Holiday Weekend Rain & Mountain Snow; as Mild Winter Continues

February 13, 2020

7pm Thursday…

It’s already mid-February! Hard to believe March is only a bit over two weeks away.

Today has been a chilly day with cloud cover and a weak Pacific cold front passing overhead.  A much wetter system arrives Saturday.  That one should give us quite a soaking as a few waves roll up along the almost stationary front.  Total rain forecast from our RPM model through midday Sunday:

RPM Precipitation Accumulation

Have big plans for Valentine’s Day?  The good news is that I don’t expect much rain tomorrow.  Just very light showers lingering west of the Cascades.  The majority of the day will be dry.  Basically a slow weather day that shouldn’t impact your plans.

This winter has been very mild across the northern hemisphere.  In fact just today NOAA announced January 2020 was the warmest January on record for the entire globe.  Notice how much of the planet was above average last month.  And that’s without an El Nino in progress.  Our planet is warming…


Also interesting is the persistent area of cold weather over Alaska and western Canada.  Of course very little of that cold air moved south into the Pacific Northwest this winter (so far), leaving us with a much milder than average temps.  The Capital Weather Gang had a great article about the Arctic Oscillation contributing to the warmth the other day.  Good reading!  Notice the image below is November through January.


How does our meteorological winter (December-February) rank so far?  If we take December 1st through February 12th, it ranks as our 4TH WARMEST WINTER ON RECORD IN PORTLAND.  Records go back to 1940 at that location.  Some other locations around the PACNW:

Salem:  13th warmest out of 127 winters

Eugene:  7th warmest of 82

Olympia:  3rd warmest of 79

Redmond:  3rd warmest of 71

Pendleton: 6th warmest of 93

Snowpack is doing surprisingly well considering it’s been such a mild winter.  The big dump back in mid-January was a huge help.  Still a bit below average over the Cascades now, but above average in Eastern Oregon


Willamette reservoirs begin filling in February, typically reaching full summer “pool” by early May.  The rain in late January and early this month has helped; I see Detroit Lake is up 30 feet from its winter low.


Speaking of snow, the three day President’s Day weekend is always big for snow play in the mountains.  That storm coming in Saturday will dump a good 8-12″ up there, with the warmest part of the system coming in Saturday evening.  At that point a rain/snow mix could show up as high as 3,500′.  But then cold air pours in Saturday night and a nice round of snow follows midday/PM Sunday.  So if you like stormy skiing, then Saturday is your day.  Colder with less wind/storming would be Sunday and especially Monday.

Snow Report 3 Days

The 18z ECMWF model says 12-24″ on Mt. Hood by the time we’ve mainly dried out Monday morning.

ECMWF Snow Accumulation Hourly

So what’s ahead?  More mild weather, but we could actually see three dry days next week!  We haven’t done that in awhile.

There’s no sign of any cold air coming down from Canada or lowland snow (even a wet/sloppy onshore flow snowfall).  The 12z ECMWF ensemble snow prediction for Salem the next two weeks which basically takes us to the end of February


Which means it’s just about time for this right?


Close, but never before Valentine’s Day.  It’s on the way…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen