Warm Winter Records & Low Elevation Snow Thoughts

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

75 Responses to Warm Winter Records & Low Elevation Snow Thoughts

  1. Tanis Leach says:

    I see the 12z WRF has 1-3 inches of snow on Sunday for Portland and at least the 925 mb temps to support it.

    • Chad says:

      1000’ and above, looks like the lowlands get hosed this season 😥

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Yea, very marginal though. The further north in the metro area, the better. Wilsonville south gets squat.

      • Tanis Leach says:

        I’d agree with that assessment, if we get snow at all. Even 3 days out things can change.

        • Chad says:

          Definitely going to be tough for Sunday snow, not really any cold air in place.

          Tuesday night might be a better shot Tigard north? Who knows I’m definitely not in the know like many on here, still learning as I go. Tanis I know I give you a lot of crap but you really do a good job and have a lot of knowledge!!

        • Tanis Leach says:

          I know I give you a hard time too, so thanks for putting up with it.

    • Andrew says:

      my pessimistic outlook is likely a bit jaded since I was really hoping we’d have at least one period this year of real cold air and not be subjected to these marginal events which tend to implicate elevation. that said, a marginal event is still better than what we’ve had so far so i’ll be watching model runs next couple days. my prediction at this point is no sticking below at at least 500 feet.

      • Brandon says:

        My question is will Sandy score on some snow? Asking for a friend..

        • Andrew says:

          Sandy sits at a 1,000 feet and should reap the benefit of stronger precip so I’d say it’s very likely your “friend” will see at least some action Sun-Wed. Whether that’s a quick melting dusting or a few inches remains to be seen. Some period of sticking seems very likely.

    • JohnD says:

      Hoping that requisite steady precip Sunday enhances a low snow level. Pulling for sea level like all of us. But at least a snow-rain mix up at Council Crest. Taking my 3 year old Grandbaby!

  2. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    The 12z NAM paints the whole I-5 corridor in Oregon with 3-4” of the white goodness on Sunday.

    • Andrew says:

      All the major models continue to show snow down to valley floor sometime between Sunday and mid-next week. However, I find that the snow features within these models tend to be overly “bullish” on snow. When you pair those views with the temperature outlook, it simply doesn’t align. It’s one of the frustrating nuances of looking at models. Unfortunately what i’m seeing is a trend towards warmer over the last several runs, which for me trumps any specific snow indicators. Hoping for a surprise but definitely not looking good.

      • Larry says:

        I agree, it’s looking to be a bust. The model output reminds me of last March when several models showed 1-3” of fluff over me. The final result? 0.5”. Just shows how bullish the models can be. This time around I expect a couple of snow showers with spotty accumulation. I think that’s a good forecast.

      • Bobby says:

        Right. It’s great to see a pattern change and storms dropping out of the gulf, but those bring low-level onshore winds and that – unless an extremely strong and cold low has a healthy dose of arctic air wrapped within – just gives us 36º and a nice cold rain, or sometimes “chunky rain” as some call it – ha!

        That seems to be the setup for this pattern Sunday – Friday of this coming week. We’ll see, but that’s most realistic.

        If we had a high sneaking dryer colder air out of the gorge from some arctic spill out east of the cascades, or a storm pulling that moisture in from the southwest, then we’d have something.

        But as it is, the mountains look set up for some much needed snow while the rest of us, no so much.

        Here’s to hoping one of these impulses are cold enough, hitting at 5am to give us a pretty dusting for a few hours.

  3. tim says:

    This is gonna sound crazy but I have a family member that doesn’t believe in science or weather satellites even after showing him goes 17 images in real time that updates every 5 min in loop mode, he said it’s fake and controlled by the government, big trump supporter.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hahaha yeah okay

    • Mr T says:

      A lot of big named countries have their own weather controllers using ‘heat’ to steer storms but it’s not as good as conspiracy theorists make it out to be but it does have some effects.

      The truth is just about always somewhere in the middle.

    • Mr T says:

      Did you know in the turn of the century (last one) Tesla had a lot of ‘free energy’ experiments that started to rip the earth apart so were immediately halted and the FBI took all the records of it. Geez I wonder what they could’ve done with it.

  4. tim says:

    Tanis I wasn’t referring to u but others I admit I’m to pessimistic and should be more positive about extreme weather which we all want.

  5. Patrick says:

    You all don’t like living in Oregon, please, feel free to leave.

  6. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Are we going to talk about how the mountains in freakin’ Mexico will be getting more snow than the Cascades for at least the next 10-14 days? Flip to El Niño before La Niña even started? Bring your ice skates to Timberline instead of your skis.

    • Mr T. says:

      I call this La Nino. Or El Nina. What was 1932-33 all about where we had those devastating December floods of 32 and that freeze less winter? Was that a Lanina gone wrong?

      • Tanis Leach says:

        Only going off of the Atlantic hurricane history (very sensitive to ENSO changes), both 1932 and 1933 were “extremely active” seasons. That makes me believe that there was a strong la nina during that winter. The NOAA ENSO record only goes back to 1950 so take this with a grain of salt.

    • Tanis Leach says:

      It unfortunately happens. In the 2017-18 recap presentation Mark Nelsen did, he mentioned that there are certain things that trump enso. I can’t remember what those are off the top of my head, except that it involves the polar regions.

    • tim says:

      And yet I’m being called a troll by so many of u for following the warmer gfs and being realistic give me a break. and trump will serve a second term really?. lunatics.

      • Tanis Leach says:

        To me, the definition of an internet troll is someone who purposefully messes with people, in order to gain attention. This does not put you as a troll (at least how your comments come across to me). People (myself included) are way too sensitive at certain things.

  7. runrain says:

    The fork is beginning to stir (or is that what a spoon does?). Well, whatever a fork does, it’s starting to think about doing that.

  8. lurkingsince’14 says:

    So maybe 3-6” between Sandy and Govy? 🤔

  9. Grizzly Bear says:

    I lived in the Portland area for almost 65 years, only in my early years did we really get dumped on and had true wintertime events. Later with Climate change and Global Warming the changes are just to great to have any real cold spells on a more regular basis. I now live in Kamiah, Idaho where we still have 4 seasons with 4 or 5 major snow events per winter season.

    So my advice is don’t hold your breath for extreme cold and snow, best bet is a good windstorm now and then with lots of rain.

  10. Weatherdan says:

    FZ at 10K. Turn out the lights the parties over. Peace.

  11. Chad says:

    Grab your forks, I know a lot of you clowns say “but winter just started “ take a look it was over in October 😂😂😂


    • Jim says:

      You must be miserable and lonely

      • Mr T says:

        You won’t believe the amount of hard freezes I had in late October. It felt like we were in Reno Nevada!

      • Mr T says:

        In the winter Reno dips into the low 20s most of the time but recovers nicely in the daytime to take a bite off the chill and doesn’t have the horrendous Las Vegas summers either.

  12. Paul D says:

    I was out in the yard today. The grass is growing and is too tall, so I am officially in a bad mood! It’s two months too soon! This is officially (IMO) a lousy winter!

    • Mr T says:

      We just mowed ours today. Though it wasn’t as bad as it looked so the job was done sooner then expected but nature is in early spring mode.

  13. Roland Derksen says:

    The forecast here (in Vancouver, BC) is still saying snow for Saturday night and overnight into Sunday. Can’t say how much we’ll get or for how long, but it appears there will be enough to cover the ground all over, anyway.

    • Jake in Gresham says:

      The current track for the low is putting the Santiam Pass directly in line to draw arctic air over you in the Northern PNW. A prime setup for Evertt, WA and Northward to be socked in with Winter precipitation.

      • Roland Derksen says:

        Thanks, Jake. I still believe we’ll get snow- but like many of you, I have the touch of the skeptic in me.

  14. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Timberline Lodge very likely won’t even get a foot of snow TOTAL between now and the end of next Tuesday. So, no, we will not be getting a foot of snow. We will be lucky to see some flakes in the air next Tuesday.

  15. 5OClockCharlie says:

    Hello folks. Years-long lurker here. I was just reading Cliff Mass’ blog and he’s predicting a foot of snow in Portland on Tuesday. This seems to directly contradict Mark’s forecast (most Portland forecasters as well in fact). Is Cliff way off on this one or is he seeing something we’re not seeing?

    • Andrew says:

      Cliff appeared to be looking at a single model run based on a very specific scenario playing out. Mark is basing his discussion on the preponderance of data available and the most likely scenario. Mark’s analysis seems sound to me and is increasingly backed by model trends. Sure there is a chance the variables play out perfectly. But Mark is as good as they come at nailing these events. I think the reference to “active pattern” suggests that low(ish) elevation snow threat figures to be with us for a while, as indicated in models. That doesn’t mean we’re getting a snowstorm. It simply means that the pattern may produce future opportunities for snow.

      • Mr T says:

        I think Cliff is looking at an early retirement. He’s lost it lately. His blog is hardly about weather anymore.

        • Tanis Leach says:

          Not out of the question for early retirement but its still up to him I believe. His last post that was not related to weather at all was in November (COVID prevention related). That means all 19 posts in December (granted 4 podcasts) were about weather, and the 11 so far in January, and of those 30, 2 are about issues that need to be solved in the US weather wise (radar site/coastal radar, and GFS vs Euro). Summer 2020 is when his more political pieces happened, except for issues in the UW.

        • Mr T says:

          Glad to know he’s back in action then. I gave up that summer after it was all Covid crap. I didn’t go to him to here CNN or Townhall news.

  16. Andrew says:

    Latest model runs appear to align well with Mark’s analysis. EURO has finally removed lowland snow threat. Ensembles are trending less snowy too. Still a long ways out to make any definitive predictions but clear now which way this is heading.

  17. Andy says:

    down to 26 here in Albany. Hopeful things look better in the models…otherwise looking forward to spring.

  18. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    All this talk about upcoming active weather/lowland snow when the ECMWF gives us less than .50” of total precipitation in the next 10 days. Not much more for Mt Hood. Hard to get snow when there is no precipitation.

    We all know how ridiculously warm this winter has been, but for those who think it has been wet… we are .30” above normal for the water year. We will likely be in a deficit shortly.

    This winter really couldn’t be much worse than it has been.

    • Zach says:

      Maybe a little less melodrama?

      GFS shows almost 2″ in the metro the next 10 days. Likely will be somewhere between.

      Due to the SSW event going on all the models are super volatile and I wouldn’t get caught up in anything past like day 5…

      • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

        Melodramatic or truthful? Peep the 00z GFS. About .50” in the next 10 days. Let’s face it, all the action is heading to our neighbors to the south.

    • Mr T says:

      Water wars in near future? ✔ Global reset plan ready in action? ✔

  19. Chad says:

    Portland, just enjoy your 41 degree rain and shut up already. That’s for Erik

  20. W7ENK says:

    5 days out, this is looking like a marginal event.

    Y’all know what my take is…

    If you don’t, then maybe Global Warming has bumped us up from 37 degrees to 38 over the last 8 years?

  21. Mountain Man says:

    I’m thinking 3-6 inches, that’s my prediction for my house from all this. I’ll probably let you guys know. That’s no snowstorm, not even close by standards here. 1400 feet in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. February 2019 I had three days, 17, 6 and 14 inches, now that’s a snowstorm! Roads blocked for three days, power out for five days after that their day. Still, this winter, I’ll take it and I have time… I had a dusting on May 10th last spring, so I have more time then many. Have a feeling early February is going to be interesting too.

  22. runrain says:

    That last panel said “active weather pattern” ahead. If no snow in the outlook, could that mean possible wind events?

  23. JERAT416 says:

    Conversational snow is better than nothing!

  24. Jake in Gresham says:

    La Niña they said, 2021 will be better they said, my ass!

    Mark I give you meh fork. I’m out of here. Climate change is moving things along quite quickly now. Arizona where I spent the New Year with family I was told has a special record they keep.

    They record how many days of 110F plus they get in a Summer. The record is 33 days. My family told me last Summer they shattered it with 50 days.

    • Zach says:

      Settle down dude it’s still mid January.

      Also La Niña doesn’t guarantee anything. Especially when SSTs in the eastern pacific are way above average.

      • Jake in Gresham says:

        A bit tongue in cheek but I’m not trying to be unrealistic here. I felt the warm water off the coast will seriously disrupt the pattern of this La Niña. And I’m peeved on that, it seems to be holding, and I’m 50/50 that the future pattern may break it up.

        Said another way, while in Phoenix, AZ the lows were in the upper 30’s / low 40’s. Same as here. Only tonight can I say it was chilly here (30 lastnight – meh) and ironically I saw more snow there (Flagstaff / Grand Canyon than here!).

        Snowboarder I spoke too at the mechanics told me that the resorts on Mt. Hood are all iced up and nasty. I tried to give the dude some hope by saying things will turn (weather blogs la la lala) – but I’m not hopeful.

        • W7ENK says:

          It helps to keep things in context, and consider the fact that Flagstaff and the Canyon Rim are at roughly 7-8,000 foot elevation. That’s equal to Silcox Hut and the middle of Palmer on Mt. Hood.

        • Zach says:

          In general this pattern change looks decent on a lot of the models right now. A lot of consensus that cold air will concentrate in Vancouver / Western Canada in the coming weeks. We likely won’t have some major snow event in the valley (just by historical probability), but I think the situation in the cascades could realistically improve a lot.

    • Tanis Leach says:

      IMO, it has been better. Last winter the main events were not near Portland. This winter at least there were 2 flood events (1 minor, 1 moderate), a 3rd atmospheric river, and a windstorm. Plus a tornado.

      • Jake in Gresham says:

        Yeah I’m just not encouraged tbh. Latest GFS and GEM have the low tracking into Puget Sound. You can see how the weather system tracks North of it and feeds of the differential ocean temps.

        Will the mild La Niña moderated jetstream bust past it and push the storm South of us for an epic snowstorm?

        I’d best money if I haven’t seen such patterns bust within 48 hour window before AND we had a strong La Niña.

        The weak sun activity does give me a stance of 50/50 which is more than I can say for the rest of Winter by a longshot.

        While at the same time lowland snow has melted in the Eastern counties of Washington and Oregon making the arctic air not getting modified before arriving a difficult task. It has been just that warm. We’ve all seen the snow totals in the mountain ranges vs. averages.

        A true arctic push toward us over the Rockies and Cascades would not matter on such a factor but with Climate Change pushing new kinds of environmental weather from even my childhood in the 1990’s (solidly can say Winters were colder).

        I’m unsure what we can say of even our best weather models accuracies in the near future. Within a few decades? Will probably need entirely new algorithms.

  25. W7ENK says:

    Well then….

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