A Mild November Plus Ski Season Update

6pm Tuesday…

Quite a change out there today.  Yesterday we were 62 and mainly sunny, today we stayed around 50 degrees and remained under a thick gray blanket of cloud cover.

As expected, this first half of November is turning out to be mild and uneventful.  November is typically the start of the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest.  But in the lowlands we’ve seen much below normal rainfall.  So far, less than 1/2″ rain in P-Town and there won’t be much more by Friday the 15th.

Mark November Rain

Lowland Highlights

  • There’s no sign of a typical stormy November weather pattern for at least the next 10 days
  • Weak weather systems will bring rain at times Friday, next Monday, and again late next week
  • There’s no sign of cold/freezing weather like we saw back in late October
  • Weather shouldn’t impact your life too much for the next 7-10 days

Why so quiet and mild?  An area of higher-than-normal upper-level heights (also known as “ridging”) wants to remain near/over the West Coast.  This diverts storms to the north or weakens them as they move inland.  This was also a persistent feature for much of last winter (until February).

Satellite SurfaceNow take a look at the 500 millibar height map from the ECMWF model.  This is actually an average from 51 “ensemble” members.  The solid lines are contours, showing the height of that pressure surface.  Wind at this level (~18,000′) follows the lines.  So in the case of the map below you’re seeing westerly flow into far NW USA and western Canada.  The colors represent the anomaly.  Red = higher than average heights, blues/pinks = below average.  That’s quite a bit of ridging over the western USA!  This map is for Sunday.  So here we are at November 17th and the pattern continues.


It appears the ridge will “back up” a little bit for NEXT week.  Check out Tuesday as a chilly upper-level trough has dropped into the PACNW.


But for the rest of next week things remain the same, both on the ECMWF and GFS models.  Here’s Friday the 22nd, showing a bit of a “Rex Block”.  That’s an upper-level high north of an upper-level low.  It can sometimes be a stable pattern.  Definitely a drier than normal pattern for us.

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Up to this point I’m feeling pretty confident about the general trend…drier and milder than average for the next 10 days.  But right after, models diverge.  5 days later we’ve reached the two-week point of the operational forecast models.  The GEM and ECMWF both continuing ridging for this day before Thanksgiving (ECMWF below)


But the GFS goes cool and wet, quite a pattern change…we’ll see.


So again, no big changes for at least the next 10 days.

What does this mean for the ski/snow season?

After a cold end to September and the coldest October in decades, some of us were getting excited.  Hard to believe there was two feet of snow on the ground at Timberline a couple weeks ago.  It’s all gone after many days in the 40s and even some 50s.  The view this morning before it rained…

Timelapse Timberline Lodge

So we’re starting from zero again.  No early start to the ski season this year.  Little or no snow on the ground through Sunday the 17th

Mark Ski Areas Not Open

We should see a little snow around Tuesday the 19th with the previously mentioned upper-level trough.  Then it’s mainly dry or mild/warm through the following weekend.  We use this graphic on our 6pm show during the cool season on FOX12.  Sometimes on other shows as well.

7 Day Forecast GOVT CAMP


Mark Ski Areas Not Open2

Cascade Ski/Snow Summary

  • No sign of a cold/snowy weather pattern
  • No skiing this weekend
  • Ski area openings unlikely the weekend of 23rd/24th, that’s the weekend before Thanksgiving
  • We can’t see beyond that point; models diverge on whether to maintain the mild/dryish pattern or go wetter/cooler
  • No reason to panic, this is normal!  But if it looks like this a month from now it’s a different story.

Enjoy the dry weather Wednesday & Thursday!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

55 Responses to A Mild November Plus Ski Season Update

  1. Mike says:

    I could be wrong of course, but it seems very very strange that there seems to be little energy to our atmosphere in Oregon. Everyday I see very little with air movement. November is typically a stormy month with successively stronger systems moving in from the ocean.

    Doesn’t if seem weird to anyone else? Thanks in advance.

  2. W7ENK says:

    FWIW, folks up north are now starting to see snowflakes in their forecast for the beginning of next week.

    Most likely worth nothing, but…

  3. Mr Realist says:

    Snow is coming in the next 15 days, the Euro and CMC are trending!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Grab your kale now.

  4. Definitely shaping up to be a blustery and rainy day (after a blustery and rainy night) up this way.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      The rainfall ended here before 9:30am, but it came down pretty heavy in the hours after midnight. About 1.80 inches. This definetly won’t be my driest November recorded now, but it could still end up 4th or 5th.

  5. MasterNate says:

    The GFS has a pulse! Weak, but there

  6. Roland Derksen says:

    The rainfall here so far has been pretty light, but it’s supposed to ramp up in intensity tonight. High stream volume advisory for the mountains forecasted.

  7. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Now Monday evening/Tuesday morning event is going to bust. Getting so frustrating. Everything goes north. Maybe .10” – .20” for the metro area. Then, dry as a bone for at least another week. Looks like Thanksgiving week will be good for So Cal and yet again mainly dry for us. There is no way we don’t break the all-time dry November record at this point.

  8. Mr Realist says:

    I really hope we can set the all time driest winter record this season.

  9. Andy says:

    Way to early to cancel winter. Remember things flipped later last year. I think some on this blog will look foolish to cancel winter on November 15th.Just saying.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      I think people are joking about cancelling winter. My concern is that we are now in a large rainfall deficit from October and November. Yes, it can be made up quickly, but we can’t afford to have dry winters these days. PDX has not had at least .25” of rain in a day since October 19th. We average pretty close to that per day this time of year.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      Totally agree… foolishness

    • W7ENK says:

      JFC, does no one understand sarcasm anymore??? 🤦🏼‍♂️

  10. Roland Derksen says:

    It appears we’re in for a good soaking here this weekend- could see over 2 inches on Saturday, and some leftover amount for Sunday. That’s okay- we’re below normal in the month’s total.

  11. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Models looking comically bad for next 10 days.

  12. W7ENK says:

    Woke up to almost a quarter inch in the rain gauge this morning.

  13. Mr. Realistic says:

    This is going to be the best winter ever!!!!!!!!1 No cold, snow or ice. Welcome to the new home of San Diego winters, the crying is going to be hilarious in 34 days from now.

  14. Roland Derksen says:

    I wouldn’t get too worried about the winter yet- as I’ve said before, a mild November can lead to a cold December.

    • JohnD says:

      Yep, thanks Roland. Let’s enjoy what we have–or have not–until after Thanksgiving before we start getting too serious about prime time.
      BTW this is also the season of the trolls–rude posts from those who somehow take pleasure in buzz kills.
      We’ll see right?!

      • Realist says:

        Blind fully wishing for “cold and snow” is far more trolling than seeing what is actually happening. To each their own #THE WINTER THAT NEVER WAS!!!!!!

  15. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    12z GFS is trending towards the ECMWF. Drier and drier with each run too. Western BC and NW WA get drenched. We get boredom.

  16. Tanis Leach says:

    Normally I want rain, but I’m in a walking boot right now so keep the rain away until I get it off, then flood away (not actual flood), or better yet: 8 inches of snow on the ground.

    • Jake in Gresham says:

      What you don’t like the trash bag look? It’s all the rave of fashion downtown these days.

  17. Cindy Thurman says:

    Rod Hill was the one who reported this last weekend that it was going to snow Thanksgiving weekend. He also reported that it was going to rain from now thru Christmas and that there was also going to be another snow incident before the end of the year. I said ‘that is bologna! Mark Nelson said that they cannot forecast the weather that far out!’ Thank you for setting a good example!!!

  18. WEATHERDAN says:

    GFS favors Rod. ECMWF says no way. We shall see. Peace.

    • Andy says:

      I agree the GFS looks good later in the run…lets hope the ECMWF starts moving toward the GFS. Maybe in a few more runs we will shall see.

    • Anonymous says:

      GFS already backing off on 12z run. Trending drier and drier for the next 10 days too. Western BC and NW Washington get drenched. Above average 850 temps for the next two weeks. No skiing on Thanksgiving this year.

  19. Bob Benson says:

    Nice to have you back. KGW is already calling for a super cold/wet end to November and snow in Portland for Thanksgiving (spit take)

  20. Roland Derksen says:

    Nice sunny day here- yesterday was too gloomy with drizzle and fog. Looks like we’ll get some good rainfall amounts starting tomorrow night.

  21. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    The 12z GFS shows big-time troughing starting a week from this Sunday. We would get some actual stormy weather if this verifies. The problem isn’t that we are talking 10+ days out. Until then, way drier than normal.

  22. Paul D says:

    Are we going to break a record for the driest November ever?

  23. Pat B says:

    No snow yet but what are the models saying about those snickerdoodle cookies.

  24. tim says:

    Looks like el nino is making a comeback as enso is continuing to warm what happened to our neutral fall/winter?.

  25. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Looking like we will be very lucky to get 1’’ rain in the next 10 days. Probably closer to .50”. Models trending drier. Bulk of precipitation goes north (shocker).

  26. One of the other channels is predicting 6 weeks of rain and maybe snow for Thanksgiving. How can the same numbers add up to such different conclusions? Aren’t you all using the same data sets?

  27. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Thanks, Mark. Horrible November. On another note, is ECMWF data free as of very recently???

  28. Anonymous says:

    We always have a false start to the ski season. Always.

  29. JohnD says:

    Thanks Mark. Hopefully on the “good” side of the model divergent in a couple of weeks!

  30. Jake in Gresham says:

    Great post Mark. Hope it’s the start to an interesting Winter!


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