 27 F
    New Snow: 1 in.
    Roadside Snow: 122 in.
    Last Updated: 1/22/2017, 6:40 AM

  3. JohnD says:

    For what it’s worth, the new NWS CPC rendition looks interesting for the period after this coming week. We’ll see. Basically 4 weeks left in the low elevation window.

  4. Scooter says:

    Oh and 1 other thing folks, remember don’t kill the messenger….the truth hurts.

  5. Scooter says:

    What a beautiful day, with hope springing up in the most unimaginable places. Personally I just can’t wait for the first pink tulips to appear!

  6. GTS1K' says:

    Looks like rain.

    I’m thinking it will be wet…..

    I’m on the edge of my…. oh, wait…..

  7. Ash Qelon says:

    So, the big events are past.
    the ice is about all gone and a few snow drifts remain.

  8. Marc (Brush Prairie, WA) says:

    Boring weather….

    Who wins in a bowling match head to head: Dr. Rob Grimes or Professor Brian Schmit? I’ve heard they were both solid bowlers in their day.

  9. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    Man, our weather looks BORING for the forseable future. I’m not ready to throw in the towel on winter yet.

  10. Scooter says:

    Ode to the Salt Salesman (he’s the best)!

    Salt! Salt! Suddenly Portland loves salt.
    Salt is this weeks solution, don’t argue with me you’re in the minority if you disagree.

    When and if snow comes again someday just throw down salt, it’s like magic we most all agree, life goes on, no days off, kids back in school, roads are clear we can resume our lives to strive and get those packages tracked by FedEx UPS USPS & DHL, damnit I want I need my stuff right now, damnit give me SALT!

    I know the solution is too simple, it really wouldn’t work, we don’t have the goods, it’s harms the enviornment but what the heck we’ve thrown out common sense, GIVE ME SALT!

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I’ll do a blog posting on this…maybe this weekend since I work and it’ll be slow. No, not magic and no, everything doesn’t go back to normal. But it would have made travel far easier around the metro area. “Just wait for it to melt” isn’t always an option…it didn’t work this time.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      This sounds all too familiar to me; Here in Vancouver BC we went through our own “salt mania” earlier in the month. Some people got into real fights over it.

    • W7ENK says:

      In the side-by-side comparisons done by ODOT (salt on one side of the road vs. Magnesium Chloride solution on the other) this last week, salt was found to have little to no improvement over the MCL they’ve been using for years. Apparently not a catch-all solution.

      Honestly, I think timeliness was the biggest contributing factor to the mess. Had the city been quicker to remove that initial layer of fresh snow off the road surfaces and lay down deicer (or salt) immediately, before traffic had a chance to pack it down into a solid, bonded, thick layer of ice, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now.

    • flurball says:

      All the talk about salt hurting our eco-system, is there a wall that runs just under the surface of the middle of the Columbia that is keeping all of Washington’s salt run off from trickling over to our pristine Oregon shore?

    • Jake-(Gresham near Nadaka Nature Park) says:

      My personal opinion is that lessons were not learned from 2008.
      In that year it took almost 2 weeks for equipment to be brought down to deal with I-250’s and I-5’s trenches much less ruts (it was bad).

      As soon as it was apparent snowplows were need they should’ve been brought down 12 hours later to assist the 55 snowplows in PDX. Obviously, finish what was needed to be done up on the mountain passes but then come assist.

      As others have stated. Very kind act by Settle to lend us their equipment as others has stated but the distance, time to collaborate and gather the equipment, and bring it down here.

      Too late after 4 days of the snow getting packed down.

      We need to handle this internally as a State. Two or three Graders for I-205 and I-5 would’ve done the job. This happens every time we have a big Winter snowstorm and we have the equipment right up on the mountain.

    • GTS1K' says:


      MgCl is a salt. folks, you could look it up

    • flurball says:

      Mg Cl has over 50% water content and is less effective over time and temp than salt.

  11. esmewwax says:

    Great Vista House Pictures Mark. Could you possibly post them on the VH facebook (“Vista House at Crown Point”) page? We Have not been able to get up there to take our own…

  12. …Thanks, Mark, and the Channel 12 staff for reporting about NE oregon…

  13. boydo3 N Albany says:

    Looking more and more as if a big ol H is going to settle in.

    • JJ78259 says:

      Yes it does setting for some spring like weather here in San Antonio 78 the next couple days put some fertilizer on the ryegrass today! Sunny and warm next 2 weeks looks like. My Golf clubs seem very happy will definitely get some use! Better weather for all the Protests in Portland also.

  14. And the great rain event is over. .20″ overnight, 3.19″ in about 48 hours of near-continuous rain, 2.59″ in the first 24 hours.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Still getting some showers here. I’ve got at least 3.20 inches since Tuesday- the rain was pretty heavy in the early hours this morning.Yesterday we got our first 50+ temperature maximum (51F), thanks to some sunny breaks in the afternoon.

  15. Jason Hougak says:

    It took until 2017 in this new millennium to break 3 record lows for January. Up til this month they’ve all been prior to 2000. However both December and February hold numerous spots broke after 2000. Interesting climatology speaking.

    • Scooter says:

      climatologically speaking……but I think it’s just weather and short term weather events.

    • GTS1K' says:


      Do you mean it’s not interesting, or that you’re not interested because it doesn’t fit with your quasi-religious AGW beliefs?

      Big difference…..

  16. Lee Wilson says:

    The winds are howling out side.

  17. boydo3 N Albany says:

    Tributaries have mostly crested, ice wasn’t bad for the metro area, snow is falling in the mountains again. All is good.
    It’s still winter.

  18. Rain really tapered off today, but still falling. 0.40″ more today, storm total now 2.99″. Still raining. Barometer is at 993 mbar and seems to be starting to rise slowly.

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

    Awesome pictures and thanks Mark as always!

  20. Lee Wilson says:

    I remember one such even at Timber lake. It was 60 and .
    We hit 52 to day and we are at 49. As of now.

    Don’t lower you guard…slides and floods…I have read about.

    • Made it up to 55 here. Warmest day in many weeks by far. I-90 across Snoqualmie Pass has been closed all day by ice storm damaged trees, avalanches, and sleet-slides.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      Wow, better than the freezing cold…that’s spiking people bills.
      I fergot I had 3 heaters on..we were sweating lol.

      But the 3 small heaters beat out running the furnace…its a real drain on the power bill.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      Mom left for Hawaii just in time …oh how I am jealouse…not…she deserves it after raising us kids.

    • Forced-air furnaces are stupid. Heat a whole house even though never in my life have I been in a house that needs every room heated (most are vacant most of the time). Pipe the heat through ducts that can never be completely cleaned and which leak expensive hot air into unheated attics and crawlspaces. End result is a loud fan cycling on and off blowing blasts of dusty air as the temperature lurches up and down.

      Space heaters, focusing on keeping the main living area heated, are far more sensible and economical.

    • Paul D says:

      I was in Japan in 2009 and stayed with a couple in their house. One day the wife asked me if it was true that Americans had A/C units that cooled the entire house. The Japanese have units for each room and turn them off if they aren’t in the room.

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