Cold Air Lingers One More Day; Then Warmer

7:30pm Saturday…

The February 11th-13th 2021 snow/ice storm is going to be one for the record books. A few stats for you:

  1. PDX only made it to 30 degrees today; for the 2nd consecutive day. That’s a rare event this late in the season. In fact only TWICE has PDX stayed at/below 30 degrees after the first week of February. In 1956 and 1960. We haven’t seen such a cold day this late in the season during my lifetime…brrr!
  2. The Portland forecast office has picked up 8.0″ snow so far, plus I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit more this next hour or two since it is snowing right now. That makes it the 4th snowiest February on record, or maybe it’ll be #3 within a couple hours

3. At the peak earlier today, Portland General Electric was reporting about 220,000 outages due to the catastrophic ice storm in the northern and central Willamette Valley. That is a similar percentage of customers we’ve seen during previous big ice storm events. But those have generally been central/east metro closer to the Gorge. This time everything went wrong. A thin subfreezing layer of air at the surface plus heavy precipitation overhead.

Looking ahead…

KEY POINTS

Light mixed precipitation continues tonight through tomorrow morning throughout the region. In the Portland metro area it could be snow or freezing rain through sunrise. We are getting the typical showers between organized weather systems.

The entire metro area stays frozen tonight. Typically the showers putting down a fresh swath of light snow or a bit of freezing rain glazing would be a HUGE deal; but everything is covered in snow or ice already. Adding another inch or two of snow shouldn’t change things much.

Another slug of steadier precipitation comes through midday/afternoon tomorrow. BUT, at this point it’s warmed overhead so we’re into liquid precipitation only. Temperatures rise into low-mid 30s metro area (away from Gorge) and that means we shouldn’t see additional icing of roads tomorrow. In fact light rain showers will help melt things a bit. Tomorrow afternoon a southerly wind pushes up to the south edge of metro. Everyone in a line from Newberg to Wilsonville to Molalla and south should see temperatures jump into the 40s. We stay between 30-37 in the rest of metro.

Tomorrow night one last slug of steady rain comes inland. The last “holdout” of sub-freezing air will be east of I-205 and near the Columbia River from the airport to mouth of the Gorge. These areas (Troutdale, Gresham, East Portland) will see significant ice glazing tomorrow afternoon and night. Possibly up in the West Hills as well…maybe. I think the rest of the metro area will sit at 32-35 degrees tomorrow night which means no additional icing.

Finally, a mild southerly wind pushes through the ENTIRE metro area by sunrise Monday. We will immediately jump into the low-mid 40s at that point…MONDAY IS THE BIG MELT DAY. West wind pushes through the Gorge Monday as well, but midday/PM

TECHNICAL INFO

It was a somewhat poor choice to drive home last night; probably should have stayed at hotel one more night. 1-3 foot high snowdrifts…an experience like those Subaru commercials. I followed my son in his 4Runner through those drifts between Corbett and Vista House. That is the deepest snow I’ve driven through (separated by bare spots in the wind). Much better coming back to work today because Multnomah County and ODOT road crews have been working so hard. It was neat to be behind an ODOT plow blowing through those drifts today; an massive explosion of beautiful powdery white passing through each one.

This cold airmass is just about played out, we saw quite a bit of melting at 1,800′ on our KPTV tower cam today. That means the cold layer is now that shallow overhead. Snow level from the Astoria profiler is around 2,300′ or so right now, which means the cold air coming out of the Gorge is still thick enough to “fill the gap” and keep temps at/below freezing all the way down to the city. That’s why we’re seeing snow this evening.

That will change around sunrise tomorrow. WRF-GFS sounding for right now shows at/below freezing all the way down.

But by 10am tomorrow, a warmer layer has moved in (temp above zero C) = all liquid rain in the metro area from this point forward. The red line is temperature, blue is dewpoint

At 1pm tomorrow a weak front is moving onto the coastline, keeping easterly wind going through the Gorge. It’s calm in the Willamette Valley.

But then a 2nd/stronger system sweeps toward the coast tomorrow night. This time the surface low is headed north of us. At 1am tomorrow night, east wind is screaming through the Gorge again, although it’s a thin layer of cold air compared to yesterday. Warm southerly wind has reached up to about Salem.

Then at 7am the low is pushing across SW Washington. Gusty southerly wind has arrived in the metro area; temperatures suddenly pop into the mid 40s around sunrise…the melt is on.

Whatever falls from tomorrow morning through late tomorrow night will likely be freezing rain east of I-205 near and south of the Columbia River. Expect 1/4″ to 3/4″ glazing over there and into the western Gorge. Cold air will be deep enough for snow in the central and eastern Gorge until a warming west wind arrives Monday midday/PM. Seems unlikely that I-84 will reopen before Monday.

I’ll be on TV tonight at 10pm, and of course tomorrow night at 5/10/11pm. Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

62 Responses to Cold Air Lingers One More Day; Then Warmer

  1. Brad says:

    Raining in King City…..Never been so happy to say that.

  2. Jake in Gresham says:

    Temp: 28.9F
    Humidity: 90%
    DP: 27.1
    Windchill: 17~21F

    Going to be a long night. Freezing rain has covered everything.

  3. Mountain Man says:

    My sister just told me a horrible story, their house has a lift pump sewer, who would’ve thought you can’t use sewer in the middle of the city because of a long power outage. She says being told to expect 72 hours more before electricity. I told her they need to find a bucket and line it with trash bags!

    • Mountain Man says:

      Worse part, my elderly parents who live with her are refusing to eat now, for obvious reasons. Wow a weird consequence of the ice storm.

      • Lurkyloo says:

        Oh, sheesh. Hope they’re doing ok. Yeah, there are some things that aren’t really anticipated in situations like this.

  4. JohnD says:

    Really quite concerned about ice storm devastation this evening. Hope I’m wrong—and sure those of you far more astute than myself can offer guidance. Surprised few are chiming in. Overall still socked in here in inner SWPDX @ 200’. 32.5’ earlier today now down to 31.8. Ice definitely now forming on trees, etc. Impressive PDX official snow total @ 10.1”. Giving my ‘hood @ 6”. Quite an event to remember.

    • Andrew says:

      The main precip appears to be about an hour away from metro. Perhaps we warm a little between now and then. I’m at 31 here in SE Portland. I suspect the risk for sustained freezing rain is fairly low or we would have heard from more people by now. That said, most forecasts had has a few degrees warmer by now.

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      JohnD and Andrew, I really haven’t been looking at the models today. Just been relaxing. I see the radar is starting to light up. You can see some of the precipitation his getting heavier over the Coast Range. I don’t think it’s heavy rain but rather sleet. The cross section of sleet is much wider than regular rain so the radar can pick it up better. I’ve been looking at the temps around town. Some temps on the Westside are a little above 32 but as you go further East, the temps start to well below freezing. The East winds are still blowing at a good clip so I don’t think those temps will rise much until we start getting a more South wind. I think Mark said the South wind will come probably early tomorrow.

      I don’t like freezing rain because it does so much damage. One thing about the Eastside of Portland, we are use to getting it every winter so hopefully there won’t be much damage or power outages.

      Well, see how things play out. 🙂

  5. Pretty good event up here in Bellingham, though it fell short of the epic and historic stuff to our south. 4 days in a row below freezing, 8″ of snow yesterday, 2″ today. Didn’t get any colder than 19˚F which is on the mild side for a cold snap up this way. Now starting to slowly melt.

    Don’t have to go too far north to get in the screw zone; Sumas has received only a skiff of snow so far with this event, though they may well score tonight. It is unusual for Bellingham to end up with more snow than Vancouver, BC, but it happened both this time and last month on the solstice.

  6. Mountain Man says:

    Thinking this could be over for me. At 1400 feet I’m at 31 degrees, drizzle with snowflakes mixing in, a little warm finally get in above me.

  7. geo says:

    Doesn’t the dew point play a factor

  8. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    Had creeped just barely above freezing but have now dropped to 32.0F again.

    • Phil says:

      We were 31 when I woke up at 10am. Been stuck at 32 the rest of the day so far. Well see what happens when the sun starts to go down.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Temp down .5 degrees from peak here too. Spoke too soon earlier. Crap.

  9. Phil says:

    The cold air just wont budge. Been 32 all day so far. Thought Beaverton would be warmer than this by now with the drizzle moving in. When the sun goes down will we freeze again Westside, or will the temps slowly creep overnight?

    • Andrew says:

      My temp actually just dropped a bit…

      • Phil says:

        Oh, my!! If the precip hits harder and the temps drop just 1 degree then we will have more glazing. Were right at the freezing point. Have 1/3 inch of ice around bushes and trees. Their not dripping like the vehicles so I think the ice is still forming slightly.

  10. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    I have never rooted so hard for the temperature to go up than I am right now. 33.4 now. Multiple large branches down as the thaw gets going. Hearing cracking or crashing frequently. I have it good compared to a lot of my neighbors. Some large oaks and other trees down. Thankfully, Douglas Firs seem to handle this better than deciduous trees (I asume due to their shape and branch structure). Power out around me, but ours is still on.

    It seems like at least my immediate neighborhood might be done with frozen precipitation. We are always a bit warmer than surrounding neighborhoods in the winter. I don’t envy those of you that have freezing rain heading your way. Especially if you live amongst large trees or above ground power lines. Stay safe.

  11. Mountain Man says:

    Haven’t done an update on this for a couple days. Still looking like it’s worth keeping an close eye on closer to the end of the month. Lots of sweet Arctic air from the Canadian border north from the huge Arctic trough I’ve been talking about. More and more ensombles are flirting with the idea we at least mingle with it sagging down to the Oregon boarder. I wouldn’t say it means we’ll have another situation like this was, but I feel 50/50 now, winter has one last act to play out. We’ll see.

    • geo says:

      I think PDX had a cold blast late february early march 1960 where some days never climbed above freezing

      • Grizzly Bear says:

        Very late in February 2011 we had several days with high temps near freezing and snow at the coast.

      • Tanis Leach says:

        Adding on to Grizzly Bear. This is the cold snaps I found after Feb 20th since 1940 (high temps adjusted to todays climate being 35 or less, or teen lows):

        2011 Feb 25th/26th (highs 34/33)
        1989 March 3rd: (low 19)
        1971: Feb 28th-March 2 (12 degrees in Salem on the 1st, but highs near 40)
        1962 Feb 24th-26th (highs mid to upper 30s but lows in the lower teens in Salem)
        1960 Feb 27th-March 5th (highs from 29-mid 40s, but Salem was colder, in the mid 30s or under, also teen lows for Portland and Salem.
        1955: March 5th: (low 19)

    • Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

      Certainly possible. Arctic air seems to be very volatile lately. Dallas will be in the single digits tonight!!

    • Andrew says:

      our active February two winters ago saw cold air continue to make noise over a period of 2-3 weeks. Portland largely missed out on the big event but we had sticking snow with quick melt in the first few days of March as i recall, after two weeks of below average conditions. We certainly won’t see any sort of repeat of this but wouldn’t surprise me if we get a couple 500-1000 foot snow levels before winter officially peter’s out. No big dramatic warming trend that I can see.

    • sds says:

      Mountian Man
      Wondering what your elevation is up by Mt. Rainer?? You are the King of snow.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Winter storm warming in Houston and wind chill advisory in New Orleans. Yeah this global warming thing is getting out of control.

  13. Mountain Man says:

    Still just pure snow up here in the foothills of Mount Rainier. It’s warmed up to 29 but I’m hoping it stays snow. Freezing rain is very unusual here though I’ve had sleet a few times, so it’ll probably just turn to rain sometime in the next 18 hours. 2 inches of new since 6am. Come on next system, stay snow for one more night!

  14. Ryan Lounsbury says:

    I can see some light glazing on the plants. Oddly enough my car is just wet with no icing… Must be enough heat from the sun to keep it from icing up. I’m sitting around about 31 at the moment.

    Looks like most the southern part of the metro is up to 32-33 and Salem is finally over the hump. Just a little further south at Jefferson they are into the 40’s. Warmer air slowly inching it’s way up the valley.

  15. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    Texas/Louisiana under historic snow/cold.

  16. GTS1Kft says:

    Whatever combination of liquid water/sleet is blowing from the East, ice is just now starting to build up on exposed surfaces. 26.6 degrees…

  17. Jake in Gresham says:

    Terrible stuff coming down right now in Western Gresham just before Fairview. Moderate rainfall that looks like gaze mist coming down. Trees are visibly glazed within the hour already.

    Reports that the Amazon sorting facility in Troutdale is closed.

    We have water running off the roofs here because the gutters are full of ice. Fairly concerned on foundations / basements flooding.

    Temp: 26.8F
    Humidity: 90%
    DP: 24.8F
    Windchill: 16~19F

    • Jake in Gresham says:

      *glaze

      Just made it back into the house after digging the roof out. What a mess, reminded me of 2008 in some ways but with ice covering it all. My neighborhood will be awhile till the roads melt and clear up. I think without the mixed Winter precipitation through this event we would have reached 2008 snow levels.

  18. Andrew says:

    It looks to me like over next few hours is the period most of us around Portland warm above freezing before the heavier stuff later. Mark’s forecast seems pretty spot on. Only wild card would be a final pull of cold air through Gorge but as Mark noted, that layer is so thin and weakened that shouldn’t do much beyond the usual direct outflow areas (Troutdale, etc.) I’m also basing this partly on a lack of comment chatter which usually signifies things are going as scheduled.

  19. tim says:

    Meteorologist scott sistek from komo news 4 used to say February was the August of winter but not the past few years that title goes to Dec and jan now.

  20. Diana F. says:

    Hope everyone is ok…a bit worried as I expected to see comments from several more of y’all by now! 🥶
    It’s been scary out there in many spots!
    And more ice on the way ….. or not……. that is the question! The temp predictions? Well let’s just say I’ve seen a wide spread!
    28 degrees here in Vancouver, (Bennington; 6 miles ENE of PDX Airport) we had snow & ice overnight & everything is crunchy. Crunchier than yesterday in many ways!
    Snow drifts up to 10 inches, with about 4” average accumulation of snow and ice everywhere. Significant snow drifts have also blown into apartment stairwells and entry doors to businesses, etc.
    I’ve had hummingbirds fight for my 2 feeders (which could easily accommodate 10+ birds if they could get along!) and he’s used a hanging perch I attached to a balcony “porch” light-it’s several feet away from the cold and provides a tiny snippet of warmth-poor wee things! They live in the 12’ tall, thick hedges enclosing the property, they’re absolutely gorgeous. The big bully has THE most brilliant vermilion red, wide band around his throat!
    As always, stay safe! 🤞🏽

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hoping Mark will provide an update on the ice situation and if it’s changed since he posted this last night.

  22. Grizzly Bear says:

    It’s not over for folks east of the Cascades, I already have 6 inches of powder snow and now this forecast for the next couple of days!
    Just thankful freezing rain events are rare over here. Had enough “silver thaws” for a lifetime living in Western Oregon for more than 60 years.

    NWS for Kamiah, Idaho:

    …WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 7 PM PST
    TUESDAY…

    WHAT…Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 6 to 11
    inches.
    WHERE…Nezperce, Soldiers Meadow Road, Craigmont, Winchester, and
    Kamiah.
    WHEN…From 7 PM this evening to 7 PM PST Tuesday.

  23. Zach says:

    I think the Cascade snowpack will be all above normal in Oregon by the end of this week. Awesome pattern we are going into.

  24. Andrew says:

    From NWS forecast discussion:

    “Thus we are probably looking at several hours of light to moderate freezing rain for the bulk of the Portland/Vancouver metro area tonight into Monday morning. Additional ice accumulations of one quarter to one half of an inch are likely
    across the metro area, with the heaviest amounts likely to be in the West Hills and near the mouth of the Columbia Gorge.”

    I trust Mark over these guys any day of week and am hopeful this is more of a “worst case scenario.” I’m up to 28 in SE Portland. Warmer than I was at this time yesterday, for what it’s worth. Any more final pulls of cold air or is that over?

  25. Dumping snow here. Should add to the 11” on the ground already. From Portland International Airport/Gresham north this has been awesome.

    I hope the icing today not going to be a problem in PDX. Radar up here looking moist

  26. JohnD says:

    I saw on today’s NWS post that the official PDX snow total was 9.8” so far. With light snow falling this morning the potential is definitely there to break 10”. That’s very impressive.

  27. Max in Fairview says:

    Ice Storm Warning

    URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
    National Weather Service Portland OR
    347 AM PST Sun Feb 14 2021

    ORZ006-WAZ039-142030-
    /O.NEW.KPQR.IS.W.0002.210214T2100Z-210215T1400Z/
    /O.EXT.KPQR.WW.Y.0011.000000T0000Z-210214T2100Z/
    Greater Portland Metro Area-Greater Vancouver Area-
    Including the cities of Hillsboro, Portland, Wilsonville,
    Oregon City, Gresham, Troutdale, Vancouver, Battle Ground,
    Ridgefield, Washougal, Yacolt, and Amboy
    347 AM PST Sun Feb 14 2021

    …WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM PST THIS
    AFTERNOON…
    …ICE STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 1 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 6 AM
    PST MONDAY…

    WHAT…For the Winter Weather Advisory, mixed precipitation.
    Additional snow accumulations of up to 2 inches and ice
    accumulations of around one tenth of an inch. For the Ice Storm
    Warning, significant icing expected. Additional ice
    accumulations of one third to two thirds of an inch, heaviest
    near the Columbia Gorge.
    WHERE…In Washington, Greater Vancouver Area. In Oregon,
    Greater Portland Metro Area.
    WHEN…For the Winter Weather Advisory, until 1 PM PST this
    afternoon. For the Ice Storm Warning, from 1 PM this afternoon
    to 6 AM PST Monday.
    IMPACTS…Plan on snow and ice covered roads. Expect widespread
    power outages and tree damage due to ice. Travel will become
    difficult if not impossible in some locations.

    PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

    Travel is strongly discouraged. If you must travel, keep an extra
    flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an
    emergency. Prepare for possible power outages.

    The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can
    be obtained by calling 5 1 1. Also, visit tripcheck.com for Oregon
    road conditions, or wsdot.wa.gov for Washington road conditions.

    &&

    $$

    • Andrew says:

      Sounds like forecasters are now thinking the freezing rain line is a little more south? I noticed the NWS discussion didn’t mention the I205 divide, instead simply saying a “bulk” of metro area should see ice through tonight. Can anyone confirm?

  28. Tanis Leach says:

    Final video update: https://youtu.be/1__YMDydryE

    Technical info:

    Post edited text in regards to isolated snow totals.

    Models conflicting based on ensemble runs. Went with .5 inches liquid due to that being ensemble mean by Monday midday (may have mentioned by Sunday midnight)

    Felt like this wasn’t that good. I don’t know what it was about it, other then the length but it just never felt natural like the previous 3. Any tips are appreciated.

    I know I haven’t responded to everyone, but thank you for your support.

  29. Brad says:

    I posted this comment on the last page as just haha comment but after examining it again, it’s a big concern. All my gutters a packed with ice. Does anyone else have this issue and is there not much we can do about it? Or am I worrying for no reason…. P.S. I have high roofs.

  30. Jake in Gresham says:

    Steady moderate snowfall (big flakes) here for the past hour or two. Looking at another half inch so far. Shoveled work all being undone. shakes fist

  31. Tanis Leach says:

    Thanks for the update Mark!

    I do have a question. I’m looking at the NWS airport and downtown data, and I see for both locations that the February 1955 data, it only shows 1.3 inches for the month for both the airport and downtown. I’m not saying your wrong, I just need clarification, what am I missing from this data?

    If 1955 is indeed 1.3 inches, the #5 spot goes to both 2018 and 1993 (6.6″ each).

    Links to data I’m using:
    Airport: https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/pdxclimate/pg112.pdf
    Downtown: https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/pdxclimate/pg114.pdf
    CSV file from airport data: http://www.weather.gov/source/pqr/climate/webdata/Portland_dailyclimatedata.csv

  32. Diana F. says:

    Thank you Mark!
    Storm of Your Career baby, 🏆
    in the land of Arctic Air, ❄
    Nano Climates, 🗺
    Giga Gorge,
    and Derecho Size
    East Winds!!! 🌬
    THANK YOU!

  33. JohnD says:

    Off and on snow showers for the past couple of hours—27.6’ here in inner SWPDX @ 200’—a bit of additional accumulation.
    This has been an interesting region wide weather event these past few days—to say the least. And I feel personally grateful that we mustered one! Shoveling and sleding—WooHoo! But also utmost sympathetic for those who have been in areas of the destruction. As well as those who feel “weather performance slighted”.
    —-
    Most will welcome the warm up on Monday—with snow piles, tree limbs. etc. remnants lingering for days following.
    ‘Have to say that I do wonder how impacting—or not—transitional icing may prove to be in the Central City.

  34. specialK says:

    second! power’s back! Yay!

    • Diana F. says:

      Power on is great news! A storm to remember!
      I would have been probably wrapped in a cocoon in a closet or something lol cos I am already cold all the time! So in these events I basically have to spend the day in front of a huge gas fireplace! To be without that eek 🥶

  35. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Thanks for the update Mark, First!!!

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