Feb 2014 Snow/Ice Wrapup

We had a great arctic blast followed by 2 snow storms and one snow/ice storm in the 2nd week of February.  The snow arrived midday Thursday, February 6th, and the last freezing rain ended in the evening Saturday the 8th.  There were a few spots of freezing drizzle Sunday morning the 9th and again some freezing rain showers briefly early the morning of the 10th, but neither of these resulted in additional icing.

Portland NWS Forecast Office ended up with 7.3″snow total for the three storms, the best monthly snowfall in 5 years.  We also saw .10″ to .40″ glaze ice from freezing rain in the area on Saturday evening the 8th.

There have been 4 big snow/ice events in the Portland Metro Area since 1997:  January 1998, January 2004, December 2008, and now February 2014.  I rank this one below 2004 & 2008, both in terms of disruption to daily life and snow totals.  Maybe similar to 1998.  That was a 2-3 day event.

WHAT WORKED OUT WELL

1. Models handled arrival of the cold air relatively well, if not a bit too cold in the forecasting.  At one point 850mb temps were expected to be down around -13 or lower, we bottomed out at only around -8 at PDX.

2. There was an obvious signal on the maps/models of a transition event back into normal wet weather well ahead of time.  On Monday our 7 Day forecast looked like this: 7Day_Feb_3_2014_11_07_45PM

3. The warm up occurred within 24 hours of when we said it would.  Although we did drop back below freezing Sunday night.  Still, that’s much better than 10 years ago with the ice storm that would never end.  By Monday the 10th we jumped into the 40s across just about the entire metro area.

4. Strongest east wind in the Gorge occurs when deep lows approach, not with the push of arctic air.  That was our forecast and that worked out fine.

5.  The ECMWF was the star model this time, far better than the WRF-GFS on the first system.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK OUT WELL:

1.  The big one.  Instead of one system (warm frontal-type structure) sweeping north on Friday night and Saturday, Several surface lows decided to track along a stationary boundary across the central part of Oregon.  And they started moving through on Thursday…well ahead of the expected warmup.  Basically moisture was inserted into the cold spell two days ahead of time…2 days ahead of the transition to warmer weather.  This turned our 1 day transition to 2 days of snow followed by that one day of transition (snow to freezing rain).

Take a look at the 120hr WRF-GFS forecast of surface conditions for Saturday afternoon, beautiful setup for a huge overrunning event as the system moves north along the coast.  A great shot of snow/ice before the warmup Sunday.  Notice the deep low moving north offshore

slp.132.0000

Then look at what actually occurred, from the 12 hour forecast Saturday morning.  Totally different.

slp.12.0000

And this was the 3rd low to move onshore into Oregon SOUTH of Salem.  Here are the maps for Thursday afternoon, Friday afternoon, and Saturday evening:

thursdaypmsfc
fridaypmsfc
saturdaypmsfc

Three separate low pressure centers…a perfect setup for 3 back to back snow/ice storms instead of just one event.

2.  Models were terrible on placement and timing of each “small” system.  The first was the worst.  Up until Wednesday afternoon, most models were showing moisture passing mainly south of the metro area.  And some were showing NOTHING all the way down to Eugene for Thursday afternoon.  The 12z ECMWF that morning correctly forecast moisture surging right up into NW Oregon and SW Washington.  But it was the only one.  Then the ECMWF came in Wednesday night slamming us even harder with the moisture for Thursday and other models were much closer.  We went with that forecast at the time calling for a snowstorm Thursday afternoon.  That’s what happened the next day.  The ECMWF did better than any other model this time around.

Beyond that first system, the mesoscale models did a bit better, but were slow each time.  In fact Saturday’s system was forecast by both our RPM and WRF-GFS to arrive in the mid afternoon.  Instead it arrived around 9am in Portland!  A real challenge.

3.  Precipitation arrived at the right time every day to keep temps down.  Obviously the first day evaporative cooling dropped temps like expected.  But on Friday and Saturday (storm #2 & #3)  precip arrived around 9-11am, ensuring we’d stay cooler than we might otherwise those days.  Then on Sunday, after a cloudy day that kept temps down, skies suddenly cleared after dark!  That led to wet roads refreezing;  a forecast screwup there.

That wraps up my basic summary of model and forecast performance during the storm.  I’m sure some of you could add some info in the comments below; I’m not easily insulted so go ahead.

Here is an extensive writeup by Steve Pierce:

This winter has also featured two arctic blasts in the same winter, which is the first such occurrence since the winter of 1990/91 when two arctic blasts hit the Pacific Northwest in the month of December. Equally impressive are the following storm stats —

* The high temperature of 23 degrees at the Portland International Airport last Thursday was the coldest since day of any month of the year since January 30th 1996 (18 years ago) when the high temperature reached 23 at the Portland International Airport.

* The high temperature of 23 degrees at the Portland International Airport last Thursday was the coldest day on record this late in the winter season at the Portland International Airport. Records date back to 1940 (74 years) at the airport.

* The high temperature of 23 degrees at the Portland International Airport last Thursday was the coldest day this late in the winter season in 81 years in Portland when looking even further back to records pre-dating the airport. The last time a equal or colder high temperature was recorded this late in the season in Portland was a 23 degree high temperature recorded back on February 9th 1933 in downtown Portland. Records date back more than 143 years in downtown (1871).

 

And snow totals from the Portland NWS:

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PORTLAND OR
 840 AM PST MON FEB 10 2014

 LISTED BELOW ARE THE PRELIMINARY STORM TOTAL SNOW AND ICE REPORTS 
 RECEIVED FROM THURSDAY...FEB 6 THROUGH SUNDAY...FEB 9.

 LOCATION                 SNOW (IN)    
 --------------------------------------

 ...COAST...

 NECANICUM,OR...............10.0        
 WHEELER,OR.................9.0          
 MANZANITA,OR...............8.0          
 ROCKAWAY BEACH,OR..........7.0 
 NEHALEM 4NE, OR............7.0           
 ALSEA,OR...................6.0 
 TOKELAND 5NW, WA...........5.0         
 TILLAMOOK,OR...............4.0          
 WALDPORT,OR................3.5 
 PACIFIC CITY,OR............3.5 
 YACHATS,OR.................2.0      
 WARRENTON,OR...............2.0         
 NEWPORT,OR.................2.0 
 ASTORIA 12E, OR............2.0        

 ...COAST RANGE...

 MARYS PEAK ,OR.............14.0       
 VERNONIA,OR................13.0
 SADDLE MOUNTAIN, OR........13.0          
 WILSON RIVER SUMMIT,OR.....11.0 
 BLODGETT,OR................11.0        
 SUNSET SUMMIT,OR...........10.0       
 MANNING,OR.................9.5 
 MILLER WOODS, OR...........9.0
 GRAND RONDE, OR............9.0
 BANKS,OR...................5.5   
 HASKINS DAM, OR............4.0         
 SWISS HOME,OR..............2.5          

 ...INLAND VALLEYS...
 MONROE 6NW, OR.............16.0
 CORVALLIS, OR..............15.0
 PHILOMATH, OR..............15.0
 ALBANY, OR.................15.0
 SCIO, OR...................13.0
 STAYTON, OR................12.0
 DALLAS, OR.................12.0
 SALEM 3NW, OR..............12.0
 GASTON, OR.................12.0
 RIDGEFIELD,WA..............12.0        
 ST. HELENS,OR..............10.0         
 INDEPENDENCE,OR............10.0         
 CLATSKANIE,OR..............10.0 
 ALBANY,OR..................10.0
 COLUMBIA CITY, OR..........10.0 
 FOREST GROVE,OR............9.0-10.0      
 WASHOUGAL,WA...............9.0          
 STAYTON,OR.................9.0          
 ALBANY,OR..................9.0 
 CLATSKANIE, OR.............9.0 
 LACOMB 3NNE, OR............9.0
 SHERIDAN 5NW, OR...........9.0       
 MONROE,OR..................8.8          
 SCAPPOOSE,OR...............8.5 
 VANCOUVER, WA..............8.0
 MT. ANGEL, OR..............8.0         
 SALMON CREEK,WA............8.0-10.0  
 PORTLAND,OR................5.0-8.0          
 SCIO,OR....................7.5  
 PORTLAND NWS OFFICE........7.3        
 LEBANNON,OR................7.2          
 BATTLE GROUND,WA...........7.0 
 TROUTDALE 5E, OR...........7.0        
 WOODLAND,WA................7.0          
 EUGENE,OR..................7.0          
 4SW GASTON,OR..............7.0          
 8 MI SSW MONMOUTH,OR.......7.0          
 HALSEY,OR..................7.0          
 KALAMA,WA..................6.25         
 CANBY,OR...................6.0          
 DALLAS,OR..................6.0          
 GRESHAM,OR.................6.0          
 TURNER,OR..................6.0          
 SALEM,OR...................6.0          
 HILLSBORO,OR...............6.0          
 LONGVIEW,WA................6.0          
 KEIZER,OR..................6.0          
 OREGON CITY,OR.............5.5         
 TIGARD,OR..................5.5          
 CORNELIUS,OR...............5.5          
 MCMINNVILLE,OR.............5.0        
 YAMHILL,OR.................5.0 
 KELSO, WA..................5.0
 ARIEL, WA..................5.0
 MOLALLA 7NE, OR............4.0
 GRAYS RIVER, WA............1.0        

 ...FOOTHILLS...

 MARION FORKS,OR............19.0         
 DETROIT,OR.................14.0         
 SANDY,OR...................6.0 
 RHODODENDRON, OR...........6.0        

  ...CASCADES...

 WILLAMETTE PASS EAST,OR....22.0         
 TIMBERLINE,OR..............16.0         
 MT HOOD MEADOWS,OR.........17.0          
 GOVERNMENT CAMP,OR.........16.0         
 SANTIAM PASSS,OR...........14.0         
 BELKNAP SPRINGS,OR.........10.0        
 BENNETT PASS,OR............10.0         
 WHITE PASS,OR..............10.0
 HOODOO BUTTE,OR............7.0          

 ...GORGE...
 HOOD RIVER,OR..............10.0-12.0      
 CASCADE LOCKS,OR...........8.0
 BONNEVILLE DAM, OR.........6.0        

 ...UPPER HOOD RIVER VALLEY...

 PARKDALE,OR................21.0  

....ICE ACCUMULATIONS FROM FREEZING RAIN..........

 LOCATION                 ICE (IN)     DURATION    REPORT TIME
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------

 ...COAST...

 NEWPORT,OR.................0.25         

 ...COAST RANGE...

 BLODGETT,OR................0.5          

 ...INLAND VALLEYS...

 EUGENE,OR..................0.5          
 SWEET HOME,OR..............0.5          
 LEBANON,OR.................0.5          
 FAIRVIEW,OR................0.4          
 1 ENE GRESHAM,OR...........0.3          
 EUGENE,OR..................0.3          
 GRESHAM,OR.................0.25         
 DALLAS,OR..................0.25         
 EUGENE,OR..................0.25         
 SALEM,OR...................0.25         
 4NW PHILOMATH,OR...........0.25         
 CAMAS,WA...................0.25         
 1 SSW PORTLAND AIRPORT,OR..0.25         
 BATTLE GROUND,WA...........0.25         
 CLACKAMAS,OR...............0.25         
 PLEASANT HILL,OR...........0.2          
 CLACKAMAS,OR...............0.1          
 LEBANON,OR.................0.2          
 CORVALLIS,OR...............0.15         
 CAMAS,WA...................0.1          
 LEBANON,OR.................0.1          
 HAPPY VALLEY,OR............0.1          
 PORTLAND,OR................0.1          

 ...FOOTHILLS...

 PLEASANT HILL,OR...........0.20

SANDY,OR……………….0.05

29 Responses to Feb 2014 Snow/Ice Wrapup

  1. Jeff Raetz says:

    http://classic.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KORMILWA11

    Averages\Extremes for the month of February 2014

    Average temperature = 39.7°F (Lowest average February temp on record)
    Average humidity = 86%
    Average dewpoint = 35.5°F
    Average barometer = 29.970 in.
    Average windspeed = 1.3 mph
    Average gustspeed = 3.1 mph
    Average direction = 89° ( E )
    Rainfall for month = 5.54 in. (Average is 3.55”)
    Rainfall for year = 10.450 in. (Average is 9.26”)
    Maximum rain per minute = 0.040 in on day 15 at time 17:06
    Maximum temperature = 56.7°F on day 28 at time 14:02
    Minimum temperature = 17.4°F on day 06 at time 18:01 (Lowest temp in February on record)
    Maximum humidity = 100% on day 28 at time 08:19
    Minimum humidity = 42% on day 05 at time 15:45
    Maximum dewpoint = 53.4°F on day 15 at time 15:19
    Minimum dewpoint = 3.5°F on day 05 at time 21:49
    Maximum pressure = 30.39 in. on day 05 at time 08:17
    Minimum pressure = 29.35 in. on day 15 at time 16:42
    Maximum windspeed = 11.5 mph from 068°(ENE) on day 25 at time 14:15
    Maximum gust speed = 26.5 mph from 180°( S ) on day 17 at time 03:30
    Maximum heat index = 56.7°F on day 28 at time 14:02

    Avg daily max temp :45.3°F
    Avg daily min temp :34.8°F
    Total windrun = 877.5miles
    Frost days= 10
    Ice/snow days= 4

    Record low wind chill temperature = 2.8 on day 06 at time 18:06 (Lowest wind chill in February on record)
    Record daily rain = .94” on day 15
    Record rain in 1 hour = 0.26” on day 15 at time 17:10
    Warmest day (6am to 6pm) = 51.3 on day 12
    Coldest night (6pm to 6am) = 18.1 on day 07
    Coldest day (6am to 6pm) = 19.9 on day 06
    Warmest night (6pm to 6am) = 50.2 on day 13

    Daily rain totals

    00.02 in. on day 2
    00.07 in. on day 3
    00.01 in. on day 9
    00.34 in. on day 10
    00.60 in. on day 11
    00.22 in. on day 12
    00.22 in. on day 13
    00.43 in. on day 14
    00.94 in. on day 15
    00.16 in. on day 16
    00.65 in. on day 17
    00.62 in. on day 18
    00.41 in. on day 19
    00.16 in. on day 20
    00.40 in. on day 24
    00.01 in. on day 25
    00.28 in. on day 27

    Records since October 2008

  2. Ellen Wallace says:

    Ok-up here we got a total of nearly 9″-8 3/4′-ish…Not on the list-we’re in the hills. What I want to know is: SPRING-any patterns yet? Thanks.

  3. IceCold says:

    Mark, what did you get up at your place? I don’t see it listed on the chart.

  4. IceCold says:

    Oops, wrong place. Sorry!

  5. boydo3 N Albany says:

    The central Willamette valley really scored this winter..twice! The first snowfall back in Dec left us with around 6″ on the ground and this last one (two storms) left 15″. That’s 21″! We had snow cover on the ground for 7 days in Dec and still have snow cover on the ground for the 6th day from this last one. That’s pretty damn good for a valley location.

  6. Muxpux (Castle Rock 175') says:

    I measured 10″ Saturday night in downtown Longview on a table that is about 20′ or more from buildings, trees, etc. but I guess Longview/kelso only got 5-6″. I guess all those 9″+ photos on my FB wall were faked. Also, we had virtually no wind up here so there wasn’t any drifting

  7. gidrons says:

    I hope this report stays here a long time so, that when someone is crushed because a model shows a low that is 5 days out hitting Long Beach, they can re-read this and remember how big the margin of error is.

  8. chiefWright (Marquam) says:

    I’d be curious on the protocol for measuring snow at these stations, and whether is was the same for all stations. Were these accumulations or depths?

    The CoCoRHaS practice I follow is to carefully measure the depth of a snow board that’s cleared every day at 7 AM. And in uniform conditions, daily depth equals daily accumulation.

    However, I check the snow board depth at intervals thruout the day, especially before and after precipitation events.

    The condition of these storms was anything but uniform. The depth on my daily snow board collapsed about 3″ Friday night after sleet & freezing rain started coming down after midnight. And I checked about an inch of accumulation during the day on Saturday, but it had all melted away Sunday morning.

    If I were to use my 7AM measurements, then my total accumulation for the storm cycle would have been just 5″. But if I consider what I observed at the peak of each accumulation, the total accumulation would have been closer to 8″. This is the data I entered in CoCoRHaS. (OR-CC-25)

    Which is correct? What protocols are used at the NWS stations?

    • W7ENK says:

      That’s a good point. The wind really blew the snow around in my yard, but there was one spot that was sheltered from the wind with no trees overhead that seemed to have the most uniform accumulation (no blowing or drifting), so I chose to measure there. I measured several times each day to get a feel for how much snow was actively falling, but especially right at the tail end of each round to capture peak snowfall. It also helped that there was a layer of ice between each accumulation of snow that aided in determining the bottom of the new day’s snow depth, I could feel it with my measuring tape.

      What baffles me about the NWS totals is, I had more snow on Friday night (7.5 inches) on the ground than what they are showing for a final total for anywhere around me, and that accounts for 1 inch of compacting from the freezing drizzle early that morning.

      Something is obviously amiss. I think these “official” totals are maximum snow depth, not incremental snowFALL.

    • W7ENK says:

      Additionally, by looking at my daily liquid equivelant the figures correspond quite closely to my snowfall values.

      0.28″ Thursday = 3.0″ snowfall (dry)
      0.48″ Friday = 4.5″ snowfall
      0.66″ Saturday = 5.5″ snowfall (wet) + 3/16″ (0.18″) ice

      I did my best to keep it fair and honest. It still irks me a little that they refused to include my report. 😦

    • Benjamin (West Salem) says:

      I get what you both are saying. I live in west Salem and I (along with many others) reported between 10 and 13 inches of snow. the Salem airport is about 4.5 miles straight shot from where I live. I know that in snowstorms sometimes 4.5mi makes a huge difference. Just seemed weird that the airport here recorded a total of 6inches while we had almost double that. and this was not a elevation driven event…

      I am happy that the dome broke for you, W7ENK, and I hope it breaks this summer and you get a really awesome thunderstorm.

    • PD says:

      Erik, could be that NE PDX didn’t do quite as well. At my house at NE 60th/Glisan, on one board I measured at the end of each of the three days, scraping off the board at the end of each one. For Day 1, I had 3.5 inches fresh. Day 2: 2 inches fresh. Day 3: 2 inches fresh. So my total, 7.5 inches, was in line with what the NWS got. On another board, I just let it piled up and it peaked at 7 inches there.

    • Chris s says:

      I measured right at 11 inches Benjamin, just off of glen creek. So ya that salem airport reading seems pretty suspect.

  9. Andrew (Near Silver Falls 1600') says:

    Ended up with a total of 8.5″ of snow here. 2.5″ last Tuesday, 5″ on Thursday, and 1″ on Friday before it turned to rain/ZR as the warm nose enveloped my location. The coldest day was Thursday which was 23/13.

  10. Punxsutawney (aka HIOPHIL) at work by Sunset High elev ~280 says:

    Those snow totals need work. The 6″ for Hillsboro was reported for Thursday. There was another 7-8″ Friday – Saturday + 3/8-1/2″ ice Saturday night.

    • W7ENK says:

      Yeah, I question a number of those snow totals. I saw photos and heard lots of people both here and on Facebook talking about 12-16 inches in Salem, particularly on the South side of town. Hell, I had 13 inches total, but I see nothing like that anywhere in the Portland metro. I don’t even see my own spotter report. I’m guessing it was thrown out? It was truthful.

  11. Taylor says:

    Oh 2004…that one was fun until the freezing rain came and would not stop. At that point j was just begging for it to please go away. We were fortunate to not lose power, but it was terrifying. That storm isn’t as known for its snow totals as it was for the massive ice storm.

    • David B. says:

      I was living in Portland at the eastern base of the West Hills in 2004 and the hills must have been lofting just enough cold air up to make most of the freezing rain be sleet at my location. If I remember correctly, I got 6 to 7 inches total of sleet on top of 5 inches of snow (and only about 1/4″ inch of freezing rain). A simply incredible accumulation of sleet.

  12. It should also be pointed out that the “Forest Grove Effect” was ongoing, as well as the Felida/Hazel Dell Effect 🙂 Up-sloping from east winds caused quite a bit more snow in Felida, 1″ in Battle Ground, vs. 7-8″ in Felida on the Saturday storm especially.

    I can’t recall exactly, but I also don’t remember such an extreme contrast in temps behind/ahead of the stationary arctic front (20’s and 30s Eugene, 50’s and 60s 40 miles south.)

    • David B. says:

      In 2004, Portland was stuck in the 20s for days while Salem was having mild Pineapple Express rain and 50s.

    • Chris s says:

      That is just plain false David, salem was not in the 50’s while Portland was in the 20’s. We got hit probably harder than Portland did during the 2004 event, and broke out of it pretty much the same time. Why state things that are just not even remotely accurate.

    • W7ENK says:

      I think he meant 2008. As I recall, Salem got screwed while Portland got slammed. Simple mistake, no need to be so snippy.

    • chris s says:

      Erik, Salem got hammered in 2008 as well. I have no idea what he is talking about. Not being snippy, but if people are gonna post things that are just completely false, they should be called on it.

  13. The Bad Forecaster says:

    Glad we could all collaborate together Mark on what the official snowfall was for at least near the airport at the NWS office. There was a bit of confusion at first as to what it really was. Fortunately, and kudos to the NWS for getting out and taking some sort of measurement. If they had not then it no one would ever know what it was for PDX.

  14. marinersfan85 says:

    We needed this! A superbowl AND and snowstorm for the record books in the same week!? Who’d a thunk it? Great read Mark! Lets do it again next week!

  15. Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

    A windstorm is now just THE thing to top this all off!

    Then after a good blow, some t’storms starting around April sounds about niiiiccceee…. 😉

  16. W7ENK says:

    It was freakin’ AWESOME!!! ^_^

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: