Big Weather Slowdown Heading into Mid-January

9:30pm Friday…

The big rain showed up as forecast. An atmospheric river of moisture, also known as a pineapple express, was aimed at southern Washington and extreme NW Oregon the past two days. Rain totals were not excessive from Portland south, but very heavy rain fell to our west, north, and east (Cascades/Gorge). The numbers from the past 3 days

Notice those numbers around 7″! Astoria saw its 2nd wettest day on record at the airport.

When records were kept in the city before that time, there were 2 wetter days in 1919 & 1904. Regardless, this was a high-end rain event on the far northern Oregon and southern Washington coastline. Check out the REALLY big numbers. Over 9″ in several spots, including the south Washington Cascades and Willapa Hills in SW Washington

I-5 in Chehalis just briefly closed today as Chehalis River water came up onto the edges of the freeway, but luckily it was 4 feet lower than during the huge 2007 flood. Just about all rivers are receding now and I think we dodged a bullet this time; no widespread heavy rain like in 1996. That year over 15″ rain fell all through the Cascades over a 4 day period, melting lots of the snowpack.

The good news is that the snowpack is still there in the Cascades, running well above normal


  • The next 7+ days feature a very quiet weather pattern; no big storms/weather systems moving through the region
  • Temperatures remain near normal through at least the 15th
  • There’s no sign of a cool/wet pattern OR low elevation snow/ice west of the Cascades
  • All models agree the next 10-14 days will feature mild weather with relatively weak weather systems
  • The “holy grail” of a cold/snowy January (for weather geeks like me) isn’t going to happen this year

It’s quite the pattern change coming up. We’ve had cool upper-level troughing near/over us most of the time since around the 10th of December. Now for the next two weeks it’ll be more like that mild weather that we started with in November and early December. Here’s the 500mb pattern on Monday

Warm upper level ridging overhead, but it’s a “dirty” ridge, meaning weather systems are brushing us early next week (red lines). We also don’t tend to get insanely strong east wind inversions with this setup. By NEXT Saturday, the 15th, it hasn’t changed much. Time for winter to arrive in the eastern USA! This is quite the flip from the past month.

Then even farther out, Friday the 21st. This is the ensemble average 500mb height anomaly, showing above and below normal heights. The same GENERAL pattern continues (Canadian ensembles shown)

Is winter over? Of course not, that would be ridiculous to proclaim on January 7th. But this is a big slowdown after the weather drama the past three weeks!

Looks like ONE ensemble member of the 30 GEFS members tries to bring snow down into the valley…in the next two weeks!

Seems like an excellent time to take my snow-blower in for repair. I did use it with that one snowfall of around 4″. I know…sad.

So…enjoy the much slower weather this upcoming week. Sunday WILL be spectacular with mainly sunny skies all day in much of the metro area. We’ve got strong offshore (easterly) flow, which should clear the fog out most areas west of the Cascades. Too windy in the western Gorge of course, but it’s January, it happens.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

100 Responses to Big Weather Slowdown Heading into Mid-January

  1. MasterNate says:

    Some good information on the big eruption and how that might effect global temps for the next 3 years. Also, looks like February might be our best chance for some winter weather action. Eric also does a model performance comparison for the GFS and the Euro. We all know how this ended.

  2. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Well, the last two GFS runs have been showing a pattern change into what we had in December. Where we start going into a NW to Northly flow and storm after storm comes down the back side of the high pressure system. I know it’s a long ways off and this is only two runs but the Pacific North American Oscillation has been showing a strong signal of a high pressure system moving into Alaska and colder temperatures coming into the PNW.

    We’ll see if this will verify but it looks a little promising 😉🤗🌨

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I forgot to post the days. It looks like it could be around the 28th but more likely around the 30th. We just need to keep a watchful eye on it. Don’t be surprised if the GFS backs off a couple of times, it did that with the last cold snap.

    • I agree! I’ve been noticing it trending more and more every run the last few days.

      Even if we don’t get much Snow, it would still be great for Mountain Snow, and Summer water.

  3. ocpaul says:

    It’s la la land, but, the Pacific North American Oscillation goes strongly negative in the beginning of February. (via Pacific Northwest Weather Watch on Youtube).

  4. 37.2 Currently with a low of 34.1.

  5. JohnD says:

    Went hiking on Hamilton Mtn. today.—w of Cascade Locks/WA side.
    Freezing, windy, 2’+ snow on the summit @ about 2,500’ in a fog bank. But many spectacular scenic vistas enroute. 39’ back at the car at 1:00 p.m. Surprisingly little snow lower Mtn.
    Cascade Locks no doubt was a Gorge bullseye from the Jan 3-4 storm. Still copious snow piles everywhere from plows and drifts. Even still on lawns in many areas.
    Like all of us, still hoping for a major pattern shift by month end.
    This winter so far can be summarized in a word: bizarre!

  6. Roland Derksen says:

    Ho hum, someone wake me up when it’s Groundhog Day. This weather is so boring…. woke up this morning and looked out- could hardly see anything because of the fog. Typical January inversion!

  7. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    46F at 6000ft is just not right I don’t care what anyone says. 10,000ft+ freezing levels are for summer only.

  8. 34.1 currently, with a low of 33.8.

  9. Weatherdan says:

    If Winter isn’t over then it is doing a very good imitation of it. Now I would love to see some more cold and snow but I just don’t see any. Will this lead to an early Spring. Probably, but not definitely. I do feel however another very hot Summer is coming to Oregon in 2022. Today was foggy all day with a high of 40. The freezing level was 10,000 feet though. Peace.

    • Zach says:

      Well its a good thing that intuition doesn’t mean jack when it comes to predicting weather patterns. We have seen this many times before.

    • Paul D says:

      When the grass starts growing and the plants budding because they think it’s spring and the calendar shows January or February, that’s when we have a SNOWSTORM!!

  10. Michael in Curry County (1,700 ft elev) says:

    Greetings from the southwest Coast Range where air temp currently pushing 70F again. Since January 1 I have measured nearly 15” of rain at my property but still not too thrilled by the present version of Mayuary 👻

  11. Currently 38.2 with a low of 32.8.

  12. Last few CFS runs things have looked very good starting around Jan 29th, 30th or 31st.

    Keep an eye on it.

  13. 00z is looking good, the kind of step we need in the models.

    Still has a whole day left to load, which right now has a good storm track at the end, and with arctic air. Once the run is fully loaded it could be something more interesting.

    • Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

      LOL what? I don’t see any sign of arctic air.

      • When I made that comment, the GFS wasn’t 100% loaded yet, and on the last frame that was loaded at the time, 336, it looked good, some arctic air in Western Canada, and a good storm to the west of Alaska coming our way.

        Don’t have to be so impolite about it Evan.

  14. tim says:

    Today’s cpc week 3 and 4 update has us above normal temps, a early spring would be a nice change.

    • Oliver Watson says:

      If we could have plenty of moisture an early spring would be fine. It’s just that our pacific northwest weather thrives on the winter wet season. Unlike the east coast and Midwest we don’t have an opportunity for plenty of moisture in the summer months, so if we don’t get it now and into the spring we are unfortunately in trouble

  15. Roland Derksen says:

    If this weather pattern remains to the end of the month, it will be another warmer and dull January- but that seems to be the norm now, not the exception.

  16. Zach says:

    Its good we saw so much precipitation in the first week of January, because I wouldn’t be surprised if we see less than 1″ the remaining 2-3 weeks.

  17. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Dry as a bone for the next 16 days. It could end up being one of the warmest Januaries on record too. If this is La Niña, I shutter at the thought of our next El Niño winter.

    • JohnD says:

      Well this is what weather science (and the blog) is supposed to be all about I guess. The current entrenched anomalous pattern is a real head scratcher. This was NOT “supposed” to happen this year! Very strange when initially it very much appeared that we could be in for a classic overall PNW winter! Hopefully the two weeks when we did have it will not be the last. Still time. But the next 2 weeks look flat. We all know, however, that February has brought some major action in recent years. Maybe this year too.

    • It will probably have above average precip for the month.

      So far I have recorded 5.73 inches this month, Average is 5.9.

      ECMWF says it will pass Average.

      And so far my temperatures have been below average, I’m guessing by the end of the month it will be slightly above average, but not “It could end up being one of the warmest January’s on record”

      Just because we’ll have a lame 2 weeks, doesn’t mean our Winter is ruined, and you seem to think next Winter is ruined too, it’s not.

      Come on…..

      • Zach says:

        I doubt it man. PDX has 4.33″ of January precipitation as of now, and based on the guidance we may not even see 1″ the next two weeks.

        Like Josh has said, warmer and drier solutions do tend to verify more than cooler / wetter ones. So I do think some pessimism is probably warranted.

  18. Here is the temp anomalies for every month of the year in Salem, and in Portland.

    Portland 2021 Mean temp anomalies.
    January, 4.6 Above average.
    February, 2.2 Below average.
    March, 0.6 Below average.
    April, 2.8 Above average.
    May, 1.7 Above average.
    June, 7.0 Above average.
    July, 4.2 Above average.
    August, 3.7 Above average.
    September, 2.2 Above average.
    October, 0.5 Below average.
    November, 3.7 Above average.
    December, .04 Below average.

    The whole year was 2.18333 Above average in Portland.


    Salem 2021 Mean temp anomalies.
    January, 5.1 Above average.
    February, 0.3 Above average.
    March, 1.2 Below average.
    April, 1.6 Above average.
    May, 2.0 Above average.
    June, 6.9 Above average.
    July, 5.0 Above average.
    August, 4.3 Above average.
    September, 2.4 Above average.
    October, 0.4 Below average.
    November, 3.8 Above average.
    December, 0.0 Above average.

    The whole year was 2.4833333 Above average in Salem.


    • Snomanski says:

      Of course the “average” includes 1990-2010 as well as the third decade. The mean is creeping (leaping?) up constantly. Still quite warm, though. I remember the 1950s when the annual norm in Eugene (where I grew up) was something like 52.5. Them days is gone.

  19. Jake says:

    I’m fine with this prolonged lull. We do need more rain to seep into the aquifers.

    Eastern part of the country seems to be the trend for this month with snowstorms out that way.

    But as far as the mountains go, we’re well into avalanche territory.

    • JohnD says:

      Odd winter all across the land—so many would say. Virtually no snow in Denver—along with mostly anomalously mild overall temps. My wife’s folks are in Boston. More Dec. snow in PDX this season than in Boston. Sooooo rare!
      Just odd. The upper tier is closer to ave. now, however. But many areas are milder than average and way less snowy than typical.
      Time will tell if we get a “Part II” regional/local winter event or not. Sure seems like this is a year that we could.

      • Jake says:

        I really hope we do get a 2nd wave of Winter weather. It has been some time since we’ve had a good Winter. Hated last Winter with this climate change it has me wanting to move.

        I know for Japan they’ve had the heavy snow Winter in their Northern regions across the Pacific which is normal for them. I know for the U.S. we were forecasted to be mild this Winter with the exception of the PNW.

        Typically giving the highest chance of an active Winter for us. Typically.

        We’re very much in a quiet spell but the polar vortex is for sure hitting some parts hard:

  20. 12z CFS looked good, Snowstorm starting on Feb 1st, then an arctic outbreak. It’s 20 days out, but it’s better than seeing nothing.

    I think its safe to say, nothing will happen in January, except the last few days, something is still possible, ruling out out something 16+ days away isn’t very realistic.

    Also, 45.9 currently, with a high of 53.8.

  21. lurkingsince’14 says:

    Spring teaser today for sure! As someone who loves snow, but hates all the near misses and inevitable cold rain, kinda wish it would just stay like this for awhile 😎

  22. West Linn 200 says:

    If it wasn’t for the bald trees, I’d think this was March or even April. It has that “fresh Spring morning” feel when I go outside. I should’ve taken the day off work

    • W7ENK says:

      Point taken, but FYI, most trees here don’t start leafing out until mid April or early May.

      Case in point: April 10th last year

      You can see, my trees are starting to bud, but the leaves didn’t really pop until a couple of weeks later, during and after that first really warm spell (while I was being snowed on every day in Colorado). I noticed a marked difference in the trees when I got back, especially driving back down thru the Gorge.

      • West Linn 200 says:

        Do you have a lot of shade on that side of your property? Our neighborhood trees start budding around Feb 20 due to the open sky. Some years we have lots of cherry trees and such with tons of flowers by Feb 20. By April pretty much everything is covered with leaves.

        Feb 29:

        Mar 3:

        April 12 near North Fork Reservoir off Hwy 224:

        • W7ENK says:

          Full sun until 4pm almost every day of the year. The one on the left (center) is a fruiting Cherry, the one on the right is a Filbert.

        • Mountain Man says:

          I can remember Mark doing a comparison of the leafing out of trees in a post, it can change by about a month. He showed pictures of the same spot, I think it was in the cost range. A cold spring like we were having a decade ago and then the warm spring that year. Total dormant trees on April 1st one spring, then the current April 1st when he did that post of totally blossomed and leafing out trees. You’re both right depending on what years you remember most. 50 in March you got dormant trees with just some buds, 70 in March, you have 🌸 and 🌿 ! Even last year, my trees didn’t fully leaf out until mid-late April, but then again my climate is a little colder and much wetter.

        • West Linn 200 says:

          I also have a fruiting cherry tree and filbert. Those two and the fig tree are the last to come in on my property and the last to drop leaves as well. In fact the filbert tree still has some leaves hanging on, but it lost most of them in mid-December I think, possibly even Christmas week.

  23. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    The entire Sacramento Valley and even LA is colder than Portland. Crazy. Likely due to clear skies though.

    • When you said this, it was 44 at the Portland international Airport, KPDX.

      And it was 61 at the Los Angeles international Airport, KLAX.

      And it was 43 at the Sacramento international Airport, KSMF.

      One of your statements was barely correct, and your other statement was 19 degrees away from correct.

  24. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    It’s so unbelievably warm out right now.

  25. Ken in Wood Village says:

    This is the day after the big snowstorm of 1/10/2017

  26. West Linn 200 says:

    Welp, looks like January might be a dud from this point on. Mild and relatively dry forecast going forward. We saw this happen last year as well if I remember correctly. Honestly I wouldn’t mind it either if the impact on my fruit trees wasn’t so bad with the wild temp fluctuations.

    As for arctic activity, If something is going to happen in Feb, I’d put my money on the same time-frame as last year: around Valentine’s Day. Hopefully no ZR this year 🤞

    • OLIVER WATSON says:

      We really need plenty of moisture and cold from now till April to catch up on our drought and ward off severe fires this year. Losing out on January cold and snow doesn’t help the situation

  27. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Washington is about to get hit by another AR 🥺

  28. Ignore Tim, the sun angle statements confirm the obvious, he’s a troll.

    Responding to attention desperate Tim is like giving a bird a little bit of food, they’ll start asking for more, like Tim, he starts saying more ridiculous things for attention, because you gave him attention earlier now he expects more.

    Ignore him, he’s a troll.

    • W7ENK says:

      Troll, indeed. He started whining about the increased sun angle (or sun angels?) two days after the Winter Solstice. It’s obvious that he only looks at the CPC outputs, and has absolutely no idea what he’s even talking about. I don’t take anything this kids says seriously, and neither should anyone else. I wish he would just go away entirely, he has yet to contribute anything of value to this forum.

  29. tim says:

    Correction, Sun angle

    • Information says:

      So I assume you weren’t alive in Feb 1989? As everyone knows whose lived here we can have arctic blasts well
      into February.

      • Mountain Man says:

        I remember 89 well, even an Arctic front on March 1st that year giving Portland one night in the teens, but hey, Feb 2014 was not bad as a back door event either. Plenty can happen in February, including last year, which outperformed this last event for some people. Not according to Tim, he has a different perspective, let him be Tim, most of us know better.

    • Snomanski says:

      I like sun angels better.

  30. tim says:

    06z gfs is a outliar even if it happen it would be fighting a high sun angel at that point the artic air window is shutting now as we quickly approcah spring

  31. Hey everybody, look at the 06z GFS!

    Snowstorm on Sunday the 23rd

    And an arctic outbreak!

    12z GFS didn’t agree, but atleast there’s something to pay attention to now.

    • OLIVER WATSON says:

      Unfortunately our temps didn’t pan out for the last arctic outbreak and there’s no reason to believe it they would for this one. You can’t even trust the models 3-4 days out let alone 13 days

    • Diana F. says:

      Hank did you just jinx this storm 🤷🏻‍♀️🤣🤣?

  32. ocpaul says:

    Michael, at Pacific Northwest Weather Watch, is still showing modeling toward colder for us. End of Jan to early Feb

    • Diana F. says:

      Hey OCPaul- Yes I really enjoy how he works the models! It’s great to get his very educated opinions and he shows us exactly what the models are saying and how he’s interpreting-his Channel is grear— I’m Moxie Vintage over there, do you watch the Lives?

    • Andrew says:

      Signals are definitely strong. Unfortunately ensembles keep cold air well to our east through late January. Ridge also wants to stay somewhat over us rather than move to prime western position. I would really encourage people to avoid the deterministic models outside of five days and focus instead on the ensemble ranges and means. You introduce an element of chaos theory into trying to analyze the deterministic view that can generate wildly inaccurate projections. Ensembles are far from “accurate” but they at least consider a much wider range of outcomes and greatly limit the noise of outliers. Right now ensembles aren’t indicating really any cold/snow chances through the 27th. I think any action will have to wait until way end of January or beginning of February, which is consistent with long range outlook.

  33. Recorded .11 inches of freezing rain, from about 5:40 AM to 8:10 AM.

    Nothing accumulated.

  34. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Today (5 years ago) was an amazing night. There are two things I remember on this day.

    The first one was having to call an ambulance for my mom for the first time. She was acting really strange (she had a lot of confusion) lately and she was having bathroom accidences. Find out later, she had a really bad UTI. I wanted to get her into the hospital during the day because I knew we had the possibility of snow that night.

    I remember Mark saying we would be seeing snow mixed with rain during the day but when I was at the hospital and went outside, all we had was snow showers (flurries) and I knew then that when the moisture came, it would just be all snow and when the moisture came, it was just snow, and it was heavy. It snowed for hours, we had between 6 and 8 inches of snow.

    These images are from that night. It snowed much more by morning.

    I wish we could see another snowstorm like this…hehe.

    • Diana F. says:

      It was a great one! And I am feeling pretty certain we will get more snow before March!
      (And yup UTI’s often cause major confusion in older folks— hydration is exceedingly important as we age 🙌🏽. We forget to drink, we don’t like water, we don’t eat enough fresh fruits and veggies, we don’t want to have to worry about finding a bathroom when we’re out and about-the list goes on!)

    • West Linn 200 says:

      This was one of my favorite snow storms in many years. I built some really cool snow structures with the kids and it was dead quiet outside for once.

  35. West Linn 200 says:

    It hit 54 between Hillsboro and Beaverton today. That’s warm for early January, especially when you consider the freezing temps for most of the morning. I think Tues and Wed will be around 54-55 also. Our January average is between 45-47 yes?

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Average high today is 47. Topped out at 48 at my place. I get higher lows and lower highs than most of the metro area on clear days due to the heavy tree cover. Weather sure looks boring for the foreseeable future. More like July than January.

    • Michael says:

      Years ago getting my contracting biz off the ground, building a deck in January, customer noticed I was working in a T shirt came outside and said, ”look at the thermometer” ! It was 70 degrees for about a half an hour. I had several good weather days on that job. Can’t remember the year but, was around 1985 somewhere along in there. That was a fun job.

  36. Zach says:

    I think it’s interesting so many seem to think 45-49F is warm for Portland in January. Lol, that’s average. We just live in a mild climate. Move to Joseph if you want consistent Frigid weather 4 months out of the year.

  37. runrain says:

    Sitting on my patio and it’s WARM! Winter is a distant memory for the time being.

  38. OC550 says:

    Nothing wrong or unusual with a dry stretch even in winter. We’ve had a very eventful last month or so. Hopefully in two weeks, weather activity will return. This is just halftime. Even mother nature needs a break once in a while.

  39. Paul D says:

    You can tell all the fun weather is gone because the comments have slowed to almost nothing.

  40. Andrew says:

    The next couple weeks will likely be uneventful and lead to many people proclaiming an end to winter. But the longer term forecasts still hold to a pattern change by end of the month. What the models aren’t showing yet is a reloading of cold air over western canada. However that can change quickly and I’ve read elsewhere there is particular uncertainty right now with what will happen in polar regions over next few weeks.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      We don’t often get 2 cold spells in January:Usually it’s either at the start of the month or the end. So we’ll see what develops!

    • JohnD says:

      I’m sort of personally targeting Jan 20th as a point when something compelling should be showing upstream—at least at the edge of “lala land” by then—coming to fruition in early Feb. But then, I’m a “wishcaster” with the best of them!

  41. Scott Reeves says:

    Put a fork in this winter

  42. Emmanuel says:

    Maybe end of January ends on a cold spell but future cast not looking very cold going into the 24th Earlier this month had predicted January outlook for NW much colder then average very mild so far I was expecting a more active January

  43. W7ENK says:

    A few dry days and a little bit of sunshine will be a nice reprieve from the mayhem of the last several weeks.

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