East Wind Season Ends…It’ll Be Back in 8 Months

March 6, 2017

Those of you that live in the usual east wind spots have probably noticed…our old friend disappeared a couple of weeks early this year!  I doubt anyone is complaining.  The combination of a very windy period in December and January along with the coldest winter in 30+ years in the metro area made it especially difficult winter.  Heating bills were HUGE in January which didn’t help our bank accounts.

We can track the wind season-by-season by counting the number of days where gusts (from the east) exceeded 25 mph at Troutdale.  That location is just outside the west end of the Gorge and has a 24 hour a day reliable wind instrument.  I would use Crown Point or Corbett, but then we lose readings due to power outages and during ice storms…missing the strongest wind days.

Check out the past few years:


A few notes:

  • As mentioned, combining the large number of days with the extra cold temps = extra miserable.  At least those other 3 big years saw afternoon temps rise into the 30s and 40s consistently, instead of 25-35 regularly this January.
  • January 13th-18th was the coldest/windiest period we have seen since just before the February 1996 flood.  Troutdale gusted 50+ for 4 days straight.  Corbett gusted over 80 mph several times; that sensor hadn’t seen a gust over 78 mph in the same location in at least 10 years.
  • During that period, high temperatures were in the 25-30 degree range at Troutdale and 20-25 range up around Crown Point and Corbett…brrr!
  • The wind suddenly “stopped” President’s Day weekend and we haven’t seen it since that time.  That’s because the past two weeks we’ve gone into a more “typical” La Nina winter pattern of cool showers and weather systems coming at us from the west or northwest.  That kills high pressure east of the Cascades = less wind.  Note the 3 previous La Nina winters (on the chart above) saw just 40-41-48 days instead of the 69 days this year.  El Nino winters tend to give us more east wind due to more stagnant high pressure overhead.  This was a very different La Nina winter than those years.

Now keep in mind that the wind doesn’t totally disappear for the next 8 months.   Anytime we get strong high pressure overhead (unusually warm weather) April through October we get at least some wind, but generally gusts stay under 50 mph.  And personally I love those rare 20-30 mph breezes in June/July/August that blow all night long.  During heat waves that can keep temperatures out in the western Gorge in the 60s/70s at night; it feels like tropical breezes at that point.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Snow Totals: How Much Did You Get?

March 6, 2017


9am Monday…

As expected some spots saw snow and some did not.  IF YOU RECEIVED MORE THAN 1/2″ SNOW, then put it in the comments below.  In this case it’s especially important that you put in your elevation too.  At least within 500′ if possible.  Just looking for 3 bits of information:


I’ll start,

2.0″ –  Corbett – 1050′