January 2018: Much Different Than 2017!

9pm Monday

As I mentioned almost a week ago, the weather the past couple of weeks has been very S-L-O-W.  Check out how different the first week of the month has been compared to last year!

Winter Snow_Ice Compare

So far this winter (beginning December 1st), we’ve seen temperatures near normal, but it’s sure been a bit drier than normal.  Most obvious has been the lack of mountain snowfall.  You see all of Oregon is at/below 50% of average “snow water” for this date:

Snowpack Oregon Plus Facts

At this point last winter we were finishing up our 2nd ice storm of the season with two more to go.   That was the weekend snow then ice event (very similar to what just happened Christmas Eve).  The big snowstorm followed just two days later (a Tuesday evening).  So far this month is running warmer than the past 4 Januarys…yes, quite a change.

Looking ahead, we are still in a split-flow pattern early this week, with big rains falling way down in southern Oregon.  That continues the next two days, then a more organized Pacific frontal system moves inland Wednesday night and Thursday.  This gives us a nice rainy/windy 12 hours…ah, back to normal!

Then an upper-level ridge of high pressure pops up over the West Coast through the MLK weekend.  East wind SHOULD clear out the metro area for some sunshine Saturday and Sunday, although we’re still deep in inversion season so it won’t get much above 50.

There are signs of a pattern change which now appears to only be 8-10 days away.  Models and their ensembles want to develop upper-level troughing over the western USA or at the least a wet/stormier westerly flow.  I’m talking sometime after next Tuesday, depending on the model.   Note the ECMWF ensemble 500mb height anomaly for NEXT week and the FOLLOWING WEEK (the 2nd half of January) shows the lower heights along the entire West Coast and a much warmer eastern USA:

And the same two-week precipitation anomaly maps show a wetter than normal West Coast:

This WOULD be the change to typical La Nina conditions many of us have been looking for if it comes to fruition.  We’ll see.  The ECMWF is pretty clear, check out the 850mb ensemble chart; excellent agreement on those temps going down beginning on the 16th. NEXT week is consistently cooler than normal at 4,000′ in the Cascades.


This could mean we’ll finally start building a good base of snow in the Cascades.  What we DON’T see in the next 8-10 days is a pattern that would get snow/ice in the lowlands.  So it’s probably safe to say the first three weeks of January will not be featuring any snow/ice events.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


31 Responses to January 2018: Much Different Than 2017!

  1. W7ENK says:

    It’s been a most curious Winter, that’s for sure.

    Think about it:

    Warm and unusually dry in the PNW, low snowpack, lots of East wind through the Gorge… Meanwhile, California is getting slammed with a ton of rain, ravaged by mudslides, etc…

    This is an El Niño. These are the things that happen during an El Niño. BUT, ENSO SSTs say we’re in a La Niña?

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Sargent?!?

    This is nonsensical.

    • ocpaul says:

      weather is pure chaos.

    • Nahtalkin says:

      As you would like to tell anyone that would listen: loose the animation now that you have learned how to insert it into the blog.
      Enough is enough……about as boring as “viral” , let’s hope both of these little trends go away in the New Year. Bet ‘mom’ would agree!

  2. Roland Derksen says:

    No question that this January is a lot different than last one: at least through the first half of the month. Last January we had some cold temperatures and bright sunny days to enjoy. This one has been a lot milder, wetter and full of clouds.

  3. Alohabb says:

    I think i can actually take the lawn mower out and mow the yard, the grass is getting to that point.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      I think if we start mowing then the snow will come😆

      • JERAT416 says:

        Uncover the crawl space vents, unrwap pipes, get yard tools ready and winter will make a comeback!

      • Nahtalkin says:

        You got it all wrong again, all topsy-turvy and convoluted my young man. Nothing you can do or say, the events of nature will as the may, play out in due course just when you least expect them.

  4. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I’m outside having a smoke and noticed something. The clouds are moving really fast to the NE. In the past, when I’ve seen this, we normally see some really gusty wind. Also, the atmosphere gets very unstable. Maybe we will see a funnel cloud too 😉

  5. Ken in Wood Village says:

    What is going on with the radar now?? It’s raining in my area but it doesn’t show anything on the radar. I noticed something going on this afternoon with it. Is it down again 😦

  6. Jason Hougak says:

    Washington Cascades are going to get a great January refill.

  7. W7ENK says:

    I wouldn’t mind another bout of snow, can do without the ice though. However, I doubt we see anything appreciable down in the Valley at this point.

    Winter 2018/2019, that one falls in the cycle. The last winter, albeit spectacular in Portland, fell out of phase with our recurring 5-year cycle of big Winters. That’s why I don’t expect anything more this season.

    • Nahtalkin says:

      For many years it was kind of a 4 year cycle, but really to put any kind of reliable forecast or prediction using that miniscule amount of data is just not sound…. not enough data or history. Better come up with another idea, you know like one that’s not “half baked”!

    • boydo3 says:

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a February snow in the Valley.

  8. ocpaul says:

    Cold and snowy on the East coast, I understand. But it snowed today in the Sahara Desert in Algeria. Not unheard of, but still weird.

  9. Nahtalkin says:

    What a fantastic winter! Love it, I’m going up over the mountain today to check things out. There is always beauty to be found if you have the courage to look for it.

    • GTS1Kft says:

      Hope you don’t get lost in the rapturous moment, Bobby, you courageous explorer, you. You’d have difficulty discerning beauty if it bit you on the leg.

      Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

      It’s obvious where you fall on the chart….

  10. marinersfan85 says:

    This winter has been awful

  11. boydo3 says:

    But you just might want to wait and see..
    some of our biggest snow storms have happened in Feb.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I agree, I think everything was set back about a month. I think this will be the start of an active pattern for our area. I remember Feb. 2014 very well. I lived in Tigard at the time and the Portland area got hit by two snow storms back to back. I had to walk almost two miles in the snow to get home because the buses in my area wasn’t running. It was a B**** LOL.

  12. ocpaul says:

    “…and that winter is effectively, over.”

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