Portland’s Warmest St. Patrick’s Day in 40+ Years

March 17, 2019

6:30pm Sunday…

It’s hard to believe.  Just 11 days ago we had a snowy day with high temps in the mid 30s in Portland.  Remember the day it was dumping snow all day long but hardly sticking?  Or just 9 days ago some parts of the metro area had a 1-3″ dumping of snow during the evening hours.

How things have changed! The well-advertised upper-level ridge along with a warming atmosphere is firmly in place over the Pacific Northwest.

Satellite Surface

The mild offshore (easterly) wind flow plus solid sunshine pushed most areas up to around 70 degrees west of the Cascades.  The last time Portland was 69 or higher for a St. Paddy’s Day was the 71 degrees in 1978.  Pretty impressive!

Todays Observed Highs OrWa 2017

Temps made it into the 50s over the half snow-covered terrain in the Columbia Basin.  Notice lots of gray beginning to show up over there.  All the white is snow, not clouds.


It’s taking quite awhile to melt that snow, but even warmer temps into the 60s this work week should finish the job.

Todays Observed Highs OrWa 2017

What’s ahead?  More sunshine and an unusually strong east wind (for late March) Monday and Tuesday, then the wind backs off the 2nd half of the week.   The Portland-The Dalles pressure gradient is up to 6.5 millibars this evening and will increase even more tonight.  Several models push 50 mph easterly wind over the metro area just 1,500′ or so above the surface from late tonight through Tuesday.  With the excellent mixing each afternoon, gusts over 40 mph are sure possible.  The wind will be widespread too since it’s coming right over the Cascades as well as through the Gorge.

Warnings Gorge and Metro East Wind

The result is a very simple forecast for the next three days.  Sunny or mainly sunny skies, a breezy east wind, and highs somewhere between 65 and 75 in the metro area.  Coolest temps will be around the mouth of the Gorge and warmest away from the middle of Portland.  PDX is a real pain to forecast since TOO much wind could keep it below 70 the next three days.  Not exactly a critical life-threatening forecast, but I like to get it right.  Seems safest to just leave the forecast at 70 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday.  The Oregon Coast will be in the lower 70s the next two days and so will most Willamette Valley locations along with Longview/Kelso.

By the way, record highs are 71, 73, 71 the next three days in Portland.  So we could break a record…maybe.

Looking farther ahead, the 24 hour precip chart from the ECMWF ensembles gives us a hint about Oregon’s Spring Break.  Of course when the kids get out of school on Friday they are FREE for a week.  I know lots of you travel other places, but if you’re staying here it looks pretty typical.  Showers arrive Friday evening and stick around Saturday.  But you can see a drier period about next Sunday/Monday.  Maybe a hint of something a bit drier 4-6 days after that.  But of course that’s pretty far out.


Temperatures look close to normal as well for the next 15 days.  You can add 3-5 degrees to many of these days, the 2 meter temp tends to run a bit cool on this Euro product.


To wrap it up, the bright sunshine is great, but we’ll see strong wind the next two days.  But there’s no sign of stormy weather as we head towards the end of March.  And there’s definitely no sign of unusually cold weather either.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen