Warm & Dry July Continues, Plus Some Good Fire News

8pm Wednesday…

We’ve been in a surprisingly stable weather pattern ever since the heat wave ended in late June. Warmer than normal, but not much heat. We are three weeks into July; every day has ended up between 75 and 90 in Portland. Today was especially nice with partly cloudy conditions all day long. We’ve seen lots of days in the mid-upper 80s in Portland, but only hit 90 once (on the 6th). That’s due to a persistent weak onshore flow; that cooler ocean air pouring inland each evening. It tends to come up the Columbia River to Longview and then the metro area. That’s different than the “southwest push” coming in over the Coast Range we saw right at the end of the heat wave.

Salem and Eugene, farther removed from those cool northwest breezes, have each seen 9 and 10 days above 90. That’s quite a difference! Although none of those days made it above 92 in Salem. Right now Salem is seeing it’s 4th warmest July on record; due to consistently warm temperatures vs. a series of hot spells.

A very consistent upper-level pattern remains in place the rest of the month (if models are correct). Right now a hot ridge of high pressure is right over the Rockies. At the same time a weak trough is moving by to our north; thus the cooler weather the past two days, even up in the mountains.

By this weekend, the last full weekend of July, the high edges a bit closer. So we turn a bit warmer as onshore flow backs off again. We might even hit 90 in Portland…maybe.

Then the ridge moves farther away, back into the Great Plains early next week. 9 days from now, Friday the 30th shows us in the “Goldilocks Zone” west of the Cascades. Warm, but no heatwave and not much “hot” weather.

All models agree with this general setup the next 7-10 days.

What This Means

  1. Temperatures remain above normal, but a heat wave is unlikely through the end of July west of the Cascades
  2. Most fire smoke will continue to remain over/east of the Cascades. That southwest flow carries most of it well east of us. I don’t expect any sort of “smoke episode” in the Portland area the next 7-10 days
  3. A widespread outbreak of thunderstorms is very unlikely in this pattern, even east of the Cascades
  4. No chance for rain, guaranteed dry weather continues next 7-10 days

Speaking of rain, we’ve only seen a TRACE so far in Portland this month. It was a few spots of drizzle out of the marine layer on the 1st. A trace means it can’t be measured…less than 0.01″. July is our driest month of the year in Portland; we only average 0.50″! August is close behind at 0.54″. We almost never have a truly “wet” July. But I remember both 1983 and 1993 were showery and cool; quite rare indeed. Those were “green tomato” summers…


Fire season is off and running big-time this year. Numerous large (greater than 100 acre) fires have burned in both Oregon and Washington. This has been fueled by 3 years of drought in southern Oregon plus the driest spring on record for many areas. Then an unprecedented extreme heat wave baked the region in late June; a perfect setup for a bad fire season. At this moment there are 5 large fires burning in Oregon

There is one fire grabbing all the attention right now, the Bootleg Fire burning through the Fremont National Forest. That’s between Bly, Summer Lake, & Paisley

The Jack and Elbow Creek fires are large as well, but notice they aren’t growing quickly. Good news there. The Bootleg Fire is about to become Oregon’s 5th largest on record, passing up the Buzzard Complex

And I had better mention the “Tillamook Burn” because each time I show this graphic, someone accuses me of forgetting that one. Actually there were THREE large Tillamook Burns (and one smaller), beginning in 1933; it was called the “six year curse”. All in the north Coast Range between Banks and Tillamook.

The bad news, of course, is that we don’t have any cool/rainy weather systems headed into the region. We wouldn’t expect that in July anyway. Extremely dry fuels will remain that way until further notice.

The good news?

  1. We don’t see a real heatwave coming for the region over the next week or so.
  2. Lightning activity has been minimal to almost non-existent so far this season and will remain that way through the foreseeable future.

Considering the current very dry fuel conditions, IF we get a widespread outbreak of dry thunderstorms, then fire season could explode. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Typically that setup would involve a southerly or southeast flow in the upper-atmosphere. For now I’m not seeing that over the next 7-10 days.

That’s it for now; enjoy the near-perfect summertime weather west of the Cascades. Yes, a bit on the warm side, but no heatwave!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

42 Responses to Warm & Dry July Continues, Plus Some Good Fire News

  1. tim says:

    Just watched pete parson forecast and he said all three analog years showed 100 pulse in august I wonder if that’s for seattle too or just pdx?, either way things are about to get hot again next month.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hot during the summer? That’s breaking news! His current report shows below average temperatures for September and October so there’s only a month left for you to forecast these major heatwaves that don’t come to fruition.

      • tim says:

        He said don’t be surprised if we see 100 pulse in august based on the three analog years he is using its not uncommon in august I’m just repeating what he said, chill man.

  2. Weatherdan says:

    Normal high in Salem in late July 1971 was 82. Now it’s 85. 86 at 2:00PM. Should hit 93. That is 13 for the month of July and 24 for 2021. Forecasted to hit 100 on Thursday and Friday. We are overdue for a cold and snowy Winter this year. But will we get it? Wish I had the answer. Oh by the way does anybody know when the Winter weather conference will be at OMSI this year? Peace.

    • W7ENK says:

      It has not been announced yet, and with COVID still a thing, they may choose to do it remotely again this year.

      We shall see…

      • Anonymous says:

        Looks like it’s been on the last Saturday in October for the last several years, so that would mean it would be held on October 30th this year.

  3. Roland Derksen says:

    I’m still a few days away here from a record for consecutive days without measurable precipitation. I’m up to 41 today- we had 54 days back in 1986. The difference this time is that there have been warmer temperatures, which dry things out faster. I’m still thinking a good rainfall will come to here in my Vancouver (BC) in early August, but that doesn’t mean it won’t go back to a dry/warm pattern afterwards. I recall August 6th last year; 1.4 inches- a good soaker, but it got hot again soon.

  4. Zach says:

    12z GFS made a nice turn towards cooler weather in the long range.

    • tim says:

      Typical after a “heatwave” this week, cooler for a while before the next warm up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bring on the cooler temps. That couple of days where it was in the mid to high 70s as highs were glorious.

  5. Weatherdan says:

    94 in Salem Today. Number 11 for July and number 22 for the Summer. Next 7 are all predicted to be at or over 90. Record is 38 in 2017. Maybe 100 or so on Friday but nothing out of the ordinary. But the number of hot days is amazing. Peace.

  6. tim says:

    The cfs model still hinting at a weak la Nina this winter I don’t know if that means much especially with the serve drought and the storm track at best being right over us or worst just to the north and the fact that every la Nina ends up being the warmest on record now, bad news for the SW of course.

  7. Anonymous says:

    72 degrees at 9:30AM. Yuck. We’re definitely hitting 90 today

  8. Hank says:

    2 Questions 1 comment, since I’m curious if there are better websites or any suggestions for websites for weather, also I’m only open to free websites
    Question 1, i currently use the rammb-slider.cira.colostate.edu website for goes 17 west visible satellite, are there any better ones available?
    Question 2, currently I don’t know any good radars, since a one I use to use, no longer exists since there isn’t Adobe flash anymore, and the other one I used, they made it more user friendly and the way they made it user friendly was trash!

    Remember I’m only open to free websites

  9. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Just saw the 12z Euro. Holy smokes. Back to back 106s next Friday and Saturday. I’m not saying that will verify, but the trend is definitely not our friend now. High pressure centered pretty close to where it was for our historical June heatwave. Not quite as strong though.

    • runrain says:

      With the current state of things with vegetation, that could be a backbreaker. Is there going to be anything left for the farmers markets to sell? I’m also wondering what our fall apple harvest is going to be like.

    • Paul D says:

      Those awful 90’s are dominating the 7-day forecast – BOO!!!

  10. Opie says:

    Portland daily max temperature trends for each month, 1970 – present.

    Per decade (Fahrenheit):
    Aug 0.7
    Sep 0.4
    Oct 0.0
    Nov 0.3
    Dec 0.1
    Jan 0.6
    Feb – 0.2
    Mar 0.0
    Apr 0.5
    May 0.6
    Jun 0.4
    July 0.5

    Annual: 0.3

    Source: NOAA’s Climate at a Glance.

  11. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    The GFS is on board now with a couple of days right around 100 a week from now. This sure escalated quickly.

    • W7ENK says:

      You know as well as the rest of us that sig could disappear from the models tomorrow, or we could be chasing it across the calendar for a couple more weeks before it either snaps loose and falls inside toward Hour 0, or disappears completely.

      Besides, it’s Summer. It gets hot in the Summer. And maybe it will lead to a back-breaking thunderstorm outbreak that ushers in an early Fall?? Who knows…

      • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

        Yea, it could. I don’t like the trend though. The good news is that nothing feels hot compared to what we endured in late June. Upper 90s ow low 100s are a cakewalk.

        I do hope we get a nice thunderstorm outbreak in August.

        • W7ENK says:

          Personally, I think this will end up being like one of our many other “bookend” seasons. Mark has talked about this phenomenon before: we seem to have this tendency to “bookend” our seasons with extremes. SUPER HOT heat in June, and another (hopefully not as extreme) hot spell in late August to close out the season and transition to more of an early Fall. More often, we seem to do the same thing in Winter, “bookend”-ing the season with an early cold shot, followed by a long spell of doldrums, and then finishing it off with one last cold shot before warmer weather returns for early Spring. Not always, but often enough to warrant consideration as a possible pattern.

          I don’t expect this Summer to be much different, considering that we’re solidly on track for it, if said pattern holds true.

        • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

          An early fall would be much-welcomed by most, I imagine.

  12. runrain says:

    Uh oh. The weather app, for what its worth, has an upper 90’s about 10 days out

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Looks like endless upper 80s to mid 90s with a couple of 100s sprinkled in coming up. Bye bye comfortable weather. Just what our vegetation needs.

      Anybody ready for a contest on when it will rain next? In case you forgot, rain is the wet stuff that falls from the sky.

      • Anonymous says:

        Rain rain or we talking decent measurable rain? If it’s the latter, I don’t expect we’ll see that until the last week of August or first week of September at BEST. When was the last year we saw measurable rain in August?

        • Zach says:

          I believe August of 2019 was pretty wet. (like around 1in. at PDX)

        • W7ENK says:

          At station KPDX

          8/07/2020 = 0.19″
          8/21/2020 = 0.01″
          8/22/2020 = 0.18″
          8/2020 total = 0.38″

          8/03/2019 = 0.04″
          8/10/2019 = 0.11″
          8/11/2019 = 0.80″
          8/17/2019 = 0.01″
          8/22/2019 = 0.20″
          8/29/2019 = 0.03″
          8/30/2019 = 0.04″
          8/2019 total = 1.23″

          Would you like me to keep going?

          Based on the last 2 years of purely anecdotal evidence, I would venture a guess that 8/22/2021 has the best chance of seeing measurable rainfall at PDX.

          Oh, and here’s this, from Milwaukie.

          We got a bit more rain out of it than the airport did.

  13. Hank says:

    2 Questions 1 comment, since I’m curious if there are better websites or any suggestions for websites for weather, also I’m only open to free websites
    Question 1, i currently use the rammb-slider.cira.colostate.edu website for goes 17 west visible satellite, are there any better ones available?
    Question 2, currently I don’t know any good radars, since a one I use to use, no longer exists since there isn’t Adobe flash anymore, and the other one I used, they made it more user friendly and the way they made it user friendly was trash!

    Remember I’m only open to free websites

  14. Roland Derksen says:

    Once in a while I like to make predictions for the month ahead. I’m expecting the weather to stay warm and dry through the first several days of August, but sometime around the 6th-8th, I expect a significant rainfall in the PNW. It won’t be excessive, but somewhere around half an inch in amount for my area around southern BC/Northern Washington.

    • MasterNate says:

      Is this a Farmers Almanac type prediction or a model based prediction? Or maybe you are using the trusted S.W.A.G. method perhaps??

      • Roland Derksen says:

        No- I’m just using my data from past years (and decades). I know it’s not ‘scientific”, but whatever… just wanting to stir up some discussion about it, more than anything else.

  15. W7ENK says:

    Indeed, this weather is amazing, though I feel like I’m stuck in a ‘Groundhog Day’ style feedback loop, with morning marine clouds rolling in just after sunrise, partly cloudy to sunny afternoons and highs right around average. But, it’s a nice reprieve from the insane extremes of months’ past… I certainly won’t complain!

  16. Paul D says:

    We’re like the frog in the pot of water being slowly heated up.

    It’s not a heatwave but just a little warmer than normal.

    Next year it’ll be a little more and the year after that a little more…

  17. Anonymous says:

    45 this morning in Battle Ground. 38 in Yacolt…

  18. runrain says:

    Not looking forward to August. If this dry weather continues the forests are going to be extraordinarily dry. Wouldn’t be surprised if the national forests in Oregon and Washington are closed completely except for local traffic.

  19. JERAT416 says:

    Thanks for the update, Mark! I’m loving this weather, it’s why we (normally have to) put up with many months of cool, showery weather to enjoy a comfortable summer. Let’s just hope fire danger doesn’t get worse.

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