Warm January turns into a Chilly February Start

9pm Wednesday…

I feel like we’ve done this before.  Oh yes, it was last year.  A very mild and boring winter, then suddenly it cools off starting Super Bowl Sunday.  Yep, it happened last year.  Although this year we don’t see a lowland snow event in the days following Sunday.

First, the warm weather.  January has been very warm compared to the 30 year average.  The only cool period was mid-month when we flirted with low elevation snow and a cold Gorge wind was blowing.

Almanac Monthly Temps So Far

As of this evening, with two days left to go, we’re running 5th warmest January on record.  But with two warm days ahead, including a 60 degree day Friday (assuming rain shifts north), we could end up at #2

Record Warm Month Top Five

And of course it’s been wet!  It’s so nice to see solid rain for day after day; that’s after a very dry October through December.  January has been the wettest month in almost three years; the wettest since 10″+ fell in February 2017

Rain Record PDX

But don’t complain!  If you live in the foothills of, or in, the Coast/Cascade Ranges it has been a huge soaker.  Some spots are approaching four feet of rain!  Again, this isn’t record-setting, but it seems “crazy wet” because we’ve gone through two relatively dry winters

Rain Coast Cascade Range

What’s ahead?

Three more very mild days.  An upper-level ridge strengthens over us through Friday.


That pushes just about all the rain north of the Columbia River by Friday midday or so.  There should be 12-18 hours dry later Friday through early Saturday.  And the temps should be amazing!  Highs Friday should reach 60 or above from the metro area south through western Oregon.  Even the lower elevations of Eastern Oregon will reach the 60s (Hermiston, Pendleton) and maybe central Oregon.

Then a sharp cold front moves across the region Saturday evening, dropping snow levels from around 9,000′ midday Saturday to 1,000′ by Sunday morning.   Check out the drop

ECMWF Snow Level From 850mb Temps LONG TERM

We’ve had “mixed showers” in our forecast for Sunday off/on the past four days for this reason.  It’s the “chilly onshore flow showers” snow setup that rarely produces sticking snow at the lowest elevations.  Expect some snow on the Coast Range summits Sunday morning, and well down into the Cascade foothills.  Skiing will be MUCH better Sunday too, fresh snow!

Could it snow in the lowlands Saturday night or Sunday? 

Yes, in the air, or at least mixed with rain, but sticking snow on the ground is very unlikely.  850mb temps are marginal, around -6 to -8 and we have onshore flow in progress.  Showers taper off Sunday night and we should be dry Monday.  Yes, totally dry for ONE DAY!

Rain returns at some point next Tuesday, and of course there’s always the possibility it starts as snow.  But what models are showing is a classic setup for a quick warmup.  Breezy southerly wind arrives at the same time as precipitation.  Maybe a brief mix in spots, then a snow level jump up to at least 3,000′.  The ECMWF model agrees with basically no lowland snow through next Wednesday.

ECMWF Snow Accumulation

By Wednesday of next week (February 5th), models show the pool of cold air has moved off to the east


But then three major models are hinting another pocket of cold air may drop down the West Coast about 10 days from now.  Check out the ECMWF, GEM, & GFS models for next Saturday the 8th…looks chilly!  I’ll be watching this closely

The ECMWF ensemble chart today showed a HUGE variety of solutions beyond the middle of next week.  Some ensemble members were VERY cold, others just remain mild.  It’s 8-10 days away so plenty of time to wait and see how modeling comes together.

For now, enjoy the warm three days ahead!  I’ll be back at work for the shows Sunday evening after the Super Bowl.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

48 Responses to Warm January turns into a Chilly February Start

  1. W7ENK says:

    Any amount of cool-down after today will be a welcome change. Today just felt weird. After topping out at 63 at my place (under completely overcast skies and a little bit of rain this afternoon), it’s still 59 degrees at 11pm.

    This is not normal!

  2. Andrew says:

    Not counting on much for Sunday but excited that models are generally sticking with a colder trend long term. No immediate signs of action but i think the next couple weeks will be worth following and at least exciting for those like me who enjoy this sort of thing.

    • JohnD says:

      Thanks Andrew. I look to you as one of the few real, honest, mature and sensible posters on this blog.

  3. rmlounsbury says:

    I’m not sure what is worse… A bland winter that we don’t ever see any real hints of possible excitement or a winter that keeps teasing events but never delivers.

    After a couple winters of getting some sort of snowfall accumulation having a winter that teases but never delivers sure seem worse.

    • Larry says:

      To be fair, this winter lands on Portlands 5-year no snow cycle. The good thing about that is the next 4 winters GUARANTEE snow, with varying amounts. For all the people still wishing for cold and snow this year, wait until AT LEAST next year!

  4. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    Definitely feels like a March day with a lower sun angle.

  5. W7ENK says:

    Happy birthday, WeatherDan.

    Fun fact: Today marks our 45th consecutive birthdays without any measurable snowfall.

  6. JohnD says:

    Can’t believe no excitement re Sun.!?
    Might be just cold enough by then for some snow showers at low elevations. And if the intensity of the precip Sun. afternoon-evening is steady enough, who knows!
    No matter what, looking forward to going “snow spotting” Sun. Hopefully we’ll find some at least at Council Crest.
    Definitely one of those years you need to be happy with whatever you get. And this might be our only chance!

    • rmlounsbury says:

      Snow it the air is fun but isn’t exciting by any stretch. If the conditions where as such that we could get accumulating snow and for more than an few hours then it would be mildly exciting.

      With on shore flow that turns southerly I doubt we get all snow for any period of time on Sunday.

      Now if we where starting with -8 to -9 C temps that had an offshore component that lasted with the initial hit of moisture I’d be mildly excited.

  7. lurkingsince’14 says:

    Welp, 06Z GFS goes on another serious bender around Valentines Day 🥃

    Must be a scorned lover 🤣

  8. joel294 says:

    FYI, on February 25th of last year, I had 6” on the ground on the valley floor and Eugene twice that amount. I don’t give up on sticking snow on the valley floor until the first of March.

  9. Ano y says:

    I have Blog challenge for everyone, if you see a post by Ziggy do not reply… 🙂

  10. Ziggy says:

    Well, chances of a cold mid month have been ripped away lol. Everyone grab a seat at your best window licking station and hope to see a few flakes mixed in with the rain this Sunday evening.

    That will be the last we have to deal with that. Spring is coming!!!

    • Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

      Could you please stop saying the exact same thing in every post?

      • Ziggy says:

        Does the truth sting????? Didn’t mean to offend you, my bad.

        • Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

          It doesn’t, I’m just letting you know that repeating the exact same thing is a waste of energy. Oh whoops, I forgot that you’re too dumb to understand that concept. Keep doing what you’re doing. Sorry!

        • Gene says:

          It’s a weird thing about the Internet — how some people, shielded by the anonymity that the Internet provides, take such pleasure in harassing or making fun of people who are just trying to enjoy a shared interest in something (in the case of this blog, the local weather). It just doesn’t make much sense — why do these people take so much time out of their (apparently sad) lives to continually engage in this kind of behavior?

        • Ziggy says:

          Sorry, I wasn’t trying to repeat myself and no need for a personal attack Even. I’m just pointing out the obvious, if that seems to come off as not enjoying a weather blog than guilty as charged. If your hopelessly holding on to a child’s wish for a crazy cold feburary snow event, I hate to be the one to ruin your party but it simply isn’t happening!!!!

        • Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

          I never said I thought it would snow in February.

        • K says:

          I wouldn’t waste time on Ziggy. Even for a troll, he’s quite low effort. If he prefers to waste his time making trite and idiotic statements, then who are we to judge?

        • joel294 says:

          It’s Evan by the way, not Even. It’s not even February yet, and the winter is over. I’m in the South Valley and we had a couple of February snow events last year and I will never forget 2014. Sometimes we get a surprise and don’t trust models until 5-7 days out is what most of you say. Sometimes it’s supposed to snow in an hour and that doesn’t happen but it can go both ways when it’s so close. The odds are always low for us which is why Ziggy is on here to play the “I told you so” role. I don’t understand Ziggy’s negativity but whatever.

        • Ziggy says:

          No one is here to say I told you so. I assume you guy’s are also members of a group that doesn’t give up on “cold and snow ” that’s frickin sad.

          Enjoy spring!!!

        • Peter Christenson says:

          I, for one, think it’s wrong to pick on Ziggy. First, it’s amazing and heartening to see a true reggae star take an interest in something as mundane as the weather. Second, I sense his heart has been broken by the weather once too often, and he is afraid to love again. I understand. BTW, nobody, none of us, has a damn clue what February will bring from the sky.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad, very sad that you have nothing better to do than troll Ziggy. You may need professional help. I truly feel sorry for someone that the only thing that they enjoy in life is to put down other people either through direct comments or through trying to goad people..

  11. Roland Derksen says:

    I’m not exactly expecting a repeat of February 2019, but, it’s great to see a chance of snow coming early next week- I’m really sick of this rain. Unfortunately, we have a few more hours of it to get through tonight and tomorrow. Will i see a new record for wettest January? I’ll be watching the gauge…

    • Scott Reeves says:


    • Jake in Gresham says:

      What is your total so far again?

      I’m at just over 11 inches of rain for the month. Thinking maybe another half inch tonight / tomorrow. A real soaker indeed.

      • Roland Derksen says:

        We’re into record wet territory now for January- I passed the previous 14.21 inch mark set in 2006 earlier this morning. It’s still raining now- just a bit lighter, and we’re set for another big wave tonight. 15 inches is a certainty- how close will I get to 16?

  12. Grizzly Bear says:

    The ECMWF ensemble chart puts me right in the cold bullseye over here in Kamiah. It’s been so relatively warm and rainy as of late that I was beginning to think that the worst of winter was over. This is my first winter here and we have had three very cold spells with low temps in the single digits with a 3 degree lowest temp., along with 4 or 5 snow events with up to 8 inches of snow on the ground at one time. Maybe I will get to use my new SNOWJOE yet this season!

  13. Tanis Leach says:

    I need some advice if you can spare some time.

    So I’m involved with Orange Media Network at OSU, a student led media organization for Corvallis (and sometimes surrounding areas if it affects Corvallis). The OSU student chapter of AMS started a weather youtube series that we currently post 3 times a week. This started because Corvallis is NOT in the Portland TV market (but Albany is) and those in Eugene often focus to their southerly neighbors more than the north (and rightfully so weather wise). I did my first segment on Monday and would like some feedback on what can I do to improve. Comments, compliments, criticisms, hate mail, I take them all (ok but don’t actually do hate mail, it’s not nice). I also purposely waited to post it so it’s not the most recent episode.

    Link: https://youtu.be/iCmVBJp3d9U

    I already caught 2 things wrong from rewatching. Anything else?

    Thank you if you give your feedback.

    • Grizzly Bear says:

      The 7 day didn’t look right but other than that, I thought it was a great production and nice to see Weatherford Hall featured in your lead in, when I attended OSU back in the early ’70’s Weatherford was in bad shape and was called the “armpit of OSU” with bare light bulbs hanging from the ceilings in some rooms on ancient wiring.
      I will keep tuning in, thanks!

    • JohnD says:

      Nice job Tanis! Keep up the good work!

    • Tanis Leach says:

      Thank you both. Just to say again, the 7 day is out of date on purpose (at time of posting here) and there are 2 more recent episodes. And how we’ve done the 7 day forecast was since there is a delay before posting, there is no point in today’s forcast on the 7 day (hence why Mondaybwas left out). And I realize I went too warm on Wednesday and now too cool for Saturday.

      The 2 things I skrewed up:
      1. If you notice early on, it’s just a cut between images. The later slides are a fade.
      2. Hawaii was technically not true from the moisture, but I wanted to use a landmark people recognized.

    • joel294 says:

      Good job Tanis

  14. Paul D says:

    Another one of those times when it looks really cold 8-10 days out and it amounts to nothing.

    • Ziggy says:

      Epic snowstorm hitting PDX on the 14th, book it!!

      • Tanis Leach says:

        Evidence? From what I’m seeing there is a small shot but nothing major.

        And for reference my gut tells me that something interesting will happen between the 10th and 20th of February. Again, only going off of my gut and no evidence.

        • Ziggy says:

          Just a feeling I have, and the old man down the road said his knee has been killing him. He has predicted 4 of our last 6 snow events several weeks in advance.

  15. Ziggy says:

    Is it going to snow at my house???

  16. Jason Hougak says:

    Another cold February would be great. Last year we had snow on the ground in the foothills almost 6 straight weeks.

  17. W7ENK says:

    Isn’t this the usual now?

  18. MasterNate says:

    Thanks for the new reading material Mark! I’m hoping for a February 2019 repeat.

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