Winter is Here, And Not Just In The Mountains

9:30pm Wednesday

Heavy snow is falling in the mountains tonight.  The nice folks at Skibowl installed a very bright yard light this fall, so now we can see what it looks like after dark (until night skiing starts in December).  It’s been like a big “snow-globe” on the big monitor overhead here in the weather center.  This is great news; two more local ski resorts will be opening this weekend:

The cool westerly flow of showers will continue through early Friday, dumping 1 to 2 feet of fresh powder

Of course that means rough driving over the Cascades tomorrow and Friday.  Things should improve over the weekend with Saturday sunshine and then a warmer system the 2nd half of Sunday.   But the message is clear:  WINTER HAS ARRIVED AND IS HERE TO STAY IN THE CASCADES.  I don’t expect to see the ground appear again up at our camera location until sometime in May…or beyond.  That’s a 6 month-long snow cover!  Meanwhile down in the valleys it was a gloomy, cool, & dark day.  Most areas west of the Cascades have seen around an inch or rain…give or take a few tenths.

Today we are at the halfway point through November, which has been slightly on the cool side.  Can you believe that right now we are actually entering winter in the lowlands west of the Cascades?  It may seem like a silly statement, but in reality now through mid-February is “prime-time” for our winter weather.

Almost all of our flooding, snow/ice storms, damaging arctic blasts and (to a lesser extent) windstorms show up from now through mid-February.  Yes, I know it can snow either before this date or after mid-February, but those times are the outliers.  We are entering the main “weather action season”.

In the short term, it’s obvious we have a mild 2nd half of November coming…seems like upper-level ridging wants to linger over the western USA for a good chunk of the next 10-14 days.  Here’s the ECMWF 500mb anomaly for next Wednesday, a mild southwest flow of air

Then Sunday AFTER Thanksgiving, wet with temps near normal

And finally the last day of the month…Thursday the 30th

The last few runs of the GFS are not quite as ridgy, so maybe it won’t end up as mild as these maps would imply.  Regardless, the 12 Day trend I show many nights around 10:45pm will look like this:

The big message is that travel conditions might be very good for Thanksgiving…maybe even reasonable in the Cascades too.  #FingersCrossed

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

28 Responses to Winter is Here, And Not Just In The Mountains

  1. Nahtalkin says:

    31 degrees and freezing fog here this morning, reminds me of some December cold spells where I have had freezing fog for 3 days or more with a beautiful build up of hoar frost on fences, bare branches and fir boughs. Can be quite stunningly beautiful and almost as white as a snowfall!

  2. JohnD says:

    60′ temps for Thanksgiving? Really? WooHoo! Wouldn’t be the first time. And hopefully an “equal and opposite” precursor to a great stretch of winter weather at all elevations at some point after that!

    • Nahtalkin says:

      I’ve seen times in the past when we have unseasonable weather such as 60 degrees at Thanksgiving time then it does seem to swing the other way, kind of a 陰陽 yīnyáng weather thing.

    • Paul D says:

      Crazy man! Guess it’s not winter yet.

  3. umpire says:

    No snow in town, but blue skies for the Forest Park Conservancy’s annual rakeathon, where volunteers rake leaves off several miles of trails, keeping them in better shape throughout the winter.

  4. Jason Hougak says:

    One word to describe the conditions on the mountain today… EPIC!!! Aside from the crowds which wasn’t too bad a Timberline it was a 10 outa 10 for blue bird skies, light wind, temps around freezing and deep fresh early season powder. Sunday nights rain is going to bring a downer for the lower mountain, even the long range period isn’t looking promising for early December but things could quickly change.

  5. pappoose in scappoose says:

    First-of-Its-Kind Satellite Launches to Track Earth’s Weather Like Never Before

    https://www.space.com/38766-jpss1-weather-satellite-launch-success.html

  6. Nahtalkin says:

    Well I see the forecast for Tuesday has changed from dry to wet, I guess this is the time of year when Mark’s “Crystal Ball” gets a wee bit foggy, but we all expect that to happen, no guarantees in the weather department. That’s why raingear was invented!

  7. Roland Derksen says:

    Brief hailshower here this morning around 10am. The freezing level has definetly lowered since yesterday.

  8. WEATHERDAN says:

    If this is Winter Mark, then where are the falling snowflakes in your blog? Peace.

  9. Jason Hougak says:

    Got Elk in the freezer, wood in the barn, emergency hand pump on the well, gas/ diesel/ and propane filled, ready for winter!
    36″ of snow on the ground at Timberline👍🏼

  10. The three-month period of “PNW Winter” is also when lowland inversions are strongest and when any kind of WARM sunshine in the lowlands becomes extremely unlikely. Too late for Indian Summer and too early for False Spring!

    BTW….why do we still celebrate a harvest festival called Thanksgiving in late November, which is pretty much part of early winter? If we bumped the holiday up to the first week of the month instead, it would still be in November but the seasonality would make much more sense, as now you’re actually pretty close to the end of the midlatitude harvest calendar. Plus there would be fewer travel weather problems and more time to recover before Christmas time.

    Given that retail has long forgotten about Thanksgiving in its rush to market Christmas earlier and earlier, it’s not like an earlier turkey holiday is going to disrupt the calendar. They can still go all-out with Santa ads beginning the 2nd week of November!

    • JERAT416 says:

      Pretty soon they will just keep Christmas stuff in stores all year haha the day after Christmas it will be discounted then in January all back and restocked haha

    • Nahtalkin says:

      Sorry, half baked…..This turkey of an idea of yours will never fly!

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Karl, here’s something you might find of intrest to know: Here in Canada we used to celebrate Thanksgiving in the first week of November. That changed after World War One, when it was decided to have November 11th as Remembrance Day. Because the two holidays would have been so close together, our Thanksgiving Day was moved to early October. I’ve always felt that was a bit too early as well, but we’ve had it there ever since.

  11. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    Anyone get the feeling that PDX might not get below freezing before the end of the year?

    • JohnD says:

      ‘Sure wouldn’t go that far. December “ought” to have some drama–especially this year. Of course, anything is possible. One never knows.

  12. JERAT416 says:

    Let’s hope there will be enough snow up there to keep things open through the ridging and dry periods. All great news thanks for the update!

  13. Nahtalkin says:

    First comment of the “winter season”, I always look forward to the unknown weather lurking beyond.

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