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

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

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

  1. W7ENK says:

    Looks like all of Western Washington gets some decent snowfall — even down to the lowest elevations — Monday thru Wednesday.

    Of course, it all stays perfectly on the North side of the Columbia River, so PDX metro and points South in the Willamette Valley get left out. Might see some snow in the air, but nothing of consequence below 500-1000 feet.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      What website do you get these maps from? I go to and I don’t see 12km for the NAM on that website.

  2. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I’m a little surprised no one has said anything about the possibility of a windstorm on Saturday night into Sunday. The 00Z Euro and the 06Z GFS shows winds up in the 50+ mph. The 12Z GFS is coming in and what I can read from it so far is it’s showing the windstorm still. What are everyone’s thoughts?

    • W7ENK says:

      Did you not see the maps I posted yesterday?

      CLICK HERE for a refresher.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I saw the maps. I thought it was for Monday. May bad on that one. I just hope it actually happens because the last time the models were screaming “windstorm” it really didn’t happen for our area.

        It is only two days away and people haven’t been active about talking about it. Even “K” hasn’t said anything. Hopefully this could be something to actually talk about 🙂

  3. JERAT416 says:

    Feels tropical outside this morning!

  4. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Is anyone else having issues with viewing the 00Z GFS? Seems like and is having issues. I was able to see College of DuPage website but they don’t have the best details on their models. I did notice they were having problems earlier today. Maybe they still have issues.

  5. W7ENK says:

    Interesting little feature coming on shore with the cold front this evening.

    I like that ropey-twisty-rolly look to it. Probably going to make for a bumpy ride in a couple hours…

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I still think the Portland radar is having issues with showing what’s coming. If you look out to the West, you can see a line. Just North of the line there is heavy rain but South it’s really light. It started when they had that big issue I think back in 2017 (the first time it went down) I think we had a huge storm come in and it went down. I wish they would really fix it or replace it.

      • W7ENK says:

        Those lines in the RTX radar are shadows, gaps in coverage caused by the tops of the highest peaks in the Coast Range blocking the beam. The radar is working normally… at the moment.

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          I know about the Coast Range but sometimes when the rain comes in you can see a line that goes out into the ocean. It’s a little hard to describe what I’m trying to say but I have noticed it a lot.

    • hmm, nature, the best artist around..
      it is pouring at the moment.

  6. Weather seems to be going crazy.
    Danish Train Crash Kills 6, Injures 16; Weather Hampers Rescue Efforts | The Weather Channel

  7. I wouldn’t be surprised if some where a Tornado Spawns, I hope to be wrong.

  8. side note, Chewy, our miniature Australian Shepard was barking looking at the window, There were no humans and no cats..
    he was growling and barking , I actually was tracking his eyes, and they were looking at the sky … he was doing this a few hours before the storm hit.

    on a second note, the area at which I had surgery a few years ago, really hurts like a …BLEEEEEP….I had colon surgery a while back..and man does it hurt right now.
    and no Its not an infection.

  9. Reporting in from Castle Rock Washington,
    were have high winds with so pretty good gusts.
    the last gust hit at 6 :09 pm it upset a few of my Harbor Freight (Free standing) solar panels.
    is there any one else getting high winds not indicated in the weather alert?

    .Strong winds will continue across the Grande Ronde Valley through
    * WINDS…South 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph.
    * TIMING…The strongest winds will occur from through tonight and
    be near Ladd and Pyles Canyons. The winds will be decreasing
    early Friday morning.
    * IMPACTS…Strong winds may blow down limbs, trees, and power
    lines. Scattered power outages are expected.

    A Wind Advisory means that winds of 35 mph are expected. Winds
    this strong can make driving difficult…especially for high
    profile vehicles. Use extra caution.

    • W7ENK says:

      Lee, that product you posted was issued for the Grande Ronde Valley, which is about 300 miles to your East. It has no bearing whatsoever on your local weather there in Castle Rock, WA.

    • …living here around the grande ronde valley, these wind advisories are happening VERY frequently….the winds associated with this particular one caused havoc with the electricity, with numerous power outages thruout the day…

  10. W7ENK says:

    NAM may be onto something big for Sunday night. Keep an eye out…

  11. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Some euro ensemble members are giving us 3” of snow on Monday. Yea right.

    • W7ENK says:

      As discussed on a previous thread, the EURO is having some performance issues this Winter. For some reason, it’s struggling in the mid- to long-term, and has had a tendency to swing around more toward the GFS in the near-term, where the GFS has been handling things pretty well throughout.

  12. Roland Derksen says:

    Man, I’m hoping that forecasted ridging in mid-January comes. Sorry if that offends anyone, but I’m getting deluged again. Steady rain til about an hour ago here this morning- We’re going to see at least 2 inches of rain today. I want to see the sun, please!

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Sorry Roland for all the rain. Hopefully the jet stream can move down our way and you get a break from all the rain. 🙂

    • I forget just where I saw the graphic, but this season there has been a dramatic precipitation gradient from across western Washington, from well below normal at the Columbia River to well above it at the 49th parallel. A lot of storms have tracked into southern BC, and PDX is too far south to benefit from them. I’ve had a rainy month, though not an exceptionally rainy one. What I have had a lot of is windstorms, because that same storm track is the favored one for making it windy in my region.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Thanks for the responses. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a difference in weather conditions before from my city down to Portland. I forget exactly how many miles it is(that is, straight distance miles) between the 2 cities, but, the storm track needs to move away from here.

    • We have been some what Dry ,a few drips of rain here and there..but mostly dead I know why, at least thus far we are having a dry wind storm.

  13. Andy says:

    Not much talk about the strong low’s moving along are coast next week? I figured there would be a comment. Maybe some strong winds and heavy snow in the cascades. It looks real active, most El Niño winters January is real slow. Or is Mark correct that the splitty pattern will weaken the storms? Cliff Mass thinks things will be very active from Northern California to Vancouver Island.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I do see something about a windstorm (maybe) next Wednesday. It’s a long ways out but it looks interesting.

      I’m hoping Cliff is right about El Niño picking up in January. It would be nice to have some action in our area.

  14. W7ENK says:

    We’re overdue for a 0 snow year, the chances of which are far more likely than 3 in a row with more than an inch.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What is more accurate in the northwest fv3-gfs model or just the regular gfs just curios if anyone knows?

  16. Brian Schmit says:

    The 7.6″ of snow listed in the above chart did not happen January 2018. It happened on Feb 20 and Feb 21, 2018

  17. ocpaul says:

    IMO averages mean nothing. It’s like driving while staring in your rear view mirror. The first part of last year was a total bust. Until it wasn’t. I’ll stick a fork in it in March.

  18. High Desert Mat says:

    Unless you’re an avid skier I don’t see any real need to put on studs if you live in the metro area. I mean really for what, that one day or so snow that may or may not happen? Seems like overkill if you ask me.

    • alohabb says:

      Yeah , I’ll never understand people in portland who only drive the city and put studs on. I will say I have not heard nearly as many cars this year driving around with studs on.

      I drive over the coast range 3 times a week in the early AM and haven’t put studs on this year. Haven’t needed them. Never any frosty or icy roads like last year…..

    • Particularly since studs actually reduce traction on wet pavement.

  19. Good timing for me on having hernia surgery. Nothing exciting going on outdoors.

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