Can we afford to fall behind this March when it comes to rain?


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – An unsettled weather pattern is hanging around the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon to start the week.

It’s the same disturbance that brought through a few thunderstorms on Sunday, but it will not be as potent heading into this afternoon. We won’t actually see that much rain from this because the dynamics aren’t favorable for a long soaking rain, and at best we may just have a few scattered showers bringing in a brief moment of sour weather.

We still need measurable rain in March. We have already fallen behind half an inch and we are only a week in. That may not seem like a lot, but we don’t have much in the forecast this week which means it will likely grow quickly by the time we reach the weekend.

If we have a chance for some rain Monday, it is likely going to be in the late afternoon or early evening. Most showers are going to be farther west, out near the coast. That area of low pressure is causing a bellyache in our atmosphere and dragging south very slowly, and eventually far enough south to take any sort of rain chance with it. There just isn’t much influence on our weather today outside of the clouds and temperature.

Should we be concerned about the lack of rain so far? As long as we have serious areas that are in a drought, I believe it is warranted.

Drought conditions are most alarming east of the Cascades. There is no doubt that we have made much improvements around the Willamette Valley and up out to the coast, but not significant strides across the board. We could use more rain, especially for central Oregon.

Right now, 12.5% of the state is in an extreme drought, with plenty of the state in a severe drought. What will this lead to come summer? Where is the rain to help us out? Well, there isn’t anything in the forecast coming.

There are some positives and that has been the snowpack improvement from the end of February. Most of the mountains to the northeast are still well above the normal, with most in the mid section of the state above or near normal. This is the type of picture we want to see and we still have plenty of opportunities for more snow this month, leading to additional improvements. March is still winter and winter is still opportunity.

In fact, if you look at the locations where the mountain snow has been bountiful, this could turn out to be areas that have major snowmelt and spring flooding. That would be those areas over in the Blue mountains. According to the water supply outlook report from the National Weather Service:

The watersheds most at risk include the Grande Ronde, Umatilla, and Imnaha, where there is between a 30% and 50% chance of exceeding minor flood stage during the time of peak runoff this spring. Spring flooding is highly dependent on temperatures and rainfall, along with snowmelt, so stay tuned to weather and river forecasts for the next three months.

Plenty to monitor as conditions change heading into the spring.

As for our local Willamette River here in Portland. I have been asked a few times now what the river temperature is right now. There have been a few events that have taken folks into the river late for charity (polar plunge type events), and for the most part, the temperature is slightly cooler than our average air temperature but it isn’t very far. The river this time of the year is cold, coming in around the 45 to 47 degrees. It surely isn’t time to be doing any water activities.

A reminder that we are shooting for over 3.5 inches of rain for the month of March. Our wettest day so far brought .25 inches of rain, but that was a localized situation. That wasn’t the case for everyone, especially to the south. Will we find another atmospheric river to help pick up the slack? There are no signs in the near forecast, we will have to watch next week for a change in our weather pattern.

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