Another Snow-Free January Plus A Look Into Early February

8pm Tuesday…

Here we are in the last few days of January; time is flying! It’ll go down as a mild and uneventful month…after that stormy/rainy first week.


  • Temperatures have been about normal. Warm November, Cool December, then slightly warm January. Nothing real interesting.
  • Precipitation is still above normal for this water season that starts October 1st. Right now PDX is just a touch under a typical January rain-wise. But rain/showers Sunday & Monday should put us just a bit above average for this month. We haven’t had a drier than average month since August!
  • Snowpack is running near normal for late January across most of Oregon. But it’s still well above average in the northern/central Oregon Cascades. If we want to get out of the drought still plaguing much of the state, we’re going to need a wet/snowy February and March! Just “average” isn’t going to cut it.
  • Those 7 days at the end of December were fun with snow at times in the lowlands, but outside of that we haven’t seen any more snow or freezing rain.


  • There’s no sign of a big arctic freeze or widespread lowland snow through the first week of February
  • Stormy weather (strong south wind or heavy rain) is unlikely in the next 10 days
  • Most likely we’ll be drier than normal the next 10 days

You can see the stats for PDX this water year…a bit under 2 FEET of rain this season so far

About double that at Astoria, around 4 FEET of rain

Lots of that was “warm” rain in October, November, and early January. So snowpack about average now across much of Oregon, but better up in NW corner

The weather pattern is relatively straightforward this last week of January and into first few days of February. Big upper-level ridge overhead has been keeping us dry. Warm mountains/beaches and cool (normal) valleys. Please appreciate the nice 1st grade quality annotations I’ve put on these maps.

By late this Saturday the ridge has weakened and a cool trough (dip in jet stream) is approaching

By late Monday a transition has occurred. The ridge wants to pop up again just west of the West Coast. This is a cool-ish pattern for us; a cold trough is dropping through the Pacific Northwest.

Snow levels will crash Sunday through Tuesday. For the weather geeks, 850mb temps down around -5 to -6 Monday/Tuesday. If there are still showers around, a dusting is possible above 1,000′ during that time.

Finally some snow in the Cascades!

Models have been waffling around a bit about what occurs those first few days of February. The ECMWF and GEM have been insistent on keeping the ridging nearby for a drier than normal weather pattern the first week of February. The GFS (surprise!) keeps wanting to dig a cold trough south over us at some point next week, down the back side of the ridge. Notice the difference in placement of the upper-level height anomaly. GEM/ECMWF look like this for February 1st-7th. Mild and drier than normal

ECMWF is especially pathetic with lowland snow, giving us almost no chance through February 8th

Meanwhile, look at the GFS keeping ridging a bit farther west the first week of February. Still drier than normal, but some cold troughs would swing much closer to us for a very cold Rockies/Central USA

That’s it for now. Enjoy the fog/sun mix the next few days!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

65 Responses to Another Snow-Free January Plus A Look Into Early February

  1. South Burlingame 456 says:

    I don’t chime in that often, but I will now to agree with W7ENK. This comment section is pretty close to soap opera level drama over winter ending. If the PNW has taught me anything, the weather here is full of surprises. The people who scoff at a cold pattern 2 weeks out are the same who latch on to a dry pattern 2 weeks out and call it the end of winter.

  2. W7ENK says:

    JFC, y’all are hilarious with your forks and whatnot.
    It’s still January, FFS!!

    I’d encourage you to go back one year and read the comments in the blog. You might see the recurring theme that I’ve been witnessing here for (at least) the last 12 years. Then compare the graphic above to the one from Mark’s February 1st post from last year:

    And we all know what happened just 14 days later…

    So stop with this “Oh, whoa is me, Winter is over, boo-hoo-hoooo!” garbage. You sound ridiculous and pathetic.

    And stop putting stock in the models beyond Day 10!! This works both ways, for both the “Epic cold and snow” enthusiasts, and the “Death ridge” crybabies.

    • Oliver Watson says:

      I’m not talking about our snow chances being over or being overly sad about lack of cold and snow in the lowlands. It’s just that even though we are above normal in the precip department these long dry spells are just a sign of things to come for the foreseeable future. We need as much moisture as possible from October to June or so to prevent drought and terribly dry fire weather. If we could have a monsoon season in July and August with plenty of moisture I wouldn’t even be worried but our rainy season is during this time of year and if we don’t get it now through may we don’t stand a chance for summer

    • West Linn 200 says:


      Oh, whoa is me

      • West Linn 200 says:

        My point up emoji was meant for agreement with W7 btw. Stupid WordPress just decides to throw in Oliver’s and pretend it happened 10 minutes before I posted

      • W7ENK says:

        Bit by autocorrect, once again!!

        If I don’t actually see the word flip, I’ll usually catch it in review before hitting [Post Comment], but I neglected to take that extra step this time. 🤦🏼‍♂️

        I guess it would be apropos now:
        Woe is me!! 😂🤣

    • Andrew says:

      Touché…it’s the death riddling that brings it out. when 850mb temps are hovering between 8 and 12 degrees celsius it’s a little hard to have hope. But your inclusion of the graph from last year is hugely instructive. I often find myself craving some of that historical context; what was conversation like two weeks ahead of previous big events? what were the pattern signals? I think what this shows is that these shifts can happen rather quickly (though i’m pretty sure we weren’t mired in a death ridge leading into last Feb’s event). I welcome more of that.

      On a side note, we appear to flirt with at least some conversational snow by middle of next week. looks like some of colder arctic air is going to swing into our region when the front passes. It will be moderated significantly by traversing ocean but may be just cold enough to generate some air flakage. 500-1000 feet seems like a safe bet to at least see something.

    • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

      Amazing point W7ENK!

      And its not even Feb 1st yet, it’s January 28th!

    • Zach says:

      Agreed. There are some very melodramatic people on this forum.

  3. tim says:

    Since storm season started in september which is earlier then most i think a early spring is likely this year so i agree with weatherdan winter is over, mostly sunny and 48 now.

  4. Weatherdan says:

    Stick a fork in this Winter because it’s done. The worst we should expect from this time forward is a few wet mixed flakes in the air. This Winter is pretty much average this year so far. In both precipitation. Average snowfall as well. Not an epic Winter at all. But after the 3 big extreme events since September I am not complaining. Peace.

  5. OLIVER WATSON says:

    I appreciate your thoughts on this subject fellas and I have wondered how variable the climate was before man was able to have an affect on it because of pollutants and deforestation but what man is doing to the planet in the way of polluting the air, water, and soil as well as removing things like trees from our environment seems like it would have an effect on our climate. Our earth was created to have a certain climate system that
    Supports life. With this extreme weather that system is out of wack and threatening the life of many. Already in the Pacific Northwest these fires and drought the last few years has shown that. We can’t continue to sustain life on this planet or regionally with such massive disruptions in our climate. It’s severely affecting our health and economy. That’s not a political statement it’s the gospel truth. Thankfully the ultimate fate of this planet is not in our irresponsible hands

    • South Burlingame 456 says:

      The earth will survive and adapt, as it always has. Humans however, we might not be so lucky to make Darwin’s cut if we continue on so recklessly polluting our home.

  6. Oliver Watson says:

    The title of the YouTube video is ” is this the real reason the weather is getting wilder”

  7. Oliver Watson says:


    I was watching a nine minute video on YouTube about why the we are having such extreme weather. Some research done by Judah Cohen and another researcher suggest that because there is warming of the planet it has caused the jet stream has to move further north but also to be more wavy or amplified. I wonder what marks thoughts are on that or any one else on the blog. Also does anyone have insight as to why the when the jet stream is more amplified it overwhelmingly favors troughy east and ridgy west. In December the amplified pattern favored us for a trough but it only lasted 3 weeks where as the central and east united States can have troughs for months on end. I think that is the key to our weather. It almost seems like pdo, enso, solar cycle, ect doesn’t affect our weather as much anymore. Any of those indices being favorable for us doesn’t mean much in the way of a slam dunk for an active weather pattern. I really think these researchers are on to something

    • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

      Eventually it will make a difference.

      But as of right now, it’s only 1.8 degrees, not enough to make a difference like that. I don’t think everything should be blames on climate change.

    • ocpaul says:

      The 4-5 billion years of earth’s climate change have seen glaciers carve out the great lakes…and tropical jungles dominate the midwest.

  8. Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

    Already down to 32 at the airport with a 25 dp. And it is 31.9 at my home. This time yesterday it was 34 with a 26 dp. And it got down to 26 that night.

    Could be the coldest night of this inversion stretch.

    • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

      Also since I didn’t specify, people often think I mean the Portland Airport. I’m talking about the Salem Airport.

  9. boydo3 says:

    Once again. Boring Larry is at the bottom of the cliff. The grills are heating up and the fork is about to be stuck into winter….
    Atmospheric wrath is screaming about the east wind..
    The death ridge has taken over..
    Jump if you wish.

  10. Oliver Watson says:

    Don’t look at the 0z tonight. It’s depressing.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      I couldn’t help myself. What in the actual h*ll? .10’’ of rain in the next 16 days. This is getting comical.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pretty standard uh? Hey we can all hope again beginning of December, oh yeah south wind and, or a death ridge

  11. tim says:

    To hank, after last summer record heat it’s not ridiculous to think 100+ will happen this year in seattle we had 3 days in a row at 100+ in june so it’s to be expected to get at lest one 100 day a year with a warming climate, now will it happen every summer ? nobody knows but the trend is there and i don’t believe that was a once in a lifetime event.

  12. W7ENK says:

    Man, this East wind is relentless today! About 3 am it really started screaming thru Milwaukie. Had a gust to 43 mph just after 4 this morning! Rumbling my house so loud it almost sounded like thunder. heard a tree crash down in the park behind me, close enough I felt the thud from the ground beneath my house. Several loud cracks (snapping branches), and heard one cutout fuse blow in the distance around 6am. My internet was out for a bit when I got up, that and all the interruptions to my sleep made for a rocky start to my workday. There was a bit of a lull after sunrise, but the wind is back to raging again this afternoon. Thankfully my power still on, for now…

    • Jake says:

      Oh we’ve been dealing with that wind on some level now for about a week out here on the East side.

      A few reporting lights flickering but nothing for me but we had power go out for 2 weeks during the icestorm last Winter so pretty beefed up grid here.

      Some spots on the coast were 60 today quite an interesting period we’re in. More like an El Niño imo

  13. tim says:

    Storm season is flying by fast this year after a very active season here in seattle and with everybody talking about forks im ready for spring now and before we know it ill be 100+ again this summer, currently sunny and 44 a tast of spring.

    • Zach says:

      lol 44F is not spring-like at all.

    • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

      Assuming you’re talking about Seattle, which would make your statement even more ridiculous.

      Why do you think it will be 100+ this summer?

  14. Zach says:

    The 12z euro cooled off a bit. It shows this big ridge mainly staying just off shore in the next 10 days. Its about 2 weeks too early to be forking winter.

    • Andrew says:

      Are you looking at ensembles or deterministic? I ask because ensembles have been very persistent with ridge development. There are some outliers of course, more so on GFS. Those outliers are more pronounced this time around than with current ridge where there were virtually no members that suggested a different pattern two weeks out. That’s not the case here, and a few members are legit cold. But the mean is still putting us squarely in Ridge land across both models (unlike mark i tend to ignore canadian). As I and others have lamented many times before, the outliers favorable to cold/snow seem to never come to fruition; those associated with unfavorable outcomes during potential cold/snowy patterns are much more common to signal possible late shifts in forecast.

    • West Linn 200 says:

      Its about 2 weeks too early to be forking winter.

      Mark usually brings out the fork in the last week of Feb, so even 2 weeks is a bit too early.

      • Andrew says:

        This is the “unofficial” fork…

        The one reserved for jaded model watchers who probably put too much stock in long range models but who are also probably going to be right. 😀

  15. Roland Derksen says:

    Another foggy morning here, but skies are starting to clear, and we could see a sunny afternoon. Looking ahead to next week, there is a chance of snow flurries on Tuesday- just in time for the new month.

  16. Andrew says:

    Alas, both models are now all in on Ridge 2.0. less than an inch of rain over next two weeks. We’ve certainly had action in mid-February, but I’m definitely joining the Fork Express. It’s going to take a bit of a miracle and a pretty significant pattern change for us to see any action while the seasonal conditions can support it.

    • Joshua Lake Oswego says:

      Who could have seen that coming? < .90” in the past 20 days and looks like we will be lucky to get .50” in the next 10 days. Probably less than half of that. Like I said before, maybe our summer pattern can start in January this year instead of March like last year. Wouldn’t that be great? I don’t actually think it will, but this sure is a looooong time to be under the influence of high pressure during winter.

    • Zach says:

      The 12z gfs continues to be interesting in the really long range. It just doesn’t want to give up.

    • West Linn 200 says:

      Remember, it was around Valentine’s day last year when we got the ice storm. It’s still January. The Fork Express should not be leaving the station just yet.

    • JohnD says:

      Sad but true. Simply hard to comprehend the persistence of the ridge. Frustrating to say the least. Especially when many features overall indicated the likelihood of a nice, long, active winter—which is proving to be quite the opposite (since early Jan.) We were expecting a retrograde soon. Doesn’t appear to be happening. I personally have pretty much given up. I get it—still not even Feb. yet. But with nothing much showing upstream for the next couple of weeks, it is very hard to be optimistic.

    • Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

      And people told me the ridge wouldn’t last a month….

      • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

        Technically it won’t.

        Because I believe it will end Saturday evening.

        I’m not wrong….

        • Evan -- Cedar Mill says:

          It’s going to start back up again after a few days of showers. What’s the difference?

        • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

          Well if it ends, it ends. I don’t care if it only ends for a few days, it still ended.

          Would NOAA or the NWS count that as one long ridge? No, they wouldn’t, because it ended.

  17. Max in Fairview says:

    This have been some nasty East wind. Multiple power flickers.

  18. JohnD says:

    For fun thinking about a—say—Minneapolis (or equivalent) climate—this evening. The Upper Midwest is severe every winter. But this year it has especially been so—the bullseye zone. Significant snows and temps below average. Many days below 0’F in the a.m. and staying well below freezing during the day. Plus wind! Keeping in mind, Minneapolis roughly a city the size of Portland—or even a bit larger.
    I’m a born-raised W Oregonian with weather passion. I do get it—and always pull for significant winter storms (except ice or destructive wind).
    But thinking about those actually living day in-out amid a severe climate is no doubt interesting.
    All relative, of course. Totally get that too.

    • Jim says:

      And yet someone was calling our weather the worst anywhere just a couple days ago on the blog. Because of clouds. CLOUDS! So ridiculous

  19. Weatherdan says:

    After 8 days without power or heat because of the February ice storm and water in my basement 3 times this Winter I consider this dry stretch to be a real blessing. Temperatures in Salem have been just about average this month because of some foggy days so I can’t call it mild. I wouldn’t mind a final snow event of 3-6′ before Winter is done, but I am convinced we won’t have it. Meteograms not showing any low level cold into middle February. After then it is highly unlikely to get any valley floor sticking snow. This will probably wind up bring an average Winter for us. I’m sure many of you wanted an epic Winter but we get what we get. In only 46 days our sunset will be at 7:15PM. Already my thoughts are shifting to baseball and barbecues. Peace.

    • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

      “I wouldn’t mind a final snow event of 3-6′ before Winter is done”

      I’m assuming you mean 3-6″ instead of 3-6′, might just be me, but 3 to 6 feet sounds bad.

  20. OC550 says:

    When we have a La Nina two years in a row, the 2nd one can be a wildcard. Seems so this year. Perhaps we get out of this dry stretch and have plenty of rainfall mid-February through April or perhaps Feb – April will be below normal. Time will tell.

    • Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

      That’s not how it works.

      I’ll explain it again.

      If it’s a La Nina, it’s La Nina, if the previous year was a La Nina, it still can’t affect the current year, the only thing that affects it is the intensity of this years La Nina, and the PDO, not a 2 year La Nina streak.

      And having 2 year streak doesn’t mean the next year is less likely to be a La Nina, it’s the same odds every year.

      • W7ENK says:

        That is absolutely not true, Hank. NOAA and nearly every National and regional meteorologist and climatologist disagrees with you on that point. I would encourage you to go back and review the presentation materials (particularly the video) from last Fall’s Oregon AMS Winter Weather Conference to hear what they had to say about second consecutive La Niñas and how the first one primes the global atmosphere/climate going into the second.

        Another good one to review would be the 2018/2019 conference.

    • Andrew says:

      What is a little confounding is to have two consecutive la niña januaries that play out more like el niños. i think the takeaway here might be that ENSO conditions are either having less of an impact than they used to, or that enthusiasts like me and many others here are probably over zealous in our predictions of the effects.

  21. Suzanne de groot says:

    Mark, out here on Sauvie Island, we are experiencing heavy fog, which hardly burns off during the day- what is that about!! Suzanne

    Sent from my iPhone


  22. ocpaul says:

    26 here in OC.
    On with the Inversion Perversion of winter 2022.

  23. W7ENK says:

    Thanks Mark.

  24. Hank from Salem (524' Elevation) says:

    Thanks for the update Mark!

    18z and 00z GFS update from me, Looks like GFS control runs are staying consistent, with some nice mountain Snow, Valley rain and maybe a dusting of Valley Snow. Maybe.

    Remember, last half of February, All of March, and first half of April can still give us the Mountain Snow we need, especially in a Moderate La Nina. And don’t put a fork in Winter yet, Scott reeves, we still have all February.

  25. Andrew says:

    I have a feeling models will shift quite a bit in next few days. I’m simply not buying that in a la niña we’re going to basically be stuck in a dry ridge for more than a month. That doesn’t compute. The ensembles are really all over map, especially the GFS. Once we hit mid next week it’s just a total crapshoot trying to make sense of model runs. I agree with Mark’s analysis for sure, but think main headline right now is that once this current ridge breaks down we enter into a period of major uncertainty. i’m sure next few days will clarify things quite a bit. Certainly not anticipating cold and snow but just not buying another mammoth ridge developing over us with 8,000 foot freezing levels.

    • Jake says:

      I don’t know there’s no reason with climate change and the recent weather pattern that we don’t have active weather again till March.

      Lots of snowpack has come in late with weather patterns perfect for snowstorms that only turned out to be a dusting in PDX because it came in March instead of now.. Mt. Hood is famous for Olympic Winter athletes coming here during late Spring / early Summer months because of our late snowpack weather.

      That said I’m biased toward what you’re saying because the polar vortex just has to wobble its rotation back toward us eventually and I think that is about to occur. Only to go to the Great Lakes lmao! Here’s to hoping not so.

  26. tim says:

    After a very active fall and early winter in western wa with flooding and snow we need a break so im rooting for the euro.

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