January Ends Mild, But Cool February Start

6:30pm Monday…

That gusty east wind did the job as we slept, clearing the fog and low clouds.  Most of us woke up to bright sunshine today.  Portland’s high temp surged from low 40s Sunday to low-mid 50s today.  You can see the cool easterly flow affecting the eastern edge of the metro area; Troutdale only hit 48.

pdx observed high today

That hazy sunshine plus breezy east wind continues through Wednesday morning.   Mild temperatures continue as well.  Most of the Pacific Northwest has been warmer than normal this month.


This “cool season” so far in Portland has been the 4th warmest.  That’s from November 1st to now.  That explains blooming plant reports.  Looking around my garden/yard it’s as if it just went to sleep a bit, instead of everything totally dying off.  Looks ready to wake up again soon.

You can see the effect on snowpack.  Mt. Hood has now dropped to only 50% of average, with all of the Cascades well below normal for late January


So what’s ahead?  Here’s what I see

  1. There is no sign of typical stormy weather in the next 10+ days; models continue the strangely quiet weather pattern through the foreseeable future.
  2. We’ll likely remain drier than normal in early February
  3. Temps cool below average for at least the first week of February
  4. Right now there is no obvious sign of lowland snow, but it’s definitely NOT time to pull out the “winter is over” fork. 

Today there is a strong upper-level ridge along the West Coast, and very cold trough (an extension of the circumpolar vortex) swinging down through the middle of the continent.

jet stream forecast 2017

This pattern was well-advertised by models 10-14 days ago; they did well with the general setup.  I mentioned last Monday that we would watch closely to see if any chilly air drops south this week (or beyond).  Models were hinting the ridging would back off to the west.  Apparently that IS going to happen.  Take a look at the ECMWF forecast for next Monday

jet stream forecast 2017_2

That general setup continues through the 10 day period on ensemble forecasts from most models.  Here’s Friday the 8th, you see the cold troughing over the West and high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska.


Beyond that, there are hints the ridge moves back over us or very close by.  This is the 15 day forecast for the 12th of February.


Last night’s monthly run of the ECMWF showed a similar setup with drier than normal conditions for February.  eps_32dayprecipanomaly

This would continue our theme of a “dud” winter; weak weather systems and no stormy upper-level low sitting over the Gulf of Alaska like we’d see in a normal year.

Of course with a cold trough nearby the next 10 days or so I’ll be watching closely to see if any one system digs farther south and/or combines with some moisture to produce snow down below 2,000′.  At this point nothing looks interesting on any model run.  Part of the issue is that we’re in that somewhat dry pattern the next 10 days.  ECMWF gives us only 1/2″ rain in the entire week from this Thursday to Thursday the 7th; the ridging is still quite close to us.


850mb temps may drop down around -5 to -6, which is great to get a dusting of snow into the Coast Range summits or even as low as 1,000′ west of the Cascades.  The ECMWF ensemble average drops to around -6 next Monday/Tuesday, but it’s also dry during that time.  With onshore flow and showers you need at least -7 to get excited about wet snow on the valley floor.


So if you’re a weather geek like me, keep a close eye on the next 10 days or so.  This is the type of pattern where something could suddenly change and we get a shot of cold air and/or quick snow.  But at this moment nothing specific is showing up on our models/maps.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

57 Responses to January Ends Mild, But Cool February Start

  1. Jason Hougak says:

    The 00Z still brings snow to the valley through the run. Portland was showing 7” with Salem 5.2”. Elevation is where it’s at though. Still painting over 2’ in the higher terrain.

  2. Ashley Watson says:

    To my untrained eye it looks like the GFS is a little colder than this morning and the Canadian model is too. Can anyone confirm that?

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Just looked at the 00Z GFS, it’s trending a little cooler on the days were the Euro is trending colder. It’s a start 🙂

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I was just looking at the Canadian model. It’s going with the Euro now. The 12Z GDPS (Canadian model) was way warmer. Now the 00Z GDPS is way colder with lows in the 20’s and highs maybe around freezing. Not sure if it would be that cold but it’s very interesting now that the Canadian model has come on board.

  3. Kyle says:

    Oh I forgot to mention the first page works but whe nclicking on an actual area then you get the errors.

  4. Kyle says:

    http://www.sercc.com/nowdatamap not sure if it’s related to the government shutdown or they simply don’t see a need to fix it anymore but the NWS NOW historical data is not there anymore.

    You get a page not found message.

  5. Bear says:

    Sometimes I think our current society and our state of mind gets a little muddled down in what would be the true wise and pertinent considerations of life and what is truly important and relevant. I’ve been a weather watcher all my life, mostly because it mattered to my well being not just because of a whim or notion. I tuned into this blog to get other folks ideas and observations about our weather and climate. But too often I see an obsession of hope and a guaranteed expectation of an unrealistic outcome.

