Warm Winter Records & Low Elevation Snow Thoughts

January 19, 2021

7pm Tuesday…

Just a brief post this time around to assist in your weekend planning.

It has been another mild day…back in the 50s. Hard to believe it took until January 19th to see our first frost of the new year too! We dropped to 31 in Portland this morning.

From the beginning of meteorological winter (December 1st) to this point, Portland has never seen so many 50+ degree days! It’s a record that goes back 80+ years. Salem hasn’t seen this many in 100+ years, same thing at Astoria. Even in Central Oregon, Redmond has seen more 50 degree days than any winter (so far) in the past 30 years. It’s truly been a mild winter to remember…so far.

The general plan continues the same through the next 8-10 days. Warm upper-level ridging is replaced by cool upper-level troughs dropping down over us Thursday, Sunday, and possibly next Tuesday. Beyond that time the troughing either weakens or shifts farther west = slightly warmer which would mostly eliminate the main chance for low-elevation snow. So for January it appears our “big chance” near the valley floor will be Sunday-Tuesday. But don’t get out the sleds yet…

In case that was already enough technical talk for you, I think these two graphics cover it well:

What we DON’T expect…

and what we DO expect…

For the rest of this month, it appears your plants are safe from a big arctic freeze. That’s still not in the cards. Just looking at the next two weeks (Euro model ensemble high/low average) you can see we “bottom out” Sunday through Tuesday, then rise back to around average again late next week. We may not be headed into a prolonged period of cooler than average weather. We’ll see.

Alright, how are we looking for Sunday at this point?

As you can see above, I think there’s a good chance that we may wake up to rain/snow mix even at the lowest elevations. But all models show temps near/above freezing that morning with a light southerly flow; we’re not going to have a snowy metro area locked in snow Sunday.

If you live at/above 1,000′ it could be a nice little 1-3″ snow event Sunday. Best bet would be northern Clark county hills along with higher parts of Columbia county (St. Helens/Scappoose) and Coast Range (Vernonia). Maybe central/eastern Gorge too. Possibly a dusting to an inch in Portland’s West Hills…maybe.

We will cover all this in more detail as we get closer…we’re still five days away.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen