Will 4 Days of Warm Rain End An Early Ski Season?

9pm Sunday

November has been near to slightly below normal temperature-wise across much of the West.

Compare that with the blowtorch November last year across the entire USA!

Along with near normal rainfall that has given us a very nice mountain snowpack already.  At the Mt. Hood Test Site at the lower part of Timberline Ski Area, 34 inches of snow sit on the ground, containing 7.80″ snow water equivalent.  That means if you could melt it with a snap of your fingers, it would be just like 7.80″ of rain fell suddenly.  See how this compares to the past 8 Novembers at that site.

Pretty nice eh?  Quite a change from the past 3 mid-Novembers with very little snow on the ground at this moment.

That was the good news.  The bad news?  We have 4 days of warm rain (Monday-Thanksgiving Day) headed for all elevations in the Cascades.

The result will be substantial snowmelt.

But I do NOT believe this is the end of our early ski season.   There is no reason to panic when you hear many inches of rain are coming to your favorite ski resort.

It’ll be a setback, but this was an early bonus anyway.  A good part of the current snowpack will survive, in fact in the past 20 years we haven’t made it to 30″+ snow depth at this location followed by a complete melt down.  Sometimes it has dropped quite a bit (like the week ahead), but then more snow fell within a week or two.  If you are a skier or ski resort manager there’s no reason to freak out.

The pattern for the next 4 days looks like this…

a big ridge of high pressure with very warm temperatures overhead.  Lots of subtropical moisture will be streaming north around this ridge, pushing sticking snow levels up around 8-10,000′ on Mt. Hood.  We’ll be breaking out of the usual November inversion when we get a southerly wind so we can also expect a very warm Thanksgiving Week in the lowlands.  A record high is possible in Portland either Tuesday or Wednesday (records are 62 & 59 for those dates).

I expect lots of rain, but this isn’t generally a flooding rain pattern with the flow coming steeply from the southwest (instead of west).  Plus no one system seems to sit right over us for an extended period of rain.

There is one huge bonus…THANKSGIVING TRAVEL THROUGHOUT THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST SHOULD BE EXCELLENT.  There will be no snow over mountain passes anywhere in Oregon or most of Washington from tomorrow morning through Thanksgiving Day.  Even after that time through Sunday sticking snow levels seem to remain mainly above the Cascade Passes.

So enjoy the week ahead…at least you’ll save on your heating bills!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

36 Responses to Will 4 Days of Warm Rain End An Early Ski Season?

  1. Jason Hougak says:

    Timberline has cut back lifts to Pucci and Bruno. Ski Bowl has been reduced to patches of slush. The Pineapple Express has whiped out our 375% above average snowpack to most likely below average and there’s still a day of warm rainy weather tomorrow. Snowfall looks very marginal but at least some new snow is in the forecast. Whatever snow is left will start our base once the slushy snow freezes up. Amazing how fast the snow can melt when it hasn’t compacted and froze up solid.

  2. umpire says:

    Driving back from Boise to Portland today. Was 60 in both Lagrande and Pendleton, 50’s in the Blues, only snow visible is high in the hills/mountains. Have had worse weather in May, including snow!

  3. Roland Derksen says:

    I mentioned a couple of days ago that I didn’t think we’d break a record here for maximum temperature on this date (Nov.22). Well, we have now: Just half an hour ago, it was up to 57.4F and that’s higher than the 57.2F set on the date in 2002. Sun is peaking through at times too- so if we get a good shot of sunlight thsi afternoon (say, half an hour) that could really send it above 60F

    • Roland Derksen says:

      We fell just short of the 60 degree mark: A high of 59.5F. Just a bit more sunshine and we would have made it.

  4. Storm total for this rain event so far: 2.12″.

  5. Sprayandpay says:

    With mankind (manipulating) the climate to stop or slow global warming is NOT ending well for us. I say mankind since it’s not solely limited to the US of (beep) A. The whole world has programs and sooner or later if not already the effects will be unstoppable but we have a choice to stop it.

  6. Jason Hougak says:

    Timberline telemetry showing snow base has dropped to 25″ from at high of 42″. Wasn’t able to view Ski Bowl cam today but I’ll bet it’s not going to be good in the am.

