What Happened to May? Summer Weather & Cascade Snow Meltdown

9pm Monday

The past month has been amazing if you don’t like cool/cloudy/wet springs here in the Pacific Northwest.  It won’t be so “amazing” if we don’t get more typical late May or June weather in the next 4-5 weeks.  Here’s the monthly temperature anomaly map so far…9 days left in May


All of the USA minus Florida and coastal California has been very warm.  Here in western Oregon we’re are in the middle of one of the warmest Mays on record.

May Warm Start Stats

I just planted most of my garden yesterday.  Typically I’m fighting cold/wet conditions, slugs, and not even thinking about watering in mid-May.  But we’ve seen only .25″ in the past 4 weeks.

This is the driest April 21st-May 21st on record at PDX.  We’ve never seen it this dry during this period of time in the past 80 years in Portland.

Typically when we have dry spells this time of year, we see rain on the horizon.  Not this time around as weak ridging continues to remain near the Pacific Northwest.  This weakens systems and/or sends them south into California or up north.  Even though the ECMWF and to a lesser extent the GFS bring rain overhead with an upper-low Friday and Saturday, neither shows a cool/wet weather pattern ahead.  Check out the 24hr QPF forecast from the ECMWF ensembles for the next two weeks:


Looks like about 30 of 50 ensemble members give us at least some light rain early this coming weekend.  Note how dry it is once again next week.  This dry weather is great for outdoor activities of course, but obviously we need some sort of soaking in June or we’ll have water supply issues (dry wells) later in the summer.  Maybe fire season problems too.  One more benefit of the early warming is a rapid meltdown of the Cascade snowpack.  Look at the past 10 years snow depth on this date on Mt. Hood.

Mark Mt Hood Snowpack May

I remember 2009-2012 when campgrounds opened late up in the Cascades.  But now 3 of the past 4 springs we’ve seen a low snowpack this time of year.  The snow water equivalent at this elevation on Mt. Hood is only about 1/2″ of the median for this date.  This Memorial Day weekend many mountain lakes are open for business…you might even beat the mosquitoes!  Gene Blick took this pic at Olallie Lake (5,000′) just today…pretty much snow-free except for some drifts still blocking the last section of the road.  They will be gone soon.


More good news…Skibowl, which was still operating for skiing only 4 weeks or so ago, is mainly free of snow and will have its Adventure Park (Alpine Slide!) open this coming weekend.  What a quick melt this year!  It looked like this from our camera at 5,000′ on Upper Bowl this afternoon:

Live Camera Skibowl Only 2017

Enjoy the warmest/sunniest day of the week Tuesday.  Highs should reach into the lower 80s west of the Cascades.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

55 Responses to What Happened to May? Summer Weather & Cascade Snow Meltdown

  1. Andy says:

    It would be interesting to check with the NWS how often are radar is down in NW/SW Ore/Wash compared to the rest of the country. It is sad how much the Government spends and are local radar coverage is weak and out of date. Radar has been down on and off last few days.

  2. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Wow, the EURO looks really dry. This is so booooring. 😦

  3. JERAT416 says:

    We still have time for a soaking, remember rose festival is coming soon. It almost always has to rain for that haha

  4. W7ENK says:

    Okay, well, my thoughts on thunderstorms appear to have been a bit too optimistic. Oh well, that’s why I don’t do this professionally!


    It is, however, still warm and muggy out there, so now that the Sun’s gone down, maybe all that energy will blow up into something? I wouldn’t hold my breath though…

  5. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Not sure if this will work but I’ll try it. I took this outside my door. I want to say this is a marine push and nothing about thunderstorms.


  6. Ken in Wood Village says:

    This weather pattern is blankety blank blank blank blank blank irritating 😒😉😂

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Really?? What do you want; Low overcast skies and steady rain? I had enough of that in the first 4 months this year.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        No offence but if you look at the past 4 months we really haven’t had our “Normally” rain fall. I believe we are way behind and probably going into a drought.

        • Roland Derksen says:

          Okay, Ken. I guess it’s because I live in a rainier part of the PNW. For me, this dry May was exactly what I wanted/needed.

  7. K says:

    Nothing yet…

  8. Roland Derksen says:

    It looks likely that this May will also be my warmest as well as driest on record. Up to today, the mean temperature is 62.5F for my location.That’s warmer than May 2015 ended up with (61.3F) and despite a bit of a cooldown in the next few days, I think we’ll set a new record temperature.

  9. W7ENK says:

    Lots of “prickly” clouds forming over and to the immediate South and West of Downtown Portland. Could bode well for active weather this evening!

  10. W7ENK says:

    If you watch the visible satellite loop, there’s a very clear surface low centered right over the Yakima Valley. It’s ringed with thunderstorms all the way out to the Cascade Crest. If we get anything here in Portland metro, I might expect it to move down from the North or NE this evening.

    Keep and eye out…


  11. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I can look to the NE from my area and I see a massive thunderstorms with an anvil. What a beautiful site 😉🤗

    • K says:

      Here’s hoping some float on through…

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I hope so too. I’m going to take a little nap. My stomach is doing a little tossing and turning right now. Looks like mother nature maybe trying to talk a little…lol 😉🌩

  12. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Really, I believe the Portland radar is out???

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Radar is back up. Looks like some stuff is firing up to our East but don’t know which way they are going yet because there are not enough frames on the radar loop.

      • W7ENK says:

        I noticed that, too. It’s especially prevalent up through Central Washington, there’s a whole line pushing East to West toward the Cascades. I wonder if it will uplift into some decent thunderstorms later in the afternoon when it hits the mountains?

      • W7ENK says:

        Oops, sorry, this was in response to your comment below…

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          LOL, it’s ok. I did see it…hehe. I thought the same thing. I see some thunderstorms in Washington that are moving East/SW. I went outside and see some clouds in my area but I’m not sure if they would build into anything later today. We’ll see 🙂

  13. Climatechangeer says:

    The last time we had this warmth (before mankind’s equation both civilian and military egos) it took 200 years more or less to reach this point and then it petered off to the little ice age.

    We have about that long unless mankind delays the downward part. If it’s any comfort we have a solar minimum that may take the pinch off the heat and increase of cosmic rays act as accelerants to lightning.

  14. W7ENK says:

    Minor ACCAS field over the Westside (Hillsboro to McMinnville, est.) and a large grouping of low towering CU to the South of that this morning, as seen from upper Milwaukie.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Could you do something for me? I was looking at the Visible Satellite picture and noticed (at least to my untrained eye) some clouds on the east side of the state (around The Dallas) going straight West. Maybe that could be something to watch?

  15. K says:


    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      LOL, I know what you mean. I can’t stand that we went from a boring winter straight to a boring summer. Were was spring??? I’m hoping the NAM will be right about the chance of a thunderstorm tomorrow. Let’s cross our finger’s (and toe’s) LOL

      • Climatechangeer says:

        This is in line with climate change. We have 200 years of this crap. The peak of the last climate change to warm took about that long before it petered off but now we have manmade activities to add in the equation both civilian and secret military.

      • K says:

        I actually enjoyed our February snowstorms, but yeah apart from the roaring east wind and White Christmas winter was rather boring as well.

  16. Paul D says:

    The 80+ temps have disappeared from the 7-day forecast! Woot!

  17. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    The Euro and GFS have eroded any decent chance of us getting rain this weekend. It looks like that’s it for May. That’s probably it until late September/early October except for some scattered crap. Gonna be a bah roo tal summer.

    • Climatechangeer says:

      The model that shows the driest/warmest scenario since 2014 has always been the correct one. They are both in agreement when we get REALLY warm and dry.

  18. Roland Derksen says:

    I’ve only counted 0.12 inches of rainfall here since the start of the month. Other than a chance for some showers this weekend, it appears as if this will be my driest May on record. May 2015 has the present record with 0.42 inches. Amazing!

    • Paul D says:

      Hillsboro has only 0.09! Is this August?

      • boydo3 says:

        And it won’t be long before we’re choking in forest fire smoke….

        • Climatechangeer says:

          Gotta love the PNW post climate change! Keep on driving your gas guzzlers and pay HARRP to control our weather thru tax dollars!

          Watch 9/10 springs be hot and dry as our temps keep rising. It doesn’t seem like much on a graph but local effects are the first to feel the pain. But they say no pain no gain!

  19. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    I’ve only had records in Battle Ground since Dec. 2010, but today holds the distinction of the coldest and hottest May high temperatures. 47.4 in 2013 and 91 degrees just last year!

  20. Anonymous says:

    More bad news.

  21. Dee Scriminated says:

    My property manager absolutely refuses to turn off the heat in my apartment building!!!!
    The extreme indoor temperatures are causing severe health problems for a lot of us, including many of whom are already severely disabled, but management refuses to let us live in a habitable environment.
    Can anyone with medical or meteorology training/experience help me out here?? I’m really suffering and at the end of my rope!
    Thank you very much in advance!

  22. Auroraskye Skye says:

    And people insist there’s no global warming. Very frustrating. 😦

    Thanks for the weather reports


    On Mon, May 21, 2018 at 9:29 PM FOX 12 Weather Blog wrote:

    > Mark Nelsen posted: “9pm Monday The past month has been amazing if you > don’t like cool/cloudy/wet springs here in the Pacific Northwest. It won’t > be so “amazing” if we don’t get more typical late May or June weather in > the next 4-5 weeks. Here’s the monthly temperature ano” >

  23. Ken in Wood Village says:

    First 😉 let’s hope for Thunderstorms this weekend 😁

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