Winter 2021-22 Thoughts

October 27th, 2021

About this time each fall people start asking me “What this winter will be like?” or “I’ve heard it’s going to be a bad winter!“.  Actually sometimes they start asking in August!  For the record, I’ve NEVER had a person say “I’ve heard it’s going to be an easy winter“.  Apparently most of us are quite cynical and expect the worst. 

I don’t put out a “winter forecast”.  That’s because seasonal/climate forecasting has a long way to go before we say we can “forecast” a winter.  So we’ll just call it “my thoughts” for the upcoming winter since we can at least glean a few ideas by looking over some weather tidbits.  I’ve been doing this for quite a few years and it seems to work.

For those of you with a short attention span, just three points:

  1. Plan on an “active” winter this year.  The last 3 winters were quite “boring” (most of the time) for the weather professionals. Which means they were “easy winters” for regular folks (most of the time). Of course we all remember the 4 day stretch of snow/ice around Valentine’s Day right? But most of last winter was quiet weather-wise except for that event plus some flooding in mid January. The odds are tilted toward more changeable weather this winter; I expect it to be busier here at KPTV. A better chance for a windstorm, flooding, and lowland snow.  And I doubt we’ll be locked into weather patterns for weeks/months at a time.
  2. Expect at least once we’ll see some snow or freezing rain in the metro area and lowlands west of the Cascades.  I would be surprised if we get through this entire winter without measurable snow in Portland. I’d peg the chance of “sleddable” snow at about 70% some point between November 10th and March 1st. No, we have no idea when that could happen until at least 7-10 days ahead of time 
  3. Expect a good snow year in the Cascades. Good for both water next summer and skiing during the winter.  Go ahead and plan on a normal ski season with the usual variable ski conditions from week to week. I’d give this about a 70% chance of happening too. It IS possible to get a low snow year during a La Nina winter. In fact two La Ninas back in time we saw terrible ski conditions through January! Then February/March were incredible.


Two winters back…2019-2020  So boring…this was our 2nd consecutive “El Nino” winter. There was a real lack of Pacific storms; it was as if the jet stream just didn’t want to perform last winter.

Last winter…2020-2021 It was a surprising La Nina winter because of the mild temperatures, plus almost nothing interesting happened weather-wise until mid January! Some widespread (light-moderate) flooding showed up at that time, but then all was quiet until a 4 day blast of cold air arrived starting February 11th. That cold air was overrun by plenty of Pacific moisture which produced a snowstorm from Portland north/east and a severe ice storm from south metro down to around Albany in the Willamette Valley. Then temperatures warmed and typical (wet) winter weather resumed. We dried out dramatically in March and April, but with plenty of cool temps.

You can check out the rest of my winter recap presentation here:

So much of the past 3 winter seasons have involved a lack of storminess and drier than average weather. About time for some action don’t you think? But that’s what I thought would happen this past winter too…there’s so much we still don’t know about our climate.


We have entered weak/moderate “La Nina conditions” once again this fall. Models tell us most likely it’ll be a weak to moderate event through the winter. So this will be our 2nd La Nina winter.  That can give us a few hints, definitely not a forecast, but what direction our winter might be “weighted” toward.  I’ve spent some time looking at past La Nina episodes and what happened here in the Pacific Northwest.  I based all my graphics/research on a weak/moderate event.   Right now the Oceanic Nino Index (or ONI) is in the WEAK La Nina category.  

Model consensus says we’ll likely be in a WEAK-MODERATE category during this upcoming winter.  Here’s the latest plume of ocean/atmosphere models. Anything below the “-0.5” is weak La Nina, below “-1.0” is a moderate event. Strong would be “-1.5” or lower.

Typically in these winters there are 3 effects observed to varying degrees:

  1. The north Pacific jet stream tends to be more “wavy” which means there is more of a north & south component to the jet instead of travelling straight west to east
  2. There is increased tendency for blocking somewhere in the east Pacific
  3. As a result there is sometimes more interaction of the cold Canadian air to the east and Pacific moisture with the jet stream weakening dramatically at times too.

Likely effects this winter based on a moderate La Nina event:

1.  Rainfall

I think it’s unlikely that we’ll have a drought winter; but far more likely precipitation will be above average.  La Nina winters in the Pacific Northwest are dominated by a strong jet bringing frequent disturbances across the region, interspersed with sudden ridging or northerly flow.   Then it’s back to the westerly flow.  For this reason they tend to be wet.  It’s likely the #1 most noticeable event in these winters. And the chance for “wet” is much higher in northern Oregon than the southern half of the state. Although the current weather pattern this week suggests otherwise with an incredibly wet northern California very early in the season.

