Thanksgiving Travel Weather

7pm Monday…

It’s that time of year.  Lots of you will be hitting the road tomorrow, Wednesday, or Thanksgiving Day to see the relatives.  Or maybe some friends.  Or attempting to avoid both and heading to a hotel/resort?  We’ve got you covered.  Here’s the plan…

Interstate 5 and Coast Range Passes

Snow levels will not go below 3,000′ from the Cascades westward which means I-5 north to Seattle plus south all the way into California should remain clear.  Siskiyou Summit at the Oregon border is about 4,000′ but I don’t think snow will get quite that low down there.

Coast Range summits are below 2,000′ so just bare roadways there as well.

Cascade Passes

Travel conditions through the Cascades will be just fine through Thanksgiving Morning;  no snow on the roads if you’re travelling duringthe next two days.  Then cooler air pours in Thanskgiving Day giving some slushy areas to the passes.  Cooling temperatures should turn the passes totally white/snowy Thursday night.  There could be snow-covered passes anytime Friday through early Saturday, but in the middle of the day it might not be so bad at Government Camp.  That would be the best time to travel.  Beyond Saturday morning conditions should be MUCH better.  If we get lucky just mainly bare roads later Saturday and Sunday with warming & drying.  After Wednesday, the best travel over Cascade passes will be Sunday; likely just bare roads.

I-84 Columbia River Gorge & Blue Mountains to Boise

The Gorge forecast is easy…no freezing rain or snow.  It’s possible we get a few spots of freezing rain in parts of the Hood River/White Salmon valleys early Wednesday, but even that won’t last long.  Definitely nothing at freeway level.  Now the Blue Mountains are a different story.  Much of Thursday should be okay, but the cold front arriving very late in the day could turn I-84 snowy over Emigrant Hill/Meacham areas by sunset or so.  Heavy snow may fall at times during the day Friday in the same area.  Other than light snow showers, I think you won’t encounter any huge issues farther east through La Grande, Ladd Canyon, or Baker City.  Of course overnight icy spots are possibly Friday through Sunday from leftover moisture on roads.

In general travel looks relatively good this long holiday weekend.  But it’s early in the season; usually we have more issues with Christmas travel.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

75 Responses to Thanksgiving Travel Weather

  1. TONY says:

    Once again completely bad and wrong forecast, it’s 8:14 am in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, and it’s raining. Shaking head

  2. Jake in Gresham says:

    So the GFS, Euro and Canadian all want to take the strong low on the 30th to the 1st into Northern California . They all show a 980’s mb storm which is respectable for a windstorm. I do believe it will bring mudslides for that region at this point (if it doesn’t weaken further).

    For us on the 3rd a weather system comes right at us (West to East) and cold arctic air into BC. If it drops father South the cooler air may make it here as well via the Gorge and Willamette valley in time. This is a stretch to me because of the pattern just recently switching over to this and the storm appears to move quickly on several runs of the GFS (within 18 hours or so).

    Then for the past 2 days the GFS is insistent way out on the 7th / 8th a low develops off Vancouver island, slides South along the Washington and Oregon coast giving snow and ice to the Willamette valley. In the larger view it is the first polar vortex at this point really dropping into the U.S. (i.e. Winter) with a Nor’easter’ very much exploding over the Great Lakes bringing widespread Winter to the Eastern half of the USA.

    Then at the cusp end of the GFS a weather system comes ashore into Southern Oregon / Northern California causing the dreading tug of war with the Gorge and its South winds. There’s a clear line of ice precipitation in the transitioning back to rain for PDX.

    The next 72 hours are going to reveal a lot. But the point over all this is that a normal Winter for at least the foreseeable future is upon us. Lots of snow in the mountains and potentials for the valley for some interesting stuff!

    • Jake in Gresham says:

      Latest GFS out partially. Storm into Northern California weakens further into the 990’s (good) and also drops further South (also good for the entire region getting precipitation).

      This weather system on the 1st to the 3rd for us really has my attention. It’s track is between Astoria and Puget Sound. Such a track with the arctic air in play is positioned well to catch the entire region by surprise. Event potential has moved up:

      Earlier GFS (12z) 850mb Temps and Wind:

      https://imgur.com/a/Ljy7qwE

      Current GFS (18z) Temps and Wind:

      https://imgur.com/a/KDlrsB4

      The MSLP and 10m AGL Wind also shows intensifying of the weather system with better placement which would pull gorge winds into this equation more so. If the next Euro run is confirming there’s very much reason to watch this. On the train if that occurs here.

      • Mountain Man says:

        I saw that last one you mentioned in an earlier run of the ecmwf too. That would be beautiful. A 2004 type wraparound snowstorm as the low passes by to the south. So we have a few runs now playing with that idea now earlier in the first few days of December. I think something interesting is coming, but what?

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I was wondering were everyone was. I wanted to say something but it seems no one sees my posts. I don’t remember when I posted it but the Euro and the GFS have been hinting at some kind of wintry precipitation around the first of the month for the past day or two or three….lol. I haven’t looked at the 18Z GFS yet but the 12Z sure did give us a good amount of a mix of wintry precipitation. Like I said in the past, even though it’s a El Nino winter, I think we will see a good winter with a snow storm and possibly a Arctic outbreak. We’ll see what the Euro model does tonight. 🤗🌧🌬❄☃️

        • K says:

          Do yourself a favor and don’t look at the 18Z. That was one of the worst model turnarounds I’ve seen in a while 😦

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          The first part of the 18Z was ok but the other half was gross. I’m hoping the 00Z Euro does better. On the 12Z Euro it starts giving us colder weather around the 2nd with some brief rain/snow showers. Then after the 2nd we get cooler. I don’t have access to all the details of what the Euro is doing compared to the GFS. I would need to go to a paid website to get the full details and right now I just can’t afford it.

          I just went to Weather Bell and they are having issues…lol. I tried to see how much it costs per month to be a subscriber and the site wouldn’t let me get to that page. I even tried the log in and it wouldn’t let me to that page either…lol. I’ll look later. Let’s hope some fun weather the next 2 weeks 🙂

    • Mountain Man says:

      Did you read mine? I’d just like to see some ensemble support for cold! Gem, almost no support for cold. Gfs, very few ensembles but some nice operational runs. Ecmwf has better ensemble support and some close but not quite there operational runs coming into view. A big windstorm is just not better than 10% and if it does happen, I’d agree maybe south of our area. No consistancy on either of those lows from run to run yet on any model, just pretty eye candy here and there. I’d put more stake in a cold snap 10 days out than a windstorm anywhere 5 days out given the variety of solutions I’m seeing.

      • Jake in Gresham says:

        Look at the weather system coming in on the 4th. It’s what I mentioned scoured out the cold in a tug of war. It was clearly going into Southern Oregon in a South to North trajectory.

        On the 18z it’s now coming in from the North to South only giving us even more cold and snow potential. Idk, I’m excited here.

        • Jake in Gresham says:

          Wait, no that’s a new weather system. Woah!

        • K says:

          I don’t know how you are so excited about the GFS, I’m just bummed at how boring the models look after the 2nd. A few weak storms is all I see 😦

        • Jake in Gresham says:

          What no we got mama chewbacca in the game! Look at this tommorrow!

          And the GFS is something. The weather system is on the 4th was some weak thing coming off Vancouver island and is now becoming more so something. I know everyone harps on El ninos as bad Winter / boring but that is not always the case. And when they’re busy they’re typically more busy than average. Okay so I guess I am driving the train now, lol!

  3. Mountain Man says:

    Gfs continues its spitting out outline operational runs of cold around 10-11 days now. Not a lot of ensemble support, one or two members per run. More interesting to me, ecmwf 12z is just about there. Operational run is just a couple hundred miles from backdoor arctic air with the ridge to the west and… being one of those who pays for the ensembles, over 4 runs, there is maybe a 30-40% support for 850mb temps -8 or colder now (I didn’t count lines exactly) . Hopefully Mark will elaborate and post some ensemble charts for you all this evening. On another note, I’d say chance of a major windstorm is just about dead, though there are variations of a deep low on some runs here and there still. Probably just a blustery day somewhere on the west coast at best in my opinion. Just throwing in my opinion. Loved reading a little excitement and we’re all hungry for something interesting.

  4. Andy says:

    Looking at the current OOZ model it shows interesting lows around and a snow storm for Portland and the valley around December 8th! Lots of teasing.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I see something on the 00Z Euro around the 3rd. Some cooler temps with really low snow levels. 🙂

  5. Jake in Gresham says:

    Wow. Looking at the various runs. I was at
    work all day and these posts were tough
    to read while doing so! I have never seen
    this type of windstorm potential off the
    West coast.

    Look at the Canadian run yesterday:

    https://imgur.com/a/D5kz0Ko

    That is Columbus Day storm category and would severely damage Northern California. Rather frightening I must say. Hope it doesn’t come to fruition in that manner and just dissipates off the coast in general. Today’s run, not as strong but nothing to sneeze at either:

    https://imgur.com/a/DD3racf

    I’m all for fun but that is not fun. Wow.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      The last couple of runs on the GFS is just a little weird. It keeps a low just North of Hawaii in the same spot for like a week. The only thing I have a problem with it is the fact there is a strong jet stream. In the Euro runs it takes the low away and into the PNW. The 00Z GFS keeps the low just North of Hawaii again until about the 2nd. Then brings it into the PNW and the way it sets up, it brings cold air into our area and we get snow.

      It will be interesting to see what the 00Z Euro does with that low again.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ken do you still see the possibility of a wind storm? and low snow levels this week.

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          Sorry it took so long to reply back to you. I just saw your post. We could see some wind coming tomorrow but nothing really damaging. Later in the week is kind of up in the air right now. The models are all over the place. When we get closer to this coming weekend we will know more. 🙂

  6. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 12Z Euro doesn’t have the low were it was on the 00Z but it’s still there. I’m guessing in the next couple of days the Euro will move it back and forth so I wouldn’t count it out just yet. What I did find interesting was the other lows out in the Pacific. They seem to be very powerful storm too. All I can say is we seem to be over the hump and it’s just a matter of time before we see something very interesting in the PNW. Either a very powerful wind storm or maybe snow. The next few runs should give us an idea on what we will be in for next week.

  7. Here is another fun nugget

    00z GFS 500mb Composite Analogs

    Day 8-14
    A much improved 500mb pattern. Check out that northeasterly cross-polar flow. I likey. Block is centered at the sweet spot 160 W and is amplified all the way up into Siberia. The southeastern US ridge isn’t real prominent, but this pattern has produced epic cold in our past. Check out some of the analog years. December 1983! December 2009! December 1968! AND December 1972! That was a big one! Correlation score of 86% isn’t great and needs work. Let’s build off this! C’MON!!!!

  8. -00z ECMWF shows a massive, damaging wind storm. It’s a bit out there, and this is of course pure speculation, not a forecast, and not even a wishcast, but tonight’s run shows a very strong sub 970mb low on Day 7 making landfall somewhere near Newport. Friday morning a 997mb wave of low pressure develops well west of northern California. This then strengthens into a surface low Friday afternoon and intensifies. Overnight Friday into Saturday the low undergoes fairly rapid cyclogenesis and is now under 970mb nearing the central Oregon Coast. This is a compact and very dangerous storm.

    As this low races inland mid-late Saturday morning a very strong if not historic pressure gradients sweeps over the Willamette Valley. The best I can estimate is the pressure at PDX bottoms out around 981mb and I am seeing an unheard of PDX-EUG gradient of -14 to -15mb. The gradient stacking also seems to show isobars aligning perpendicular across the valley to allow for strong momentum transfer mixing potential. This would be a very damaging wind storm for the Willamette Valley. The wind gust model shows destructive winds from about Oregon City southward to Salem, Albany, Eugene of 70 to perhaps 90mph. Localized to 100+mph! Yes. Really.

    Even PDX Metro may see gusts 55-70mph localized stronger as the low passes northeast of the area. Unfortunately I do not have access to all model field such as the 250-300mb jet winds, direction, to assess what kind of jet support and how it is aligned. I assume it’s more than ample. Do I think this will happen? Nah. Let’s keep an eye on future runs though. IF this deep of a low were to show up say within Day 5 or 4, then we REALLY begin to pay attention. This is fun stuff. I really love doing analysis like this! C’MON!!!!

    • K says:

      We need to save this as one of the most intriguing model runs in a while. Also, on another note, the GFS shows a freezing rain/snow and downslope wind event down the line.

      • Yeah. Chilly air with sub 522 thickness is down to around Everett and BEFORE Day 10. The first fun run of the season! The pattern believe it or not initially sets up around in the believable range Day 6-7 upstream over the Gulf of Alaska. A Kona Low and ridge builds quickly amplifying northward up through Alaska into Yukon. Now way out in la-la land at Day 12 colder air slips down into eastern Washington and the Columbia Basin. Cold east wind transports a modestly cold air mass westward through the Gorge into PDX. At the same time a moist system is moving towards the Oregon Coast.

        Day 13 ~ December 6th moisture arrives moving into this cold air and PDX sees a snow storm! It might briefly turn to Sleet, but then it remains as snow as reinforcing cold air with 850s -10c to -15c moves down into the Columbia Basin. Cold east wind would ensure the cold layer over PDX remains thick enough for Snow. Anyhow Lol This is way, way out there, BUT as we’ve all said many times if you have the pattern developing in the Gulf of Alaska by Day 6-7 in a believable range often in 2-3 days cold air moves south into British Columbia, Alberta and sometimes makes it to Washington and Oregon. I’m not forecasting that of course, and I’m not wishcasting. I’m merely analyzing what this run shows at face value. We’ll see! ‘Tis the Season!

    • Anonymous says:

      Shades of March 1963 and October 1967. Similar paths. Path 50 miles more northward would give PDX 70mph gusts

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I miss everything when I go to bed early…lol. That is an amazing low on the 1st. The GFS doesn’t show this storm but I have learned in the past were the GFS also seems to catch up to the Euro. The GFS seems to want to keep a High pressure in our area longer than the Euro. It’s been showing this for the past few runs. I think the GFS is over doing it a little. We’ll see if the 12Z Euro keeps that strong low for us on the 1st. 🙂

    • Big windstorm disappeared on this am 12Z EURO run…

  9. K says:

    Wow, absolutely NASTY storm shown by the EURO on the 2nd. Pure fantasy, but that’s some storm. Gusts past 75 in Salem. anywhere from 55-70 in Portland, 80-100 at the coast, and past 100 in parts of the Coast Range.

  10. Ken in Wood Village says:

    We are having some heavy rain here but also having some hail mixed in with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I see lightening too.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      I received one of those heavy rain/hail showers up here too, just a few minutes ago. Don’t often see hail here in November.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Yea, I was surprised too. All of a sudden I was hearing tinging on the roof. I looked outside and saw the hail. No lightening or thunder (if the cooler air came in earlier then we probably would have seen thunderstorms). At least we have started our wet season 🙂

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        What does this video suppose to mean?

        • Paul D says:

          You used “lightening” instead of “lightning”

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          Ok, but you don’t need to belittle someone who misspelled a word. It’s one thing to tell someone in person but another when you do it with a video for every person that comes on this blog to see. I know I am not the greatest person when it comes to spelling but I don’t need someone to tell me about it in front of everyone here. Didn’t your mom and dad tell you, “if you have nothing to say that’s nice, don’t say anything at all” I would prefer to say a few expletives but you are not suppose to swear.

          You should think on how a person would feel to be exploited on a national level about how they incorrectly spelled a word. I hope this gives you some thought about posting next time.

          Have a good day.

  11. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I’ve been looking at the models and I will say this, the GFS is a little to aggressive with the High pressure starting around the 30th. I looked at the Euro, it gives us a strong storm on that day and beyond. I’m going with the Euro at this time.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      But I do like the end of the 12Z GFS run. It gives us some cold air with moisture. Yummy 🙂

  12. Well, the rain barrel was empty now its full.
    At times it rained so heavy that the well pump couldn’t keep up lol.

    To put that in perspective, the well pump os rated for 60 psi.
    I could let the hose run with out anything connected and it didnt phase the water level.

    Currently were nice and comfy and warm using propane heating.
    We hit -5 kwhrs yesterday?

    We been using propane TANKLESS water heater for heating our water needs like running dishes..how ever, we use the tap water .

    Its suprising at what one can do .

    So Mark, its interesting on how today’s tech can come in handy when there is a power outage.

    Between our propane powered generator and other items.
    If we play our cards right were ready for a major storm with out power.

    We also have bottled water for drinking.

    My main goal wasn’t to brag, but to let people know that here in the Pacific Northwest, we can get some real doozy of a storm that can sneak up om us Nd its good to be ready.

    Currently we have lights winds 25 to 30 mph.
    Moderate to heavy rains off and on.
    And our weather station died.

    Will save up for a new one.

  13. JERAT416 says:

    Seems mild here in Tigard , but as expected passes have turned snowy. Stay safe everyone with your travels 😃

  14. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The front came through. We should start seeing the South winds pick up now. They already started here and we had the East winds for most of the morning until a few minutes ago. Let’s see how things pan out 🤗😉

  15. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I want to wish all my weather geeks a Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s hope we have some good wind for today…lol. 🙂

    • K says:

      You too, Ken! Hope the food is good and the weather exciting!

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Thanx K. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving too. I see the radar is getting heavier rain now. I also see it’s snowing up at the mountains. Hopefully they get a dumping of snow and it stays. 🤗🦃

  16. Doug says:

    Sitting here looking at the radar and watching a huge green mass to the west moving north and off the coast, just missing Astoria on the way. I hope this isn’t the “heavy band of rain” that is (was) supposed to come through here today. But it’s all I see out there. Another forecast dud?

  17. K says:

    God, why can’t we have one strong jetstream nowadays? Next week it points towards Central California and probably gives them a big event with lots of wind and lots of rain. And guess who gets left out?

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I think your talking about the 12Z Euro and how a strong low goes down to California and goes into San Francisco. That storm goes up to Vancouver Island on the 18Z GFS. It’s the first time I have seen the storm go into California. I wouldn’t worry about it for now because it’s a little over a week away. If it was 3 days away, then I would worry…lol. What I have been seeing in the models, we are finally getting into a active weather pattern. Another thing I also have been seeing is each model have been showing strong storms. All that needs to happen is one of those storms to come up the coast just right and we could have a big wind storm. It’s like playing darts, eventually I will hit the bullseye…lol. 🙂

  18. Andy says:

    We have had .28 inches of rain so far here in Albany today. I will take it. Happy Thanksgiving.

  19. Jake in Gresham says:

    Looking at local radars it looks like North Cali. is indeed getting the much needed rain. Mudslides are for sure a concern. I hope it goes well putting out those cursed fires:

    https://www.wunderground.com/weather-radar/united-states-regional/or/redmond/animated

  20. Doug says:

    Weather.gov had rain beginning at 4 am this morning with a total of about 0.15” by 8:00 and another 0.18” by noon. So far, a half dozen individual drops on my skylights. Another busted forecast? Looking like it so far. I am close to giving up hope for anything even remotely resembling actual rain. This past 3 weeks is exactly how November weather played out in Sacramento, and what I moved here to get away from.

    Any hope, anyone?

    Doug Lake Oswego

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Keep moving further north! 🙂

      • W7ENK says:

        I dunno, all he needs to do is move about 6 or 7 miles North, apparently. Been raining in Downtown Portland since I got off the train at 6:45 this morning.

        • Doug says:

          Yeah, that’s what it looked like on the radar, rain everywhere to the N, S, E, and W. Lake Oswego area on the map was a big empty hole in the middle of a green donut. Weird. Getting to the point here where I am going to have to turn the sprinklers back on. In Oregon. In late-November.

        • W7ENK says:

          What an odd thing to say, especially considering the forecast… 🤔

  21. W7ENK says:

    Thanks for the update, Mark.

    Hoping it’s easy travels for all this Holiday.

  22. K says:

    Weak storms up ahead, not much to talk about. Thursday’s storm looks weak, outlook shows weaker storms. No worries, maybe some day we get our storm.

    • Paul D says:

      Keep dreaming!

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      K, I think you maybe premature about the storms being weak. The 00Z Euro and the 06Z GFS were almost alike until like Wednesday of next week. I’m looking at the 12Z GFS and on Wednesday of next week, it shows a low off the coast going to Vancouver island and the pressure is so far 956mb. 🙂

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      That low I was talking about bottomed out to around 954mb. It went up just North of Vancouver Island but it could move South in the next couple of runs. I also saw a secondary low form from the first low and that one hit just a little North of Vancouver Island. I can’t tell what the pressure was but I’m thinking it’s around 980mb. The end of the 12Z GFS is interesting too (it’s way out there so I’m not thinking it will happen but it’s very interesting). Storms start coming from Alaska and it brings a lot of cool air (I’m guessing the snow level could be down to 1,000 feet). Maybe we could have turned a corner (let’s hope so). 🙂

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