Winter 2019, A Real Dud So Far

7:30pm Monday…

Here we are entering the last 10 days of January and it’s still Dullsville on the weather maps for the next week.  Unless something pops up early-mid NEXT week (more on that in a moment), December and January end up with only one significant weather event.  That would be the January 5th minor wind storm.

It’s hard to believe, but this is my 28th winter forecasting in the Portland area.  Technically I was in Hood River for part of the 1993-1994 winter but it still counts.  Folks, up to this point I feel this is the most boring cool/wet season I’ve seen in my 28 winters forecasting in Portland.  1991-1992 (my first year after finishing college at U.W. in Seattle) was about as slow and so was 2002-2003.  In 2003 at least we saw a few pineapple express events in January.  Regardless, this would be in the top 3 out of 28 on the “meteorological boredom scale” if there is such a thing.

The reason?

  1. Occasional upper-level ridging or split-flow
  2. Systems that come through our area have often been weak
  3. A real lack of cold air behind systems for vigorous/cold showers

A few highlights:

winter so far intro

winter so far recap

The “winter so far” with the +3 degree departure refers to meteorological winter December-January.  We have not seen a widespread Pacific Northwest arctic blast since December 2013.  It’s been 5 years!

Not only has the weather been quiet this season, but temperatures have been unusually warm since Halloween.  Dry as well

winter so far recap2

We’ve done some catch-up in late December and now again in late January, but overall it  has been drier than normal since early November.


A building upper-level ridge along the West Coast dominates our weather for at least the next 7-10 days, possibly longer.  This has been well advertised by models for quite a while.  A couple of weak systems passing over the ridge give us lots of clouds and occasional light rain tomorrow and Wednesday.  Much of the rain will be focused on the mountains and not lower elevations.  Expect plenty of gloom but not all that much rain Tuesday-Wednesday along the I-5 corridor.

Beyond that the ridge strengthens later this week and through the upcoming weekend.  There are hints that we could see our warmest temps since December; sometime between Friday and Sunday.  850mb temps rise into the teens Saturday and we get weak offshore flow.  We are almost out of “deep inversion season” and we are not starting with a chilly airmass this week.  The result could be high temps one of those days approaching 60 degrees.  It is not unheard of to reach a 60 degree high in late January around here.  And it can happen in this pattern.  Stay tuned later this week for that.

Notice the strong and warm ridge on both GFS and ECMWF ensembles for Saturday:  Spring ski conditions in the Cascades!  Some 60s at the beaches possible as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most ensemble runs say this ridging will hold for most or all of NEXT week (through the last day of January).  But you see the ridge moves farther west on both GEM and GFS ensembles?  This is the last day of the month.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Several ensemble members want to drop a cold system through Canada much closer to us next week.  If so, we could go from sunny and mild to sunny and cold.  But each run is different; very low confidence at this point.  The ECMWF ensemble temps show a continuation of mild temps into early February


And westerly (wet) flow returning as February begins…



  1. Drippy and gray next two days
  2. Sunnier and warmer Thursday through at least Sunday, possibly through the last day or two of January
  3. I’ll keep an eye on the middle of next week to see if we’re going to get any last-minute arctic air setup for either cold or snow.  At this point I’m not seeing anything that screams “pattern change”

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

191 Responses to Winter 2019, A Real Dud So Far

  1. Bear says:

    How could this happen?

    (CNN)The Arctic is experiencing a multi-year stretch of unparalleled warmth “that is unlike any period on record,” according to the 2018 Arctic Report Card, a peer-reviewed report released Tuesday morning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency within the United States Department of Commerce.
    The report states that human-caused climate change is transforming the Arctic, both physically through the reduction of sea ice, and biologically through reductions in wildlife populations and introduction of marine toxins and algae.
    The report is yet another study from part of the US government indicating that climate change is real and having a profound impact, despite denials from the President and senior members of his Administration.

    • Chuck Wiese says:

      Except that NOAA lost credibility about staying objective and scientific about the climate. Temperature records have been unjustifiably altered by NOAA to fit the political nonsense of climate hysteria. The arctic is not being transformed into anything. The summer melting is oceanic current driven as the summer temperature record shows no change in the record going back decades, with temperatures peaking consistently near freezing.

      Click to access ef-gast-data-research-report-062717.pdf

      • Bear says:

        Good counter-point for sure…..time will tell….always good to challenge ideas and butt heads from time to time….no hard feelings…love this blog and wish all the best, keep all ideas and thoughts flowing.

      • Bear says:

        I would like to add that I remember watching you weather reports on TV many years ago. one of many unforgettable broadcasters of weather over the years. Remember Bob Lynott… oh my brother and I could not wait to hear his weather reports, I think he got me hooked on weather prediction….and Jack Capell, Heidi Sonnen, Jim Bosley, Bruce Sussman and don’t forget “Sunny” Jim Little to name just a few. To me the weather guys are the real thing and the people you remember. I always loved Jim Bosley’s giant tomato contest each summer. And always “Jim Donovan in the morning” his radio personality.

  2. Jason Hougak says:

    Above the valley fog in the foothills. I can see the soup socked in the valley. Thank God for elevation. 46F and beautiful up here at 1300’.

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    Time for a fresh post Mark… pattern change.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      LOL, I totally agree (MAJOR PATTERN CHANGE)!!! He goes into work this afternoon. I assume he will make a new post.

      • Larry says:

        Especially since nothing genuinely interesting is going on weather-wise. Mark will likely discuss further details about this pattern change potential possibility in a future blog post.. He might also talk about it while on-air.

  4. Jason Hougak says:

    12Z GFS definitely showing a 2 week period of cold weather starting in February.

  5. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I actually love the 12Z GFS. It brings a lot of cold air into our area. Not a lot of precipitation (maybe some could be snow) but it’s a nice pattern change.

    Finally, something to really talk about 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    We need an update Mark looks like these “other” weatherman are predicting snow

  7. Jason Hougak says:

    NWS discussion hinting at a possible change happening late next week.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I like what they said, I have been seeing what looks like a pattern change. I also have been looking towards the North Pole. I see the coldest air is on the move. It seems to be moving towards Alaska and into SW Canada. Some of the cold air is between -20F and -40F degrees (which is what I see on the GFS). Let’s hope it verifies.

      • Larry says:

        Yes! Hopefully the GFS model isn’t throwing us another curve ball. I would really like to see some snow after the disappointing January-December we’ve had. A few frosts but no snow. Maybe we’ll get a repeat of last years winter where all the snow was stored until February? (Except Christmas)

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          I agree with you there Larry. I do see the pattern change on the other models too. It’s not just the GFS. Hopefully it will verify and the models won’t change to warm and dry.

    • Brandon says:

      06z GFS seems to be running a bit colder than 00z GFS. From what I saw, 850mb looks cold enough for snow to the valley floor(or close to it) on Feb 4th. But of course it’s over a week away. Euro looked good on the 850mb as well. I probably don’t know quite as much as half of you guys though. We’ll see(famous words around here I think haha).

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Brandon, your doing great. Your right. The 06Z GFS is running a little colder. It also brings the colder air in a little earlier than before (which is nice). The 00Z GFS brought the cold air in on the 2nd, now it’s on the 1st. I know it’s only a day but it was worth saying…lol. I was looking at the GEFS Ensemble 10-day Snowfall matrix, the members are showing more snow (if you look at the last chart Mark put up on this post, that’s what I’m talking about). I was trying to upload the picture but for some reason the website I normally use is saying the picture isn’t in the right format. I changed it to the correct format and it still says it’s wrong. I have been doing this for the past 30 minutes. Let’s just say that there is another model showing the possibility of snow but it’s still a long ways off.