1a.  Flooding

This goes with the rainfall.  For obvious reasons we tend to have more flooding events in La Nina winters due to the wetter weather. Keep in mind we haven’t seen a major regional flood in 24 years. That was 1996. Previous big flood was 1964. I wouldn’t say we are “overdue”, but one of these winters it’s going to happen again.

2.  Mountain Snow

Lots of precipitation and cool weather systems = plenty of mountain snow.  This is probably the #2 most likely event.  7 out of the last 10 La Nina winters have brought above normal snow to ALL elevations in the Cascades.  Note that there CAN be a bad year; it just happened during winter 2017-18. Ouch! Check out the mid January snowpack during 2001 & 2018…

3.  Foothill Snow

This happens in some La Nina winters…significant snow to lower elevations (1,000′-2000′).  This MAY happen again if we get a succession of cold and wet systems coming in from the west and northwest.  It didn’t happen last winter, but colder than normal ocean water is poised to the west/northwest of the PACNW.

4.  Wind Storm

We are overdue for a regionwide major windstorm here in the Pacific Northwest.  The last BIG one was December 1995.  That’s 26 years ago!  14 years before that we had the major November 1981 storm.  It’s interesting that all the La Ninas from 1950 to the mid 70s had a wind gust of 60+ mph at PDX each time!  Not as frequent since that time though.

5.  Portland Snow/Ice

This one is tough.  Anyone who says a La Nina winter means lots of snow in Portland is mistaken.  Average snowfall in weak-moderate La Ninas DOES go up a bit, but not a dramatic increase.  Three La Ninas in the last 20 years have produced a major snowfall here in Portland…December 2008, January 2017, & February 2021.  I should point out that the “cool/wet” La Nina winters sometimes produce little freezing rain because we don’t get as many inversion episodes to our east, which means less east wind in the Gorge.  We need that for a good ice storm either in the Gorge OR in Portland.


The elephant in the living room I suppose is the fact that our winters are gradually warming, and snow in Portland is more rare than it used to be when we look back more than 70+ years. Although the past couple of decades total winter snowfall seems to have stopped it’s downward plunge.  Take a look at total snow each decade since the airport observations started about 1940. Divide by 10 to get average per winter.

And downtown records that go back to the late 1800s.  The low spot in the 80s is missing some data…it should be a bit higher…

We have always been in a marginal snow climate, but now warming temps are cutting off even more of the winter snow.  Every few winters we get a good snowstorm. We all remember that event and that pops up the long-term average.  It is interesting that the last 3 decades seem to have leveled out a bit at around 4″ per winter at both downtown and PDX locations.


  1. Cooler Water In Eastern Pacific There is no blob of warm water in the northeast Pacific like last fall/winter. In fact much cooler than normal now.

2. Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) This is directly related to the sea surface temps. Typically during a La Nina we get a negative or “cool phase” of the PDO at the same time. Last year that was not the case. But this year we seem to be in the cool phase (right side figure below). Could that make this La Nina winter behave significantly different (cooler/wetter) compared to last year? You can read up on the PDO here:

This gives the general picture

3. Anthropogenic Global Warming (Climate Change) A warming globe doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t get cold air outbreaks or snow. It can also mean the usual circulations get disrupted. For example it seems to me we just aren’t getting as much storminess over the eastern Pacific the last 3-4 years. That’s just anecdotal of course. But has something shifted the past 20 years? We don’t know, although 30 years from now, we might look back and notice something did change during this period. There is still a LOT we don’t know about climate.

That wraps it up…as always we’ll see how the winter turns out…my money (again) is on “wet”, “good Cascade snow”, and at least one “snow/ice event” in the lowlands. Maybe several, but hopefully I won’t be spending too much time at the hotel right near the TV station…


Each autumn the Oregon chapter of the American Meteorological Society puts on a “Winter Weather Conference”. It’s my favorite meeting of the year! I have been a part of this chapter my entire career. Speakers present their thoughts/outlook/forecast for the upcoming winter. The public is always invited. Last year and just this past week we gathered virtually due to the pandemic. Interested in watching? Check out my recap, plus 5 different outlooks on our Oregon AMS web page. I was especially impressed by the passion/talent the younger folks are bringing to our chapter! There is some really good information in each of these presentations. Enjoy!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

170 Responses to Winter 2021-22 Thoughts

  1. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I am looking at the satellite picture! Is it my imagination?? Is the low getting much closer to the Coast than what the models are showing?? I also see Crown Points winds are almost 80 mph. I don’t think I remember seeing winds being that strong on the model runs.

    I have a gut feeling we could see much stronger winds than what is forecast. Just a thought.

    • Hank says:

      Wait you’ve got a point… Seems closer to us than the models predicted, but still not close enough and strong enough to be a 65 MPH Gusts.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I agree. I was looking at the satellite picture. I was able to find the Latitude and Longitude to find were the Low is at and I think this is it. 41.71°N 130.53°W. It’s almost within the 130 Longitude. It’s still moving East-NE. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. My gut feeling says we could see winds closer to 50 mph. Then again, I could be wrong!!

        Crown Point is still having some winds over 70 mph. We are starting to see some heavy rain move in. At first it looked like there wasn’t a whole lot of rain but then looked at the Medford radar, they have some heavy rain and it’s moving North to NE. The website I look at has a lightning detector on the satellite and I noticed a lot of lightning with this storm. Not sure if we will see any thunderstorms tomorrow but it was interesting!!

        I guess we will find out how strong the winds get when the Low moves closer!!

        It’s almost time for me to head to bed. 4am comes fast…lol.

        • Hank says:

          Wait a second I’m confused, Do you have to wake up at 4am, Or go to bed at 4am?

        • Ken in Wood Village says:

          I have to wake up at 4am and be at work at 6am. I’ll be at work when the storm comes ashore.

          I was going to say, if you look at the satellite picture, the area were you don’t see a lot of clouds (dry slot, South to Southeast area), I believe that is were all the winds are and when that area comes ashore, the winds will start picking up.

  2. Roland Derksen says:

    Early November is often the rainiest time of the year here, so I’m not surprised by the current weather- actually I’m fairly optimistic that later this month, we’ll see some sunshine and cool temperatures.

  3. Mountain Man says:

    Honestly, I would not bet on it, but it’s entirely possible we’ll (or some of us will) get a big windstorm in just a few days or in the next week at least. It seems like Friday night is the bullseye at the moment for the right situation. Regardless 48 hours and a lot of uncertainty in the models is just too much uncertainty. Stay tuned in though!

  4. tim says:

    Cliff mass new post today, cliff said it will be a miracle if western WA or western OR doesn’t get one big blow during the next week, of course he didn’t describe what a big blow is so it could be 30mph or a 100mph who knows that’s cliff fot you a sensationalist.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If the euro can be believed (narrator: it can’t), we’re going to have an interesting 10-days. Wind gusts, potential snowfall in foothills, 5+ in. of rain in the valley. I await for this to change on the 12z of course when it reduces down to 2in rain and some light breezes.

    • Jake says:

      Bank on an active Winter though. Didn’t you see Mark’s assessment for this Winter? I’ve not seen one that optimistic from him and he’s one conservative person when it comes to our Winter chances.

      Here on the Eastside we’re having a very gusty Gorge event. As windy as that big 2nd windstorm that went into B.C. we never really saw much of (not complaining mind you!).

      Going over to my folks place it is even more so, they’re very aligned with the Gorge and near Blue Lake if you know where that is and it is pretty nuts. Fall, more like leaf shredder season!

      • Anonymous says:

        Keep calm, we’re not in winter yet and we have a ways to go before our snow window (mid-Dec through mid-Feb). November is ordinarily a gusty month, so it’s to be expected. The size of these lows coming in though are pretty impressive; all of which also factors into why you can’t rely on model predictions. These storms are coming in so fast and furious, it’s hard to gauge exactly where they’ll land and how much wind+precip they bring with them

        • Jake says:

          Never said I wasn’t calm but the season hasn’t even begun and your pessimism on what is supposed to be a proposed active Winter is a downer.

          Maybe not the right blog for you? Just saying I side with Mark on the conservativeship side but he’s pointed out both in a blog post and in the yearly meteorological presentation. I like what I’m seeing so far both from the experts and myself personally hiking through the Cascades.

          I’m not just point you out specifically. We’ve had 2 months in a row now with above average rainfall and 2 bombing cyclones that made the Columbus Day Storm look like a prequel those are the facts here.

        • Anonymous says:

          Lol Jake, you must be coming down with something. You’re the one that mentioned winter first. I never said anything pessimistic about winter. Maybe this blog is too much for you to handle.

      • tim says:

        If I’m not mistaken mark was optimistic about last la Nina winter too which was boring except our one winter event so being optimistic doesn’t guarantee anything.

        • W7ENK says:

          There’s that defeatist attitude again,
          just like a broken record…

        • tim says:

          No, I’m being realistic by saying by being optimistic doesn’t guarantee anything, if mark said it’s gonna be -50 F this winter you would probably believe it but someone with common sense would be very skeptical.

        • yigablademaster says:

          Until I learned about the ocean SST’s being cooler with a lot more blue I was skeptical also after being burned. Sort of like the old saying ‘Cheater Cheater burned by the heater!’ I didn’t want to be burned but Hank seemed 2 have cleared a lot of BS up.

          There’s a lot more blue in the oceans now with the blob pushed away from us which I believe is leading to this insane wetness as the ‘dome’ of high pressure is much easier to crack.

  6. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I thought I would post this before I go to work.

    Wind Advisory
    National Weather Service Portland OR
    345 AM PDT Wed Nov 3 2021

    Lower Columbia-Greater Portland Metro Area-I-
    5 Corridor in Cowlitz County-Greater Vancouver Area-
    Including the cities of St. Helens, Clatskanie, Hillsboro,
    Portland, Wilsonville, Oregon City, Gresham, Troutdale, Longview,
    Kelso, Castle Rock, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, Washougal, Yacolt,
    and Amboy
    345 AM PDT Wed Nov 3 2021


    WHAT…South winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph
    WHERE…In Washington, I-5 Corridor in Cowlitz County and
    Greater Vancouver Area. In Oregon, Lower Columbia and Greater
    Portland Metro Area.
    WHEN…From 7 AM to 6 PM PDT Thursday.
    IMPACTS…Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree
    limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.


    Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high
    profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.



    • W7ENK says:

      Welp, there go the last of the leaves…

    • Hank says:

      I Was waiting for everyone else to mention the wind on Thursday, I noticed it on Monday, When I’m the first to bring something up I’m normally wrong, but now other people mentioned it so I’ll say my opinion. In Salem the sustained winds will be heavier than the last wind storm, but lighter gusts.

      • W7ENK says:

        NWS agrees.

        WHAT: South winds 20 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph

        WHERE: Central Willamette Valley.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        I noticed the gusty winds awhile ago but decided not to say anything too. Since we are saying what’s on our minds. The Euro has been trying to give us snow. I’m guessing it’s picking up the really low snow levels. It’s going to be one of those days were it’s going to feel really raw and cold 🥶

        We’ll see what happens…lol

  7. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Since I live out East, I’ve noticed we have been having a lot of East winds for the past week. Makes me wonder if this is going to be a regular thing this fall/winter season 🤔

  8. yigablademaster says:

    Anyone looking forward to brighter mornings next week? It won’t be skunk dark at 7:00 anymore till mid December! Whoopee!!!! 😲🛸

    • MasterNate says:

      I thought senate bill 320 took effect this year and we no longer fall back. We just stay on daylight savings time all year. Did that change?

      • Gene says:

        It’s my understanding that states can’t change to full-year daylight savings on an individual basis (state-by-state, in other words). The federal government has to approve it, and hasn’t done so yet.

      • Anonymous says:

        SB320 depends on California also passing the same law AND congressional approval (which doesn’t seem to be an issue last I read as most of congress would be for it)

        • W7ENK says:

          All three States (Washington, Oregon & California) had similar bills that were contingent on the passing of all three. Voters in all three States passed their respective measures, but the only thing holding it up at this point is California State legislature still has yet to ratify their bill. I’m not entirely sure why.

        • yigablademaster says:

          I don’t want 9am sunrises thank you.

        • yigablademaster says:

          I’m a morning person as the air is most fresh and it’s dark enough as it is! 🤮 But that’s soon to change for about a month of extended morning light.

        • W7ENK says:

          It’s too late, the voters have spoken.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Interesting rain totals on the Euro… 8in throughout the 10-day period in the coastal regions. Seattle looking to get dumped on. Not sure if it’ll verify of course, but fun to look at.

  10. Jake says:

    The rainstorm we had go through yesterday was pretty windy. Picked up a quarter of an inch.

    I replaced my folks Internet cable outside with some GearIT cat 7 cable. The old Ethernet cable literally snapped and crackled as I pulled it off the house exposing the wiring.

    Also sealed the Internet box where the fiber optic connects to the modem from their provider. I have no idea why they put it on the outside of their house instead of the garage. None of it would have lasted another Winter without some attention.

    I’m noting geese flying South in numbers this morning.

  11. Roland Derksen says:

    Some frost here at the end of the month of October, and I recorded a total of 8.83 inches- that’s still well above normal, but actually slightly less than September. I may be wrong, but i don’t expect November to have much more.

  12. Zach says:

    Feels like December.

    • JohnD says:

      Totally agree. I put on rain gear and hiked up to Council Crest/back from inner SWPDX today. Drizzly rain. Upper 40’s. A few wind gusts. Gotta love it. Definitely felt like a harbinger of things to come later—shaving off 15’ or so—and changing the character of the precip from rain to snow. Maybe next month!

    • yigablademaster says:

      At least in a week the sun will be back to coming up a bit earlier for a while. Brighter mornings will be back again!

  13. Andrew says:

    models indicate a wet first half of November with no significant breaks in the rain in the long term. Also looks like mountains could achieve a nice snow base by thanksgiving. nothing terribly remarkable i’m seeing. no monster storms, just an active string of systems every couple days. A couple might generate a coastal wind advisory but that’s about it.

  14. Andy says:

    Here are some of the expected totals in Alaska…Sunday: 72-78 inches of snow
    Sunday night: 27-33 inches of snow
    Monday: 17-33 inches of snow

  15. Andy says:

    Alaskans brace for a record 12 feet of snow in two days
    An atmospheric river is setting up Southeast Alaska for a huge snowfall.
    By Hillary AndrewsSource FOX Weather



    Copy Link

    Sheep Mountain Airport is Northwest of Valdez. Thompson Pass is East of Valdez.

    (FOX Weather)

    The snowiest place in Alaska could become second snowiest after this weekend’s atmospheric river is forecast to dump up to 144 inches of snow on the Chugach Mountains. Mount Marcus Baker is the highest point in the Chugach Range and Northeast of Anchorage and Northwest of Valdez. Check out the snow forecast for a weather station near Sheep Mountain Airport on the mountain at 13,176 feet of elevation:

  16. tim says:

    There’s no denying our winter’s are getting shorter and summers are getting longer, so enjoy our brief brush with cool\ wet weather it won’t last much longer, climate change is real.

  17. tim says:

    Its November 1st and a month and half from now the days will start getting longer again time flys by quick, here comes spring and another very hot summer.

    • W7ENK says:

      Would you please stop?! This defeatist mantra of yours got old a long time ago. JFC, man…

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Thank you, I wanted to say something but wanted someone else to do it…lol.

        I was wondering if you can look something up for me. I think it was 87 or 88 when we had an artict outbreak. Parts or Alaska had places over -50, I was wondering if the blob was there and was a La Nina year? Thanks 😊

        • Mountain Man says:

          I’m guessing you’re thinking of Feb 89? Fairbanks was stuck around -50 for over a week and then the whole thing slid south, all the way to southern California, it even froze in Los Angeles before it was done. That’s the last time something quit like that has happened, though we had something a bit more moderate but similar in December of 90.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t seen the leaves fall of my trees this early ever. Usually they’re in the middle of turning right about now and fall out completely in mid-November. It’s weird to see bald trees on Halloween.

  19. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I went up to Crown Point this morning. Winds have been gusting over 70 mph around 8:30am. I didn’t go all last year because of my mom’s death 😢 it felt good to be back and experiencing mother nature again. I can’t wait to feel 100 mph again…lol. With the strong winds, some big branches of fallen out that way. If you decide to go, drive safely 🤗😇

  20. Hank from Salem says:

    I’ve been paying alot of attention to the models (atleast alot more than I normally do) since I’ve heard about the aurora borealis, and I have some sort of Cloud forecast now. I’ll talk about salem because I live in salem, and Portland because most of you guys live in Portland.

    Saturday night, for Salem the north view should be clear till around 3 or 4 AM, As for Portland, should be good the whole time northern lights are visible.

    Sunday (Halloween) this one I’m not as confident on.
    Salem should see clear skies to the north until somewhere between 12:00 AM and 1:30 AM, add an hour or two of clear north skies and that’s Portland.

    Hope you all have a nice and Sunny weekend! Also tommorow should be good leaf raking, I’d skip it today.


  21. Opie says:

    I assumed Mark was correct when he wrote,
    “The elephant in the living room I suppose is the fact that our winters are gradually warming, and snow in Portland is more rare than it used to be when we look back more than 70+ years.”

    But there’s a problem. Look at the graphic below the quote and you’ll notice a rapid decline in PDX snowfall totals, 1950’s through the 1980’s. But that didn’t correlate with a gradual warming trend, it accompanied a COOLING trend ( – 0.3 F/decade ).

    Then, snowfall totals stopped declining when Portland winters started getting warmer! (1980 – 2019: +0.3 F/decade at PDX)
    Pretty much the opposite of what you’d expect.

    I have a possible explanation but hoping for some feedback first. (And maybe someone could verify the data?
    Climate at a Glance, as usual).

    • Opie says:

      Okay, well, there’s a very simple explanation –

      The very rapid winter warming to the north of us, in places like Alaska, has influenced our snowfall totals a lot more than the sometimes opposite, but much smaller, local trends.

      Average Dec-Feb temperature,1950-1989,
      Anchorage: +2.0 F/decade
      Bethel: +2.0 F/decade
      Fairbanks: 1.9 F/decade
      Nome: 1.5 F/decade
      Barrow: 1.4 F/decade
      Juneau: 1.2 F/decade

      the cold, Arctic air that tends to drop down to our region during snow events, used to be a lot colder!

      • Opie says:

        One more thing to mention…

        We might get a low pressure system this winter that drops down from the Gulf of Alaska, where the SST, as noted by others, is much colder than normal:

        That situation should give us a decent chance for low elevation snow. But in the graphic, “normal” represents the average SST for the time period 1981-2010, where there had already been a ton of warming compared to the early years of the 20th century.

        What would today’s SST anomalies in the Gulf of Alaska look like if compared to, say, the average from 1921-1950?

        Like an ocean heat wave! A big red blob.

        • Opie says:

          Disclaimer –
          I should clarify that my last comment was based on total guesswork. I was thinking that warming trends in Anchorage and Juneau are good proxies for changes in the Gulf of Alaska, but realize now that may not be the case at all.
          Wish I could delete it.

  22. Jake says:

    I really hope the contrasting temperatures in the oceans don’t bring low level snow to the foothills and nothing here for us in the valley.

    I’ve seen similar ocean patterns give us that. “Oh so close with repeated dusting gone to slush by sunset and nothing on record.” Those I think are the worst Winters as they show potential active weather that just kind of produces meh.

    Happy we’re going into a La Nina which if my memory is correct tips the favor into this likely not being the outcome. That said, I think what we’re really look at statistically is a damaging windstorm this Winter and that probability is highest in mid to late November.

    Frankly though, I’ve never really seen such contrasting temperatures. Yes it is a La Nina by the areas we observe as such but if you look at the whole Pacific there’s some pretty turbulent currents right now.

    Another thought I have is we just are coming out of the quietest year for Sun spot activity. Typically oscillates every 50 years or so (we don’t have enough records to really know but we’re going back up the scale in heating now a small percent every year). It has been my experience that what influences weather one year, is the consequence the next year.

    Said another way, you never see a major storm system one after another. Say a category 5 storm after another category 5 storm. Or a big rainstorm followed by another. A rare series of events. Such atmospheric turbulence and contrasting temperatures and pressures do occur in nature, but on other planets like Jupiter (thank god). Here though, that isn’t an event we could see. One that just goes on and on or is followed in chain succession.

    Being super chilled and inactive last year I think will bring about consequence in the complexities this Winter because for one we don’t have the super computers to calculate all this frankly.

    Probably would take a quantum computer with algorithms taking into account thawing permafrost in Siberia, the lull in carbon emissions during the peak of the pandemic and volcanic eruptions. All of that is very volatile contrasting temperatures for the atmospheric column.

    So I may be wrong in this but I’m going to make the prediction that if we do see a major Winter storm this year? It will be in an arctic outbreak and classified as a blizzard. I think our average snowfall tampering off decade after decade support this as well. Weather is cyclical and climate change caused by humans is juicing up that probability in this warmer more volatile global climate average. We are long past due. My 2 cents.

    • Jake says:

      I also want to add that all the above will continue for us. More probability of damaging windstorms and one off once in a century Winter storms as climate change grows and matures from our industrial age.

      I think La Nino conditions in a row, 3 or 4 consecutive Winter seasons isn’t out of the question or vice versa with El Nino conditions. People always point out that some newspapers have said doom is upon us for decades now with how we’re changing the weather, and nothing ever happened.

      But what the general public is not disclosed is that the oceans were absorbing a lot of those volatile gases far worse the carbon dioxide. Water is very good at storing gases.

      We can see that more and more with the Middle East and Southern California (very similar weather patterns / geography) as two critical examples of where people live in number (North Pole and South Pole are even more vulnerable as you all know but that’s far away from human survival concerns).

      Another example is from the Middle East, while we had record breaking heat last Summer. They did as well at 120F+. So hot that people laid down on their concrete floors to keep cool keep from passing out. Everything is closed in the middle of the day. Not a normalcy a decade ago. A normalcy now. Their Winters, also with harsher storms, flash flooding and blizzards in places like the Iraqi mountains. Taking on Winter with what can only be called a monsoon seasons in Winter and deadly heat in Summer.

  23. Roland Derksen says:

    The month is ending on a dry note here- this afternoon was beautiful, with the sun shining on the falling coloured leaves… This October will have somewhat higher than average precipitation, nothing near a record, though.

  24. Weatherdan says:

    Models last Friday shown on 6, 8, and 12 all showed around 2.75 inches in Salem through 10,29. What we actually got was .90. Respectable but only about 1/3 of what was forecast. Mark was right when he said a couple of years ago models are getting better but human forecasts are still better. Peace.

  25. Opie says:

    Winter temperature trends at PDX are kinda weird. Average for December-February, starting in1939, is +0.1F/decade – nothing strange there – it’s the monthly breakdown that’s the head scratcher part:

    December: -0.2 F/decade
    January: +0.5 F/decade
    February: 0.0 F/decade

    December’s have been getting colder!

    • Hank from Salem says:

      I’ve noticed something surprising from that chart, our low temperatures in salem have stayed the same, but our high temperatures have gotten 2.9 F warmer. Our mean temperature has warmed up 1.45 degrees, so .35 less degrees of warming than the planet!

  26. Zach says:

    I believe this is the first time in a few years we have seen above average precipitation for PDX in October.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      We will end up .37” above normal. I will take it, but it’s still a letdown based on model forecasts from 10 -12 days ago. The Euro ensemble mean through the period then was >6”.

  27. Diana F. says:

    So you’re telling me there’s a chance? Sweeeeet! ❄️🌨🎿

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Look at the end of the 12z GFS run if you want to see some eye candy that won’t verify.

      • Zach says:

        10 inches of snow in Eugene on November 14th…

      • Andy says:

        Noticed the same crazy low coming in South of Eugene with snow Central and South valley…Just some eye candy. It is showing good snow in the cascades that is more believable.

      • Hank from Salem says:

        Yeah saw that this morning, it would be funny in salem if that happened, because that would mean all of salems snow in the last 4 years would be in the times of the year snow is uncommon

  28. Matt in Keizer says:

    Thanks for the very detailed and informative “Winter 2021-22 Thoughts” post Mark!…..I noticed one thing in your graphic about the cool Pacific water to the Northwest and that was the very warm water pooled up against the NW coastline of Oregon currently and the generally warm water up against the entire coastline of Oregon—it appears to extend out into the ocean about 75-100 miles…..I wonder how much of a tempering effect this will have on any cold systems coming our way this next month or 2 until it dissipates.

    • Hank from Salem says:

      I’ve thought about that a bit, the .4 C above average (.7 F) water goes till about 60 Miles off our coast, isn’t really enough to affect our windows temperature, compared to the 1600 miles of water that is an average of 1.8 C below average.

      But .7 F above average water, compared to us who has warmed 1.8 F, Technically that water is still cool relative to climate change, But it will be below average water in 1 month tops.


  29. W7ENK says:

    Despite the forecast, I really didn’t expect to hit 70 degrees today… 😬

  30. Andrew says:

    Such an excellent write up. A real master class in how to address a seasonal weather discussion. I think the cooler ocean temps off our coast will definitely equate to more foothill snow and probably lead to several bouts of “soupy” rain at sea level, with at least a few sticking events above 500-1000 feet. That would also lead me to think our flooding risk is amplified, since it’s the rapid melting of that lower level snow that always seems to portend flooding concerns. I don’t put much stock in NW Wind Portland snow events. I know the ocean conditions favor cooler air but it’s still such an uphill battle to generate meaningful snow from any onshore flow pattern. We had a very borderline one last January – the definition of a “conversational” snow event. things turned momentarily white but surface temperature just couldn’t drop low enough even with a very chilly onshore flow. It’s just not something i’ll ever take seriously. As a snow lover, i’ve been burned too many times seeing snow in air and temperature plummet only to see conditions come up just short. The types of patterns that DO produce real snow seem fairly unconnected to the ocean temp fluctuations, at least between neutral and la niña winters which is supported by mark’s data. we shall see.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s the most reasonable stance to take on the subject, I agree. Winter in Portland kind of just does what it wants.

      Important to note that Mark’s data only applies to some areas in Portland, not all. Last year for example is misleading when you factor in all the areas that got mostly ice instead of snow. That’s just Portland too, if you factor in the metro area in general, it’s even more misleading.

  31. Paul D says:

    Stock up on toilet paper NOW!!!

  32. Weatherdan says:

    70 in Salem at 1:00PM. Some sunshine too. Peace.

  33. Roland Derksen says:

    The winter forecast seems promising- but I won’t be impressed if I see another dull, mild January.

  34. OC550 says:

    Great post Mark! Hopefully a good ski season is coming.

  35. Oliver Watson says:

    Man Mark! That is exactly how a winter forecast should be presented. You gave us real data and let us know there are many things we don’t know and understand about the weather which is so true. You also didn’t sensationalize the forecast either. All meteorologists should take a lesson from your responsible reporting.

  36. JERAT416 says:

    January 2017 wasn’t an official arctic blast , but I guess with a bunch of snow that didn’t melt for nearly a week, I keep feeling like it counts.

  37. Carrie says:

    Quote:Wind Storm: We are overdue for a regionwide major windstorm here in the Pacific Northwest. The last BIG one was December 1995.

    Here in Clatsop County we were hit by a pretty significant wind storm lasting three days and gusting up to 145/mph or 165/mph, depending on who was reporting it. All of us lost power for at least fourdays, most of us for a week, and many for three weks or better. Whole hillsides slid blocking us from HWYs 26, 30, 101, and 202. We were completely isolated. National Guard came in to help rescue people from homes buried under trees and sliding downhill. It was called The Great Gale and it happened in December, 2007. It was followed by heavy snow. People in Jewell and Vernonia were burning furniture to keep warm.

  38. W7ENK says:

    Oooh, it’s rare when Mark gives some insight into the UPCOMING Winter…

    … This means something… 🧐🤔

  39. tim says:

    The blob is still there just pushed further west also the cfs model does line up with the current negative pdo then slowly warms again going into winter but remains weakly negative.

  40. Hank from Salem says:

    I commented this 2 blog posts ago, then for his last blog post I copy and pasted it so more people could see, than he dropped another blog post, so I’m commenting this a 3rd time!


    There is some big news for our winter….

    We are no longer affected by the blob for the first time in years, over the last 4 days, the cool gulf of Alaska has dramatically gone south, so much so we aren’t affected by the blob!

    And for our la nina, I’ve done a lot of research the last couple of days (ocean temp archives are surprisingly hard to find!) Over our last 5 extreme la nina’s, None of them were this cool in October! To make this clear, I do not think that guarantees a extreme La Ninã, but it’s looking really good!

    Would like to hear people’s thoughts on this





  41. Anonymous says:

    I’m more interested in what the shift of the blob westward means for the following seasons. I’m hoping it means no heatwaves next summer. A 2019 repeat would be nice during Spring and Summer. Rain in July perhaps? Yes please!

  42. Hank from Salem says:

    Thanks for the winter forecast like every year mark! I’ve been looking forward to this since September, Seems like we could all use some lowland snow! I live at a the bottom of a decently popular sledding hill, but it hasn’t had snow on it since February 2019! Hopefully this year kids can sled down it.

    I also noticed the picture of the Ocean temp anomalies, I did some comparing to the 30 day loop, Seems like that picture was Oct 17th,
    Which seems out of date compared to the dramatic change the last 4 days, here’s the difference between now and then

  43. Ellen in Oregon City says:

    Time to gather up road kill and read the entrails!

    But, seriously . . .I am so impressed with your weather forecasting ability! I never believe it will snow unless you say it will snow!

    Thanks for all you do!

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