January Dry Spell & Lots of East Wind

10pm Thursday…

Today was nice wasn’t it?  Bright sunshine filtered through high clouds and temperatures for most of the metro area well into the 50s.  I mentioned Sunday that we’re headed into a slower weather pattern again; that sure is the case this evening.


  • I expect little or no rain until at least next Wednesday; you get at least 5 dry days
  • Increasing easterly wind through the Gorge and out into the metro area should keep fog just about non-existent
  • That wind will be persistent and strong east of I-5 in the usual east wind areas; West Hills and west slope of those hills too.
  • Expect lots of sunny days, sometimes with high clouds, and cool/clear nights
  • High temperatures drop a bit early next week as a “cold pool” develops east of the Cascades below about 4,000′

We are in a “split-flow” jet stream through the middle of next week.  Tomorrow morning’s GFS forecast of 500mb heights shows an upper-level ridge building over the Pacific Northwest and a system heading toward California


Then by Sunday a strong pocket of high pressure is overhead while California gets a soaking


This general setup continues through Wednesday or Thursday.  We get little/no rain next 6 days but almost the entire California coastline gets at least 2″, maybe much more in spots

ecmwf 7 day rain total wgauge usa

Meanwhile up here in the Pacific Northwest I expect a pool of cold air to develop in the lower elevations east of the Cascades.  This happens when we get strong high pressure overhead between November and late February.  Cold dense air = high pressure and it’s trapped east of the Cascades.

Of course that cool air will surge westward through the Columbia River Gorge; 24 hours a day through at least next Wednesday.   We just went through a period of chilly east wind and cold rain the past two days; today the pressure gradient dropped to a very weak 2 millibars from The Dalles to Portland.  But it’s already back up to 5 millibars, headed to at least 8-10 millibars through the weekend.   The result?  Expect the usual 55-70 mph gusts in the western Gorge and 75-90 mph gusts at Vista House.

Enjoy the sunny (but not so warm) weekend; quite a bonus in January.

What do we see farther ahead?  Well, there’s absolutely no sign of low elevation snow/ice in the next 10 days.  We may get something in the Gorge Wednesday/Thursday as moisture returns next week, but not west of the Cascades.

We will see some brief westerly flow and wetter weather the 2nd half of next week and the following weekend.  Models are then trying to develop strong high pressure near the West Coast beyond that time.  The next 3 weeks of the ECMWF monthly run last night show the cool/wet setup late next week then drier weather the following week or two as high pressure develops along the West Coast.  We’ll see, seems like models have been trying to develop these big highs too often this winter, backing off as we get closer.

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Here’s the 32 day rain anomaly.  Of course anything beyond two weeks is a real guess, although it’s interesting this is a typical mid-late winter El Nino setup.  Wet California and Dry Northwest.


And here’s the ECMWF ensemble snow forecast for Portland…obviously no sign of any snow.   One lonely ensemble member out of 51 thinks there could be a dusting in the hills one day late next week…  #SAD


The other night Wayne Garcia pointed out how weird it is that we haven’t even had snow CLOSE.  No reporters standing up at Sylvan brushing slush off the barkdust so far and no sign of that in the next two weeks.   I live at 1,000′ in the far eastern metro area.  This is the first time in at least 14 years that I’ve had no snowfall (at all) through early January.  Even in the bad years I have seen at least a half-inch or more by this point.  Strange stuff this year.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen



35 Responses to January Dry Spell & Lots of East Wind

  1. Finally, that bright orb in the sky is blessing us. and it felt good.
    in the 10th, we had quite a bit of solar…enough for us to actually hit 0 KwHrs.in short term, we made our own power lol.

    Ok folks here is why we won’t have any more wind storms..
    you can blame me of they evade us now.

    I ordered and installed a new rectifier for our wind turbine.
    so yup…no more wind storm folks..I is sorry.

  2. Winter Weather Advisory issued… forecast now calls for 1-2″ overnight and into tomorrow morning. Then it turns to rain and melts. I’ll post some shots of snow-covered cacti and yuccas if it materializes.

  3. Kyle says:

    Man. Our Phil Ice Age sure is warm. 🙂 As for the government shutdown the real sad clicher is that most of the employees not only get triple digit figures but when the shut down ends it will be retroactive all the way to the beginning. Meaning they will get every month in one big check. In other words nothing really missed.

    The smart ones will have saved money aside. The dumb ones blow money in Puerto Rico seeing Hamlet when they should be ‘saving’ for the supposed crisis.

  4. Ashley Watson says:

    Basically Sacramento weather

    • Kyle says:

      Sacramento will be the new Baja.

      • Doug in LO says:

        Ashley, my thoughts exactly. And for the past few years. I moved up here from Sacramento to get away from this kind of winter. But here it is. We are on our way to becoming Sacramento North.

  5. Roland Derksen says:

    This will be my 4th straight day with a daily maximum over 50F. I don’t think that’s a record for my place, but it seems pretty typical of Januarys in recent decades here. To go back to the weather of January 1969 or 1950 would be quite the shock.

  6. Currently visiting my parents in the high desert of New Mexico. 1″ of snow expected to dust the area tonight, more in the mountains (which are already white). There’s been enough storms recently that there’s pools of water lingering in arroyos and detention basins. This is the wettest I’ve seen it in my numerous visits here. El Niño is definitely doing its part to send some storms on a southerly track this winter.

  7. ron says:

    Any idea why The Oregonian substantially dumbed down their weather page?

    • Ashley Watson says:

      Because our weather has been pretty boring. No reason to get to detailed with 50 degree light rain at times and no snow or ice

    • Ashley Watson says:

      Basically Sacramento weather

    • Kyle says:

      For phone people. Phones have to have things a certain way. Google actually made it a rule back in 2011. Look it up.

      You have to have everything “above the fold’ and only 2 moving objects at once on any screen among other asinine rules. Don’t meet Google Analytics don’t get listed. Period.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Weather just isn’t that interesting anymore

  8. W7ENK says:

    69 years ago.

    Portland got in on the action, too. But… that wasn’t all. At the end of the month, another massive snowstorm blew into the region, bringing the total January snowfall at Portland to a whopping 41-1/2 inches. On January 31st, 1950, Portland also set it’s all-time record low when the temperature dropped to a bone-chilling –3°F!

    Is this sort of thing even possible anymore?

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Amazing, wish that could happen again!!

      • It has many times sense then, in the 80’s we had 4 feet of snow, lost power and had to use a pot belly stove for warmth.

        being around for 40 some years, I have seen it all.
        some time a few years back we had another arctic blast.

        I was living on finch Drive in Longview Washington at that time.

        ATVs were out in force as were the police.
        One ATVer recieved a ticket, but then the officer that gave the ticket..well, he had traction issues..so the ATVer latched on to the police vehicle and got him in area where he could get traction..

        to officer then took that ticket he gave and ripped it up.

        officer said, you were right, this is an unusual time, and it is a true emergence situation.

        You were right to use an ATV.

        Our Apartment had an avid skier..he dawned his skies and went to Bakers Corner to get his supplies.

        then the melt came.

        through out the years we have had freeze rain, flood events then re-freeze..Nasty stuff…

        In all truth we do get many events. and it is a wild card.
        we never will truly know for year to year at what we will get.

        this is why I like the pacific Northwest iris unpredictable, ruthless, and likes to catch you off guard.

        • W7ENK says:

          No, Lee. Not once in the 80s did Portland ever receive 40-some inches of snow in the month of January, let alone throughout an entire season. I’m not sure where you would have even come up with that ridiculous claim…

          You’ll need to do some research and link to some stats (like I did in my OP) in order to lodge an argument otherwise.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Jan. 31st 1950 was -2F
      Feb. 2nd 1950 was -3F

    • JohnD says:

      We keep hoping! Records are made to be broken! ALSO those are the “official airport” stats (typically conservative when compared to many areas in the surround!) What a year that was indeed!

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I asked my mom about 1950. She was born on November 18th 1945. She lived in the Eastmoreland area. She told me my grandpa went down were to the park were they have those ponds so people can fish and they were frozen over. It would be something to see if we had what they had in 1950. Something to talk about for years.

  9. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Since our weather is so boring… the 12z euro gives parts of So Cal over 10” of rain in 3 days next week. The entire state is going to get drenched.

    • Kyle says:

      The spraying will be more then ever and that 10 inches of rain will be reduced to 3 inches then barely a sprinkle.

  10. Roland Derksen says:

    Looking forward to the dry spell. We haven’t seen much sun yet, but skies will clear over the weekend.

  11. Josh "The Snowman" from Gladstone says:

    Crap-hole of a winter. Hopefully we transition to a cool spring/summer. Slow snowmelt and comfortable temps is what Im hoping for.

  12. Jason Hougak says:

    Don’t worry the hammer will come down on the PNW during the next strong La Niña.

  13. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Well, the 00Z Euro on the 10 day trend just got very interesting. Winds pushing 70 mph on 1/19/19 and almost 65 on 1/18/19. I had seen a low around that day a few days ago on the Euro. The exact day in fact. Very interesting indeed.

  14. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Thank you for the update Mark. Let’s hope things will change in the next couple of weeks.

  15. Andy says:

    I do agree we are having a strange winter. Even weather models make no sense at times. Maybe the news about the magnetic north pole moving rapidly toward Siberia is as strange as our weather. Scientists are baffled by the rapid changes that are happening to are magnetic north pole, just like our climate.

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