It’s vacation season in the Pacific Northwest; the best weather of the year! So I’ll be joining many of you travelling across the region the next week and a half. Heading out for camping in parts of southern Oregon. No posts during that time, unless something really serious pops up (major fire close to us, huge earthquake, volcanic eruption, tsunami, etc…). I’ll be back at work Sunday August 8th.
The end of July is quickly approaching and it’s been a warm month! No record-breaking heat, or heatwaves, but consistently warmer than normal. It appears we’ll end up with at least the 5th warmest July on record, likely #3 or #4.
The western 1/3 of the USA has been sizzling so far this month, following the warmest June on record for some.
We’ve been “lucky” west of the Cascades, picking up just enough cooling onshore flow to keep us near/below 90 degrees most of the month. Portland has seen (12) 90 degree days so far this year
Yet, just slightly farther removed from that ocean air, both Salem and Eugene have seen over 20 days at/above 90!
Looking ahead, we have a heat wave on the way Wednesday-Saturday. This is what we’re thinking this evening for Portland:
No record highs, since they are generally 100+ this time of year. But four 90+ days to wrap up July.
Why is it turning hot again?
Strong high pressure bringing heat over the Rockies is far enough east to keep our temps reasonable again tomorrow. That “594” contour centered over Colorado is the center of the upper-high.
But you see it snuggles up a bit closer to us Friday and Saturday. Here’s midday Saturday; the ridge of high pressure has amplified, and southerly flow is in charge across the West Coast. This MAY bring thunderstorms north into the Cascades and Eastern Oregon. There are even a few GFS and ECMWF ensemble members sending a disturbance north with showers/thunderstorms WEST of the Cascades this weekend. But not enough to put it in the forecast. Just be aware that this weekend is not “guaranteed” dry. Keep an eye on the forecast.
This pattern doesn’t produce a hot easterly wind over the Portland area (ridge is too far east), which should keep us below 100 degrees…but just barely! Then Sunday and beyond the ridge weakens; we’re back to reasonably warm temperatures for the first few days of August. This is Tuesday (August 3rd)
By the way, we are at day #41 without rain in Portland. The last MEASURABLE rain was June 15th. There WAS a trace at PDX on July 1st. Assuming we don’t get rain in the next 12 days (possible), we’ll be up in the “top 5” range for dry spells. But for now we’re a long way from that 71 dry day record
A few more notes:
I don’t expect high humidity during the upcoming heat wave, UNLESS we get some showers or thundershowers Saturday/Sunday.
Overnight temperatures will be turning very warm, mid-upper 60s. This isn’t as extreme as the historic heatwave back in June, but it’s still worth checking in on elderly friends/relatives.
Southerly flow = overhead fire smoke from California fires. Expect increasing haze and yellow/orange sun after Wednesday. Low-level smoke is UNLIKELY west of the Cascades since wind will be coming from the northwest and west.
We’ve been in a surprisingly stable weather pattern ever since the heat wave ended in late June. Warmer than normal, but not much heat. We are three weeks into July; every day has ended up between 75 and 90 in Portland. Today was especially nice with partly cloudy conditions all day long. We’ve seen lots of days in the mid-upper 80s in Portland, but only hit 90 once (on the 6th). That’s due to a persistent weak onshore flow; that cooler ocean air pouring inland each evening. It tends to come up the Columbia River to Longview and then the metro area. That’s different than the “southwest push” coming in over the Coast Range we saw right at the end of the heat wave.
Salem and Eugene, farther removed from those cool northwest breezes, have each seen 9 and 10 days above 90. That’s quite a difference! Although none of those days made it above 92 in Salem. Right now Salem is seeing it’s 4th warmest July on record; due to consistently warm temperatures vs. a series of hot spells.
A very consistent upper-level pattern remains in place the rest of the month (if models are correct). Right now a hot ridge of high pressure is right over the Rockies. At the same time a weak trough is moving by to our north; thus the cooler weather the past two days, even up in the mountains.
By this weekend, the last full weekend of July, the high edges a bit closer. So we turn a bit warmer as onshore flow backs off again. We might even hit 90 in Portland…maybe.
Then the ridge moves farther away, back into the Great Plains early next week. 9 days from now, Friday the 30th shows us in the “Goldilocks Zone” west of the Cascades. Warm, but no heatwave and not much “hot” weather.
All models agree with this general setup the next 7-10 days.
What This Means
Temperatures remain above normal, but a heat wave is unlikely through the end of July west of the Cascades
Most fire smoke will continue to remain over/east of the Cascades. That southwest flow carries most of it well east of us. I don’t expect any sort of “smoke episode” in the Portland area the next 7-10 days
A widespread outbreak of thunderstorms is very unlikely in this pattern, even east of the Cascades
No chance for rain, guaranteed dry weather continues next 7-10 days
Speaking of rain, we’ve only seen a TRACE so far in Portland this month. It was a few spots of drizzle out of the marine layer on the 1st. A trace means it can’t be measured…less than 0.01″. July is our driest month of the year in Portland; we only average 0.50″! August is close behind at 0.54″. We almost never have a truly “wet” July. But I remember both 1983 and 1993 were showery and cool; quite rare indeed. Those were “green tomato” summers…
Fire season is off and running big-time this year. Numerous large (greater than 100 acre) fires have burned in both Oregon and Washington. This has been fueled by 3 years of drought in southern Oregon plus the driest spring on record for many areas. Then an unprecedented extreme heat wave baked the region in late June; a perfect setup for a bad fire season. At this moment there are 5 large fires burning in Oregon
There is one fire grabbing all the attention right now, the Bootleg Fire burning through the Fremont National Forest. That’s between Bly, Summer Lake, & Paisley
The Jack and Elbow Creek fires are large as well, but notice they aren’t growing quickly. Good news there. The Bootleg Fire is about to become Oregon’s 5th largest on record, passing up the Buzzard Complex
And I had better mention the “Tillamook Burn” because each time I show this graphic, someone accuses me of forgetting that one. Actually there were THREE large Tillamook Burns (and one smaller), beginning in 1933; it was called the “six year curse”. All in the north Coast Range between Banks and Tillamook.
The bad news, of course, is that we don’t have any cool/rainy weather systems headed into the region. We wouldn’t expect that in July anyway. Extremely dry fuels will remain that way until further notice.
The good news?
We don’t see a real heatwave coming for the region over the next week or so.
Lightning activity has been minimal to almost non-existent so far this season and will remain that way through the foreseeable future.
Considering the current very dry fuel conditions, IF we get a widespread outbreak of dry thunderstorms, then fire season could explode. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Typically that setup would involve a southerly or southeast flow in the upper-atmosphere. For now I’m not seeing that over the next 7-10 days.
That’s it for now; enjoy the near-perfect summertime weather west of the Cascades. Yes, a bit on the warm side, but no heatwave!
In the past week we’ve seen warmer than normal temperatures persist west of the Cascades, although no real hot days in the metro area. Lots of 80s, before & after the marine push last Wednesday/Thursday. Yet just one day at 90 degrees.
Meanwhile Salem has seen 8 days at/above 90 so far this month. Why? We are in a classic “northwesterly flow” regime. The setup has been very stable for over a week. Wind is coming in off the Pacific each afternoon/evening to replace hot air rising over the interior of the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia River gap allows lots of that cooler marine air to come up through Longview, Kalama, Clark County, and into the Portland metro area. This morning’s satellite image (8am) shows enough cool air and moisture for low clouds in a good chunk of this area. Clouds tend to form central & eastern metro first because the marine air is bottled up against the the western Gorge. This is why west metro tends to be sunnier more often summer mornings than the east side.
Farther south, in the Willamette Valley, no morning clouds = warmer. The layer of cool air is thinner there. Look at the effect on high temperatures today. 77 at Longview to 90 at Salem.
Strong westerly wind through the Gorge keeps Hood River comfortable, but by the time you get to The Dalles the airmass has warmed. Way out in Hermiston, today is the 25th day at/above 90 degrees. They haven’t seen a cooler than average day since June 16th!
There are 4-5 significant fires burning across Oregon this evening. This is an amazing visible satellite image considering it’s only July 12th. You can see a new fire south of Detroit Lake (Bruler), Grandview fire NE of Sisters, Jack fire NW of Diamond Lake, and the massive Bootleg fire north of Bly
That Bootleg fire exploded in size Saturday, becoming a “mega-fire”. That’s a fire over 100,000 acres in size. It didn’t change much through this morning, then you can see it has exploded again this evening. I estimate a 25-30 mile long “fire-front” based on GOES-17 fire detection
Dry weather continues across the region through at least the next 10-15 days.
A cooldown arrives Wednesday and spreads east of the Cascades Thursday-Saturday
Then we warm up again early next week
There’s no sign of a heat wave west of the Cascades through at least the 20th
Check out the 500mb anomaly map (from the GEM model) for right now. In general we’ve got higher than normal (warm colors) heights overhead
By Friday, a cool trough is sitting just offshore. But notice heights have only come down to around normal for this time of year. The hot ridge has weakened and moved back to the “Four Corners” region. This pattern gives us widespread morning clouds west of the Cascades. High temperatures drop back into the 70s…a refreshing mid-summer weather pattern.
But by Monday the hot ridge is back, just to our east.
It’s still there NEXT Thursday, the 22nd, 10 days from now. This says above normal temps, but not extreme. Especially west of the Cascades.
You can probably guess there’s very little chance for rain in this pattern. No organized weather systems come close to us. Look at a bone-dry ECMWF model forecast the next two weeks: Just a spot of drizzle out of low clouds. Not a single one of 51 ensemble members produces even a tenth of an inch through the 27th!
Let’s hope for very little lightning and no human-caused fires. 3/4 of last year’s fires in the Pacific Northwest were started by people.
Enjoy the rest of the week! Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen
A very brief post to let you know the weather has S-L-O-W-E-D down across the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures in Portland have hit 86 or 87 for the last 4 days! Not a lot of variation there.
We are in our summer dry spell with no significant rain in sight. There could be spots of drizzle west of the Cascades when the marine layer thickens Wednesday morning. Other than that, the ECMWF (GFS looks the same) ensembles show almost no chance of measurable rain the next two weeks. That’s through the 20th. ONE ensemble member out of 50 produces all of 0.10″ rain…
Just as unlikely through at least the middle of next week? A heatwave. No sign of that in the 15 day ensemble average, just the usual ups/downs as marine air surges in and out of valleys west of the Cascades.
That’s it for now.
There’s no need to worry about the lack of rain, there’s nothing you or I can do about it. So enjoy the reliable sunshine while it’s here. I’ll be off the rest of the week.
That was quite a change today wasn’t it? For the first time in a couple weeks we totally busted the forecast. The marine layer was thicker than I expected…up around 4,000′ deep. That meant we never saw a total breakout into sunshine. Sure, a few sunbreaks here and there but that’s about it. After 14 days of 80+ weather, we finally saw a cooler day, only reaching 79 in Portland. That 14 consecutive day stretch was a new record for June in Portland; one of many records set this month.
June ends as the hottest on record, just edging out the very hot June 2015. Final monthly temperature is 70.7, August 2015 was 70.3. That month was consistently hot, but this year was more extreme for a shorter period. 9 days at/above 90 ties the all-time June record as well. The 30 year average for an ENTIRE summer is 14 in Portland
The marine layer thickens slightly tonight and by sunrise tomorrow the view from space should look like this afternoon’s view…all gray west of the Cascades.
There has been a lot of thunderstorm action over central/eastern Oregon this afternoon/evening. Very active and hopefully we don’t get a bunch of new/large fires going. The dry conditions, temperatures, and thunderstorms make it seem more like early August. It’s going to be a long summer.
Very sad news today from the heatwave; dozens of people have died. At least 45 in Multnomah county alone. I think it’s safe to assume more will be found alone in homes/apartments over the next few days. It really got me down for a few hours earlier in the day. My mother came over to our house for a couple nights Saturday-Monday, just in case the electricity went out at her assisted living facility. It didn’t and she was fine of course. But I keep thinking of people dying in their homes, especially the elderly…all alone with no friends or family to help. You might be surprised to find more people die from heat in the USA than any other weather event
In Oregon it’s a bit different, the #2 killer after taking the ocean into account. In general, weather doesn’t directly kill people very often here. If you take away the ocean-related deaths, less than 10 a year. That changed dramatically with this heat wave.
It’ll probably take some time to process all the temperature reports from the big heat wave. We know Hermiston officially reached 118 in Oregon Tuesday. The Dalles and Richland also hit 118 in Washington. The Dalles airport, where readings are taken, is in Washington.
But did some location hit 119, or 120, or 121? Most likely one of the cooperative observing stations in the two states did. We will see. Our local (Oregon) AMS chapter is hoping to plan a meeting just for this historic heat wave. Maybe in September.
We are in the summer dry spell now with no rain in sight, other than some marine drizzle Thursday morning. 12z ECWMWF 24hr QPF forecast shows 2 out of 51 members produced a tenth or two…in the next two weeks! That’s about the driest it gets
That’s it for now; I won’t be blogging as regularly over the next month or so…it’s summer vacation time.
I’ve changed the format for the heat wave…come back to this same link regularly throughout each day for quick updates as we go through the rest of this incredible weather event. Newest information FIRST. Remember you can follow me on Twitter: @marknelsenKPTV and Facebook @marknelsenweather and I’ll be on TV tonight at 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11.
11pm Final Update
This must be just about the largest temperature swing we’ve seen from a marine push. 46 degrees cooler at Salem at 11pm compared to the 117 degree high. By the way, Salem tied Palm Springs today, and was only exceeded by Death Valley here in the USA.
9pm Major marine push = much cooler
The past three hours have featured a very strong marine push. Just about the strongest I’ve ever seen and it’s wonderful! This means a shallow layer of ocean air surged inland. We expected that to happen and models forecast it very well. Most of us have seen a 25-30 degree drop. Kelso has dropped 41 degrees! That’s 110 down to 69 in about 4 hours. That’s some serious free air conditioning. I’ve had a few people ask me what’s up with the haze? I think it’s from some large fires burning just across the California/Oregon border that was picked up as air surged up from the south. By the way, Portland reached 116 around 6pm. These will now be the three hottest temperatures in Portland’s history. Downtown made it to 114.
Today’s forecast worked out perfectly…in a bad way. Marine air is arriving too late to keep us from setting more all-time records in the north Willamette Valley. Here are the official highs. Notice Salem was within two degrees of the all-time Oregon high (119 Pendleton-1898). The Dalles (technically in Dallesport, WA) has tied the all-time Washington high temperature record of 118
Portland’s 115 degree high beat the old (pre-Saturday) record of 107 by 8 degrees! Downtown hit 114, beating that old record by 7 degrees. Basically this heat wave blows away all other heat waves and resets the historical record
Cooler air continues to flood into the western valleys with wind gusts 30-35 mph west of Salem and up toward McMinnville. The cooling has reached a Bald Peak to Aurora line on the south, and down to Scappoose to Woodland coming in from the north. The next two hours we’ll see a 10-15 degree drop in the metro area as the east wind disappears and is replaced by the southwest or northwest wind. By 10pm I expect most of the metro area to be in the 70s…get those windows open later!
That’s it for now…I’ll be on FOX12PLUS (Channel 13 or 49) 8-10pm, then back on FOX12-KPTV 10-11:30pm. See you there!
Salem has broken their all-time temperature record AGAIN this afternoon. 116 degrees at 2pm!
This is just ahead of the approaching marine air. 112 at PDX ties the all-time high once again. We are running 3 degrees hotter than yesterday at 2pm. Headed for at least 114 the next few hours. Marine air is flooding inland on the west side of the valley; it should make the big move now to 5pm. Regional temps…The Dalles is at 115, just 4 degrees short of the Oregon all-time record. Except “The Dalles” is the airport…across the river in Washington.
Hang on folks…much cooler air begins arriving just 4-6 hours from now…
I’ll be on TV from 4-7pm as we track the extreme numbers and cooler air arrival
It’s the last day, but this heatwave is going out with one last blast of hot air. That will finish out this (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event. I would not be surprised to see one of the official Portland area weather stations hit 116 degrees.
Everything is proceeding according to plan. We’ve got 2-3 millibars (hot) easterly gradient still going through the Gorge to keep the extreme heat going through maximum heating around 5pm. Cooler marine air is poised in the Coast Range and pressure gradients are building between the coast and Willamette Valley. It’s 74 just west of Willamina, but 103 in Sheridan! Eugene is running noticeably cooler too. Hard to believe at 11am we’ve got temps well above 100 in a good chunk of the metro area.
And the regional temps.
850mb temperatures over Salem was a bit below the forecast this morning, at 28.0 degrees…we will see if the “coveted” +30 shows up in the afternoon balloon sounding.
Portland only dropped to 76 this morning and that is a new all-time record. But wait, there’s more. Many areas where it stayed breezy remained in the 80s! At my home it was 90 or higher all the way until 2am. I see a hilltop in Damascus only briefly touched 89 degrees before the sun rose.
Again, this is likely a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. By the way, that record only stands if PDX stays at/above 75 degrees through midnight. It’s possibly the big surge of marine air heading inland this evening drops us below the mid 70s by that time.
I’ve changed the format for the weekend…come back to this same link regularly throughout each day for quick updates as we go through the rest of this incredible heat wave. Newest information FIRST. Remember you can follow me on Twitter: @marknelsenKPTV and Facebook @marknelsenweather
9pm Final Sunday Update
SLIGHTLY HOTTER MONDAY, THEN A DRAMATIC & WINDY EVENING COOLDOWN
Alright folks, we’ve got Portland’s warmest (hottest) night on record ahead, then slightly hotter tomorrow. Take a look at the all-time records set today. Pretty much every spot west of the Cascades in SW Washington and NW Oregon saw the hottest temp on record. Longview and Hood River numbers come in at a later time
Portland’s downtown observing location recorded a 110, which is also an all-time record. Those go back to 1874!
Calm areas drop into the mid-upper 70s tonight. Windy spots only drop to 80-85 degree range…as if we’re in Arizona
All model data tells us that tomorrow should be hotter than today, which is hard to believe. But it’s going to happen
850mb temps right now are around +28 to +29, and they go up to a record-breaking +31 to +32. This has never been seen in our area. Easterly flow INCREASES through mid afternoon Monday overhead, skies stay sunny. This all says several degrees of warming. I’ll stick with 114 for a high. That’ll be astounding if someone in the metro area gets within 2-3 degrees of Oregon’s all-time high (119 – Pendleton).
Onshore flow sweeps up the coastline overnight = heatwave over. Then that cool air surges into the central/south Willamette Valley after noon. This should make for a cooler day south of the metro area. “Only” 95-105 south of Wilsonville-McMinnville line. Longview will also see a cooler day due to the onshore flow after about 1pm.
The onshore flow will be some of the strongest we’ve seen in our area. A very shallow layer of chilly marine air surging inland trapped under a strong inversion (hot air overhead). Gusts 30-40 mph are possible 3-6pm from Sheridan to West Salem and north to Dayton. Yes, there could be a 40 degree drop from early afternoon to sunset for many of us! The cooler air arrives after 6pm in the Portland metro area, dropping us from 110+ to mid-70s by 11pm. It’s going to feel amazing…
Take a look at the WRF-GFS 5pm temperatures…112+ over a good chunk of the metro area Monday afternoon
Notice at 3pm we’ve got westerly wind beginning to pour into the central Willamette Valley. Salem is beginning to cool. Hot east/southeast wind from Longview down into the metro area
Then at 6pm things have turned VERY windy. Forecasting 8 millibars pressure difference between Lincoln City and Wilsonville! West wind gusting over 40 mph from Sheridan to Amity. Hot east wind still just barely going in the metro area. This is more of a “southwest push”; we’re not getting the real strong northwest wind coming up the Columbia River
Then at 9pm the southwesterly push has arrived in the metro area and hot east wind is gone. Gusts 20-30 mph will be ringing chimes in the southern half of the metro.
It will be a very shallow push, which means warm air overhead will mix down again Tuesday, just no extreme heat. We’ll like bounce back into the low-mid 90s Tuesday afternoon. Much better…
5pm Portland Makes It To At Least 112
High temperatures come in every six hours from the regular official reporting stations and here they are
Lots of 112s, but that’s also the current temperature at PDX. It’s possible we go a degree higher…we’ll see. Obviously that’s a new all-time record for Portland, well above the previous 108 record (yesterday) and long-standing 107 degree record. But look at the valley! Salem just blew past the 120+ year old record, by 5 degrees!
Astoria tied the 101 degree record, and Eugene set an all-time record too. I’ll have more with a detailed post about tomorrow and beyond by 8-9pm. The big message: 24 HOURS OF EXTREME HEAT STILL TO GO
3pm All-Time Record Heat, No Big Power Outages Yet
It’s 111 at PDX, the hottest temperature many of us have ever felt, including me. The same temperature as Phoenix at this hour…though at least relative humidity has fallen to 16%…it’s a dry heat. 3pm observations, notice all official stations are 108 to 111
All-time records have now fallen at PDX (again), Troutdale (again), Vancouver, Salem, and possibly Astoria where it hit at least 100. Eugene is only a couple degrees away. The Dalles at 114 is the highest I’ve seen at the airport sensor in my 30 years forecasting. The official record, I think those observations are downtown, is 115 degrees.
Huge temperature variations continue along the coastline. Just a couple miles inland it can be 105 degrees, yet around 70-75 right ON the beaches. Live view from our Shilo Inns Seaside camera shows a westerly breeze on the sand, that tells me it’s likely under 80 degrees in this spot. A lot of people. We’ve got two more hours of heating…typically. East wind has been blowing a few hours at PDX, and when that happens the temperature rise levels of a bit. That said, there’s no reason it couldn’t go up another 3-4 degrees. Hang on folks, we’ve still got 20-28 hours to go…depending on your location. I see just a thousand or so PGE customers out, that’s no worse than yesterday. Fingers crossed…
Hot…PDX is just passing over the 100 degree mark this hour. Troutdale, where east wind has surfaced, jumped to 105…at noon.
Check out Astoria…97 with a light northeast wind. Hoquiam at 100 is an all-time high temperature record.
Farther south along the Oregon coast, the extreme heat is either on the beaches or just a couple of miles inland. Example: Pacific City…67 on the beach but 97 over in the estuary area
Easterly pressure gradients continue to rise through the Gorge and across the Cascades. That easterly flow continues through Monday morning. As easterly wind surfaces in more spots, expect temperature spikes, but humidity drops. It doesn’t matter; either 102 and humid or 110 and very dry. It’s blazing hot everywhere except the beaches. Even Government Camp has gone over 90 degrees this hour.
I see PDX officially dropped to 73 degrees last night, the 2nd warmest night on record and the warmest ever in June.
The heat is on big time this morning, as expected we are starting warmer and heating up much more quickly. Current temps
And regional temps
What grabs my attention right now:
850mb temp (about 4,000′) over Salem was measured at +26.4 degrees (C) this morning. About 2 degrees below all-time record. Expected to rise to a record +30 by afternoon
Overnight low was bad, but we did not set an all-time record in Portland. Down into the lower 70s
Easterly gradient and breezes have developed as expected. Gusts 25-35 mph at Vista House, and wherever that wind surfaces temperatures are skyrocketing
It’s 100 (at two separate wx stations) in Yacolt…at 10:18am. Astounding
It’s 92 already on the Long Beach Peninsula (Ocean Park). Blazing hot for some of you on the coastline the next 6 hours. Mainly north of Pacific City.
PDX is 88 at 10am, already 6 degrees hotter than 10am Saturday
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