9:30pm Update: It’s Happening! Snow in East & North Metro

February 8, 2019

As mentioned in the midday post, sure enough a mild southerly wind developed and is keeping about 1/2 of the metro area south of the Columbia River and West Hills well above freezing.

That warmer part of the metro has only seen a snow/rain mix or just plain rain depending on your location.  Lack of that mild wind has brought 1/2″ to 1″ in areas around Scappose, St. Helens, and earlier around Battle Ground, all on the north side of the metro area.  La Center (at 600′) picked up 3″ so far.  Now I see I-84 covered in snow east of I-205.


And now some good news if you want real snow.  That will be the maximum extent of the southerly wind.  From here on out through the night it backs off.  Right now easterly flow is picking up through the Gorge.  It’s snowing in much of the eastern metro area.  That includes Happy Valley, Gresham, Camas, Troutdale, Damascus, and Oregon City.  Remember that ECMWF model I showed earlier (and other models) had the cold easterly wind taking over after 10pm or so, that should change much of the metro area over to snow as we head toward midnight and beyond.

Our forecast remains the same for all areas.  No need to update any of these

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The final model run (before this event) of WRF-GFS from UW show just about the same thing, some areas of 2″+ snow in metro.  But most areas less than 2″ (or even less) in the Willamette Valley.


HRRR model is somewhat similar with some parts of metro getting less than 2″ out of this event.


We’ll see how it ends up overnight.  The main change will be increasing cold easterly wind blowing out of the Gorge bringing some drifting snow east of I-205 and eventually into the West Hills too by morning.


There has been lots of talk about a possible snow event Sunday night and Monday.  There is no guarantee that’s going to happen.  In fact both the evening GEM and GFS models put is into a mild southerly wind from later Sunday night through Tuesday.  That could possibly leave the Willamette Valley and Portland metro area with mainly rain through that event.   After we finish up this event tomorrow afternoon I’ll take a closer look at that of course.  No reason to get all wound up about a third snow event that may not even happen!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

Friday Noon Snow Update

February 8, 2019

12:30pm Friday…

All the morning maps/models are in.  Here’s the latest



Snow showers arrive in the metro area around 5-6pm this evening

At that point temperatures will be several degrees above freezing everywhere except northern Clark County, near/above 1,000′ (West Hills), and right around the west end of the Gorge.

For most of us the snow won’t stick to roads initially and most likely the evening commute will be fine.  But watch out in northern Clark County plus near the Gorge.

During the night snow continues and temperatures fall to freezing north and east metro near the Gorge, plus in the hills.  Much of west and south metro may stay a few notches above freezing with little snow accumulation.

By sunrise, most roads north, central, & east metro should be snowy and/or frozen as cold east wind returns from the Gorge.  Many roads west of the West Hills and Clackamas county south into the valley will likely be wet or just slushy


Snow showers continue, although not much additional accumulation after noon

Many roads where not much snow fell (west/south metro) may be just wet or in pretty decent shape.  But lots of snow on roads in Clark county and eastern Multnomah County close to the Gorge.

The Columbia River Gorge will be snowy and frozen Saturday


Mainly dry with little/no additional snow accumulation.  EVERYONE SEES FREEZING BY SUNDAY A.M.


TRACE – 4″ IN THE METRO AREA, highest totals north and east metro, could be very little for some out in western and southern areas (Hillsboro, Sherwood, Wilsonville, Molalla).  A tough call though, if we get lucky ALL of us see 2-4″.  I just want to warn you, at this point I see a possibility you may not get “sleddable” snow west/south metro.  I’ll be happy to be wrong on this one

2-5″ northern Clark County, St. Helens, and on up through Longview

4-10″ Columbia River Gorge, blowing and drifting snow west end as east wind returns by sunrise

TRACE-2″ Willamette Valley from Wilsonville south to Eugene

TRACE-2″ Oregon and SW Washington coastline, higher amounts Cannon Beach north, lesser down on central coast, and most of that late tomorrow after temps fall to freezing


As models started showing yesterday evening, there are very strong hints that a southerly breeze will be lifting the sticking snow level off the valley floor this evening and into a good part of the overnight hours.  It’s already beginning to show up at Salem with a temp near 40 and dewpoint up to 30.  ALL models show a “warm tongue” of air moving north to the middle of the metro area this evening and tonight.  Even the Euro has a 20 mph wind just 300′ off the surface all the way up to PDX.  Sure it’s not very warm to the south but warm enough to lift the snow level up around 500′ or beyond for these southern areas.


Right now pressure gradient trends support this.  At noon we’ve got a 3 millibar south-north gradient Eugene to Olympia and Gorge gradient down to under 2 millibars.  That’s because a surface low is developing to the north.  Now by 4am the surface low is west of us, we lose the southerly breeze, and cold Gorge wind is returning, EVERYONE in metro area can see sticking snow at that point.  I think it’s likely all of us in the metro area wake up to at least a coating of white.


and by 10am Saturday it’s all about the cold east wind pouring out of the Gorge


So I see a setup where it’s tough to get much sticking snow south/west metro through a good chunk of the night (when most precipitation is falling) and it stays just barely cold enough for a nice dumping central/north/east metro.  Then many of those same areas will drop to or below freezing by sunrise.  Messy roads there.  You see the lack of snow west metro and into the valley on the ECMWF snowfall accumulation map.  Even this model has backed off a bit from previous runs.  I also don’t want to neglect the GEM model from Canada.  It alone is trying for 4-8″ in the metro area!  Those Canadians are always crossing the border with their snow…so annoying.


The WRF-GFS, NAM, NAM-MM5, NAM-WRF, HDRPS, and GFS all say we get very little snow in the metro area with 2″ confined to hills and northern Clark County.  A good example is the NAM-WRF.


If my forecast works out correctly (it’s never EXACTLY as we expect!), much of the night and the daytime tomorrow we’ll see pretty decent road conditions for lower elevations south of the metro area.

I’ll be on TV all evening, and fresh model info will come in between 7-10pm.  Plus as precipitation starts falling we should know within a couple of hours which way this is going to go, will the mild southerly breeze keep snow off much of valley floor or not?  Oh the drama…

I’ll tackle Sunday night and Monday’s snow event in a later post, likely tomorrow, but for now you can assume there will be at least some additional snow at that time.

BTW, this blog is now being posted on http://www.kptv.com/blog to alleviate the issues with it being non-mobile friendly.  You are also free to comment on either site, you can either register at kptv.com or comment as a guest over there.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen