Gorge Ice/Snow Ending, A Mild Week Ahead

8:00pm Sunday

Consider today a “practice run” for a real snow/ice event at some point later this winter.  Thanks to Tracy Hinson for that analogy!

We had a milder/drier version of a Columbia River Gorge Snow/Ice Storm today.

  • Moisture from a cold front moved over the top of a layer of sub-freezing air
  • Strongest wind of the week arrived at the west end of the Gorge.  Strongest wind of the event is usually just before it ends.  Peak gust around 90 mph at Vista House and over 70 at Corbett earlier today.
  • Freezing rain fell at the western end of the Gorge, down to about the 600′ elevation, and that transitioned into ice pellets and then snow farther east in the deeper/colder air.
  • The rain-cooled easterly flow gave Portland its coldest day of the winter so far.  It has been 37 degrees the past 7 hours at PDX!  Brrr…
  • Even the Willamette Valley with the cool northerly flow stayed around 40 or just below most of the day.

This same sequence of events happens time after time, year after year.  What changes is the intensity of the precipitation and the temperature of the airmass flowing from eastern Oregon into western Oregon.  Cold+wetter = ice spreads farther west into the metro area.

This evening the chilly airmass is VERY thin over the metro area and western Gorge.  Troutdale profiler shows “warm” air is only a little over 1,000′ overhead.


The current view is on the left side; two days ago to the right.  You see the yellow colors (warmer air) working their way down.  Wind is southerly up around 1,800′.

The PDX-DLS pressure gradient has gone from 10 millibars this morning to only 4.2 this hour.  Meanwhile the EUG-OLM (Eugene to Olympia) gradient has gone southerly, about 2.4 millibars.  The weak southerly flow will dominate by sunrise, so NO FREEZING TONIGHT west of the Cascades.

In the Gorge it looks like this:

Gorge Wintry Weather Text 1

After the steady precipitation from the cold front moves east later tonight, there may be areas of clearing from Hood River east; enough to refreeze some wet roads.

Gorge Wintry Weather Text 2

The next 7 days look quite uneventful.  Wet at times, but no cold systems, no storms, but occasional mountain snowfall.  Notice the up and down freezing level.  Avoid skiing Tuesday or Thursday; both those days could be rainy or at least rain/snow mix depending on your elevation.

ECMWF Snow Level From 850mb Temps LONG TERM

The combo of rain, rain/snow, then snow will slowly build up a sorely needed base.  ECMWF says maybe 15-20″ by the time we get to next Sunday.

ECMWF Snow Accumulation

So we don’t have FEET OF SNOW on the way for the Cascades (that’ll be up north in Washington).  Now that all ski areas have at least a few runs open, they should be able to open up a bit more terrain.  There are hints that NEXT week we could see more significant mountain snow; that’s around Sunday the 16th-Wednesday the 19th.

But in this El Nino winter I wouldn’t be surprised to see split-flow return within a couple of weeks.  Regardless, your life can continue as normal for at least the next week, unimpeded by any sort of damaging/crazy weather.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

40 Responses to Gorge Ice/Snow Ending, A Mild Week Ahead

  1. Kyle says:

    Oh and don’t use Google. Google is well known now as instant fail and Google people don’t care. The only thing they do know is go on strike against sexual harassment. Makes one wonder what they do all day.

  2. Kyle says:

    There is TONS of documentation that is legit (not conspiracy theory) about weather control actually being done but you have to be willing to get away from Candy Crush and actually research.

    (Blog crowd) OMG! Home Work! RUUUUUUUUUUUN! Well it’s your stupid loss.

  3. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Today is officially a bust. Yes, rain is still on the way, and a good amount of it, but the “commute to commute” rain that was forecasted is obviously far from reality. It has not rained for one second since I woke up before 5:00 am.

    The GFS has us warm for most of the next two weeks. The 12z ECMWF ensemble run is not complete yet.

  4. Andy says:

    Looks like the models removed the cold around Christmas. I still hoping for some modified arctic are later this month with things really cold in Asia and maybe things shifting are way. I just hope the weather is more active soon.

  5. Were getting some pretty good winds, we have small debris, mainly small branches les than 2 inches in diameter scattering tue road.

    There was a tree down on Est Side Highway.
    Currently no signs of the power gping out

    But tue trees sure are shaking and swaying 🙂

  6. mike says:

    Im assuming everyone knows about the new FV3 gfs model thats on tropical tidbits a higher resolution model.

  7. Ken in Wood Village says:

    K and Joshua, have you seen the 12Z Euro? It looks like this week could be windy. The stormy days are Tuesday, Friday and next Tuesday looks windy/windstorm? I noticed the Euro has kept that windstorm for Dec. 18th in the last couple of runs.

    What are your opinions?

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Personally, I don’t get excited about wind. I want precipitation and cold. The 12z ECMWF ensembles continue the idea of temperatures dropping leading up to Christmas. Nowhere near what the GFS was advertising though. Some of the ensemble members show highs close to freezing. Median is low 40s. Still a long way out.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I agree with what you see on the ECMWF. As you said, the Euro isn’t as aggressive in the temperatures as the GFS. Like you said too…it’s a long ways off and between now and then a lot can change. It will be interesting to see what the models do in the next few days 😉

    • K says:

      I see it. EURO and GFS show a storm reminiscent of January 10th, 2014. Not terribly strong but a nice blow.

  8. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    The 12z GFS operational has us getting over 6” of rain in less than 3 days next week. Haha. Yea right.

  9. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 12Z just got a little interesting at the end of the run but it’s so far out there and just looks like eye candy.

    • rmlounsbury says:

      I think that is the first time this season there has any hint of an actual artic-type air dump into the PNW. It would be nice to see something happen this winter.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        It would be nice to see some cold weather getting closer to Christmas but it’s way out there so a lot can change. It’s just one run. I’m hoping the GFS will keep up the trend 🙂

      • I wouldnt mind a bit of a dimp come Christmas..but, you k ow how fockled the weather cam be..snow is easily spooked when weather men forcast it. I wouldnt mind a brief outage either. Would make Christmas interesting .

  10. Jake in Gresham says:

    Man we have it easy this Winter. Currently single digit temperatures in the North East and in the 30’s for most of Florida even. I had to deal with some fog driving to work through the Damascus hills after grabbing a coffee. Cannot complain with that if we get no snow this season!

    This El Niño is just dissolving any cold from Alaska as it goes over the Pacific. Seems more aggressive than normal given we do have systems coming our way but the cold doesn’t move much at all out of Northern BC.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Good morning Jake. Nice to see you online. I agree with the cold air on how it seems to not be in the right place at this time. But this season hasn’t been your average year. I want to say the season started late and since we are starting to have storms coming into the PNW I’m guessing the cold will come but it will be late as well.

      This week should be interesting if the 00Z Euro verifies. Even tomorrow looks like we could have a breezy day. It just depends on were that low goes.

      Let me know what you think of this week 🙂

      • Jake in Gresham says:

        My 2 cents is nothing too abnormal. Both the GFS and Euro show a few systems rolling into Washington and Oregon. So typical PNW weather (wet and chilly) with the majority of the cold being into midland of Canada. Nothing major. But you are right. A late start and at least we’re getting moisture.

        I still have an interest that January brings some kind of chance for a snowstorm. Sure the El Niño forecast is that it goes into Spring but it’s a weak one. So, who knows?

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          I agree. I thought I heard that El Niño was going to Neutral going into the next couple of months?

          The one thing that is interesting to me about the 12Z GFS is the fact that the Euro has been showing a cool down around the same time. In fact, the Euro has been showing the cool down for awhile now. On the 12Z GFS, it shows 850mb temps running for about a week from -1C to as low as -11C. But the 12Z GFS is just one run and it’s way out there so it’s just eye candy at this point.

  11. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I’m surprised no one has said anything about the possibility of a breezy to almost windy day tomorrow?

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Well K, I think this week could be what you wanted. The 00Z Euro has a couple of storms that look like we could have some windy days. Friday’s storm just needs to move a little East and hit lower Vancouver Island and we could have a good wind storm. What do you think K?

  12. Brandon says:

    0z GFS looks interesting at 192hrs for a wind storm. I doubt it’ll pan out though

  13. alohabb says:

    Let’s just get through this quickly and get back to summer please.

  14. Ken in Wood Village says:

    First, thank you for the update Mark. I did see the same thing about next week. If it verifies, there could be a lot of moisture which could mean a lot of snow in the mountains. 😉🤗

  15. K says:

    No storms? Wednesday looks, decent, as does Friday. But I guess the real action starts next Sunday.

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