    • Nahtalkin says:

      The whole darn mountain is turning to slush, hopefully a little better next week. For those of us that like to take a last of the seasons backroads trip this will be a good chance to take a last look until late spring. I plan on taking my dog up to High Rock Thanksgiving morning, kind of an annual event for me to say goodbye for 6 months and per down into the Salmon River Wilderness area. Last Thanksgiving it was blowing snow, an eerie cold wind and 2 inches of snow on the road.

  7. Nahtalkin says:

    so far today about 15 degrees below the forecast high, just another November day here.

    • There’s planty of warm air aloft (freezing level is now 10000 feet in the Seattle area), but it’s still having trouble scouring out the cold air at the lowest levels. Eventually, the Pineapple Express air should prevail.

      • Roland Derksen says:

        The temperature here has been slowly rising through the day. It was 42F this morning around 7am, the last I checked it was 46F (4:10Pm), should be near 50F by 9pm.

        • Surface temperature has warmed dramatically since 18:00 local time here. It’s now 57°F/14°C. Feels almost tropical. It’s also been pouring rain like crazy for the last hour or two.

          Interestingly, upper air observations show that temperatures have now dropped by 1 to 2 degrees C at about the 3000 to 4000 foot levels since this morning (sorry about the mixed units, but that’s how the airlines report the data!). Freezing level still about 10,000 feet.

  8. Here’s something from a weather-related project that’s been occupying much of my spare time recently: http://koosah.info/mm_obs_demo_v2.html

    The colored dots are upper-air weather observations taken by commercial aircraft (color codes the elevation, green=sea level, yellow=20,000 ft, red=40,000 ft, intermediate colors for intermediate elevations). Hover over the dots with the mouse pointer to get the details of each observation.

    More info: http://koosah.info/about.html

    • I’ve added a version that will probably work better for mobile device users: http://koosah.info/mm_obs_demo_v3.html .

    • Interesting… If the temperature were consistently colder, we’d be getting a mega ice storm right now! There’s a significant inversion going on; temperature around 3000′ is already above 10°C, yet surface temperature at my house is barely 6°C. Freezing level is already 9000′ and rising. Apparently the Pineapple Express is already here but cooler air at the surface is having trouble scouring out.

      It’s a very foggy rain today. Not surprising, as the raindrops are warmer than the air they’re falling through. It’s a “steaming hot coffee” effect, of sorts.

  9. longbeachrob says:

    What keeps the Low pressure just Northeast of Hawaii from moving up along towards us following the edge of the pineapple express?

  10. Roland Derksen says:

    We’re expecting a maximum temperature on Wednesday of 56 or 57F. That’s not a record, however.

  11. Nahtalkin says:

    How can the weather be “bad news” have we not evolved into a fickle, self absorbed society. I believe the weather is as it should be and neither good nor bad just part of the beauty of nature.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      I agree
      However I love building mountain snowpack
      This week would have been awesome if it’d be cold enough for snow at the ski areas

    • Boring 550' says:

      Yeah you’re right. I’ll stop wishing for snow, thanks for keeping us in line.

      • Nahtalkin says:

        Keep on wishing, that’s your gig, I was responding to Mark’s post, I have my hands full minding my own crazy self much less keeping anyone else in line, and I really don’t have any abilities in that area so blog on.

    • GTS1K' says:

      Farmer Ted – back from the……

  12. Hal in Aims says:

    a couple close flashes during what I assume was the fropa…….

  13. JERAT416 says:

    Haha I still have to get to work and live on a hill so let’s make it 1,500 ft unless you’re NW of PDX by at least 15 miles

  14. JERAT416 says:

    Hopefully when that is all over we will have a 2,500 ft snow level and big rain storms for a month straight!

  15. WEATHERDAN says:

    The Gods of Winter giveth, then they taketh away. Peace.

  16. Wednesday & Thursday could turn into an outright HEAT WAVE east of the Cascades, if there are ample sunbreaks during the daytime. Places along I-84 between The Dalles & Pendleton, could be in the 65-70 range for a day or two!

  17. Ace in Wood Village says:

    I agree Mark. I think it will be a nice warm up for travelers on Thanksgiving. I also agree this is just a little set back. I have been looking at the current weather models and see we will start becoming much cooler the beginning of next month. I for one look forward to snow in the lowlands. Have a great week and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

  18. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    First. I will be in Southern California. Low 90s look possible Wednesday and Thursday. Madness. What goes up must come down. Low snow levels are in our future at some point relatively soon.

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