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Sunday, August 1st, 8:15 P.M. 

As expected, today turned out to be a lot different than yesterday. We had more sunshine and way less smoke and haze overhead. Temperatures jumped up into the upper 80s and even low 90s this afternoon for some spots. It’s been another dry day for Portland. Showers and thunderstorms have once again developed this afternoon and evening. There have been a few storms over central Oregon and in the Eugene area, but nothing holding together for the metro area yet. There has been quite a bit of lightning, and that has likely started a few small fires in the foothills/Cascades in Southern Oregon.

Tomorrow and Tuesday will feature hazy sunshine. Temperatures will warm into the low 90s for the next three days. Thursday will feature a big drop in temps, with highs right around 80 degrees. We’ll see 70s for Friday – Sunday. Along with the cooler weather, shower chances return Thursday & Friday for the Willamette Valley.

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It was quite a dramatic weather day for some of us. A classic post-frontal (behind a cold front) unstable airmass flowed into western Oregon and western Washington today. That gave us an early spring mix of hail, downpours, bright sunshine, and a few lightning strikes. At 3:15pm one thunderstorm was moving across the West Hills and our system detected a lightning strike around the Cedar Mill area.

Sure enough, a cedar tree was hit in the Cedar Mill neighborhood. Thanks to Alex for this pic

And thanks to all of you that sent in hail pics. Late this morning 1/2″ to 1″ deep hail fell around the Seaside to Astoria area on the northern Oregon coastline. This one is from Lauren Masak in that area.

We get these hefty showers in early-mid spring for a couple of reasons. 1) The upper atmosphere in our area reaches its coldest point in late February and March, lagging the surface temps. In Portland our average high temperature has climbed from the mid 40s to mid 50s since early January. Warming below (compared to wintertime) plus just as cold above means more rising motions = hefty showers. 2) Sun angle is climbing rapidly. We are getting as much energy from the sun now as we would in very early October. A few sunbreaks and the surface warms quickly. That leads to “warm” bubbles of air rising through the chilly atmosphere overhead.

A large upper-level low is sitting off the West Coast; it won’t move much the next two days. Most of the energy and rain is headed south of us into California.

That cold upper-low drifts south and dies over the Desert SW Wednesday and beyond, leaving high pressure to take over for at least a few days Thursday-Saturday. By Saturday the ECMWF looks like this…

Other than a weak system passing by NEXT Sunday, the ECMWF operational model is mainly dry for about a week starting Wednesday. Ensembles from the same model show many members with mainly dry weather during that time. In general it appears the first half of March will end up being significantly drier than average; quite a change from what we’ve seen since December.

The one chilly trough passing through a week from now has been forecast by the GFS recently to bring much colder air for a couple of days. But…it is the GFS and it’s been trying to do that for a couple weeks… Most recent runs just have typical mid-March snow showers down to 1,500′ or so. Not much ensemble support for snow to lowest elevations either. That said…it is interesting that next Sunday is one year from the day we saw a morning dusting to 2″ in the metro area.

So if you have outdoor plans this week, you sure won’t get soaked. But I’d aim for Thursday-Saturday for the best chance of totally dry weather.

This evening I started working on my winter recap presentation I do each year for the Oregon AMS. This year ANYONE can easily watch the meeting since it’ll be on Zoom and Facebook. It’s 7pm Thursday the 18th. If you’re a weather geek and want to immerse yourself in an hour of weather stats, maps, charts…this is your chance! A couple of initial thoughts:

  1. What a slow winter!…Until those four days in mid-February. I have almost nothing to talk about for November, December, & January. At least we had a wind event and snow close call that month.
  2. This was the warmest La Niña winter on record in Portland! Although the urban heat island likely has something to do with that number. We’ll see how the regional numbers look when they come out this week.
  3. We’ve now gone through 7 winters without a regional “arctic blast”. Winters have been easy on our gardens recently…only 24 in Portland this year.
  4. Portland has seen measurable snow now for 6 consecutive winters. 4 of those were “big” snow years, but in two it just barely happened. We are due for a ZERO year I suppose.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

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