This afternoon/evening we’ve seen a classic spring cold front pass through the region. Ahead of the front, in the warm airmass, temperatures soared into the 60s & 70s east of the Cascades. Ontario even hit 82!

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But with the clouds and afternoon rain we didn’t make it much above 50 west of the mountains

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Meanwhile, Government Camp hit 50 degrees at noon, but now it’s SNOWING and 24 degrees! Now that’s what we call a cold front kids…

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The front is a dividing line between a warm spring airmass and a much colder airmass that’s pouring inland now. Snow levels have dipped to around 1,000′ in the Coast Range. We’ve been mentioning for days that there could be a dusting of snow on the Coast Range summits Monday morning and that will be the case. But there isn’t a lot of moisture behind this system; it’s more like a “continental” cold front you’d see in the middle of the USA. Just some scattered showers tonight and Monday. In fact take a look at the evening GRAF model precipitation forecast. Very little between now and Wednesday…almost all of that before noon tomorrow.

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But we should be able to get 8-12″ Cascade snowfall (including what we’ve seen so far) by the time it dries out later tomorrow.

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There was a strong surge of southwest or westerly wind with the cold front west of the Cascades. Peak gust of 35 mph at PDX along with other gusts in the 25-40 mph range gave us quite a few power outages. I see PGE has about 5,000 customers out. Of course the wind has died down now.

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Central and Eastern Oregon (along with eastern Columbia River Gorge) is sure known for gusty southwest or westerly wind in the spring, but today was well beyond anything we normally see. Peak gusts 50-70 mph were widespread. I saw a 75 mph gust at Maryhill, and even Pendleton saw a gust to 73 mph!  Check out this picture of a dust storm in progress around Rufus (near John Day Dam) from the Sherman County sheriff's office

Dust Storm on I-84

Dust Storm on I-84 This Afternoon

Warm weather, a dry March, and strong wind started at least two fires in the Bend area. One of those prompted Level 3 evacuations for at least a short time. There were at least 2 more in Wasco county as well.

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What’s Ahead?

  • More drier than normal weather to wrap up March and begin April.
  • A few very light showers tomorrow, then warming Tuesday/Wednesday.
  • A combination of mostly sunny skies + offshore flow + warm airmass Wednesday COULD give us our first 70 of the year. Our evening GRAF model says 73! ECMWF implies a high around 70 as well. Then back to onshore flow and cooler temps (but still mild) April 1st.
  • Both GFS & ECMWF ensembles also imply the drier than normal conditions continue for at least another week.

So…the main message tonight? Make sure you schedule some outdoor time for Wednesday!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

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