        Sorry it took so long to get this reply to you. It’s frustrating when things don’t work…lol. Let’s hope the 12Z GFS gets better than the 06Z. It’s coming out now. 🙂

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          I went back to the website and deleted one picture. Now I was able to upload the photo. I only had 35 pictures. I guess they have a limit 😦

          Here is the photo (it could just be a link). Last time I tried this, it just showed the link and not the photo. I won’t know until I post my comment. Cross your fingers…lol.

        • Brandon says:

          Thanks for the pic Ken, that’s something I’ve never really looked at before. I’ll have to check out that website. Thanks for the reply too.

  8. Jason Hougak says:

    Timberline was as good as it gets today for spring skiing. 52F high at the Lodge and 48F at top of the Mile @ 7,000’. Simply awesome with blue bird skies and no wind. Didn’t wear gloves, cap or long Johns and was still hot. This month reminds me of January 1989, we shall see is it repeats February 1989 arctic blast…

  9. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    The 18z GFS has one ensemble member that gives us -18c 850 temps and a 2 degree low temp at the surface for February 6th. Hahahahaha. Book it.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      LOL, I will make sure I have everything I need at the grocery store…lol.

      I think we could see a pattern change around Feb. 1st. I’m seeing it on every model. Let’s hope they keep it up and don’t change their minds…lol

      • JohnD says:

        ESPECIALLY amid the bizarreness of this winter–both in the PNW and elsewhere–definitely not throwing in the towel until way later in February! Who knows?!

  10. ron says:

    Nine PM marks the 319th anniversary of the last Cascadia subduction zone earthquake.

  11. Roland Derksen says:

    Less than a week left of this boring month, then February begins. If it doesn’t snow by mid-February, I’ll call it the end of winter-even if we get a snowfall. The sun will melt any snow that comes after that pretty quickly.

  12. Longview 400 ft says:

    All this talk about mowing one’s yard got me to thinking about last year. Feb. 13, 2018 I mowed my lawn for the first time. But the low that morning was 23 degrees. LOL Then it snowed a dusting that night. The thought of mowing my yard then it snowing will be something I will never forget. The following week a get 6.5 inches of snow. Maybe by miracle we will get snow but not mowing until the end of March.
    Early March is when I get my fork out but it is not used until the last week of March. LOL

  13. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 00Z GFS is interesting again but it’s probably teasing us again.

    • Andy says:

      I agree it will show something interesting for a couple runs, then it goes completely the opposite. I guess we stick with 3 to 5 days out. I cannot believe how my grass is growing and the bulbs are going crazy. Yellow jackets and bee’s are out also. I thought 2015 was strange but this winter is worse or tied with it.

      • W7ENK says:

        There are no yellow jackets, there are no bees. That is absolutely an exaggeration. With the temperatures we’ve been having for highs, and particularly for lows, I can prove that, scientifically.

        • andy says:

          These bee’s and yellow jackets were feeding on the humming bird feeders. The bee’s were native bee’s, they are much smaller than honey bee’s. This was on the sunny side of the house around 2 in the afternoon It was rather warm in the sun. Yellow jacket’s are quite resistant to cold as I have dealt with them while elk hunting in the Blue mountains after freezing temps and snow early in the hunt they still showed up after downing an elk after it warmed up in the afternoon.

  14. Jason Hougak says:

    Quite the inversion. 32F here now and 46F at 7,000’ at the top of the Magic Mile chairlift.

  15. Paul D says:

    My grass is looking a bit tall and that makes me very grumpy! I mowed in the first week of February last year, and this year isn’t looking any better. I absolutely refuse to mow in January – I don’t care how tall it is! Harrumph……

  16. W7ENK says:

    Yup, I think it’s about that time…

  17. Roland Derksen says:

    Yes , the winter of 1976-77 was remarkable for it’s “dullness”-even up here in BC. I recall the last week of January 1977 being particularly dull; Thick fog, down to literally “zero visibility”. Of course, part of that may have been due to looser pollution standards- in my Vancouver(BC), fogs were sometimes notoriously thick and persistent in decades up to the 70’s. I notice in more recent years, we don’t get those “pea-soup” fogs much anymore. We still get fog, but not as thick because the amount of smoke from slash-burning and other sources isn’t there now.

  18. Ken in Wood Village says:

    All I have to say about the 06Z GFS is hmmm.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      The 12Z GFS is almost the same as the 06Z. I just noticed the 12Z GDPS is showing what the GFS is showing. Hmmmm

  19. Chuck is right on. 1976-77 was the worst of them all. We were up at Timberline in mid January 1977 and there was virtually no roadside snow. Going to the coast felt more like May. Snow did eventually come but that was late February into March and that wasn’t a whole lot either.

  20. Ashley Watson says:

    Has there been any research or realiable conclusions reached as to why the cold air has been getting shunted to the east more in recent years and why our cold air dumping out over the gulf of Alaska and being transported here has also diminished quite a bit. I mean the lack we’ve had over the past 10 years has been rediculous

    • boydo3 says:

      The cold air almost always shunts to the east of the Rockies. We have this big problem to our west called the Pacific Ocean. Seems it wants to be the boss around here.

      • Ashley Watson says:

        Of course we’ve always had that and the Cascades. That’s not my question. I’ve already taken that into consideration. I’ve lived in the Northwest since 93. I’ve really noticed a decline in the 2 mentioned weather patterns. Is there any hypothesis or firm evidence to support what is going on?

        • Chuck Wiese says:

          Try this:

          The warm and cold phase of the PDO tends to run in 30 year phase cycles. As you can see from the plots, warm phase ran from 2015-45, cold from 1945-75 and warm from 1975-2005. In the cold phase, cooler tropical Pacific temperatures prevail, less ENSO, more excitement for the Pacific Northwest. Also understand that the tropical Pacific ocean is the greatest mobile heat source for the northern hemisphere. In cold phase, global temperatures often cool, especially in the US and in warm phase, they often warm.

          You moved to the Northwest just after passing the middle portion of a warm phase which tends to produce more ENSO events, hence, less snow and warmer temperatures. We passed the warm phase in 2005 and have migrated into cold phase. There are variations within each phase that produce ENSO. We are just on the downside of one of those. If this is any indication, the next 15-20 years should be dominated by cold phase conditions or ENSO neutral to La Nina conditions. Persistence of this will cause cooling and more snow and severe weather events for the USA including the Northwest. If the solar magnetic is an influence as some solar physicists claim, approaching a Gleissberg minimum by 2045 will also couple with the cold PDO, so I’m thinking more exciting winters are just around the corner for us and will beat out what we had in the 1990’s by a long shot. Be patient! 😀

        • Chuck Wiese says:

          In the first part of that post, I meant warm phase ran from 1915-45, obviously not 2015-45.

    • Andrew says:

      Interesting discussion. The shift I’ve really noticed over the past several winters is the practical extinction of the 500-1000 foot snow level pattern. I grew up at 500 feet and there were winters when we frequently had mixed precipitation that never amounted to anything on ground. They were frustrating events for a snow lover, but at least served as a reminder of just how close we were to getting real winter weather. Those have all but disappeared in recent years, even when we’ve had significant snow and ice events at sea level. It feels like our weather is now somewhat all-or-nothing with little difference from 0-1000 feet. That’s a big change from what I grew up with. It takes a special set of ingredients to give Portland a true snowstorm, but it used to not be so hard to see snow at least in the air.

      • pappoose in scappoose says:

        So true Andrew. It used to be easy for me to get into the snow zone with a 15 minute trip to the hills around town. Even 1500 feet doesn’t work any more.

    • W7ENK says:

      Just a guess, but it may have something to do with the 3,000-some miles of 15,000 foot high mountains that run from NE B.C. down into the Northern part of Arizona/New Mexico?

      • Ashley Watson says:

        Once again something that has been there for a long time even when we used to get more frequent 500 ft snow levels and Arctic outbreaks so I don’t think that is the issue

    • Tim says:

      I wonder that as well. Daniel Swain touched on it in his last post: “Unfortunately, California and the West Coast are often at the longitude of a preferred ridge when there is a significant perturbation to the hemispheric flow pattern–and that appears to be the main cause of the projected upcoming ridge pattern.” Someone else asked a similar question in the comments and he followed up with more but good luck diving through the 6,000+ comments there ( You’d think based on history and random chance arctic air would find it’s way west at some point but it never seems to do so any more.

  21. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I’ll just say it. I have put the folk into this winter. Also, welcome to spring. I don’t believe we will see any type of wintry precipitation for the lowlands.

    The reason why I say that is because I don’t see any change in the weather pattern that would benefit the PNW.

    I think it’s time to move on and hopefully we will see something interesting for spring and summer.

  22. Roland Derksen says:

    Intresting lists there, Dan. I was a bit too young to clearly recall 1966-67, but I remember not seeing snow at Christmas that year, so that would have been boring for me! 🙂

  23. WEATHERDAN says:

    My top 10 dull Winters. 1 .2018-2019, 2. 1966-1967, 3.2014-2015, 4.2002-2003, 5.2015-2016, 6.1976-1977, 7,1991-1992, 8.1996-1997, 9.1983-1983, 2004-2005. Top 10 exciting Winters. 1.1968-1969, 2.1978-1979, 3.1962-1963, 4.1964-1965,5. 2016-2017, 6.1970-1971, 7.1972-1973, 8.2013-2014, 9.2008-2009, 10.1992-1993. Peace.

    • Chuck Wiese says:

      This winter as dull as it has been doesn’t top dullsville in my top 10 for that. The winter of 1976-77 ranks number one in dullsville and had a long wave ridge lock up on the west coast all winter. And because it was a strong La Nina year, there was no developed subtropical jet and the strong polar jet dominated the weather patterns in North America that year. The Hudson Bay polar vortex assured all of the cold air dumps were well east of us like this year where the Midwest and east were in deep freeze with big snow storms. Out west, we had persistent fog and low clouds in December, January and February and no subtropical jet assured the drought affected California. Shasta Dam and Lake Tahoe were at less than 50% of normal levels that year.

      Johnny Carson was making fun of Midwesterners in the deep freeze as the blocking ridge produced a strong subtropical high pressure system over the 4 corner states and drove Santa Anna winds into southern California. That gave sunshine and 85-90F temps on the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles. Johnny Carson used video of girls rollerblading in hot pants and people frolicking on the beaches with ice cream stands open to tease Midwesterners with. It was funny….but very boring for Oregon weather. That year was the worst year I have ever seen to date. We got NOTHING that year. Not even a minor windstorm. Just fog and low clouds, day after day.

      • Chuck Wiese says:

        I was also in Lake Tahoe on Valentines Day that winter in 1977. I was an atmospheric science student at Oregon State University and after looking at weather maps that morning, got together with friends and decided to bust out of fog and low cloud dullsville in Corvallis.

        The university had a flying club so I rented one of their airplanes and the four of us flew to Lake Tahoe for the day to experience spring sunshine. And spring it was. Tahoe reached 68F that day. People were walking around in shorts in the middle of February at the lake which is 6300 ft above sea level. There was no snow at all on the ground at Heavenly Valley ski resort or anywhere else surrounding the lake. The surrounding mountains had no snow on them, which up on the ridges is close to 8500 ft MSL just like the rest of the surrounding terrain over the lake. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

      • Chuck Wiese says:

        I should also add that the 85-90F temps at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles I referenced occurred in the middle of January. It was an amazing winter. Anything but normal, but in the opposite sense of winter for the western USA and Pacific Northwest.

%d bloggers like this: