Finally Some Winter Chill (And Maybe Snow) Arrives…In February

1pm Thursday…

We’ve had all of ONE significant weather event this whole cool season.  That’s 3 months of boring weather since Halloween!  Now as we approach the end of “West of the Cascades Winter” it looks like we finally have something to talk about!  Yes, in our climate west of the Cascades almost all interesting weather happens (in most years) before Valentine’s Day.  This has also been one of our warmest “cool seasons” on record in the Portland metro too.  But beginning Monday we’ll be feeling some much overdue cool temps and crisp days.

I’ll just skip past the snow hype; here are the details…


  1. At this point I don’t see a setup for a snow/ice storm west of the Cascades; not one of those events where cold air pours out of the Gorge and we get a solid/frozen day in the lowlands and the metro area grinds to a halt.  Please don’t abandon your car on the freeway tonight in anticipation
  2. No sign of freezing rain
  3. No sign of a big freeze at this point either
  4. What I DO see is a few “flirtations” with low elevation snow next week, first chance is late Sunday night/Monday AM and again maybe Monday night/Tuesday AM.  Possibly late next week.
  5. If you live near/above 1,000′ you’re almost guaranteed at least some snow at some point Sunday night through Tuesday AM.

For now this is all about one of those sloppy wet snow shower events where some of us get it and some don’t.  Some get a dusting overnight and during the daytime most roads are just fine in the lowlands.


That’s because there is a small little upper level trough that swings through the Pacific Northwest early next week.  It is a “break-off” of the polar vortex always in place in wintertime across the arctic.  See it on the slide show…use the arrows if you are in a hurry.  See the little cold pool swing down over us?  The timing is Saturday through Monday night with these graphics

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That pool of air swings out over the ocean.  Then the cold Canadian air picks up moisture at the surface, and moves inland as cold showers.  Of course that very cold air is moving over 50 degree ocean water first which warms up the airmass.  That’s why this weather pattern typically does not bring us snowstorms in the lower elevations west of the Cascades; or even in the Gorge.

Of course this is still 3+ days away so I don’t have any more details for you with respect to how much might fall (if any!) in YOUR neighborhood.  If you’ve seen any snow forecast maps on the internet, don’t get too excited.  Each model is slightly different and I looked at ALL of them this morning.  A few things I notice so far…

  1. Over the past two days models have pushed that cold trough farther west, going out over the ocean as I just mentioned.  This may be due to our general winter pattern (which continues through early February) of weak and “splitty” systems.  Any farther west and we could end up mainly/all dry Sunday through Tuesday.
  2. Models have turned warmer the past 48 hours as well.  The GFS bottoms us out at a “marginal for snow” -7 degrees at 850mb.  ECMWF is now only a -7 to -8 Monday-Wednesday.  They were down around -10 to -12 at one point (mainly ECMWF).  If they back off much further we can say goodbye to snow chances for many of us in the lowlands.
  3. The GFS and GEM, due to the orientation of the upper-level pattern, allow dry and colder modified arctic air to drift into Eastern Washington, come through the Gorge, and into the metro area.  If that occurs, we’ll be REAL cold Tuesday and beyond.  For now I’m discounting that in our 7 Day forecast.
  4. Cold arctic air will be sitting close by (just north/east) for most/all of next week.  Any surface low that develops west of us or comes down the coastline?  We would be in the snowstorm business like late February 2018 or early February 2014.  At this moment I don’t see that on any models.

This next 10-14 days should be real interesting for weather geeks like me; apparently an “end of season” payoff, or at least an attempt at some weather fun.  Take a look at those chilly EURO Portland temps


The chance for getting SOME snow at SOME point in the next two weeks is the best we’ve seen the entire season.  15 of 21 GFS ensemble members are producing at least 2″ snow (total) in the next 15 days.  At Salem, 40 of 51 ECMWF ensemble members produce at least 2″ snow (total) in the next 15 days.  Odds are definitely looking up

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

81 Responses to Finally Some Winter Chill (And Maybe Snow) Arrives…In February

  1. JohnD says:

    Thank you to everyone for your input. Really fun to follow the blog–especially during times like these!

  2. alohabb says:

    Cracks me up to watch another channel forecast this morning as they describe low possibilities of snow below 500’ and little to no moisture for the rest of the week , yet the rotating 7 day forecast at the bottom of the screen shows really cold temps and snow every day. Lol.

  3. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    It looks to me like our best chance of decent snow will be Monday afternoon with wraparound moisture. It looks to set up shop right over the PDX area for quite a few hours.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I was looking at the 12Z NAM and I see East winds pick up too. I think the temps the NAM is showing are a little high for our area (low 30’s). It looks like the Hood River Valley and The Dalles will be in the teens (that’s if the NAM is correct). The next 36 hours will be interesting.

  4. Larry says:

    Anne Campolongo will be on Saturday, Mark will be on Sunday night, (most likely after the Superbowl). Hopefully models won’t have the low pressure system track too off the coast. Otherwise it would leave the valleys with NO SNOW! Great for the coast and coast range though. We’ll see what happens in the upcoming 24-48 hours, and especially Sunday night. Fingers crossed for valley snow!

  5. Max in Fairview says:

    It’s going to be an active February and one for the record books if everything comes to fruition.

  6. Jason Hougak says:

    C’mon Mark i feel like a kid again on Christmas Eve

  7. Jake in Gresham says:

    Man I couldn’t sleep and now I know why. I saw everyone’s post on the GFS and wanted to throw it out. Too good to be true. But the Euro is saying let’s do this. And now the NAM is showing arctic air in the Columbia river basin.

    It’s been along time since I’ve seen a N to S trajectory for multiple weather events.

    Who freaken’ hacked the weather models!

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      LOL, your to funny Jake. I saw the arctic air in the Columbia River Basin a couple of days ago. I also see the East wind picking up too. That should bring cooler/colder air into our area. I hope this will give us a chance for snow at the lowest levels.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Ok, I wasn’t finished with my post but for some reason it posted my comment.

        I saw the Euro last night showing something about the possibility of a artic outbreak but didn’t see it on the GFS until now. I’m hoping they keep it up.

        I hope no one hacked the models…lmao 🙂

    • Jason Hougak says:

      I can’t sleep either…

  8. K says:

    Sunday-Monday looks like EURO gives PDX 3-5 inches of snow in spots, big improvement in models as a whole.

  9. Jason Hougak says:

    I’m really surprised Mark hasn’t put up a fresh post…🤔

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      He probably will either tomorrow or Sunday. I think he wants to wait until he has better information on what will happen. The only way to do that is when we get closer to the event.

      • Jason Hougak says:

        He’s the chief meteorologist. Need some updated play by play action.

        NWS in Medford office has Winter Storm Watches up for SW Oregon above 1500 feet.

      • Larry says:

        Mark will be on Sunday night. Guaranteed he will talk about the chance of snow. 🙂

  10. Jason Hougak says:

    Best weather watching since last February

  11. Andy says:

    Wow…the ooz gfs run tonight was to good to be true. Could be a February to remember or some model runs that is drunk.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      LOL, to funny. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it came out. The thing is, the Euro is trying to show the same thing. It will be interesting to see what the 00Z Euro shows now.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      It’s a thing of beauty.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Your telling me. I was watching it come out and my jaw dropped when I saw what it showed…lol.

  12. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 00Z GFS isn’t done but are you seeing what I’m seeing at the end of the run?? WOW, if it happens.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Ok, WOW is all I can say with the 00Z GFS (the end of the run)

      • Diana F. says:

        Well WHAT DOES IT SAY!!!!!????

        • K says:


          20 inches for Seattle, over 10 inches easily for PDX, several snow events, cold temperatures, and of course a nice inch or two on Monday. It’s something else, don’t get your hopes up though!

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          LOL, I thought you were able to look at the website? You can go to It’s a free site. But here are a couple of pictures

          This website is really pissing me off. It asks for a puzzle question which I need to put in a word but it won’t show it so I can’t upload any other pictures. But I’m hoping you get the understanding what I’m trying to say.

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          Here is another pictures

      • Diana F. says:

        wow! Thanks!

        • Larry says:

          Oh yeah I see the snow too! Probably won’t be 10 inches of snow at PDX but a chance, (what the GFS is predicting) could be a decent or even extreme snow event. I wouldn’t be so hyped about it now since it’s over a week away though. Once we get close we’ll see what happens then. Something interesting though! 😀

  13. JohnD says:

    Really, really complex pattern that we are in!
    One day at a time-right?!
    A fun ride ahead–and lasting a while!
    Nice to finally be in one!
    Woo Hoo!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes! Hopefully the more aggressive model for snow (Euro) will get it right this time. As Brian MacMillan has said, ”one of our more reliable models”.

  14. Getting ready for a Monday morning bark dust blizzard. 18z around the 14th-15th is interesting. I have a flight on the 16th so this will be that one time it’s accurate this far out.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Hehe, funny. The 12Z Euro shows cold air coming around that time too. It is interesting, just need to keep an eye on it 🙂

  15. rmlounsbury says:

    Seems to me the 18Z is a death blow to snow. Too warm when we have moisture around and barely cold enough when it is dry. My money is on flakes in the air but nothing sticking for most of PDX unless you are in the hills.

    Of course, the 18Z wants to reload cold air around Valentines Day and dump 6″ or so on PDX.

  16. runrain says:

    Bet this will be one of those set ups where showers will move onto the coast and then get eaten up by the coast range.

  17. Longview 400 ft says:

    National Weather Service Portland OR
    308 PM PST Fri Feb 1 2019

    This trend will go with showers Sun night into Mon, with snow levels
    gradually lowering to surface for the interior after 1 or 2 am Mon,
    and down to sea level to 500 feet along the coast. Seems the primary
    band of precipitation will be with the arcing frontal boundary, which
    will nearly stall for a time Mon am over far southwest Washington
    into extreme northwest Oregon. This will likely be the jackpot for
    low elevation snowfall, with 2 to 3 inches possible between
    Vader/Castle Rock and Woodland/Scappoose area. Bit to the south, snow
    potential for 0.5 to 2.0 inches for Portland/Vancouver metro, with
    heaviest to the north and west. Farther south, generally less than an
    inch for Willamette Valley. But, could see local spots where may get
    an inch or two on higher hills. Coast Range generally 3 to 6 inches
    of snow, and same for the Cascades. But, little if any snow expected
    to accumulate along the coast under 500 feet.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Cool, I was trying to say the same thing to someone below. I saw this on the NAM. We’ll see if this happens 🙂

  18. Ashley Watson says:

    I have looked at all the models and nothing really stands out great for snow. Does anyone have a better knowledge of these models that can give me more insight on what it might take to get things going in the right direction for snow. I know the nam is trying to develop a bc slider but I don’t think the nam is very accurate

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Too warm and too dry for accumulating snow on Monday. Best we can hope for is some flakes in the air. There is potential later in the week for snow, but I’m not holding my breath. Meanwhile… we need some freakin’ valley rain/mountain snow or we are going to be hurting this summer. Today is a bust. Sunday/Monday will be a bust. There is no evidence of a stormy pattern developing. Like Mark keeps saying, the storms we are getting are weak and splitty. Good for Cali. Bad for us.

  19. Ashley Watson says:

    I’d be more worried if they were forecasting something amazing but in my unprofessional opinion we have as good a shot as if was in the forecast to get a nice little surprise

  20. Ashley Watson says:

    So here’s the skinny,

    Right now our weather pattern is very complex. Alot could happen. Portland could get a snowstorm of 3-4 inches or you could get wet snowflakes. Even over here in Sunriver we could get dumped on or get an inch or so. Right now the models don’t show much for Portland or over here. They have been very inconsistent. Usually I am on the conservative side because I have seen time and again when forecasts bust. The one thing I will say is we have to be careful with this type of pattern. All of a sudden a suprise surface low could develop and dump on us. I’ve seen that happen both in Portland and Sunriver. We just won’t know untill 24 hours or less. I wish I had more insight as to what will happen but as of now it don’t look good for snow but keep a watch on things

  21. rmlounsbury says:

    I suppose if you want a silver lining the RPM is giving Portland 1.4″ of snow through Monday @ 4am.

    • rmlounsbury says:

      I was just looking at the NAM and it looks like it is trying to set up a BC slider. On Monday a low is sitting just west of the Olympic peninsula and the 531 line is just past Portland with the 522 line just offshore.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        The last time I looked at the NAM, the low was sitting just off the mouth of the Columbia River. If my eyes are working right, it looks like the East wind comes back which would keep us cold. If that happens, we would see snow. At least that’s what I think.

        • rmlounsbury says:

          Except there isn’t anything particularly cold east of the Cascades. The coldest air dumps out over the Pacific and the Basin doesn’t get much colder (if at all) than Portland. The bulk of the cold air goes into Montana and eastward.

          East winds only help if it is colder in the Basin.

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          I actually looked at the temps for Monday in the Hood River to The Dalles at 2M in the 20’s and at 850MB from -3C to -11C. This is all based on if the NAM is right of course.

          We can speculate what could happen or may happen but until Sunday rolls around I don’t think we should throw in the towel. Sunday we can start watching the Satellite pictures (and if someone knows what website to use to see the temps in Canada) then we will know how everything will transpire. I know one thing, Mother Nature has her own surprises so we should just wait and see what happens in the next couple of days. 🙂

        • rmlounsbury says:

          I wouldn’t put any faith in the NAM. Unless the GFS or EURO show’s it then I wouldn’t put much on it.

          For the Gorge to power a snow storm in PDX you need KDLS to be in the 20’s for highs (or at least sub-freezing) and this never happens. It is also helpful to have multiple days of offshore flow. this also doesn’t surface; to that end we never switch from on shore.

  22. Jake in Gresham says:

    The NAM 12z is in range of Mon and Tuesday now. It wants to put arctic air behind the Cascades. That would give the chance for the gorge to come into play. One thing is for sure. Canada will be in the heart of Winter. I’m seeing negative 20 Celsius from West coast to East cost on the 850mb.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      I ‘m looking forward to the change- today’s grey, rainy conditions remind me too much of the earlier weeks of winter. January 2019 ended up +2.3F above normal, but rainfall actually totaled at 6.70 inches- that’s below normal!

  23. rmlounsbury says:

    The 06Z was a step in the right direction. The 12Z isn’t any real improvement to my eyes. By the time we get cold enough for snow, the moisture is gone. I do like the reload late next week but it looks like the same story.

    But both the EURO and GFS are sticking to their guns with the idea of dumping the air mass over the Pacific too far west.

    At least everyone should see a few flakes or splats at some point.

  24. Jason Hougak says:

    The 06Z GFS was a nice run

  25. Jason Hougak says:

    The ECMWF model is showing the cold air dropping out of BC again by later next weekend.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      Yea, I kind of said that last night 🙂 It looks like the GFS is trying to do the same thing but it’s not as cold as the ECMWF. We’ll see the 12Z ECMWF shows the same thing as the 00Z.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Oops, I was wrong with the GFS. Sorry, I am sick. I’m taking antibiotics and other stuff. I wish people who are sick would stay home and not get other people sick. My head is a little lightheaded so trying to focus is a little difficult.

  26. Diana F. says:

    My hero at this moment is this 8:39 pm report from the NWS PDX, trying to be all chill, and help the wishcasters like me and some others on Mark’s Blog! Thanks Guys!

    “The bottom line is that there is still a chance for low elevation
    snow next during the long term period, but a lot needs to come
    together for it to come to fruition. Stay tuned to the forecast over
    the next day or two as we start to hone in on the details. /64”

    So you ARE telling me there’s a chance!

    Yeeehaw! The WishCasting Express!

    • Same as it always is. Anywhere in the lowlands west of the Cascades, it’s really easy to get wet & mild. Sometimes we get dry & cold. Wet & cold (or even damp & cold) are simply difficult combinations to get.

  27. Ken in Wood Village says:

    The 00Z Euro wasn’t the greatest for Monday and Tuesday but I still think it could change for the better.

    Now, I want to talk about close to the end of the run. It looks very interesting. It’s so close at bring us some really cold (maybe artic air) to our area. This will be a interesting February 🙂

    • Diana F. says:

      So much of the US gets cold air right now, and we’re just asking for a little bit of that cold air, and a little moisture, and we could shut up for a while!

    • Jake in Gresham says:

      Okay so I’m not seeing things – I saw that too! And the latest GFS runs are also bringing colder temps. for the longer term as well.

  28. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    It looks like the coast will have a better shot at snow Sunday into Monday than the valley. The coldest air is staying west of us. All the models show this now. Still time for a favorable change.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I’m assuming you looked at the 00Z NAM? Hmmm

      • Ashley Watson says:

        What does the nam show?

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          The 00Z GFS shows warm temps but the NAM shows colder temps. It also shows a low that coming up the coast and passes the Columbia River and roams out in the ocean. We get mostly a East wind instead of a south wind which normally keeps us cooler. We will know more in the next two days.

  29. Jason Hougak says:

    The Tug Hill Plateau and vicinity around Watertown, NY has been getting hammered by lake effect snow. Snowfall rates 3-4” per hour since yesterday. The region is the biggest snowbelt outside the western mountain regions.

  30. JohnD says:

    Preferring not to view Mark’s current overview as a buzz kill. The overall pattern for at least the next couple of weeks looks to have a lot of intrigue–as Mark alludes. No one can say at this point how or when things might change favorably at one point or another!

    • Muxpux (Castle Rock) says:

      Most definitely. The key to this post, is this pattern seems to lock in for a bit. The longer you have northerly flow off the BC Mointains, the higher the chances something will spin up.

      With northerly winds off BC, Vancouver island looks like an airplane wing.

  31. Anonymous says:

    The models retreat per usual

  32. Nickolas Hubsky says:

    It doesn’t appear as though you can ever call for snow, it’s like maybe it will or it won’t. If it does this or that, that we wouldn’t be far from snow. The confidence is there, then again, if it does this, then we could be just “just dry and chilly”. I’m note sure it will snow at your house, but maybe if we get a bit colder than expected and the precip is heavier, than we could have snow. But it will be spotty. You could get 2 inches or just a few rain showers, with sun brakes. My god, you cannot commit or pinpoint a winter weather forecast. It’s like you wanna cover yourself in case your wrong all together. So you list all kinds of conditions that can take place and honestly it appears NO different than any other day. I mean, gee, it could rain, it could sunshine, it could be partly cloudy and chilly. It could be cold enough, oh wait, it could be too warm. It just feels like NO meterologist can give a clear forecast and be specific about whats ahead. Look, if you don’t have the ability to forecast winter weather. Just be real and say i don’t have the ability to be accurate when it comes to predicting snow. It’s just too complicated. Truth

    • Registered Nerd says:

      I understand your frustration, but it seems like you are kinda missing the point…I mean part of the fun of being a weather nerd is too look at all the possibilities and see which way it will go…at least with the current forecast there are possibilities, so sit back, enjoy the ride, and stop stressing so much about meteorologists “getting it right”

      • Nickolas Hubsky says:

        I agree, it’s fun to look at all the potential outcomes. I don’t expect Mark Nelson to go out on a limb, either. They sure have clever ways of communicating the possibility. Whenever you say things like, “If it does this, then we wouldn’t be far from snow”. It’s as if you are not required to give a clear answer. Very rarely do they get snow totals correct. They can, however, be on point when it comes to forecasting a sunny day with a high of 75. But when it comes to weather that truely impacts us, they can be wrong all together. I just think when your listing a number of conditions that may or may not happen, your telling us that winter weather is too complex to forecast. A lot of people see meterologist as professionals on TV that can get it wrong and still remain employed. It’s so easy to get it wrong, though. I had a buddy ask me why it was snowing at 38 degrees, but the very next day the temperature was colder at 34 and it was raining. A lot of us are scratchng are head and just believe meterologist should be clear and accurate.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I still have Celery growing in my garden.

  34. W7ENK says:

    NWS pointing out that models are backing off the cold and snow chances with warmer 850 temps. Haven’t had a chance to look into it yet, myself.

    Latest models trends seem to suggest slightly warmer 850 mb temperatures than previous runs.

    Confidence is fading.

  35. Paul D says:

    The snow ain’t gonna happen, but I’ll take the colder than normal temps!

  36. boydo3 says:

    The mountains should get some decent snow in the next week. That’s a good thing!

  37. alohabb says:

    I have dandelions popping up in the yard. I’m ready for spring.

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