Bitterly cold & Windy as Ice Storm Begins Thursday Evening

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 3:14 PM PST
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We had a beautiful day today, but the weather is starting to take a drastic change. The east wind has arrived on the far eastern side of the metro area and will spread through the Willamette Valley tonight. Temperatures will plummet as a result of that modified arctic air pouring in through the gorge. Expect the wind chill to make temperatures feel bitterly cold, with gusts up to 45 mph.

Tomorrow will see winds even stronger by morning, especially out near the gorge. We will see a dangerously cold wind chill through the day tomorrow and clouds early. By lunchtime, we could see flurries around the Portland metro area. Further south, the precipitation will likely start as ice pellets and could start as just freezing rain along the coast. At some point in the afternoon, likely right around the evening commute, the flurries around Portland will switch to ice pellets then freezing rain later. Roads will become extremely difficult to travel starting tomorrow evening and that likely won’t change until midday Saturday. If you want to play it safe, plan to be home by 2pm tomorrow.

Friday we are expecting an ice storm through the Willamette Valley. Temperatures will remain bitterly cold and we will continue to be windy in the Portland metro area and through the gorge. Freezing rain should continue into Saturday morning, with temperatures starting to warm through the southern parts of the Willamette Valley and a transition to rain. Around Portland we will likely see some thawing Saturday evening, especially to the west and south. Closer to the gorge, winds will still be keeping temperatures colder, so thawing may not be as quick. In total, we could see around 1/4″-1/2″ of ice accumulation by Saturday morning. That’s enough to cause damage to trees and limbs and power outages.

The winter storm will last longer in the gorge and travel will likely be nearly impossible through Christmas day. The gorge will start seeing snow Thursday evening, with a transition to freezing rain Friday. We expect about 3-6″ of snow to fall before ice starts to accumulate. Thawing will begin possibly Christmas day or early next week.

Christmas day will lead to widespread thawing around the metro area and temperatures climbing back into the mid 40s with just showers. Next week will be much warmer, with highs in the 50s, but also very wet.