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

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

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

  1. Lee Wilson says:

    I have a question Mark,
    It’s about what powers the radars and such.

    In a time when the power goes out, are these weather radars set up in a way to have emergency power..or…is it really bad for guys a well when the lights go out?

    Just curious on how these systems are set up.

    I know Many Stations have large deisle generators to power the broadcast stations…i seen on at KATU..as went passed it a while back.

  2. Lee Wilson says:

    So far as I can tell pretty much a normal winter.
    As a child I remember cold, I remember 4 feet of snow and bitter arctic blasts..

    I remember floods that shit down I 5.

    Being alive for a 45 years means we seen a lot.

    Just imagine if 35 years ago we had blogs…or EBB, where we could post weather related data.

    Now with cellular devices and computers and the internet..
    It’s no longer he says that or this…but now we have the power of electronic proof with regards to weather.

    No9nger is it me saying,”Hey look we had a tornado “, it is now HEY LOOK WE’RE HAVING A TORNADO….HERE IS A LIVE VIEW FROM PHONE!

    And I think it’s due to electr9nic devices that are now learning were far more p4one to severe weather than we though.

    That includes a tornado or the 2

  3. Jason hougak says:

    Mark, I think that the March coming in like a lamb was quickly killed by the stormy weather!
    187″ at Timberline and growing! Snowlevel back down below Ski Bowl, time to ride!

  4. I find it hilarious that our likely coldest March day in the eastern Gorge (42 at DLS), happens to be the day that warm air is moving in aloft.

    “ONLY in The Dalles!”

  5. Jason Hougak says:

    Cascade clobber… Mt. Baker Ski Area has received OVER 💯” in the past week😳
    Unfortunately it’s looking warmer than predicted with snowlevel climbing to Timberline currently. Hopefully they’ll still get the snowfall they were anticipating or my day off to go ride is gonna be wet.

  6. WEATHERDAN says:

    In the 73-74 Winter season Timberline had snow over 300 inches deep in March. But the Summer of 1974 was a hot one. So just because it is cold now does not mean this Summer will be cold. We shall see. Peace.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      Ah yes summer of all 74, I was 4 years old and mom has pictures of us kids sitting on our trikes…she said from bad winter to bad summer…i hope we get a decent summer, I want to try watermelons.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Summer of ’74… let’s see; As a 15 year old back then, I recall it as a pretty wet one here -at first. June was okay, but July was lousy until around the 21st. After that, it was great. One of the driest Augusts on record, and sunny until the first few days of November.

  7. GTS1K' says:

    They may call it “Stormy Monday”, but Tuesday’s even worse!

    • Lee Wilson says:

      I know, I drove up through dellemeter/Woodside road…they must have had a blizzard up there..trees snapped, and a few inches of snow. Melting pretty rapidly I might add.

  8. Roland Derksen says:

    Fascinating day here: Lots of big heavy snow flakes falling through the afternoon, and temperatures hovering in the mid-30’sF. When it got a little cooler the snow started sticking, then it would warm up slightly and the snow would become mixed with rain and melt on the ground. Back and forth. Now, it looks like it’s turned to light rain, but with clearing skies forecasted overnight, we should see ice on the roads and grass.

  9. Lee Wilson says:

    I though we also get east winds in summer?Is it not True that when we get those we usually get the heat wave and nice forest fires?

    and on the side Note,
    We really didn’t have that high of a PUD bill.
    We have 195 dollars in credit.

    and we didn’t freeze either..we were ale to maintain A nice 78 to 80 degrees in our poorly insulated apartment that has a 5 foot bay window with a single pain of glass , and which the rear sliding glass door made of Aluminum doesn’t fair t well in 10 degree weather..it ices up lol

    so How on earth, do you all have a High PUD BILL?
    the one thing that we used was the heat wave heater and 2 smaller heaters .

    one set at 500 watts and the other set at 750 watts…on super cold days we ramped them up to 1 kw each…

    oh and one thing we did use was solar power and a generator . to supplement power.

    our highest usage was from when we ran our dryer .

    • Paul D says:

      Some people may have had a high utility bill this winter, but the past two winters were a lot cheaper, so it may have evened out.

    • moosieman says:

      Maybe everyone doesn’t live in a small apartment?

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Downsloping winds in the summer. It compresses the atmosphere and therefore creates heat Lee. So yeah, they happen in summer and usually are warm. I think Mark kind of mentioned that.

    • Lee Wilson says:

      Under stood on those east winds…at any rate while it is true not all of us live in an appartent, most live in houses..now condominium life style, that may be a tad bit of challenge with generator and Solar…

      But for the most part, what I was trying to say, is if you got a yard, you have a way to lower bills.

      And they do have some generators that are super quiet.

      If I had my way…id be on my own land and pay the yearly rent called a tad.

      Some people now live in tiny houses too..thwy have no electric bill..lucky them.

      I guess what I am really trying to say is .
      The Power companies have their contracts listed as a privilege rather then a right. And because it is a privilege and not a right, they can charge prices for however much they want.

      There are those trying to fight the power companies and make having electricity a right.

      The thing with that is once declared a right, very little profit is left.

      One thing is for sure…it sure is subject to a lot of issues.

      From weather related events.

      On the flip side, it’s hard to believe what a psychologist 5kw inverter can power.

      With the right batters as a fuel sou
      You could wash clothes and run heavy cooking items for up to a week. On a smaller battery system up to three days..that includes things like heating and refrigeration and cooking.

      So even if you have a small space, you could put some agms and an inverter in a closet or to the nearest out let and still have power in an outage.

      Now if you were to add a charge controller an two 500 watt panels either set for 12 or 24 volt to match your inverter voltage..then you could indeed get a lower PUD Bill.

      Trick with a condo…need South facing deck.

      I think some hybrids are coming out with emergency generators as an add On.

      I believe the Prius? Is it? Has a plug out kit.

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    Timberline is rapidly approaching a 200″ base.

    • Anonymous says:

      Soon there will be snow plows under the chairs with all that liquid sunshine coming in!

    • JJ78259 says:

      soon there will be snow plows under the chairs with all that rain coming in! What a ski season! I have skied in May with fresh snow! Looks like that year is shaping up again! Tons of spring snow and heavy rain for the valley.

  11. Marc (Brush Prairie, WA) says:

    Wow, reading over snow totals in the previous post, some people got a decent snow storm today! And some at low elevation too!

  12. Jason Hougak says:

    Fork the fork Mark… winter is still here to play.

  13. Remember the east windstorm Portland had in the 3rd week of March last year, Mark? It wasn’t even particularly chilly east of the Cascades, just an unusually strong Columbia Basin high pressure for so late in the season. And there was east wind for 3-4 days straight near the mouth of the Gorge…

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