Colder Portland days coming, but what about snow?


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – You just can’t keep winter away when you’re in the middle of it, right?

You may be thinking this is a winter that we just say no to snow. It’s not unheard of for Portland, but you probably weren’t thinking we were going to be in the 60s this month.

It has been a mild start to January, with temperatures well above average. Plenty of 50s and even a few 60 degree days (atmospheric river ring a bell). Well, January needs to kick in and we are finding some clues for colder weather.

The weather pattern is likely to turn over some cold air for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) as we near the weekend. We will start noticing the cooler air by late week (just the first taste, not arctic), but it will really settle in by Sunday night.

I have two images of the general weather pattern heading into the weekend. We have a digging trough that is going to open the door for even colder air early next week. There is no better time to prepare for it than now.

We will likely be trading in the rain jackets for winter gear. We have high confidence that we are going to cool down. Weather models have been projecting this for over a week and they have been holding strong (a few other outside clues going on too). Where will the coldest air settle, now that is up for some changes the next 5 days. However, the general consensus is that colder air will move south towards Washington and Oregon.


There is always so much excitement and even a little hype when we get to events like this. Well you may notice the snow icons showing up on the stock phone apps. Again, these are computer generated and change frequently.

It is just too early to tell for Portland if we will see snow. If you’ve lived here for some time, you know how difficult it can be to get snow. At this time, temperatures should cool down enough to support snow to the valley floor by Monday. Afternoon temperatures are still trending in the lower 40s.

We need moisture for snow. That may be the challenge.

Watch the snow level forecast dropping below passes by Wednesday night. It then stays there from that point on. This will be good for the ski resorts, because we could use some fresh snow after all of the rain from the atmospheric river event earlier in the month.

Again, the same issue comes up, will we have the moisture? There will be snow for the mountains on Thursday but it doesn’t look to be a lot. I think it also possible for snow levels to fall to 500 feet or so by Saturday morning around the valley, with little moisture to work with.

There hasn’t been much snow around Portland for many days. It has been 310 days since we had some snow in Portland, which fell last March. We are due for some snow.

From some interesting stats that I got from the National Weather Service in Portland, most of our snowiest days have fallen in the last two weeks of January. We are right in that window and look what we have coming our way, some colder weather. Of course, with that said, snowy days have fallen outside of that window.


We are tracking an area of low pressure that does want to move in Sunday, bringing in some moisture and potentially some reinforcement of cold air. This will be the timeframe that we have a chance to see rain, followed by some low elevation snow.

Weather models have been fumbling around with this idea and the confidence level at this time is low. It is likely that we have more of a rain event at this time, with some snow mixing into the equation. How much moisture will be around by Monday morning, is unclear. It will be this timeframe that we will diligently keep an eye on the forecast.

One thing is for sure is that the snow for the mountains should return. I also want to note, that it does look like we will keep the colder air around through the end of the month. This may just be the first chance for low elevation snow but not the event that brings us the snow. I would be prepared to see snowflakes on the weather apps for an extended period of time.

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