    Most every time I decide to check in on the blog recently there seems to be an obsessive need to find hope for weather that will not eventually please the heart. “this model just said this….if only this model will confirm…..Mark said……just watched Mark 3 minutes ago and he said this and didn’t say this.

    Just wanted to share why I will pull back from reading Mark’s blog. Years ago when I tuned in there were much wiser people commenting with restraint balanced with knowledge.

    “The ideas are louder when there are fewer of them.”
    ― David C. Day

    • Anonymous says:

      Get a grip dude.

    • Kyle says:

      Mutual feelings. The people with knowledge were all scared away. The majority on here are just babies that haven’t grown up.

      Adults wearing diapers still. You are doing the right thing. This blog is a wasteland. They refuse to believe the PNW (and the world) has altered greatly.

      It’s not really a matter of belief but looking at the data other then models the math comes out that something very big is happening.

      And Planet X has all but been officially announced. There is something that is coming closer to our solar system that has messed up the outer ring system. And a few weeks ago the earth ‘rang like a bell’ most likely part of this.

      Every seismograph both public and private across the world shook for several hours yet nobody felt a thing.

      The interesting thing is when that “wave” reaches the sun what will it do to it? Eventually it will.

      Astronomers have in recent years had to reset telescopes but the blame is on man made global warming for ’tilting’ the earth. Sorry Mr Media but a lot of things have happened beyond that.

    • Kyle says:

      Some of them moved to The Weather Forums dot com.

    • runrain says:

      But wishcasting is half the fun!!

    • JakeOS says:

      Haha Imagine going to a weather blog comment section looking for an expert opinion. If I wanted a strictly professional opinion I would just go with what Mark says or the NWS. I read the comments for the amateur model watchers getting excited about the weather.

      I love winter weather and enjoy the what people post. The models give us an opportunity to see what the experts are viewing and possible trends going forward.

      I don’t sleep outside so the weather isn’t life or death for me. I love snow and hoping it snows in a less than ideal climate doesn’t make me a “wishcaster”. Just someone that enjoys a snowstorm. if you quit commenting negativity then you will not be missed.

    • GTS1Kft says:

      Bye, Mr. Berry – we’ll try to soldier on bereft of your vast store of wisdom.

      BTW, “Most every time (you) decide to check in on the blog…” you use a different name ’cause you’ve been 86’ed under your previous pseudonyms.

  6. Larry says:

    I was attentively watching Mark during the 6 O’ clock news. And I think he said something that was really interesting. ” Models are showing snow levels down to two thousand feet elevation.” ” Some models have elevations down to sea level. We’ll see. ” He followed up later with another statement. ”12 or 24 hours and we’ll see what happens, but right now it’s still up in the air.”

  7. Steve Miller says:

    Encouraging to see models suggesting anything resembling winter weather inside of a week. Not sure I have seen that happen yet this winter. Seems as if everything so far has busted at day nine or ten.

  8. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I’m going to mention this about the difference between the GFS and the Euro and also the GFS-FV3. What the GFS doesn’t have or show like the other models is a couple of Low pressure systems coming off Canada and going over Vancouver Island and skirting the Washington coastline a little before heading inland. With the Lows doing this, it brings the artic air into our area. The 18Z GFS-FV3 is showing the same thing as the 12Z GFS-FV3.

    It just something I noticed from the different models. Something to talk about 🙂

  9. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I was watching Marks forecast for the 5 o’clock news and he mentioned the two models that shows snow to the valley floor but he said, “we are ignoring those for now” LOL

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    The NWS discussion sounds exciting. Marks holding out his .02 right now. New post… new post… new post!!!

  11. Ashley Watson says:

    My uneducated thoughts,

    I remember quite a bit this winter the euro showing lots of precipitation or snow for my area over here in Sunriver just to 4days out caving into the GFS. I’d like to see the GFS latch on to this pattern before I get excited. Also I wonder if there is much ensemble support for the cold and snow on either euro or GFS. Sometimes the ensembles are even wrong and the operational is right. I’d be very cautious right now. At 2 days out then I might get excited

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Ashley, the 12z euro ensmeble members are all over the place. The median gives us high temps around 40 with lows slightly below freezing from Monday-Thursday. Some members give us highs approaching 50. Some with highs below freezing. Huge amount of uncertainty beyond Sunday. Accumulating snow looks extremely unlikely, albeit possible.

      • K says:

        EURO Ensembles and EPS Weeklies are actually looking great for at the very least some chilly members. Though yes, as you said, there are warm members as well.

      • Ashley Watson says:

        Excactly why I’m not excited

  12. Ellen Wallace says:

    Hey Mark (and others) if this winter is like other (duds) winters – is there a history of late season snows in any? I am sitting about 500′ so it might ?? snow here ?? and not in PDX? Any thoughts?

  13. Roland Derksen says:

    27F for a minimum this morning- that’s the coldest temperature I’ve seen since the first week of December. I’m on the fence when it comes to cold and snow coming next week- but at least we have something interesting to discuss.

  14. W7ENK says:

    So, it looks like the FV3-GFS just jumped aboard the Winter weather train with the EURO, now showing snow on late Sunday into Monday.

    Looks like I might be out 20 bucks…

    You’re welcome.

  15. Jason Hougak says:

    Erik chill man… this is what we’ve been waiting for. Ridiculous when everyone says winters over. Anything is still possible. It’s a great day outside right now by the way.

  16. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 12Z Euro isn’t done yet but it did it again. Monday and especially Tuesday look very interesting. 🙂

  17. W7ENK says:

    A coworker just showed me his iPhone’s weather forecast. It has a snowflake on Sunday, with a high of 42 and a low of 35. I asked him how he thought that was going to happen, and he told me his phone forecast is “always accurate, more than the TV weather guys.” I said that would be an amazing weather app to have, and shook hands on $20 that it isn’t going to snow on Sunday.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      I want in on that bet too. Easiest $20 you will ever make.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      LOL, to funny. Maybe on Monday if the Euro is right. Until it is 3 to 4 days away I will believe it. I was very surprised to see what the 00Z Euro did but it’s just one run. We’ll see what happens.

    • Muxpux (Castle Rock) says:

      Unfortunately that’s how most people get their weather these days.

      It’s a shame that these conglomerates have such a stranglehold on the market. I’m already seeing Facebook posts about the same thing. High of 43, low of 33, and snowflakes. At face value, yes you could see snowflakes in the air at that point. But I think most people when they hear “snow” they envision a white ground.

    • W7ENK says:

      The other caveat I neglected to mention: If (when) I win, he must stop saying “always” in reference to his iPhone forecasts, and he can never say his weather app is better than the TV mets, ever again.

  18. Jason Hougak says:

    ECMWF -8 to -10C 850mb temps by later Sunday. Things are getting interesting.

    • Finally. Mind you, it’s far from certain that anything interesting is going to happen in February, but long-term forecasts are at least trending in the right way. More than once, I’ve seen people willing to give up on winter only to see February deliver the goods. As Mark writes, it’s too early to bring out the fork yet.

  19. Larry says:

    Did anyone check the weather app? (The IPhone one). A snowflake shown next Monday and Tuesday. Not sure if I should be thrilled or disappointed. :/

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      The Euro brought back some really cold air on those days. Now we need the GFS to do the same. 😉

      • Bear says:

        Not just the GFS but reality does play a part in the weather also! Not to be a “wet blanket” for I am a ‘wish caster’ too!

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          LOL, the 12Z GFS isn’t really picking up what the Euro did. It keeps the cold air up in Canada. It will be interesting to see what the 12Z Euro does today.

  20. Longview 400 ft says:

    During the 10 pm show Mark used the Euro model which was a little nice to see but went with the (was it the RPM model?) at 11 pm. I understand why he did. But here’ hoping the models point towards the goods.

  21. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 00Z Euro got a little interesting for Monday and Tuesday of next week.

  22. …Eager for the ridge to take a break…and return the second half of February!

  23. Muxpux (Castle Rock) says:

    Thank you for that last bit.

    Too many people take the models as gospel. They might as well be checking the forecast at weather.com or accuweather every day. It’s the same thing.

    The point of the models, is to get an idea of the overall pattern. Past a few days, you shouldn’t pay much attention to the specifics anyway.

    I still feel the PNW would do well with a super high res weather model. Like the HRRR but a much finer resolution to take into account the terrain that has such a large impact on our weather, whether it’s the low level air currents (cold air vs. marine air as an example) or the lift given to the atmosphere and causing intense post frontal showers, and intensification of small scale features.

    • Jake in Gresham says:

      This is so true and I am saying that with a keen enthusiasm for long range weather models like the next guy. It does feel a bit out of hand as of late though, for sure.

      I think a lot of people are really hoping we get some kind of Winter potential. But for me I don’t think it will happen because this pattern has oscillated back to us of having split flow for pretty much all Winter just as it appears that we might be turning a corner.

      I think this just another turn of small potential before we get more very strong ridging. Looking at going into Spring. I hope things change come March. Because a bad drought this Summer looks on the horizon. One thing is certain. The biggest arctic blast to hit the Eastern part of the U.S. is in full swing and I don’t know how this Winter can get any sadder here in the PNW!

  24. JohnD says:

    Nice rendition Mark. Thanks–as always. Definitely great to finally see some semblance of a pattern change. Hopefully not a matter of “too little too late”! And as you allude, definitely worthy of keeping a keen eye out for some details that could lead to a coveted PNW cold and/or low elevation snow event at some point in the next two weeks or so!

  25. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Thanks for the update Mark. I hope something will show up during the next 10 days. First 🙂

  26. Anonymous says:


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