Winter Is Over In the Lowlands; What Does That Mean?

February 27, 2018

Winter 2017-2018 is done; time to stick a fork in it!

What kind of a statement is that?  It means I’m quite confident we’re done with most of our typical winter weather events.  But not all!

First, a quick look at “winter” shows we have been a bit warmer and drier than normal; definitely not a typical La Niña winter.  Only in the 2nd half of February did things finally kick into gear.  Take a look at the temperature anomaly the past 90 days in the West

Precipitation anomaly since late November shows most of the West has seen a very dry winter:


Looking at the maps ahead, I don’t see an outbreak of cold arctic air.  For that matter I don’t see unusually chilly air for this time of year.  That plus the calendar turning to March tells me we’re done with most of these weather events for the season

Sure, we can still get a chilly east wind, but in March we don’t get long periods of cold easterly wind.  As mentioned I don’t see a setup for an all-day type snow event that would keep roads frozen/snowy.  It’s too late to get a damaging arctic blast; and nothing is seen on our models.  I’ve never seen widespread flooding in March, although I remember the flooding around Salem a few years ago in March.  Again, that was localized.

What actions can YOU take at this point?

There you go.  Basically it’s time to “de-winterize”.  Now if you live in the foothills like me, I’d leave the snow tires on a bit longer to see what’s ahead next week.  Same thing if you regularly go up/over the Cascades.

What might we still see in March?

Of course in any year we can still get a brief wet morning snowfall even at the lowest elevations in March, but in these La Niña winter/springs the chance of that happening is higher.  Remember March 2012?  That’s an extreme version of what can happen, but we saw significant sticking snow overnight hours several times, including at the coastline.  In fact even later this week (mainly Friday) we could see brief snowfall in the overnight/morning hours.  That’s assuming we have enough moisture when it’s cold enough.

Obviously we still get freezes in March, but they become milder and a temperature below 25 is unlikely for most of us.  And we can sure get a windstorm in March!  Remember last April?  Gusts 45-60 mph in the metro area in the first week of the month.  That IS the latest I’ve seen a windstorm; it’s more common in March.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen