Warmest Day of 2020 Today; Plus A Look Back At Our BORING Winter

March 19, 2020

6pm Thursday…

What a fantastic stretch of March weather we’ve been seeing this week!  It’s a total counter-programming to all the depressing virus/financial news.  Quite the contrast isn’t it?

We’ve hit at least 64 in Portland today, quite possibly a degree warmer.  Official highs are reported at 5pm & 11pm (every six hours) in the warmer part of the year.  The entire Willamette Valley was warm today

Todays Observed Highs OrWa 2017

Very weak offshore flow tomorrow morning, plus a slightly warmer atmosphere overhead should push our afternoon temperatures up 1-2 degrees.  This means 65-68 in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 70 degree high at The Dalles tomorrow.

Weak onshore flow Saturday knocks temps down a few degrees, then they pop back up a few degrees Sunday.  Regardless, we have three more sunny/warm afternoons on tap.

This evening is the “Vernal Equinox”, specifically 8:49pm PDT.   That’s the point in our orbit around the sun where the sun is right over the equator.

The Seasons Spring Explained

Officially spring begins on March 1st in the northern hemisphere, that’s as it relates to weather

Mark Spring Definition_MeteorologicalvsAstronomicalSeasons

So how did winter turn out?  That’s December through February.  It was warmer and drier than average; very much acted like a weak El Nino winter.  I presented a Winter 2020 recap at the Oregon AMS meeting last week.  Since I know lots of you have PLENTY OF TIME, here’s a link to the 42 minute video of my presentation.

Just a few highlights follow…What a boring winter!




It was the lowest snowpack for Christmas Vacation we’ve seen on Mt. Hood in decades.  Remember Skibowl wasn’t able to operate the lifts until early January!


But the big snow in mid-January kicked the ski season into gear big-time.  Over the last month, snowfall has tapered off along with lots of sunshine.  So right now we’re running a bit below normal but there is still plenty on the ground in the Cascades; no sign of a drought.  Lots of snow to come next week too.  Unfortunately ski season appears to have ended early in the Cascades due to COVID-19.  We’ll see if some resorts try to re-open in April.


Of course last Saturday we finally had our “big snow” for the winter.  0.5″ in the city.


This winter completes another decade weatherwise.  Take a look at Portland snowfall each decade since the airport weather station was established in 1940.  Divide any of those numbers by 10 and year get the average yearly snowfall.  When I started my career in 1991, that downward trend was a big deal.  But now the average yearly snowfall in Portland hasn’t changed significantly in 30 years.  Interesting isn’t it?  Especially considering winter temps have continue to gradually warm.  More occasional large storms but fewer small snow events?  Maybe, but I haven’t looked into it.


Snowfall records go further back in time in Downtown Portland.  Since 1973 those records have been taken at KGW-TV.  There you see the big snow years of the late 1800s and then a gradual decline since that time.  Again, you see it hasn’t changed much downtown the past 30-40 years.


There you go, we just “endured” a very boring winter that was milder and drier than aveage.  On to spring!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen