Coldest Time of Year, But No Lowland Snow/Cold In Sight

January 2, 2019

6:30pm Wednesday…

We’re into early January now, which is the midpoint of our cold/stormy season west of the Cascades.  As mentioned numerous times, this has been a real dud of a “storm season”.

In an average year (rarely is any one year “average”), we are in the coldest time of year west of the Cascades  right now.  That’s late December and the first week of January.  Here in Portland the 30-year normal is 45 & 35 for a high/low temp.  That goes to 46/35 starting Sunday and 47/36 a week from Sunday.  Not exactly a big warm-up, but a sign that we SLOWLY begin to come out of the coldest part of the year the 2nd half of January.  Take a look at January snowfall in Portland the past 11 years.  4 of those years we saw measurable snow

January Snow PDX

So the biggest question I’m getting…Do we see snow/ice in the near/far future?   The short answer is NO

Looking at all the different models it’s quite clear that the mild/splitty pattern continues through the first half of this month.  In two days we have a weak system moving overhead while the southern portion moves well south into California.  Here’s the GFS upper level (500 millibar) map:


By next Monday the jet seems to get itself together briefly for a wetter/active storm system.  Could be some brief weather action early next week


But then by Thursday the 10th things are very splitty again


At mid-month, Tuesday the 15th, both GFS and GEM are trying to develop more significant ridging over the Pacific Northwest.


The ECMWF does not have that upper-level ridging at mid-month so we’ll see how that turns out.

The theme here is that relatively mild and occasionally wet weather will continue.   There is no sign of lowland snow/ice through mid-month in this weather pattern.

Snow Portland Preview

So if you didn’t put on snow tires I sure don’t see any reason to put them on now.  And keep in mind that during these weak El Nino winters February if often mild.  Not always, but often.

That’s it for now, just wanted to give you a quick update during this “coldest time of year”.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen