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  • Posted

9pm Sunday…

Hopefully you enjoyed this last weekend of August? It was quite a bit different than the cloudy/sprinkles stuff we saw last weekend. Portland hit 87 both days

A very interesting month…blazing hot first half, then near to below normal the 2nd half

At this moment, it’s still the hottest summer (June-August) in recorded history at PDX. BUT, it’s only slightly above Summer 2015. Add in two cool days (tomorrow and Tuesday), and I have a feeling it’ll be a tie for hottest summer in Portland. Salem’s records go back into the late 1800s and it’ll definitely end up as #1 hottest there.

The drought continues of course. The six months March-August are the driest on record at PDX, totally blowing away the previous years. Hard to believe we’ve seen less than 4″ of rain since the end of February!

I did check and find that is NOT the driest six months on record at PDX. There have been just a few other years in which May-October rainfall was less than 4″ as well. But we’ve never had a spring/summer dry combo like this.


We are in a typical late summer or early fall weather pattern now. That means we don’t stay in long warm/hot periods but not much rain either. Forget the air conditioning…nights have been in the 40s/50s much of the past week and that continues. Weak ridging overhead gave us the warm weekend, now a cool trough drifts through southern B.C. the next 2-3 days. You can see the dip in the flow Tuesday up around 18,000′

That’s on top of a major marine push in progress. Already at 8:30pm much of the metro area has dropped into the upper 60s. The westerly flow is also pushing all fire smoke east; notice the plumes coming off Cascade fires this evening are all headed into the eastern half of the state. This is the most active I’ve seen those fires in quite a few days.

More on fires in a minute

More onshore flow means highs only in the 70-75 degree range the next two days, but I don’t expect solid gray skies. Sun & clouds will mix.

Wednesday through Friday the trough moves east and atmosphere warms…we should be back in the 80s Thursday/Friday. It’s not a hot ridge of high pressure; no “heat dome”. Just an absence of any cool systems nearby. The Friday afternoon view


Models generally have some sort of upper-level trough swinging by around Sunday/Monday, but they are in great disagreement. Just taking a look at the ECMWF ensembles today, 21 of 51 members (a little under half) bring some real showers through Portland either Sunday or Monday. Of course that means more than half keep us dry through the holiday weekend. This chart shows each of those 51 members as one horizontal line on the upper half of the image. It’s 24 hour precipitation.

Anything with some color (not gray) means at least .10″. So details for next weekend are still to be resolved, but we know at least Saturday will be dry.


The cooldown and lack of thunderstorms the 2nd half of August has had a HUGE impact on fire weather. There has only been ONE big new fire in the state of Oregon in the past three weeks. That was the Fox Complex near Lakeview. No other new fire over 1,000 acres has ignited. Very good news. We still have 5 large fires (over 100 acres) burning in Oregon this evening, that’s down from around 10 a couple weeks ago. It’s 4 different complexes that started from lightning the first few days of August, plus the Jack Fire which began right around the 4th of July. That fire hasn’t seen much growth at all the last couple of weeks. But the other 4 keep burning steadily

The Bull Complex is an interesting one because it’s burning in a relatively small area between three of those mega-fires last September, maybe 5-8 miles north of Detroit.

That’s it for now…although I do have some “mixed emotions” news to share. Anne Campolongo has been a big part of our weather team for the past three years; the best weather team I’ve worked with. She’s one of the most professional people I know; smart meteorologist, friendly, great sense of humor, willing to learn, and really enjoys life. She came to us from Medford, just two years into a TV career after a meteorology degree. But now she moves on with 5 years experience in this business. Heading to the “big time” weather-wise! KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa. That will be quite the severe-weather experience. Tornadoes, blizzards, damaging thunderstorms, etc… It’s also much closer to where she grew up in Ohio. So we’re sad she’s leaving, but happy she is headed to a good place.

Goodbye Anne!

  • Posted

Friday, September 17th, 3:00 A.M. 

Good morning!

A big change to the weather pattern will take place today as a cold front and atmospheric river take aim at the Pacific Northwest. You’ll notice cloudier skies, but mainly dry weather inland for the bulk of the day. That said, showery conditions will begin along the coast later this morning, and a few spotty showers can’t be ruled out inland this afternoon. A cold front will pivot through between this evening and tonight, bringing steady rain and gusty wind to northwest Oregon and southwest Washington. Take the time today to cover things up that you don’t want to get wet, because this is going to be a downright soaker!

The cold front will advance inland on Saturday. Behind the cold front, scattered showers and isolated storms will get going. These are the type of showers that tend to produce quick rounds of hail and downpours. Lightning can’t be ruled out, but in most cases we won’t see a lot of that. Showery and cool conditions will persist through Sunday. All in all, this will end up being a very beneficial rainfall (putting a major dent in our fire season). Through the weekend, our western valleys will end up with 1-2+ inches of rain. The coast will likely see a bit more rainfall than the western valleys. The real winners should be our mountain communities. The Coast Range and the Cascades will pick up 2-4 inches of rain (with greater totals along favorable slopes).

Conditions will gradually dry out on Monday, and temperatures should get close to 70 degrees around the metro area. Once this soaking rain comes through though, our valleys will be more susceptible to morning fog.

Get ready for the rain, and happy Friday!  

  • Posted

After experiencing our warmest Memorial Day Weekend since 1992, the weather scene REALLY heated up today. A very warm airmass + light offshore flow + all sunshine led to a record setting hot day. Portland hit 95 degrees, but look at all the other records!

Each of those numbers is a record for the date…not the month. The Dalles made it to 103. Surprisingly, Astoria hit 80 briefly, even with the weak/flat thermal trough centered inland, not on the beaches.

Of course last night marked the end of “meteorological spring”. That’s March/April/May in the Northern Hemisphere. You may be thinking spring doesn’t end until the summer solstice on June 20th right? That would be “traditional spring” like you see on a calendar. But official spring (according to NOAA) has just finished. And what a spring it has been. I’ve never seen such a dry spring here, and almost no one alive has seen it this way either.

It wasn’t about the temperature…Portland ended up just a bit above average. A cool March was balanced out by a warm April and slightly warm May

But check out the rain! Over 6″ less than normal…which is just above 9″. Not only was this the driest spring on record at PDX, but only about 1/2 of the previous record! This spring blows all the others out of the water. Grasses are drying quickly as if it’s early-mid July.

This was a historic spring with respect to rain…here are some other rankings:

  • #2 Driest DOWNTOWN PORTLAND: 3.83″ (driest was 1924 = 2.76″, #3 was 1939 = 3.92″)
  • #1 Driest PENDLETON: 1.01″
  • #2 Driest ASTORIA: 7.51″ Records go back into 1880s!
  • #3 Driest MEDFORD: 1.84″
  • #8 Driest SALEM: 4.54″ Records go back to 1870s!

Who would have expected a slightly warm and record dry spring in an La Niña year? A bit dry would have been normal, but not the combo of record dry and warm-ish.


Just about out of time so I’ll make it quick. The hot ridging overhead weakens slowly the next 2 days. By this weekend and next Monday, we’re under a cool upper-level trough

Then the trough lingers/weakens through the rest of next week. This is the ECMWF ensemble average of 500mb height for June 10th (NEXT Thursday). A little bit of troughing, but it seems to be centered farther south.

Considering there will be upper-level troughing nearby from Saturday through next week, models sure aren’t producing much rainfall. The 15 day ECMWF forecast takes us through the first half of the month

Less than 1″ through the Willamette Valley with many areas seeing less than 1/2″. That’s not good. CMC (Canadian) ensemble is similar

Same general idea…less than 1″ for the first half of the month in the western valleys. It’s ALMOST time to panic rain-wise. Even I’m worried now about well water as we go into the 2nd half of summer. We have just about run out of time to see any real soaking rain. How much rain did we have form this point forward through June the past 10 years? Only 3 of those 10 saw significant rain (2″ or more)

I’ll dig a bit deeper into this when I get back next week. I just worked 13 of the last 14 days so I’ve got a bunch of days off.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen