50 below zero in Oregon? It happened once. Plus weekend cold weather update

Have you ever wondered how cold it can get in our region? A winter low temperature of 20 degrees is somewhat normal west of the Cascades, 10 only happens every decade or so, but down to zero? Or below? It HAS happened, but it’s rare.

I’ve collected the “all-time” record lows from across Oregon in these graphics. Of course all-time means in the historical record of the station. Some records only go back to 1950, some well back into the 1800s. I don’t think any of the stations below go back before 1870. First the coastline


Then the western valleys and Mt. Hood


You’ll notice lots of those record lows are from the December 1972 cold spell. Here in Portland there is still a 10 day stretch in early December in which every daily record cold high temperature is from 1972.

East of the Cascades, those record lows are MUCH colder. That’s to be expected since in general it’s colder all winter east of the mountains.


The state record of -54 degrees was set at both Ukiah and Seneca during the same cold spell in February 1933. By the way, Washington’s all-time record low is -48 degrees.


Not much has changed the past 24 hours except for two items

1) Models have backed off a bit on intensity of the cold airmass moving in Saturday night and Sunday

2) It’s very clear now that showers end Saturday evening before temperatures get down close to freezing = no sticking snow

This graphic summarizes your snow chances well. No sticking snow west of the Cascades at the lowest elevations. It’s possible that only a dusting/trace falls even up at 1,500′. I think there’s a chance of 1″ or so in the central/eastern Gorge, but even that could be a stretch. The issue is that the system is moving very quickly = not much moisture to work with.


Our GRAF model shows the timing well. Around sunset Saturday temperatures will be around 40 degrees with very light/spotty showers. Modified arctic air (cold and dry) is pushing south into northcentral and northeast Oregon. But notice the air isn’t as cold as what we saw in December. I’d estimate about 10 degrees warmer


Then by 9pm, the “arctic front” has passed through the metro area. A gusty northeast wind has arrived, but since the arriving airmass isn’t that cold, temperatures are still well above freezing. Showers are finishing up; remember the upper-level system is moving quickly southward and heading to California.


By midnight, or soon after, the cold/dry air has taken over. Showers are gone and skies are mainly clear. But the gusty east wind is STILL keeping temperatures above freezing. That will allow any wet streets to dry before late night freezing; more good news for Sunday morning. No snow and no ice


A summary…


So instead of highs in the low-mid 20s (cold spell just before Christmas), we’ll see highs 10-15 degrees warmer PLUS sunshine all day Sunday. Sure, windchills will be in the 20s Sunday, but reasonable if you have a good winter jacket ready to go.

I do expect 8-15″ new snow in the Cascades the next two days. So very good ski conditions on the mountain with fresh snow Saturday and then a cold day Sunday. Luckily models have backed off the extreme cold in the Cascades. Temperatures will at least make it to 10 degrees up there; think Rockies or Utah ski conditions. Bluebird day Sunday!



The main message for the upcoming weekend is that we’ll see a dramatic change between Saturday and Sunday, and it’ll be quite chilly Sunday.

70 Responses to 50 below zero in Oregon? It happened once. Plus weekend cold weather update

  1. Mountain Man says:

    I wonder if I might get a little sloppy slush snow tonight. The temp has dropped from 43 to 36 with heavy ice pellet / tiny hail showers rolling through. I can see the trees have already turned white just about 250 higher up.

  2. West Linn 200 says:

    Mark doesn’t sound optimistic about snow chances in his latest blog post.

    We’ll see what the Euro says this later today, but I’m not hopping on this ride until we get a more established pattern in the models. That winter fork is a long ways off though, so that’s a good sign!

    • Andrew says:

      Temperatures are looking too marginal right now for me to truly get excited. EURO ensemble snow totals seem commensurate with temp outlook. maybe a dusting but more of an elevation type pattern. GFS is showing meaningful lowland snow accumulation across several members but that’s very common and rarely holds as we get closer to event. Neither ensemble mean drops lowlands down below freezing for any meaningful length of time, which is a major red flag to me. A lot can change in next week but right now it’s just not looking cold enough.

      • Mountain Man says:

        Andrew, I think Mark’s post last night is pretty spot on, hills will be more favorable, however there has been a little positive evolution in the models, that pacific ridge is looking like it might tilt a little more positive in recent runs which I pointed out the other day would need to happen for a better chance at low elevations. There’s still time for more improvement, we’re a week out, but at the moment, a heavy shower kind of situation would be about the only way snow gets to the valley floor as it looks.

  3. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    4-5′ of snow in Eugene in the next 15 days per the 6z GFS. Book it.

  4. tim says:

    Cliff mass said on his podcast today there’s a cold blast coming nextweek and possible lowland snow.

  5. WEATHERDAN says:

    Our average high is now 51. Our sunset this week is around 5:30PM. No realistic chance of snow thru the 22nd. As far as I am concerned the Winter is over. That said it does look coolish with limited rainfall for the next 16 days. I am looking forward to some nice Spring weather. When that arrives I do not know. But I feel reasonably confident that the worst of Winter is now behind us. Daffodils and crocuses won’t be far away. Peace.

    • Mountain Man says:

      Sorry, I’d ever so slightly disagree. I respect you Weatherdan, but I’d just ever so slightly disagree with the idea of your statement… that past next weekend there might be a little bit of winter action. Maybe and probably not big winter stuff, but that analysis is slightly off… And you should know, I don’t get too excited in the other direction either unless I see some reason it’s worth saying, which I am certainly not saying yet.

  6. Anne L. she/her says:

    Let’s hope this doesn’t git us. Would be bad for the people experiencing homelessness!

    • Scott Reeves says:

      You mean the lazy drug addicts?

      • Anonymous says:

        Scott, yeah it’s gross and ugly, but alao sad, but just like shut the hell up please. I think most of us know what the side of the freeways and streets look like in lots of places. It doesn’t mean they should die, or be given a bunch of love either, but this is not the place to say that.

      • Grizzly Bear says:

        “there but for the grace of God go I”

        One of the earliest attributions of the saying is to John Bradford, an English Reformer, who supposedly said it as he watched people led to execution for their crimes. In a sense he was saying, “That could have been me but for God’s grace.”

        • Anonymous says:

          Hmm 🤔 wow I guess that there’s really no rules here now, just that there is but not much enforcement so there isn’t. Hope you find grace with a snowball grizzly and I mean that in the real nicest and kindness kind of way.

  7. tim says:

    A winter storm watch has been issued for the Washington cascades with the next system which is good for the snowpack, Oregon will miss out this time not even a advisory there.

  8. tim says:

    The trusty 18z gfs gives us a major arctic blast at the end.

  9. Andrew says:

    Latest GFS run is very promising. Still way too far out to draw any conclusions but the ensembles are absolutely littered with cold and snowy members starting around valentine’s day. It’ll be a minor miracle for it to hang on but love seeing the late winter action.

  10. Ken in Wood Village says:

    I think the Euro model is trying to pick up on something around the 14th. We’ll see if this continues.

  11. JohnD says:

    The far NE region of the US this winter has experienced generally above average temperatures with very little snowfall so far.(Excluding some inland places like Buffalo.)
    Then the anomaly of the recent quick hitting knifepoint cold snap. My wife is from Massachusetts, so we especially follow it there.
    Last night Boston hit -10’F—in addition to brutal wind chills. But dry.
    Tomorrow back to the 40’s.
    Simply bizarre.

  12. Mountain Man says:

    Well, so far the extended ensombles don’t look as good as I had hoped. Some of you know I pointed to the 15th to 22nd as a curious time to watch as it comes into extended ensombles. Not that it surprises any of us. Pretty good ensomble agreement there will be some snow into the coast range, foothills and even maybe higher hills of the lowlands, close but not quite close enough for the valley floor although about 33% show a little. So far it appears the ridge is going to be just a little to far west where as we just had a cool spell where it was just a little to far east, I guess you guys just can’t win some snow this year. However, we know how these patterns shift a little east often as we get closer, so in this case, that might be good. On the other hand, the Pacific ridge looks a little bit flat especially on the means so that would have to change a little too or tilt a bit more favorably. What I see is a great snow pattern for me, I’ve seen a foot over a few days from the pattern I’m seeing, but as some of you probably know, I live up in the foothills of Mt Rainier. We’ll give this a few more days before we make any real conclusions.

  13. tim says:

    Some people on weatherfourm are complaining about this El nino type pattern with most of the storms are going to California but they really need it more than us, the drought monitor is still showing moderate to severe drought across most of the west it’s gonna take years before it gets erased.

  14. WEATHERDAN says:

    Down to 34 currently with cloudy skies. Some light rain this weekend. But some sun as well. The next 16 days look more dry than wet with about normal temps. No sign of snow or some warm and sunny weather either. By warm and sunny I mean 60-65 which we can get in February. But in 26 days our sunset is 6:00PM. And in 37 days our sunset will be about 7:15PM. Whether we like it or not (And I don’t) our Winters are getting shorter and warmer. And our Summers are getting longer and warmer as well (which I do enjoy). But a long time ago I learned to just accept what we get because what else can you do. So as far as a big Arctic snowstorm maybe next year. Peace.

  15. Andrew says:

    some of the longer term models are still showing potential action around mid-month but nothing really popping on ensembles yet. Actually, the snow signals on both the GFS and EURO ensembles are pretty solid as a whole. However, those seem a little out of whack with temp forecasts. My take is that there is no immediate sign of one last possible cold/snow episode, but also enough in models to keep forks in the drawer for at least a couple more weeks.

  16. Rick says:

    Well , that big rat seen it’s shadow today, perhaps we will get more winter weather action here in the PNW before spring arrives…. If you believe the rat !!

  17. Roland Derksen says:

    I received an average amount of precipitation here for January (7.03 inches) and the next few days will be mainly cloudy and showery, so we’re definetly not going into a dry spell. Not exciting weather, but at least it’s good for the snowpack.

  18. OC550 says:

    The moonset and the sunrise were both spectacular this morning! I’ve enjoyed the calm weather this week, but also glad it’s not a really long stretch of dry weather.

  19. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    <.25’’ of rain in the past 13 days and looking really dry for at least the next two weeks. Not good for the snowpack. Or for me. Weatherdan is happy.

  20. Roland Derksen says:

    Some snow here this morning (about 3/4 of an inch on the ground, but precipitation stopped early this afternoon and temperatures went above freezing, so there’s not much left to see. Could we get more later in February? Sure- I can recall some BIG snowfalls around Valentine’s day in the past (1986, 1990, 1995). However, I’ll wait a few days yet to see what happens before further comments.

  21. WEATHERDAN says:

    Extended not looking too bad. No Arctic air in sight but still coolish. Still fairly dry as well. No atmospheric rivers or windstorms in sight. It seems as we slip into Spring Winter will depart with a whimper rather than a bang. 23 this morning so a cold end to January. The sunny weather lately has been great for my mood. Peace.

  22. Mountain Man says:

    Andrew and others interested, I do know my way around the longer range information. Even though I absolutely nailed the week before Christmas a week before anything and posted my forecast here while local Mets were still waffling back and forth for several more days, and I nailed this one too. It’s’s really almost irrelevant to call anything outside of 7 to 10 days a forecast except for weight toward a more or less possible outcome. Regardless, I enjoy looking out into the future, poring over the vortex lab, the EC 30day, the northern hemisphere oscillation being kinda my own model in my mind of where cold and warm are moving and how it will effect movement of air masses downstream as well as checking on the more standard Euro weeklies and CPC. Put them all together and you have… An idea of what opportunities might be in store 3 weeks down the road, but nothing more. I’ll definitely try to give analysis as time allows when I see something interesting and I appreciate all of you and your thoughts too.

  23. Andrew says:

    I was encouraged by pattern but last few runs appear to reveal a transition to more of a northwest flow which aren’t ever great for lowland snow, let alone in February. Arctic air appears to really retract as well as we head into the middle of month. window is closing fast. The long range forecasts all have lowland snow signals starting around middle of month, but i’m having trouble reconciling that with ensemble runs. I wonder if the long range models are picking up the cool NW flow signal and generating too much cold and snow, which often happens as models struggle to capture effect of onshore flow at surface. Perhaps others see something I don’t but barring a freak turn of events for last third of february, it’s looking like a bit of a dud for our much hyped triple dip la niña winter. We had some shots of cold for sure but couldn’t muster right set up.

    • tim says:

      A NW flow would be good for the cascades which is now under 80% of normal snowpack in Wa, definitely not a classic la Nina winter for the mountains like the 98/99 season.

    • Mountain Man says:

      Andrew, you just have to be patient. The ensombles for the middle of the month are just starting to come into view over the next few days and can only be considered very lightly at that. I said some 3-4 days ago, potential in that 15th to 22nd area, I’ll stick with that, but it’s still only potential and much to soon to get worried nothing happens or excited something will. There are large scale signals that are favorable for one last chance of winter weather below 1000 feet. Much to soon to know or make predictions.

      • Andrew says:

        Love it, mountain man! I look forward to getting your analysis soon should anything emerge in models.

  24. gravatarhojack says:

    -27F at Horse Ridge east of Bend on HWY 20 seen on ODOT trip check! Many locations below zero with -12F common La Pine south.

  25. Mountain Man says:

    Well I had no snow Saturday evening here at home at 1400 feet, but you sure could feel that front here as it passed over in just 30 minutes, wind picked up to 25 mph sustained and a guest to 36 that lasted almost a minute, temp dropped from 43 to 33 in the same 30 minutes, precipitation started as stinging sideways rain and then ice mixed in, and then all snow for about 5-7 minutes. Then it all was just over and the stars came out super bright and clear with a light breeze and 29 degrees… 43 to 29 degrees in an hour by the way, between 4:30 and 5:30 last night.
    Description shared just to say, wow for the real weak crappy tail end of an arctic front, that was a pretty abrupt change over a short time!

  26. WEATHERDAN says:

    What a glorious sunny day today. No snow but the sun felt so good after all the clouds and damp weather of the last few weeks. There is still a chance of some snow before mid February gets here. What I don’t see thankfully is heavy rain or ice or a windstorm. Winter is nearly over and I am looking forward to Spring. I will hope for one last chance for snow in a few days but am rooting for some sunny and warmer weather before the end of February. Last year we hit 67 in February. I would like a repeat this year. Peace.

  27. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Just looking at the Troutdale Airport observation. It says 37 degrees but the dewpoint is 9 degrees. It may not be all that cold out but it’s some dry air. Let’s see how cold it gets tonight 🤔🥶

  28. Scott Reeves says:

    The sun on my face today has been awesome.Fly Eagles Fly

  29. gravatarhojack says:

    Love the clear skies and cold crisp air. Some snow on the ground would be great but can’t have it all. Still enough winter left to surprise us.

  30. Andrew says:

    GFS at least is indicating a cooler pattern around Feb. 10. No arctic blast but lows dipping down below freezing again, and roughly a third of ensemble members are showing snow. Not a home run but enough there to keep some intrigue alive.

  31. lurkingsince’14 says:

    Something’s trying to happen out there…maybe we’ll score a dusting to .5in heading into the freeze 🤷🏻‍♂️

    • X says:

      Well that’s kinda what they originally said a few days ago. A 10 percent chance of a dusting to quarter inch of snow or something like that.

  32. gravatarhojack says:

    January has turned into a very disappointing month in the PNW. April last year was amazing here in the Cascade Foothills, a week with snow on the ground and frequent reloads of fresh snow felt very winter like. Wished that would have came this January… but as we’ve learned anything can happen with weather.

    • X (Aumsville OR) says:

      I knew it would be. There just wasn’t enough cold air bottled in our direction to come down to. Again I know it’s a real ‘shocker’ in this digital age but you have to have actual polar air to have a polar outbreak. Doesn’t matter squat what models say if reality doesn’t support them.

      And society wants these computers to drive their car and run their house? 🤮🪓

  33. pgiorgio says:

    Welcome another January comes amd goes that blurs together with last 20.

  34. Mountain Man says:

    Well, this is not really an event at all anymore and if you ask me, I didn’t really think it ever would be, though it got a little close on some runs, mostly outliners for a few days and that’s definitely over. I’m still seeing some real interesting things in that Feb 15th to 22nd area. Some unusual vortex activity, some strong anomalies, all really aiming toward the western half side of North America. Not a forecast of course by any measurement, that would deserve all you ridiculing me, just perhaps a last gasp of winter is quite possible… Maybe. We’ll see and talk later as it comes into view.

    • Andrew says:

      Interesting. I look forward to hearing more. Historically, our lowland winter weather action tends to die down by mid-February but that certainly doesn’t mean the perfect, unusual set up won’t deliver. it’s just clearly harder to generate snow with borderline conditions. Also worth noting that over past four winters, we’ve had way more action in mid to late february than we’ve had in all of January!

  35. Roland Derksen says:

    I won’t be very disappointed if we get no snow next week- but I am pleased to see the sunshine coming. It’s been very gloomy here in the last few days with drizzle and fog. This January has been one long dull month.

    • Roland Derksen says:

      Great to see the sun today and feel that cool crisp arctic air(although it’s a pretty modest event). We still have a chance to see snow here Tuesday night into Wednesday. One intresting stat- I haven’t recorded a January yet without at least 1 day with a minimum below freezing. We’ve come close a few times, but even this January it looks like we’ll keep that happening.

  36. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Looks like another El Niño pattern on the operational GFS.

  37. Andrew says:

    The pattern remains generally favorable in the long range. However, no immediate signs of another cold blast and day length and sun angle start to come into play starting in about two weeks. clock is ticking for sure.

  38. gravatarhojack says:

    Mark can you please include the whole state of Oregon on your weather graphics. I don’t know why you don’t include Medford and Klamath Falls!

  39. W7ENK says:

    This is very disappointing.

    More than 40 consecutive attempts, and it looks like WEATHERDAN and I will still not get any snowfall on our birthday. SAD!

    • Jim says:

      W7 where have you been? I blame you absence for the lack of snow. Gotta blame something

    • JohnD says:

      Sorry Eric. And good to see you back on the Blog. This winter has been a pretty big disappointment for a lot of us—amid so much overall potential. Just didn’t come together—at least so far.
      I did manage some sledding with my granddaughter in NEPDX during the little winter snap around Christmas.
      We take what we get!

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      I agree, snow would be nice, but at least my 69th birthday should be sunny on Tuesday so I’ll go with that. Happy birthday Eric. Peace.

    • Mountain Man says:

      Nice to hear from you Eric! Happy birthday to you and Weatherdan.

    • Grizzly Bear says:

      “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” ~Einstein~

      • X says:

        Just like saying ‘Artic Air’ is likely when actual conditions don’t even remotely support it yet people keep falling for the carrot. At this point the carrot is moldy.

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