Driest Spring in 14 Years, But Rain Ahead!

6:00pm Wednesday

Meteorological spring has ended in the Northern Hemisphere since we’ve moved into June, so let’s take a look back.  First the temps…very warm!

MarkSpring WrapUp

Of course the warmth comes from the past 7 weeks.  It’s as if a switch was flipped in mid-April and we suddenly jumped into June.  May was only .10 degree from the warmest on record.  Only 1992 was warmer in Portland.  It was the 4th warmest May on record in Oregon and 2nd warmest in Washington.  You can see how crazy warm the entire USA was last month:


For spring as a whole (March-May) it was a warm one in the West and near average in the Eastern USA


How about rain?  VERY dry this spring west of the Cascades, just about all of that due to record-dry 2nd half of spring:

MarkSpring WrapUp2

Note the driest May on record for the Washington Coastal climate zones.  Much below average all other areas west of the Cascades in the PACNW.


Note the result of a low winter snowpack plus warm and dry spring = drought across a good 2/3 of Oregon

Drought Monitor Autoplot

What’s ahead?  We have a cold upper-level low + showers coming this weekend.  Pretty clear signal from the ECMWF this afternoon

ECMWF 12z Rain Graph 6 Hourly QPF

All other models are similar showing a cold front with brief steady rain Friday evening west of the Cascades followed by two days of “convective” showers Saturday and Sunday.  That means the most vigorous showers will show up each afternoon; hail or thunder is possible.  It’s hard to believe, but this will be our first widespread soaking since mid-April!  That said, models are also implying this will probably be a “one-shot” deal.  Check out the ECMWF ensemble member precipitation forecast for the next two weeks:


The bottom chart is the ensemble average 24-hr rainfall.  Note the big spike this weekend, then just scattered light showers showing up on only some ensemble members beyond that point.  We could use a 2-3″ soaking the next week, but that seems unlikely at this point.  But anything will help with the fire situation; right now fuels in the north Oregon Cascades are as dry as what we’d typically see in mid-summer!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


17 Responses to Driest Spring in 14 Years, But Rain Ahead!

  1. W7ENK says:

    Of course there’s rain ahead, and it’s centered exactly on the weekend! I can also guarantee that Portland is going to get hit with a major (probably severe) thunderstorm outbreak on Saturday evening. Why all this, and with such certainty? Because I won’t be in town to enjoy it. Nope, I’ll be down at the cold, rainy and windy Coast. Been planning this trip for a couple of months now, which gave ample time for Mother Nature to orchestrate all this just perfectly to screw me over.


  2. and the summer will be ___________ ? HOT HOT HOT

  3. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Of course, the radar is down again. I hope it’s back up when the moisture gets here.

  4. The wet spell actually started over the past weekend to our north, when showers penetrated from the coast well into the BC interior. Guess Just When I had a long-scheduled camping road trip in BC, figuring I could always go to dry spots and avoid spring showers?

    Oh, well, there was still plenty of sun between showers and I’m sure it was drier than on the immediate coast. Also happened to be during the peak of the cactus blooming season, and got to see lots of those. Yes, there is wild cactus in Canada… a rain shadow is a rain shadow, and plants adapted to one grow as well on one side of the 49th parallel as they do on the other.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      You’re right- there are cacti in Canada, and not just in the Interior valleys. You can see them out on the coast(in the rainshadow on the Gulf Islands). Looks like our first substantial rainfall since April is finally going to come tomorrow.

  5. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Well, marginal will work for me…lol.


  6. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I’m hoping people remember about driving carefully when the rain starts. It’s not good when you slip on all that oil!!!!

    • Paul D says:

      They won’t. They never do.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        LOL, I know what your mean. When I’m driving in that type of weather, I get worried and always look behind me to see if I need to brace for impact…lmao. When I was younger, it started raining for the first time in probably over a month, I was driving through the tunnel from I-84 to I-205 south bound. I was in the left lane but by the time I got through I was in the right line. Yes, I sled to the right lane. You ask yourself why…lol. The road outside of the tunnel was wet but the inside of the tunnel was dry still. When my wet tires hit the dry pavement, it hit all that oil on the road. I can tell you this, it was really scary. One thing I didn’t do was hit the brakes. I let off the gas peddle and let the car slow me down. From that day forward, I always slow down for a tunnel when the first rain starts…lol

  7. Brian Effinger says:

    I won’t lie, I’ve enjoyed the dry weather. But this has gotten to be a little much in terms of the bigger picture, i.e., fire danger, drought, etc. I’m down with the rain, in fact would like to see much more than what we’re getting this weekend.

  8. Paul D says:

    Bring it on!

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