Put a Fork in it; Winter is “Over” West of the Cascades

February 19, 2020

7pm Wednesday…

Our mild winter has been limping along for weeks. As I look into the last week of February and early March on our various models, it’s pretty obvious that

It’s time to put a fork in Winter 2019-2020.  This season is finished

So what kind of a statement is that?

It means I’m quite confident we’re done with most of our typical winter weather events.  But not all!  Read on…

First, this winter (December 1st to now) is running 5th warmest on record at PDX.  Those records extend back to 1940.  Spokane is 11th warmest out of 140, and Baker City is experienced its third warmest winter.  Olympia is at #4.  So not a record warm winter, but definitely at the upper end for many spots.

Looking at the models for the next 10-14 days…

  1. I don’t see an outbreak of cold arctic air.  For that matter I don’t see unusually chilly air for this time of year.   We have not seen a region-wide arctic air-mass descend across the Pacific Northwest since December 2013!  Sure, some cold-air intrusions to some areas at times, but no big arctic blast.
  2. I don’t see a setup for lowland snow west of the Cascades.  I thought we might be close next Monday, but the GFS model has finally caved in to the milder Euro/GEM models.

Point #1 on the graphic below is most important; the chance of a widespread snow/ice event in the metro area is dwindling quickly.  I mean the type of event that shuts down our area for a day, or even part of it.

Mark Winter is Over1

  • Other than the cold spell Thanksgiving Weekend that dropped the metro area into the low-mid 20s, we haven’t seen a hard freeze this winter.  It’s too late for that now (considering current forecast models).
  • Sure, we can still get a chilly east wind, but in late February and early March we don’t get long periods of the screaming cold easterly wind.
  • As for flooding, for the first time in my career we DID see some significant April flooding last spring.  But otherwise all of our big floods have occurred during the winter months.

What could we still see as we head into March?

We have seen March windstorms in the past and even one April event a couple years ago.   And of course in recent year’s we’ve seen close calls with snow in March.  Although it’s still far more rare than December-February snow.

Mark Winter is Over2

What actions can YOU take at this point?   Get those snow tires off and turn on the water to the chicken coop (I need to do that).

Mark Winter is Over3

There you go.  Basically it’s time to “de-winterize”.

To summarize:

We transition from late winter to early spring weather over the next 2-3 weeks as temperatures gradually rise.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen