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  • Updated

Monday, August 2nd, 3:45 P.M. 

Good afternoon!

Most of the metro area is experiencing a borderline hot afternoon with temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s. We’ll end the day around 90-91 degrees at PDX. You may have also noticed the haziness out there. Wildfire smoke is drifting out of northern California, and will continue to do so for the next 24-48 hours. Air quality shouldn’t diminish a whole lot, as smoke is mostly confined to the mid to upper levels of the atmosphere.

High pressure will remain parked to the east of us through Wednesday, keeping afternoons hot and a southerly flow in place. Hazy sunshine is anticipated Tuesday, and at least for part of Wednesday. Between Wednesday and Thursday, our upper level wind will turn more out of the southwest, pushing smoke to the northeast. This is around when conditions will start to cool down. Expect highs to trend from the 90s back to the low to mid 80s by Thursday afternoon.

Between Thursday and Friday, a cooler trough of low pressure will make its approach out of the northwest. This system will push clouds back into the picture, as well as showery conditions. The best chance for measurable rain will be across northwest Oregon and western Washington. Points to the south and east of the metro area have less of a chance at seeing a soaking rain. That same system will drop our highs into the 70s Friday-Sunday.

Stay cool out there. Changes aren’t far away!

  • Posted

8:00pm Sunday…

I haven’t posted much the past two weeks for two reasons.  One is that the weather has been relatively slow so it’s tough to get inspired.  Second, because our society has been consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic; weather seems like a minor concern during this unprecedented time in American history.  Of course weather can be a big deal, but during these past two weeks it has been relatively quiet in the Pacific Northwest anyway.


You might be wondering what has changed in the FOX12 weather center these past two weeks?

Well, we have a supply of Purell, Lysol, & other disinfectants just like all the rest of you.  Many of you are now working from home to avoid interacting with others.  “Social-distancing” is THE big thing right now, although “physical-distancing” is probably a better description.   Should we really be “socially-distant” from each other?  I don’t think so.

So why aren’t WE working from home?

It’s because we’ve been able distance ourselves at work quite well due to nature of our work space.   IF there are two of us in the weather center (much of the time we are alone), we already sit six feet or so apart.  And we are far removed from other coworkers.  I know at least one other TV station in Portland has the weather anchors working right in the middle of the newsroom (during normal times).  I’m now glad that is not the case here.  We are fortunate that all our work is done on computers in the main broadcast studio.  That’s “Studio A”…what you see on television IS our office.  We sit back there below those three big monitors.


So unless a newscast is on, we sit alone in a massive warehouse-like room.  I didn’t see another person for about two hours today.  During our shows, we stand maybe 10-12 feet away from the anchor(s) at that large monitor, and while sitting about 21 feet away.  Yes, I actually measured today.

FOX12 management has also done a great job turning a regular “office cubicle newsroom” into a more appropriate work space during this pandemic.  Most reporters/photographers remain out and away from the station while gathering/producing news content.  Producers that put together the shows are either widely spaced in the newsroom OR working from home.   News anchors are sitting widely spaced in our other studio, “Studio B”.  This is the studio you see in November/December; a Christmas tree with toys piled many feet deep around it.  A pic this evening shows only Bonnie Silkman in that enormous room.


Editors and a few other folks are scattered about our two-level office building.  But just about all other workers (sales/promotions, engineers, etc…) are working from home like many of you.  It’s a very quiet place right now…

What else has changed?

  • I now bring my own food, some of us used to cook.  No more going out to grab a sandwich from a restaurant at lunch either.  I used to do that all the time.  But I figure each time I leave the station and come back I could be introducing a virus to the office.
  • I avoid door handles at work
  • Less wandering around the station catching up on the latest from coworkers during breaks.
  • I’ve stopped doing “errands” on the way to work each afternoon.  I used to stop at a coffee shop, home improvement store, auto store, grocery store, etc…  Now I pretty much just go from home to work.  Again, safer to just go back and forth.

I’m totally comfortable with this work setup, we’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

Alright, so what about weather?

Quite a change this past week.  Sure, March has been cooler than average, but we were seeing so much sun this month, until the past six days.  What would have been Oregon’s spring break was cool and showery…surprise!  Friday and Saturday were especially gray/drippy.

We have a second cool/wet work week on the way.    A cool upper-level trough will settle in over western Canada and the Pacific Northwest through at least the next week.  You can see the cool trough over the Gulf of Alaska today


Almost right over us by Wednesday


Then the ECMWF ensemble forecast for next Saturday.  This is a cool western North America setup with very warm weather east of the Mississippi River.


Tonight the leading edge of the colder airmass moves inland after midnight.  That’s a cold front and you can expect to hear rain coming down in the wee hours of the morning.  A gusty southerly wind accompanies that cold front too.  A few gusts 30-40 mph are likely between midnight and 6am.  Behind the front we’ll see cold showers and sunbreaks mix; a classic spring hail/thunder setup for both Monday and Tuesday.  The atmosphere appears more unstable Tuesday; that’s our better chance for thunderstorms.

To summarize

  1. Cool and wet weather continues for at least the next 7 days.  Not a soaker every day, but it’s tough to find a totally dry day.
  2. There will be some “decent outdoor weather” for a few hours at a time later this week.  Keep a close eye on the radar if you want to take a run or bike ride.  I’d skip tomorrow and Tuesday.
  3. There’s no sign of a significant warm/dry spell as we head into the first week of April.
  4. Lots of snow is on the way in the Cascades.  Typically early April is the beginning of melt season in the Cascades, but we’ll be adding to the snow pack instead this year.  That will be excellent for our summer water supply.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

  • Posted

Today was a slow weather day, after some excitement Sunday.  A strong cold front passed across the state yesterday, followed by quite a surge of southwest or westerly wind.  The peak gust of 45 mph at PDX was the highest of the season, which tells you how slow this winter has been weatherwise.  The “today” in the graphic refers to yesterday of course.

Wind Peak Gust PDX

Much stronger wind spread through the eastern Gorge and north-central & northeast Oregon.

Gorge Gusty Wind

Baker City reached near 60 at noon, then dropped into the 30s with a westerly gust to 67 mph…now that’s a real cold front!

Today’s forecast was a “bit off”.  Partly cloudy wasn’t too far off (really was mostly cloudy), but scattered showers popped up all day long and it wasn’t a dry day for some of us.  It has been appropriately noted with an “X” on the forecast report card.

In general we have another slow work week weather-wise.  Temperatures rise the next few days as a weak upper-level ridge moves overhead.  One weak system moves inland tomorrow evening, but we’ll be lucky to get anything more than a few sprinkles or a shower.  The next chance for real rain isn’t until Friday night or Saturday.  Beyond that time (first week or so of March) it should be a bit wetter, although not excessive.  The 12z ECMWF ensemble forecast gives a mean of 1.5″ through March 10th


I notice the GFS shows about 2″ during the same period.  Pretty typical early March showery weather.

Winter still appears to be done as mentioned in last Wednesday’s post.  There’s no sign of a significant cold spell or freeze in the next 10+ days.  A nice warm up again this Wednesday-Friday, then cooler for that first week of March


So I think the idea that “we’ll transition from winter to early spring weather” is still good for the next 10 days.  It’s also clear we’ll end up with a much drier than average February; probably ending up with less than 2″ for the month in Portland.  Each month since October (except January) has seen drier than normal conditions.

Rain PDX Last 10 Days

By the way, for you holdouts, the chance for snow goes down very quickly this time of year.  The chance for getting measurable snow in Portland; covering 80 years of data at PDX & NWS Forecast Office


If you want ONE WHOLE INCH in the lowest elevations?  VERY tough to do from this point forward.  About as good a chance as getting measurable snow on Christmas!

Late Winter Snow Chance 1 or more PDX

Enjoy your (mostly) dry week!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

  • Posted

7pm Sunday...

Today was sure a gloomy day!  It seems like it rained at least a third of the day, but we only ended up with a few hundredths of an inch in the metro area.  That’s a classic warm-front setup

Rain Metro Today Databound

The system changed snow to rain in the Cascades.  After a big dumping above 5,000′ Thursday night through Saturday, now it’ll be mainly rain through Tuesday up there.

Snow Mt Hood Totals

A warm but “flat” upper-level ridge is sitting over the NE Pacific Ocean.

Satellite Surface

That gives us lots of clouds, but not much rain.  Tomorrow another warm front sweeps mainly into Washington.  So we’ll see lots of clouds again but little rain.  On Tuesday a little “wiggle” moves over the top of the ridging and down over us.  At that point we should see at least a few hours of rain.  Then the ridge pops up again a bit stronger and closer to us.  Here’s Thursday, look at those 588 dm heights over Oregon!  ecmwf-namer-z500_anom-1940000

If it was early September we’d see 90s out of this pattern.  Instead, at the end of October, highs somewhere between 65-70 are more likely under dry offshore flow.   This means Wednesday and Thursday feature the best and warmest weather this week.

Then by this weekend the ridge pops up a bit farther west, allowing a cold upper-level trough to drop south out of Canada and into the western USA.  That looks chilly!


These maps are the ECMWF ensemble forecasts, but other models are similar.  Notice the real cold air doesn’t drop right over us, but a bit farther east.  The Rockies and Intermountain region get nailed with cold snow showers next weekend.  This should give us a round of dry/chilly northerly/easterly wind Saturday through sometime early NEXT week.    The result for our area will be a sharp drop in temperatures between Thursday and Saturday/Sunday.  Overnight lows will go from near 50 Wednesday to around freezing once again next weekend.  But not a whole lot of rain.  Check out the change in airmass on the ECMWF 850mb ensemble chart, quite a drop isn’t it?  Just 5 days ago there was not hint this would occur.  That ECMWF wanted to put the ridge right over the top of us, but now wants to dump come cold air south over the West.  This is the 3rd time this fall season we’ve seen this happen.  Very interesting…


Check out the ensemble runs from ECMWF, GFS, & GEM models.  All show 1″ or less rainfall in the Willamette Valley through these next two work weeks.  That’s through the first day or so of November.

It’s probably a bit premature to mention this, but why not…  It’s interesting that this is the type of pattern we can get during a weak El Nino winter.  Split flow can be common in those winters too.  We are on the warm side of ENSO neutral right now and it seems we’ll be right on the edge of weak El Nino conditions this year.  Just tossing that out there for fun.


  • I don’t see much soaking rain for these last 10 days of October, but it will rain here and there.
  • This work week features mild temps, Wednesday & Thursday should be the warmest!
  • Next weekend may feature a nice chill; perfect for the weekend leading to Halloween.
  • There’s absolutely no sign of a stormy weather pattern ahead.  I’m referring to our usual stormy setup with one area of low pressure after another giving us waves of strong wind and rain.
  • Snow in the Cascades will gradually melt over the upcoming week.  A few more inches could fall later Friday or Saturday.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

  • Posted

6pm Thursday…

Today was a hot one west of the Cascades.  We hit 91 degrees in Portland

Todays Observed Highs OrWa 2017

You see the entire Willamette Valley made it into the lower 90s.  Today was the 4th day this summer with temps above 90 degrees

90 Degree Days Summer Heat

That’s FAR better than last year.  It was a crazy hot July, & summer.  Half the month baked under 90+ weather.  At this time last year we were in a 9 day stretch with temps at/above 90 degrees!

Heat Wave July 2018

This month is running right around average; highs a little below normal, lows a bit above normal.

What’s ahead?  One more 90 degree day is likely tomorrow, then a good push of marine air = lots of clouds through at least noon Saturday.  Then the marine layer thins Sunday morning for a warmer/sunnier day.   At FOX12 we now have access to high-resolution ECMWF model data at 1 hour increments.  That’s for the first 3.5 days.  Very useful for upcoming snow/cold forecasting since we’ll be receiving midday and overnight runs (6z/18z) as well.  In this case it shows that thick marine layer Saturday morning…

So something for everyone in the next week!  Well, not if you like rain.  I don’t see any decent chance for rain; but that’s normal this time of year.  The ECMWF ensemble 24 hour precip forecast for the next two weeks


We appear to be somewhat locked into a “just right” weather pattern for at least the next 10 days.  A hot ridge of high pressure remains somewhere just to our east, and upper-level lows go by to the north or remain well offshore.  This keeps us from turning crazy hot (no heat waves), but a cool/showery pattern isn’t in sight either as those lows stay away from most of the Pacific Northwest.


Normal summer weather continues until further notice.  Daytime highs somewhere between 75 and 90 into at least the first few days of August.  So get off your computer/phone and get outside!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

  • Posted

We hit 91 in Portland today; Seattle and Olympia also made it to 90

Todays Observed Highs OrWa 2017

Not exactly a scorcher by late July standards, but this is the first time in five weeks we’ve hit that number.  THAT is rare this time of year.  Yet our temperature is running just about normal since meteorological summer started on July 1st.   Basically we haven’t been getting the typical up/down extremes.  Interesting that the fourth warmest temp so far this year was in early May.

Hottest Days This Year

You likely recall last summer we saw more 90 degree weather than at any point in Portland’s history.   But this year only 3 so far

90 Degree Days Summer Heat

In addition to a warmer atmosphere overhead this weekend, onshore flow off the chilly Pacific Ocean totally shut down.  The usual gusty west wind in the Gorge was calm both days.  But this evening westerly wind has returned through the gaps in the Coast Range.  It has also arrived in Hood River this evening; that assures a cooler day through the Gorge tomorrow plus excellent kiteboarding/windsurfing.

With the return of typical onshore flow, our high temps should drop at least into the mid 80s tomorrow, and down around 80 Tuesday and Wednesday.

Weak upper-level ridging Thursday/Friday lead to warming temps again, but likely just under 90 degrees.

There’s no sign of a big upper-level ridge or cold trough moving over the Pacific Northwest the next 7 days…so, to summarize:


  • High temperatures remain between 78 and 90
  • No day looks totally cloudy
  • Many days will be mainly or all sunny
  • Measurable rain is unlikely in Portland through the end of the month


Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

  • Posted

What a spectacular summer day, not hot, humid, or cloudy & cool. The comments I keep getting are that this is “just right”.  Today we hit 84 in Portland, above the average high of 80.  Warmest day so far this month.  We’ve also seen a string of warm nights recently, this morning was our 4th staying above 60 degrees.   The humid weather from Wednesday is long gone too, dewpoints briefly even dropped into the 40s late this afternoon.

This July has been…NORMAL temperature-wise, but cloudier than average.  Out of 12 days we’ve seen NO clear days, 8 partly cloudy days, and 4 cloudy.  I suspect that’s the reason I’ve been seeing some complaining online.  If you want to hit the local lake/river/pool, it’s much chillier to do it under cloud cover.  In fact yesterday/today was the first time I’ve made good use of my Craigslist-special pool this season.  I was out of town for that heat wave in early June.

Todays Observed Highs OrWa 2017

As mentioned in the previous post, we are overdue for an “average” summer instead of another blazing hot one.  Even with a warming globe, that doesn’t mean every year turns warmer and warmer in a steady line.  There will still be the usual ups/downs and cyclical periods; but the GENERAL movement will be uphill over time.  Also, we’ve had many summers that are about average in July and then August/September turn hot.  We’ll see.  Last year the blazing hot summer kicked into high gear on this date.  The following 19 days were crazy, all except 4 above 90 degrees:

July 2018 Historic Heat Wave Stats

I know some of us want more sun and hot temps, but the 84 today was sure nice in comparison.

This weekend looks pleasant again with a relatively thin marine layer leading to plenty of afternoon sunshine each day.  On Monday that layer thickens a bit so expect more cloud cover for the start of the work week.  850mb temps (temperature in celsius around 4,000′) drop a little Monday as well as a weak upper-level trough moves overhead.

As I mentioned in the post early this week, an unusual (for mid-summer) setup is on the way for later next week.  A highly anomalous deep trough cruises across the Gulf of Alaska midweek and drops into the Pacific Northwest late next week or the weekend of the 20th.  Check out the 500mb anomaly chart for Wednesday and again Friday

That’s what we might see in June, but unusual for July.  At this point it appear most of the significant rain may be headed for Washington and BC.   Oregon would see far less.

How much rain down here?  Initial look, remember it’s 5-7 days away, but a tenth of an inch in the western valleys and less than 1″ in the northern Oregon Cascades seems like a good guess.  Here’s the 12z ECMWF model forecast:

ECMWF Precipitation Accumulation

Enjoy your weekend and keep in mind that we MIGHT see showery/cool weather about a week from now.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen