Are We Done With Winter?

10pm Wednesday…

It’s only February 15th, but this is the time of year folks often ask me if we’re “done with winter”.  If you have lived west of the Cascades for long, you know that yes, in general we don’t get big winter weather events after mid February (snow/ice/flooding).  I don’t think I’ve seen significant freezing rain, flooding, or day-long snowstorms after about February 20th while working here in Portland.  That goes all the way back to 1991!  BUT, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.


Lots of you took the poll in the past few days (previous post).  Looks like a majority of you think we’re either totally done with snow or we’ll only see a little in the hills.  63% of you say that there will not be any more measurable snow at the lowest elevations here in the city.  History says you are most likely right.  Take a look at what we’ve seen AFTER FEBRUARY 20TH in Portland during the past “generation”.  That’s considered to be 25 years.


Yes, we’ve only seen measurable snow (that late in the season) 4 out of those 25 years.  So the odds are very much against additional snow.  Keep in mind this is at the official observing location out at the Parkrose NWS.  Obviously if you live at any elevation above that you know we’ve seen 1, 2, or even 4″ during some of those events!  Remember March 2012?  Quite a few inches in mid-March that year, plus coastal and valley snow.  But that was the exception.  In March Portland has seen measurable snow in only 4 of the past 50!

There is a tendency to see late season cold events or late season snow in La Nina winters, which we are now in.  So it would be quite premature to pull out the fork at this point and declare winter over.  That said, I’m quite confident we’re well past the worst winter has to offer.  Don’t take the studded snow tires off quite yet…give it another couple of weeks.

By the way, February has been a big soaker, about 3 times our typical rainfall so far:


It’s the wettest February since I was just 30 years old…a long time ago.  More rain coming…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


65 Responses to Are We Done With Winter?

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

    Serious Threat to the Oroville Dam (Cliff Mass):

    Things are getting very critical in California.

  2. Alohabb says:

    So here I am in San Jose for a couple days and there’s gonna be wind storm, flooding rains…..I JUST CANT ESCAPE THIS STUFF!!!

    But now I know what East Coasters say about us when we have a little snow. The San Jose airport had to cancel flights because of strong winds and heavy rain…..and that’s a normal day in fall for us!

  3. W7ENK says:

    Quite a gusty South wind this morning. I wasn’t expecting that, although I haven’t really been paying close attention the past few days.

    Hearing rumors of some low elevation snow potential late this week?? Stranger things have happened…

  4. Donaleen Kohn says:

    We gardeners are more than done with winter. Here is a good article on our climate and plant hardiness

  5. Mountain Man says:

    Hmm this blog always puts my ” reply” in the wrong place. Whatever. I don’t usually post anyway. Just did cuz nobody else was and it’s quite interesting what might be in store. I’m just usually an observer for like 12 years now here.

    • JohnD says:

      Thanks for your input and obvious weather passion–which we all share! Hopefully some of this will come to fruition. A historic late season event would indeed cap off an already great winter! We’ll see how things evolve over the coming days!

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

      All I ask is no ice. I’m sick of ice. Euro has trended even more aggressive on the long term being cold as others have stated. We’ve gone from in the “ballpark” and onto the court I’d say. What kind of slam dunk we get (snow, ice or lots of just cold, etc.) is to be determined but I’m seeing snow in the hills now for PDX (possible WED onward) in the coming week. Really need to see the cold deepen. That’s the most difficult thing to get this time of year (moisture not so much).

      Interesting to see if we see this trend colder still. May get a rare event out of this, who knows? Icing on the cake (pun not intended) if we get a snowstorm for me! Definitely Winter is trying to kick something at us.

    • Jake, I wholeheartedly agree with you about ice. This winter has made me determined never to live anywhere where there’s a snowpack. As much as people whine about our rain and gloom, at least you don’t have worry about slipping on ice and skinning your palms or fracturing your tailbone.

    • JJ78259 says:

      Yep my neighbor George moved down here to San Antonio after he backed into snowbank coming out of his driveway, that happened in early May in Michigan.

  6. Mountain Man says:

    Oh no! The nws afternoon discussion mentioned the 7 to 9 day period. That’s not like them.

    • Mountain Man says:

      If you’re into historically significant weather, you’ve gotta love the Ecmwf pushing a real Arctic front over the PNW to end the month now, the GFS thinking hard about it with its inferiority and delay and the GEM is evolving toward the EC. Record cold early March is possible.

  7. Paul D says:

    AACK!!! There’s a snowflake on Thursday on the 7-day forecast!!!

    • JJ78259 says:

      I remember back 6 or 7 years ago my wife and we’re shopping in late April at the Johnson Creek Home Depot for spring flowers and plants and a very cold rain mixed with snow was coming down. That memory seems far away now it’s 85 and Sunny right now but heavy thunderstorms hit tomorrow around noon. That California storm is making its way here.

    • Mountain Man says:

      I think there’s more to come

    • Mountain Man says:

      Make it two snowflakes

  8. Anonymous says:

    Seems like the transition to normal cold in general this time of year, to normal more cold, this time of the year.
    It’s funny how this is, in “Oregon”.

  9. Mountain Man says:

    12z runs did not back off at all. Marks next post should be interesting. He could put a fork in any chance of an early spring I suppose.

  10. Mountain Man says:

    Interesting, all medium/long range models and cpc now in consensus on the big picture for a long cold winter like pattern, and no one is talking about it. Guess we have winter burn out.

    • Mountain Man says:

      I’ll add, this could be historically significant… If it pans out.

    • MasterNate says:

      Winters last breath. Im in, although I wouldn’t mind a breath of late spring either.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Winter burn out is right. But it does, unfortunately look like some fairly cold air setting up down the road.

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      Cold I can take. Just no more two inch per day rainfalls please. Snow is kind of nice to look at. A flooded basement is not. Peace.

  11. Mountain Man says:

    Maybe no one wants to hear this, but looking at tonight’s gfs 00Z ensembles, it’s painfully obvious, winter is coming back for quite a while if you live up above 500 to 1000 feet. Can’t rule out snow to the valley floor ether. If the Ecmwf digs it’s heals in just a bit more, it’s looking obvious that a very long chilly pattern is on the way for sure. No early fork in winter this year.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      Ya, can’t shovel snow with a fork all that well!

      National Weather Service Portland OR
      331 AM PST Sat Feb 18 2017

      It should be noted that latest EC suggests a
      shortwave trough diving southward out of British Columbia pinching off over the northeast Pacific and producing a weak low pressure just off the Oregon or Washington coast, which could allow snow levels to lower further.

    • Longview 400 ft says:

      Hey, why not! What is one more shot at the goods? When will we ever have a winter like this one again (for us weather geeks only)? Unless this is the new trend?

      If the this pans out, and we are now talking about it, word gets around, no one should be caught off guard. Why not just enjoy winter one more time before we all enjoy the sun and warmth of Spring and summer?

      Just some thoughts on the matter.

      I mean, we have had some awesome summers as of late!!!!!

      I’m in!!!!!!!

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

    Latest Euro, GFS, and NAM (to name the weather models I like to look at) all show a potential snowstorm on Feb 21st for the hills in the Sound area of Washington. Right now the cold follows South just enough for that but if the high pressures in British Columbia strengthens?

    Things could get interesting once again in the PNW in general as the low pressure would come farther South as well. Models have been consistent from run to run for about 4 days now.

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


    • Mountain Man says:

      I don’t see enough precipitation for anyone to get a snowstorm yet. I do see it cold enough run after run for wet snow showers down to the hilltops in NW OR through western Washington. We’ll have to see how this develops in coming days. We need that ridge to be strong enough and push north into Alaska a bit for anything cold enough for sea level snow but runs of the Ecmwf were there yesterday, slightly backing off today. Then if the air is cold enough, like at least -7 to -8, 850 mb… by Tuesday we’ll see if this is anything more than a scattered showers thing. My gut feeling is the hills will get a bit of flocking at least late next week and definitely foothills and coast range. Perhaps winters last laugh for lower elevations too but we’ll need heavy showers and that -7 or -8 for that.

  13. WEATHERDAN says:

    Check out 1951, 1960, and 1971 for late season snow. In late February 1971 snow was so heavy KOIN tv tower collapsed and South Salem K mart rood also caved in. Late February and early March looks cold but dry. My basement votes for dry. Peace.

  14. cphatts says:

    Whats been interesting this winter, given how stormy it’s been, is we haven’t had any of those long 10-14 day stretches of not seeing the sun (so far-at least here in downtown PDX). I don’t recall going more than a few days without at least seeing some sunshine this winter. Usually in most years by now we have had a couple of those incredibly long gloomy stretches where you’ll do anything for just a glimpse of sun. Of course that could all change, but as spring approaches it becomes less likely to have those incredibly long sans sun stretches.

  15. Mountain Man says:

    500 to 1000 ft. snow levels look possible by late next week on most of the recent gfs and Ecmwf runs. Gfs ensemble support, some bullish ec runs, gem not so on board. Thought I’d point this out given the recent poll, just in case you folks haven’t been paying attention.

  16. It can snow as late as late April in the lowlands, but of course usually it doesn’t. I believe we’re done with snow for this winter. No complaints; this winter has ranged from epic to good depending on where you are (assuming you’re a fan of snow).

    • W7ENK says:

      1999, I was taking classes at Clackamas Community College at the top of the hill in Oregon City. I remember it snowing big fat flakes, coming down REALLY HARD under a heavy shower late morning one day in mid April. I was quite surprised. I was completely blown away to see it happen again in May! Both times saw a light accumulation of gray sloppy slush in the grass that only lasted a few minutes. I wrote about it both times, but I’d have to go dig that off an old HDD to get the exact dates.

  17. oldwxwatcher says:

    Anything is possible, I guess. I remember sticking snow one April in the early 1960s and driving through a snow shower on my way to work on a May afternoon in the early 1980s.

    Here’s an interesting article about this past month, the Earth’s 3rd warmest January in recorded history. Only one part of this country had a below-average January, temperature-wise, and we all know where that was.,

  18. longviewer says:

    I can think of several March days with white in the West Hills though, a few times in the past ten years. Living at 750′ near Longview (and still cutting trees from our 13″ snowfall) I will remain vigilant!

  19. Ellen Wallace says:

    Feb is my birthday month, a few times we have had ice rain and/or snow on my birthday – I hope we are done, but I have seen very different many times.

  20. JERAT416 says:

    Maybe if enough of us agree winter is over for Portland, then it HAS to be over due to our consensus. Just like All Gore seems to think that a consensus of scientists on climate change proves something. Funny how science works much differently now than I was taught in school.

  21. WEATHERDAN says:

    Today’s weather in a word BLEEEEEEEEP!!!. Peace.

  22. JJ78259 says:

    Wow looks like a San Antonio Rain storm! We have one coming Sunday! But till then sunny and 70-80 degree weather! Stay dry!

  23. Roland Derksen says:

    1.28 inches of warm rain yesterday- my remnants of snow are almost gone now, except for the spots where it was piled up. I’m still not convinced we’ve seen the last of the snow for the season. Mark, on March 1, 1991 we had over 6 inches of snow here after several days of sun and very mild temperatures(maximums in the 60’s). I’ll always remember that date.

  24. W7ENK says:

    Look at the radar. Those lines? that SW to NE orientation?

    I’m calling it now…

    Today is a Battle Ground/Aumsville tornado pattern!

    Don’t act all surprised when it happens, probably in the 11am to 2pm time frame.

    • jakeinthevalley says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe not tornados, but definitely a cold core funnel cloud type of day.

      You just had the guts to throw it out there first!!

    • muxpux (Longview) says:

      I’m at work in woodland, and the sky just opened up…

    • jakeinthevalley says:

      And just like that we get a stratiform, non convective day!!

      Oh well.

    • W7ENK says:

      Really? We had thunder this morning. Either that, or someone dropped an empty dumpster bin down a really, really long flight of concrete stairs… ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • jakeinthevalley says:

      Nothing but training gobs of moderate rain for most of the day down the valley from Salem to McMinnville (where I was).

      Some heavier, embedded bands but it certainly wasn’t convective down here.

      However, we are just getting started with cold core season.

  25. MasterNate says:

    Which way did you vote Mark??

  26. Mike near Clackamas Town Center says:

    Mountain Man, that snow event happened on Feb 19th 😉

  27. Mountain Man says:

    Where’s the 6 or so inches in late February 1993 Mark? Missing data?

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