January: Coldest Month Since My High School Years

11pm Sunday…

Since we only have 2 days left this month we have a pretty good idea where January will end up in the history books


As of tonight, the 33.2 degree average temperature makes January 2017 the coldest month in Portland since December 1985!  That was halfway through my junior year in high school…a long time ago in a county far, far (80 miles) away.  That month we had high pressure centered over the Pacific Northwest much of the month with snow-covered terrain east of the Cascades the whole time.  Cold east wind blew much of the month through the Gorge…sound familiar?

This will also be the 7th or 8th coldest month on record at PDX.  Those airport weather records go back to 1939.

What’s Ahead?

It appears we have one more brush with cold/snow/ice this week as February arrives.    Once again the Alaska upper-level ridge is trying to rise again.  It did that in early/mid December and early/mid January.  That shoves cold air to its east (over Western Canada) to the south toward and into the Pacific Northwest.  There will be a “conflict zone” in the Pacific Northwest where the colder air from the north moves down under milder/moist air above.  That “zone” seems to want to hang out somewhere near the Oregon/Washington border Wednesday through Friday according to most models.

I’m VERY confident we have a chilly east wind back in the Gorge and east metro Wednesday-Friday.  I’m FAR LESS confident about the depth & intensity of the cold air and how much moisture rides over it Wednesday-Friday.  For that reason I have very few details for now.


This is just a brief posting to answer a few basic questions; of course I’ll have lots more details in the next few days


  • As of this moment I think we’re “safe” from any travel issues west of the Cascades (due to snow/ice) through Wednesday afternoon at least.
  • Wednesday-Friday will be a cold three days with a gusty east wind blowing in the usual Gorge and Gorge-influenced areas (you know who you are!)
  • Most models have very little moisture available for snow or freezing rain west of the Cascades until at least sometime Thursday or Thursday evening.
  • There is no need to cancel plans or have any sort of “grocery-store freak out” tomorrow or Tuesday.
  • Everything points to quite a bit of warming next weekend west of the Cascades with very mild weather next week, we are not entering a many days-long freeze
  • The airmass moving into our area is not as cold as the one over us the first half of January
  • If you live in the Gorge (especially central/east) it’s very likely another snow/ice episode is coming at some point Wednesday night-Saturday.  Temps near/below freezing during that time.


Maybe most important, as of now I don’t see a similar setup for a road fiasco like early January.  By that I mean the failure of local transportation agencies to clear roads of solid snow/ice well after the event.  This isn’t a “snow, then hard freeze for a bunch of days” setup like the first half of January.  Even if we get snow/ice it will go away within a short time (hours to a day or two).

Stay tuned!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

17 Responses to January: Coldest Month Since My High School Years

  1. Roland Derksen says:

    I’ll probably see the coldest January here since 1993. Actually this month could be divided into 2 parts(as I see it). Cold and dry through the first half(1st to 15th) then somewhat milder than normal from the 16th on. Having said that, even if we end up with an average mean temperature(around 36F) that’s still colder than most Januarys I’ve seen in the past few decades.

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

    So uh, the weather models have gone out from me personally. I usually can tell what they’re trending but not this time around. The cold has backed off but the weather system has a better trajectory looking at the Euro; which should allow the cold to sag father South.

    scratches head

    Never seen this…. or not seen this (depending on how you look at it). The weather models are really showing their lack of strength here. So much improbability!

    I believe the silence is warranted on this blog (now I will shut up and go get my popcorn too).

    • GTS1K' says:

      I predict some weather will occur. With or without our approval.

      The weather this year is unpredictable – who’d a thunk it?

    • Joshua Downtown PDX says:

      There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of moisture to work with. A couple of inches looks to be possible right now, but even that might be on the high end. Maybe we will get surprised again? Whatever happens, it won’t be sticking around for long.

  3. Garron 1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro Airport says:

    I love the NWS discussion…
    All of that said, this set up is not too unlike the one that brought
    the big snow to the area January 10-11th, and in which the models had
    trouble ever forecasting the amount of precipitation that we ended up
    receiving, so stay tuned. Tolleson

    This is interesting to say the least…They suggest that the NAM buffer soundings show snow as early as Tues night, early Weds for Portland. I love this winter’s surprises!


  4. W7ENK says:

    Mark, methinks you meant to say: “Once again the Alaska upper-level ridge is trying to rise again. It did that in early/mid December and early/mid January. “…early/mid February” has yet to arrive.

  5. Scooter says:

    I like weather otherwise I’d live in one of those bubbles. Wednesday I think I’ll take the dog on a sight seeing trip through the gorge and over to Ione and Heppner then back through Fossil and Maupin just to enjoy the winter sights and take some photographs.

  6. Paul D says:

    Below normal – I love it!!!

    Now you did it, Mark! You mentioned no need for a grocery store freak out so it’s going to happen!

    • JJ78259 says:

      At least there is one snow lover in this bunch of postings. I guess everyone else is moving back to California to get warm. Guys it’s winter as Weather Dan posted before it’s supposed cold and snowy in the Northwest. I wonder if most people would rather have weather of a few years ago, I can’t believe that with all the snow lovers on this blog. I guess sunny warm weather wins out.

    • Lurkyloo says:

      I can have a grocery store freak out if I want to! I actually need one …

  7. Alohabb says:

    So the NWS is calling for 2″ or less of snow for PDX metro now Wed-Thur. I’m done snow, you can go back to Alaska now.

  8. sds says:

    It was a very good day at TL until a beginning boarder slammed into me and separated my shoulder. I was on the way to a case ( 10-50 ) when the accident occurred. Now Mark says we are in for a cold spell and I only have one good arm–hope the snow or ice doesn’t last too long.

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