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Spring 2022 turns cool & wet

A big change from last year!
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 9:33 PM PDT
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Meteorological spring in the Northern Hemisphere runs from March 1st to May 31st. It’s the 3 month period between winter and summer. This year was looking a bit like last year through the first few days of April; a bit warmer and drier than normal.

How things have changed the past 10 days! Numerous rounds of cold showers and mountain snow have been the rule since the 10th. Take a look at temperatures so far this month in Portland. The dark blue days are high temps 10 degrees or more below average. So far we are running close to 4 degrees below average, one of the coldest first 18 days of the month we’ve seen.

Wet April
Wet April(kptv)

Then the precipitation. Lots of it. As of this evening it’s the 8th wettest April on record with lots more rain ahead.

Wet April
Wet April(kptv)

Compare that to the last two very dry Aprils. In fact we’ve already picked up more rain this spring than the last four!

Wet April
Wet April(kptv)

Of course snow has been falling heavily at times the past 10 days. All basins in Oregon have seen significant improvement with PLENTY of water now available in the central/north Cascades and NW Oregon. We won’t need to worry about drought in the NW quarter of the state this summer. But a different story continues in central, south, & SE Oregon. It’s more a matter of “bad” instead of “terrible” for the irrigation season. You can’t erase two years of drought with 1-2 weeks of heavy mountain snow and rain

(NRCS)

On April 1st, it was looking like we might have a quick melt-off once again. But check out the SWE (snow water equivalent) just east of Government Camp. That’s inches of water in the snowpack. Black line is this year. Notice it has suddenly swung back upward right when it is typically melting (green line)

(NRCS)

The same thing at Clear Lake about 5 miles SE of that location. A dramatic change from two weeks ago!

(NRCS)

WHAT’S AHEAD?

A cool upper level trough will be swinging through the region tomorrow and Thursday. The atmosphere was marginally unstable today and we could have seen thunderstorms west of the Cascades. But thick cloud cover kept things from getting going. Tomorrow should be a bit more interesting. A system moves overhead in the morning, followed by a cool and unstable airmass flowing in from the southwest. Models are giving us low Lifted Index, relatively high CAPE, and the SW to NE storm movement has historically been good for thunderstorms and possibly funnel clouds. Assuming we get plenty of sunbreaks, I expect scattered thunderstorms to pop up midday and into the afternoon hours. I’ve seen much better setups with better dynamics, but it always seems to easy to get a few storms going in April-May-June around here. Typically they are weak, but we’ll see if anything more significant shows up tomorrow. The NAM-3km shows the best CAPE around 5-6pm, although it shows more than other models.

(WeatherBELL Analytics)

My gut feeling is we have a typical spring shower/downpour day (with sunbreaks) on tap for tomorrow with a few embedded thunderstorms. Probably a funnel cloud or two as well. Check out this great timelapse of a funnel cloud last Wednesday evening.

ANY DRY WEATHER AHEAD?

Not really, at least more than a couple days at a time. I’d like to get a few cold weather veggies planted and I’m thinking that could be next Monday. That’s because it appears we’ll get some brief upper level ridging this coming weekend, then another cool/wet trough swings through next Tuesday/Wednesday. There are hints we turn a bit drier right after that time...around 9-10 days from now. You can see that in the ECMWF ensemble chart which takes us into the first few days of May. So the short answer is NO, I DON’T SEE A LONG DRY/WARM SPELL IN THE NEXT 10 DAYS.

(WeatherBELL Analytics)