Wednesday Evening Update: Snow into edge of metro area

8:45pm Wednesday…

Today turned out pretty much as expected, with a few last minute twists & turns.

  1. We saw a rain/snow mix which changed to mainly rain as the cold front moved through during the evening commute
  2. Clark county warmed up to around 40 as our “mesoscale” models showed; no snow for most of you up there.
  3. No measurable snow for almost all of us.

What was different than expected?

  1. Cold Gorge wind was very persistent (surprise!).  Although quite a bit more reasonable compared to a few hours ago, it is still transporting cold continental air westward into the eastern edges of the metro area.  Temperatures are hovering just above freezing in a narrow area along the Columbia River east of I-205
  2. Due to that, plus the cooling air overhead, snow has been falling for several hours in the western Gorge, all the way into Camas and Washougal.  Just got a report that two inches have fallen in Bridal Veil, that’s where we should have only seen freezing rain.

Take a look at current temps, only the numbers below 34 degrees plotted below. (click for a better view)


Areas to the right of the yellow line are generally seeing snow.  Mainly or all rain to the left.  Yet in general the snow level west of the Cascades is around 1,500 to 2,000′ right now.  Then how is it snowing down to the Columbia River in Clark and Multnomah counties?  What would typically be about a 1,500′ snow level right near the Gorge and into Camas/Washougal has become “sea level snow” since the last 1,000′ or so are near/below freezing due to that east wind; snowflakes are coming down much lower than one would expect in this pattern.   Due to this, and more precipitation on the way, the NWS has upgraded the western & central Columbia River Gorge to a Winter Storm Warning.  3-6″ likely in these areas.  The pressure difference through the Gorge does continue to weaken and it’s possible at some point Camas/Washougal/Troutdale lose the easterly wind.  If so temps will rise a few degrees.  They sure won’t go down any lower through tomorrow morning.

Mark Gorge Wintry Weather

Through the rest of tonight we’ll see waves of showers moving onshore behind this evening’s cold front.  In general the snow level will remain above 1,000′ through tomorrow morning.  But anyone at/above that elevation in the metro area could see a skiff of snow on the lawn/barkdust/car.  Same setup again tomorrow night and Friday morning.  Beyond that time we’re headed back to a milder weather pattern for the last 1/3 of January.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

40 Responses to Wednesday Evening Update: Snow into edge of metro area

  1. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    Showers down by Newport are moving NNE. Kind of doubt they’ll make it over the coast range and cause any noticeable precip.

  2. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    IMO temps dropped more than expected. 34F here. Colder and below freezing in outlying areas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its colder cause no cloud cover, any snow we do see will be gone by 9 am. Although would be nice to see

  3. Larry says:

    33 in Molalla

  4. Don says:

    33 in Sherwood

  5. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    Temperature dropping off nicely so far. 37F

  6. lurkingsince’14 says:

    I think the NWS is just issuing special weather statements to feel alive at this point.

    Temps in the 20s??? Not gonna happen.

  7. Tanis Leach says:

    Its snowing right now at Mt. Bachelor, 6400 feet! Just need it to be 6200 feet lower and 6390 feet for Portland.

  8. Roland Derksen says:

    Whoah, what happened to the comment I just wrote? I posted it, and saw it on the screen, just a few short minutes ago-now it’s gone like snow in January!

  9. Roland Derksen says:

    Quite the battle between the cold and warm air masses here this morning. Bellingham at 5am was up to 43F. Just 22 miles NE in Abbotsford,BC they were in the upper teens. Bellingham then went back down to 25F by 8am. Here in Vancouver BC we’ve been bouncing around too- saw a high of 38F here just before midnight, then back down to 34F for much of the morning. Precipitation now in the form of mixed rain/snow and sleet showers (with some sun breaks in between).

    • Yeah, it’s been crazy. The arctic front was stalled over Bellingham for a good chunk of last night. There was as much as 20 degrees F temperature difference between the south end of town and the north end. Briefly shot up into the mid-40’s overnight in my neighborhood, but by the morning it was in the mid-20’s and everything had refrozen.

    • By the way, are you on the forums?

      • Roland Derksen says:

        Sorry- I haven’t been on that site: too busy with other concerns,I think. I might try to check in on it for the future.

  10. Andrew says:

    I think the fork talk is a little premature. We’ve had active Februaries over past couple winters, with last year’s action happening in second half of month. Models are pretty worthless beyond 7 days. What is clear is that the arctic air retreats greatly over next week. Even interior Alaska warms quite a bit. Longer term, the colder air resolidifies somewhat over Alaska and northern Canada, which is completely normal for late January. That also means that we have plenty of cold air to tap into should the front swing down again. Unlikely, but not unheard of. I’d be more concerned if the arctic air wasn’t present at all like we saw through much of first half of winter. It’s a total long shot, but we have probably another three weeks before “fork talk” is actually reasonable.

  11. MasterNate says:

    Timberline base as of yesterday was sitting at 120″! Average this time of year is between 70″-75″. I feel this was much needed since it looks like we are headed back into split flow with milder temps and small amounts of precip.

  12. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    Is it possible that we get a quick dusting tonight since the wind will be more SSE than SSW?

    • W7ENK says:


      The airmass is too warm, and too saturated, therefore evaporative cooling will not come into play. There’s also no snowcover to our South to aid in cooling the airmass.

    • Andrew says:

      The atmosphere looks to be cool enough to support snow in air in spots for sure. sticking snow level prob around 1000-1500 feet tonight and early tomorrow morning. Cooler air aloft coming in over next 12 hours. It will depend a lot on amount of shower activity. A little burst of conversational snow in the early hours tomorrow is certainly not out of realm of possibility.

      • Andrew says:

        To elaborate, 850 mb temps bottom out around -6 to -7, generally right on our snow in air line. onshore flow will prevent surface temps from reaching below about 36 overnight I would guess. I don’t think any sort of dusting is likely at sea level but some flakes mixed in with the rain wouldn’t come as a surprise.

  13. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    I wouldn’t rule out the chance of a little snowfall tomorrow morning. Looks possible. I’m sure it will end up being a foothills of Clark County thing.

  14. lurkingsince’14 says:

    You know what’s great about 37 degree rain?

    …Not a damn thing!

    Also this kinda feels like fork time for Winter 19-20 does it not? Guess I’ll need to get my fix in the mountains 🤷🏻‍♂️

    • runrain says:

      I’m ready! Looking for that first 60 deg day and then setting my sights on a 70 in March.

    • Tanis Leach says:

      I kind of want to fork it but my policy is Feb 3rd earliest (1st 50 degree average day), and then if nothing shows up on the models AND it is below average precip predicted.

  15. W7ENK says:


    Currently getting 37 degree rain. Same story, all day long…

    • lurkingsince’14 says:

      You know what’s great about 37 degree rain?

      …Not a damn thing!

      Also this kinda feels like fork time for Winter 19-20 does it not? Guess I’ll need to get my fix in the mountains 🤷🏻‍♂️

  16. Echard says:

    So close, yet so far. I’d prefer no chance of winter weather than this constant teasing.

  17. Echard says:


  18. WhateverTheWeather says:

    I moved this fall from Orchards in Vancouver to Washougal. Tonight it’s paying off! 3 inches have fallen this evening here at 420′ near the Washougal River. Current temp 30.9F and still snowing.

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