Busy weather for first week of January

Wet January Start
Wet January Start(KPTV)
Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 7:58 PM PST
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10pm Wednesday…

It’s been awhile! I took a few days off last weekend (Happy New Year!) and then things got REAL busy weatherwise. Lot of extra work…

Of course 2021 ended very cold. New Year’s Day and last Monday were both the coldest of winter so far…only 34 degrees. And New Year’s Day included a lot of sunshine too! That was a very cold airmass pouring through the Gorge.

Wet January Start
Wet January Start(KPTV)

We ended up with 0.3″ on December 30th, which made for the snowiest December since 2008 at PDX

Wet January Start
Wet January Start(KPTV)

As always, some of you saw significantly more, some less. I ended up with 9″ at my home (1,050′) for the month. We never did get a big arctic blast across the entire Pacific Northwest, but the shallow edge of the really cold airmass punched down into northern Oregon a few times last week. PDX dropped to 25 on New Year’s morning Saturday. It was amazingly cold that morning north and east of Portland.

Wet January Start
Wet January Start(KPTV)

The -22 appears to have been an all-time record cold temperature in La Grande.

Wet January Start
Wet January Start(KPTV)

A surface low pressure system passing by to the north warmed us quickly Sunday night into Monday and we avoided a “transition snowstorm” in the metro area. But that storm also brought a HUGE dump of snow to the Cascades, Gorge, and blowing snow in northeast Oregon. Snowfall on Mt. Hood from Sunday evening to last night when things died down. 3+ feet is a big snow total for just two days on the mountain! At one point US26, OR-35, & I-84 (the entire Mt. Hood Loop) was closed to traffic.

Wet January Start
Wet January Start(KPTV)

With that cold airmass still locked in over north-central Oregon, big snowfall showed up there too. This was the biggest snowfall in several years.

Looks like somewhere between 20-35″ fell in most areas from Bonneville Dam to Hood River. There are very few official observation sites in the Gorge. Hood River had a long term site all through the 1900s but those observations stopped around 2012. Bonneville Dam officially recorded 18.0″ & Cascade Locks 21.5″. When the January stats come in next month, we’ll see how much Parkdale officially picked up.

Wet January Start
Wet January Start(KPTV)

Lighter amounts fell both east & west of there. BTW, the all-time daily record at Bonneville Dam is 39″, Hood River is 47″, and Parkdale 37″…all in early January 1980. That Hood River number is also the record for the entire state! The TWO DAY record for Bonneville is 53″ during that 1980 event, so this week’s snowfall was the 3rd highest on record during any 2 day period. This WAS a historic event out there.

The very last thin layer of cold air is still in the Gorge this evening. I see 3″ new snow at The Dalles this evening, so it’s safe to assume 3-6″ has fallen deep into the Gorge around Hood River. That changes to freezing rain overnight as much warmer air is arriving overhead.

We are under a flood watch this evening, and it’s been raining all day. Tomorrow an atmospheric river will be aimed just north of us. Latest GRAF numbers look like this…

That’s a lot of rain, but nothing really dramatic in the valleys south of Longview. We should get some flooding north of Portland, especially on streams/rivers draining the Coast & Cascade ranges.

We’re headed into a much calmer weather pattern beginning this weekend. After 3+ weeks of cool and wet systems, upper-level high pressure wants to linger around the West Coast this weekend and all through next week. There’s no sign of low elevation snow for the next 10-15 days…the first half of January, and possibly through the 20th, will be mild. At this point it sure doesn’t look like a cold/wet January is in the works. But a lot can happen the last 10 days of the month…you never know!

I’m watching Friday morning closely too. Models want to develop a surface low offshore and have it race across the region, possibly just north of Portland = strong south wind? We will see. More tomorrow if that’s the case. We haven’t seen a windstorm in the western valleys yet this season!

That’s it for now, the 10pm show beckons… Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen