A Mild January! No Sign of Cold, Snowy, or Stormy Weather

9pm Monday…

We just “endured” a 2nd consecutive dry weekend, and we’re likely headed for a 3rd. How many times can you remember several rain-free January weekends in Portland? Rare, although not unheard of.

As mentioned in my post 9 days ago, the weather pattern changed after the first week of January. We’ve only seen .30″ rain in 10 days!

That’s because the jet stream has been weaker and farther north (than typical) the past 10 days. It appears this continues for ANOTHER 10 days. The highlights, which look very similar to my post from 9 days back…

  • All models agree the next 10 days will feature mild weather with relatively weak weather systems
  • Temperatures remain near or above normal through at least 27th
  • There’s no sign of a cool/wet pattern OR low elevation snow/ice west of the Cascades during this time
  • A cool and/or snowy January isn’t in the cards for this La Nina winter.
  • But we don’t know what is ahead for February; there’s always a chance we get “Winter v2.0” next month

Check out the 500 millibar anomaly forecast from the ECMWF model for the next 10 days. Warm colors are higher than average heights and cooler = lower. Those colors generally correspond to warmer/cooler down here at sea level too. So yes, a mild western USA and frigid (at times) Eastern USA for at least the next 10 days. If you can’t see the animation, try here

3 weak systems make it through the weak ridging this week, tomorrow through Thursday. I expect less than 1/2″ rain in the western lowlands. Then that ridge pops up this weekend, even stronger. Check out midday Saturday 500mb GFS model forecast; other models are similar. That’s a very warm ridge!

Depending on the exact location of that ridge, we will get either some or strong offshore (easterly) flow. That will determine whether we have another fog/clouds episode in the valleys or turn sunny. I’m feeling very confident that next weekend could be spectacular along the coastline. No, no one is giving me free saltwater taffy (for example) to write this. But inversions aren’t as much of a problem out at the beaches; some of you could hit the 60s along the coastline either Saturday or Sunday.

This winter is running close to average so far. December slightly cooler than average (at PDX) and January slightly warm. Official numbers for December are out and it was cooler than normal in western Oregon and warmer than average (just a bit) east of the mountains. Remember the really cold air only briefly moved south into northern Oregon last month. My gut feeling is that this present mild/dry spell in the middle of our La Nina winter is likely just a break from the cool and wet. I’d be VERY surprised if we stayed dry/mild into February/March. By the way, the USA as a whole was very warm!

That’s it for now, enjoy the rest of the week!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

86 Responses to A Mild January! No Sign of Cold, Snowy, or Stormy Weather

  1. OLIVER WATSON says:

    Does anyone know what the PNA is right now and where it’s forecasted to go

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Forecasted to go neutral to slightly negative by early February. It is currently weakly/moderately positive.

  2. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    I appreciate the optimism here, but what I see is a whole lot more ridging after a couple day reprieve next week. Bo Ring. Maybe our summer pattern can start in January this year instead of March like last year?

  3. Andrew says:

    Very stark model disagreement between GFS and EURO right now. GFS ensembles suggest a couple chances of much colder air over next three weeks. EURO is very mild and dry with ridging forming again. Right now, EURO is in fork territory for sure. Even I can’t deny that. King EURO has earned that moniker for a reason. But I find it hard to believe we’d really endure a month of mild ridging after new year in a moderate la niña. It defies everything we know about weather patterns. Worth noting, neither model is particularly snowy. EURO ensembles obviously have next to nothing. GFS better but no indication of a big event. I don’t put much stock into that element at this point. patterns emerge much ahead of actual weather systems.

  4. I think its close enough to the pattern change, I’ll say my thoughts. By the way, sorry I haven’t put in much input lately.

    The mountains are guaranteed to get a good scoring out of this, I would say the Skii resorts could get 30 inches of accumulations next week, maybe a little more. And 50-60 inches of Snowfall, which is not the same as accumulation. Look at the 00z GFS from now to next Sunday.

    For valley Snow, and Cold, I wouldn’t put my money on it, but its definitely possible. I think next week will be much more favorable the farther north in the valley you are, IF it snows, remember, IF. I think higher elevation could help alot too. Also the good news, no freezing rain. Heres a look, at the last few GFS runs, from now to next Thursday.
    12z GFS.

    06z GFS.

    00z GFS. With much less.

    I’ll update after the 00z, and I’ll update again after the next 12z, and so on,

    Remember, don’t get your hopes up for valley Snow. But if Mountain man wants more snow, I would say it’s a guarantee and you can get your hopes up.


    • W7ENK says:

      at 13km resolution, that’s a no-snow scenario for PDX metro and the WV. Looks like a classic 500-1000 ft snow level setup to me.

      It is, however, a step in the right direction.

    • Mountain Man says:

      Yes I been watching Hank, I’ll get something quite likely, even the ECMWF gives me a couple chances, but it definitely doesn’t agree with the GFS.

  5. boydo3 says:

    Larry is down at the bottom of the cliff. Grill is warming up and fork is in hand.

  6. JohnD says:

    For me, having the last 3 weeks (and counting) of blah weather is starting to erode my fervor. December had its punch—and definitely (especially for some) manifest major events—to the point that many of us were thinking that a historical winter could, indeed, be in store.
    But since early Jan., quite the contrary.
    Especially frustrating when the overall atmospheric and climatic features were heralding the potential for this winter—when in many years they simply do not.
    And now that February is looming, the upstream signals—while at least finally offering some intrigue, are anything but certain.
    I guess this is to say that I have definitely not thrown in the towel yet; but It won’t be too much longer before the signals will need to gain some traction or I—personally—will disappointingly be looking at the towel bin.
    Definitely still time. Guess I’m just getting impatient.

    • Barry says:

      You know John, my thoughts exactly. Some people scored in December more than others, while yes I did see snow falling 4 to 5 times. Mere sticking of a dusting twice and about an inch one day before melting off mid day. I’m yearning for that 4 to 6 inch 2 to 3 day event. I understand all ingredients have to align for this to happen, damn South wind! But i love to see it at least once a winter. It has been active past few February’s here but those are mainly night events and melts during day. I want my one winter fix like last February it lasted 3 to 4 days and bout 13 inches. And for people who say move. I want at least one a year. And more than that is a bonus. I’m still hoping for this winter. That is all…

    • Mike says:

      I’m wondering if there are any others here that have thoughts about the amount of pollutant china bestows on our atmosphere and if that has anything to do with the weakened jet stream we are experiencing so often. Love to hear your thoughts. Thank you in advance.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      John, i can understand your frustration- I don’t mind a few days of this “blah weather’ but after a week, I want something more than fog and low clouds as well. But don’t give up hope, snow is still a possibility.

  7. OC550 says:

    Alright. That’s it. I’m ready for more snow in the mountains. The break from the wild weather was nice, but I don’t need it to last any longer. Hopefully change on its way early next week.

  8. Low of 27.1 and currently 31.9 at my home.

  9. West Linn 200 says:

    Wow people mentioning the fork in January lol. Very premature… that kind of talk is usually reserved for March and even then:

    I also don’t buy what the GFS has been selling. Looks too weird to me and there’s been considerable model instability over it. Maybe once it enters the 7-day window and there’s agreement on the Euro operational and ensembles, but for now it’s still lala land.

  10. Zach says:

    12z gfs very cold in the longer range.

  11. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    OMG look at the 850mb temps to our north on the last day of the 18z. Basically December ocean effect snow but colder.

  12. Andrew says:

    I would appreciate if someone here could help explain the distinction of the mean and control averages on the meteogram charts. i’m generally familiar with the conceptual definitions of each in a statistical context but would like to better understand their function in weather charting. Part of my motivation for asking is that all three major models show strong deviations between the mean and control lines heading into early February with controls dropping temps significantly lower, into arctic air territory. So far out it doesn’t much matter but I would like to understand the underlying drivers. thanks!

    • Good question. Mean is the average between the ensembles, which in some weather event’s can be very misleading, for example, last February’s cold snow and ice, the ensemble mean was misleading by the time we were at the event, may not have been that way for Portland, since ice was less likely, but I think you get the point. And the June heatwave, ensemble mean wasn’t very accurate for the Monday heat, because either the marine air would push in on time, or it wouldn’t, there was no in-between.

      And control is the main run.

      It’s better to pay attention to the control run over the ensemble mean. But the most important thing is looking at the trend for ensembles. Not the mean or control.

      Hope this is helpful.

      • Andrew says:

        Very helpful. thanks. I still find it a little confusing that there would be a “main run” for an ensemble forecast. Isn’t the whole point of ensemble forecasting that you are looking at a collection of runs, not a single one? I also am curious how a control member compares to a deterministic model run. My understanding that deterministic forecasting is optimized for short term with many more inputs that become problematic in a long term view, but clearly I don’t have deep knowledge on the topic.

  13. Andrew says:

    As of this morning, 23 of the 30 GFS ensemble members have measurable snow between now and Feb. 7. About half the EURO members include snow during that timeframe. Any talk of forking winter in the face of that kind of data is completely ludicrous. I don’t see any imminent cold/snow events but we appear to transition into a pattern that can generate winter weather, enough so that the ensembles are starting to light up. I would entertain the idea of considering winter over if the persistent ridging and unseasonably warm upper level temps showed no signs of ending. But that simply isn’t the case here.

  14. lurkingsince’14 says:

    Glorious weekend on the oregon coast, glad we got out of town for a bit. Sounds like the forks might be coming out?

  15. tim says:

    Spring cometh and summer blaze.

  16. Scott Reeves says:

    Fork its coming out

  17. Weatherdan says:

    No lowland snow through at least 2,6,2022. Our chances for any more sticking snow on the Valley floor are less than 20% after that in any year. By the end of February less than 5%. This is not to say that it won’t happen. But things are looking bleak. On the other hand daffodils and crocuses are now in bloom. Well maybe next year. Peace.

    • Jim says:

      That’s 15 days out. Any model showing snow and you would poo poo that for being too far out. But in this case you seem certain. Ridiculous

  18. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    18z doing what it does best.

  19. Roland Derksen says:

    It’s quite surprising how long it takes for really old snow to melt. i just came from a local supermarket where a pile of that crusty stuff was gathered. That’s left from over 2 weeks ago. I can recall as a child one year we had a really snowy winter . The nearby gas station had it all pushed into one place and it made quite a mound. It lasted for several months- I still saw a remnant of it at the start of June that year!

    • Diana F. says:

      True! We had 10 foot mounds all over the place last year..for 4 months! It was great on dog walks. We could make/throw snowballs every day! #goodtimes

  20. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    After <1” of rain in the last two weeks, this is the next 10 days. Very, very dry for this time of year. Especially in a La Niña.

  21. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    Pattern change to more seasonable weather hopefully around Feb 1. Then who knows.

  22. ocpaul says:

    Michael Snyder still calling for pattern change early in Feb.
    Cold solutions on model runs. Hate to get too hopeful.
    The good stuff begins about 8 minutes in.

  23. West Linn 200 says:

    Not sure about anyone else, but today’s forecast was a bust for me. Started out sunny and clear, but quickly turned cloudy later in the morning through most of the afternoon. It did get a little brighter about 15 min ago only to turn gloomy again. Hopefully it’ll be the opposite tomorrow and we get a full day of sunshine.

    Inversions are so annoying… remember when we had one during the massive 2020 fire and it kept the valley blanketed with smoke far longer than forecast? Yuck.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      I remember because it kept us in the 60s instead of the 90s. I actually enjoy inversions this time of year. At least it feels like winter. Cold and gloomy.

  24. UGH says:

    Why can’t Portland EVER have decent weather? Sunny day, well you gotta have wind with it but you’ll probably end up with a cloudy day anyways. Sunny morning, not until the marine layer burns off. Sunny winter day, not if an inversion has anything to say about it. Normal rain, nope we get an atmospheric river. Decent snowstorm, hahaha, you get heavy snow that then turns to solid ice.

    I don’t count the 2 weeks we get in the spring, summer and fall every season as “good weather”. Portland and the valley have the worst weather out of anywhere I have been in the US. “But we don’t get this type of weather or that type of weather…so be thankful”. No one should ever be thankful for the weather here, it sucks immensely, comparatively to a lot of other places for sure.

    • Jim says:

      Hahahahaha. Really?

    • W7ENK says:


      You must be new here.

    • West Linn 200 says:

      You’ve never been to Hilo, Hawaii I take it. That is some awful weather. Hot, humid, and unpredictable torrential rains at any given moment. The weather forecast is basically useless there. Although paradise is only an hour or so drive away, so maybe it’s not the same 😁

      • UGH says:

        Spent a lot of time on both O’ahu and Maui and traversed both islands. It is wild how much different the weather is depending on which side of the island one is on. You are 100% correct, it doesn’t take long to get to paradise there. If it were only so easy here.

  25. Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

    12z GFS ice storm on Feb 5

  26. Andrew says:

    Pattern in models is looking better for first week of Feb. Definitely not a homerun by any means. As it stands we’d prob be on wrong side of marginal. But this does look like a pattern that could give us access to some colder air, especially if the arctic air reloads a bit over western canada. i’m just pattern watching at this point so far out, and the signs are generally encouraging.

  27. Patrick b says:

    I think, at least the first two weeks of February, there will be a snow event in the northern Willamette Valley, and after that it may be too late, just my thoughts.

  28. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    The GFS looks awesome… 350 hours from now.

  29. tim says:

    Cpc seasonal update jan 20th summer outlook is looking well above normal again, what’s new.

  30. Roland Derksen says:

    For three out of the last four years, February has been my coldest month, and 3 out of the last 5 years, it also had been my snowiest month. So the chances are pretty good that something intresting will happen again.

  31. Weatherdan says:

    Let me make something perfectly clear. While I do expect a very hot Summer in 2022, I do not desire day after day over 100. I would be just fine with a high of 88 everyday. But rather I expect a very hot Summer because our planet is heating up at an alarming pace. And unless we do something to reverse global warming we should expect our Summers to be longer and hotter almost every year. For the most part I comment on what weather I see coming, not necessarily what I desire it to be. Since none of us can change the weather in the short term we take what we get. If I could I would make today a snowy day. But I can’t so I will call for continued mild and dry. We shouldn’t criticize one another for stating reality as they see it. After all that is why this blog exists. We may just see a model differently than someone else. In the meantime as the old adage states hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Peace

    • Mike says:

      We were talking about the ‘greenhouse effect’ way back in 1970. Interesting we get to see it coming now. I’m still not 100 % sure it’s all the smog that’s doing it as we have been getting further and further away from an ice age as we move along too. I do think smog, esp. contrails have lots to do with it. I am noticing more of a general environmental degredation everywhere across the board, in many things. One example as the loss of bird populations in my forested land. It’s astounding the amount of loss from what was just 20 yrs ago. One thing to considere perhaps is the massive cold (-225 degrees F) all around the earth
      in space. I can only hope it starts having effect again.

  32. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Well, the 00Z GFS is a little off which is to be expected. The Euro is starting to show the pattern change around the 28th too. Let’s hope this trend continues for the next couple of days 🤗🌨❄☃️

  33. tim says:

    whos ready for spring?, well i am and another blazing hot summer too and so is weather dan.

  34. Paul D says:

    Getting the fork ready.

  35. Ken in Wood Village says:

    There IS going to be a pattern change around the 28th. For right now, we don’t know how much of a pattern change it will be. We didn’t know back in December either until we got to the event. The models are just really picking it up and won’t know much until the start of next week.

    Again, we will see a pattern change by the end of next week. How much cold air will we get is still unknown for now.

    All we can do is watch how the models interpret the data. 🤗😇🌨❄☃️

    • Andrew says:

      Agree. Definitely shift to a better pattern by end of next week according to ensembles. It’s actually a good pattern for us generally (ridge sitting nicely to our northwest giving us a more northern flow) but models aren’t giving us much cold air to access. temps would be marginal at best at this point. hoping the pattern persists and we see some of that colder air shift more to west. in that case, we’d be in business. at least there is something to finally keep an eye on.

    • W7ENK says:

      You guys are both talking about Day 10 in definite terms again.

      “There IS going to be”
      “we will see a pattern change”
      “it is going to…”
      “Definitely shift”

      All you achieve with language like that is priming this blog for a bunch of butthurt and bellyaching if and when your “definite pattern change” falls through, or at the very least gets pushed back another week to 10 days. Lest I remind you, that’s exactly what happened last time? What was supposed to start a few days before Christmas got pushed back by more than a week and evaporated down from “epic cold and snow!” to a couple mornings with a mere skiff of snow for most that melted off well before sundown each day.

      Just sit tight. If your signal for the 28th is still there in 6 more days (that puts is on the 24th) then sure, let’s all get excited about it. Until then, please…

      My thoughts: On the 24th, this pattern change will still be out there at day 10, which places arrival around Feb 3rd. By the 30th, it’ll be pushed back to around the 7th or 8th, and then it should start marching inward on the calendar, with a true arrival of the 10th. Just in time for a February 2021 redux.

      • Ken in Wood Village says:

        Really. There is going to be an overall pattern change. Get over it. It will be better than having a death ridge. I’m tired of you being cynical. Remember, this blog is for people to speak what they see in the models.

        • W7ENK says:

          Cool it Ken, I’m speaking from a place of well justified reason, not cynicism. I don’t doubt you that there is indeed a pattern change coming, I just doubt it will happen in 9 days, like all 400-some other times there’ve been pattern changes on the horizon since I’ve been on this planet.

          Watch it push out at least another 10 days, is all I’m saying. That’s not a slight against you Ken, it’s a comment on the typical behavior of the models. You can’t deny, we’ve watched that exact sequence unfold countless times, haven’t we? As recently as just one month ago, remember?? My claim is based in well-documented fact. So why should I expect this one to be any different?

  36. Weatherdan says:

    Up until the 7th or so of February snow isn’t all that unusual. But after that the chances of it drops off rather drastically. Not to say that it won’t snow after 2,7,2022 but I see no sign of it either. I would really like to see a snowstorm of at least 6 inches that lasts at least 3 days. But wanting it and seeing it in the models are two entirely different things. On the other hand I see no freezing rain either, and I consider that a real blessing.

    • Andrew says:

      I think you’re generally correct but we’ve sure seen active mid and late Februaries of late, often following periods of inactivity which lead many to proclaim winter is over. A few active years doesn’t make for a true trend but I can’t help but wonder if one of regional impacts of climate change for us is greater snow/ice chances in February than the historical data would indicate.

      Clearly this pattern is here to stay for near term but its persistence would be highly unusual for a la niña. I suspect February will be a return to at least mountain snow.

  37. West Linn 200 says:

    All the way out in GFS la la land aka the infamous “end of the run”, is looking more interesting. If the ridging between California and Hawaii moves further to the west, we might be in business. If it moves more north-west, it’ll give us the same pattern we had during last month’s winter event.

  38. LakeItEasy says:

    Thank you for this. Your weather blog is always complete, helpful, and easy to understand. Much appreciated.

  39. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Thank you for the update Mark 🤗

    What I do read between the lines is that we could be going into another pattern change by the end of the month. There are indication from some of the models we will start seeing cooler than average temperatures around the 28th. Not sure if we could see snow in the valley but we most likely see more snow to very low elevations.

    It’s just a waiting period for now. Time to start watching the models more often 😉🤗🌨❄☃️

  40. W7ENK says:


    And no light at the end of the tunnel… 😢

    • Mike says:

      Not too Bad as I can get out and cut down some problem trees. When the leaves are gone it’s a much easier job of cleaning up.

      Thank you Mark Nelson.

    • JohnD says:

      “I’d be VERY surprised if we stayed dry/mild into February/March.” (Mark Nelson, as above.) Seems like that’s some light at the end of the tunnel!

      • W7ENK says:

        Thinking and/or hoping there should be a proverbial light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is not the same thing as actually seeing a proverbial light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It’s pure speculation, there’s nothing of substance behind his statement.

        One thing I can guarantee, there is virtually zero chance of any snowfall on the 31st. It hasn’t happened in 46 years now, and I’m convinced that it won’t happen again until the Jan 31st after my death, because that’s how this Universe works.

        Oh, and who the heck is Mark NelsOn?

        • JohnD says:

          I appreciate your erudite weather astuteness Erik. Always have over all these blog years. A bit of that in myself, I like to think. Irrespective of your prior analysis, the statement rendered by Mark NelsEn is significant in that he typically doesn’t provide many hints at personal biases especially so far out in time. So this time, yeah, his comment may be suggestive of a bit of light—“tunnelwise”—or otherwise. At least that is how I personally choose to construe it!
          And—btw—I’m fully aware of Mark’s last name correct spelling. The prior indiscretion attributable to
          “fast fingers” and a too quick—proof read!😊
          Happy Weather Watching!

    • MasterNate says:

      Glass half empty Eric? The weather is always changing and being stuck in a pattern like we are in now will surely change soon. There are indices that point to a return to our December pattern sometime early February. One thing is for sure. Change is constant when it comes to weather.

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