December starts parched with little rain in the forecast


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A reminder that December is our second wettest month of the year on average, so do not let this dry weather fool you!

This year, we are starting the month off behind schedule. December is our first winter month and we are waiting patiently for rain; however, I’m not sure folks are too upset about it. We have a great forecast for putting up holiday lights and quite frankly it is nice to get sunshine on these short winter days (daylength – sunrise to sunset).

Well, it’s hard to find a stretch of dry weather this time of the year, but we are working really hard for it right now in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). It’s likely we hit about five days without rain in Portland, with weather models finally hinting to some rain on Saturday or potentially pushing back to Sunday. You may be asking yourself, this doesn’t seem normal? Well on average, we tend to have nine dry days in December. We are exhausting five of those to start the month.

Will we pay for it later? Looking at some recent years and notable sequences, our most recent chain of dry December days came in 2017. That year we finished below average with over 3 inches of rain. It may have been the stretch of 10 dry days that prevented us from reaching our average rain for the month. In some other notable years, in 2011 we had a combination of seven dry days. The record for the longest stretch of consecutive dry days in Portland in December is 13! Although it feels like five days is more than usual, it’s not that extreme for us.

Now there is a small chance that a drop of rain may try to fight into the forecast Thursday night into Friday morning, but it is a very weak disturbance. This will likely bring in a splash for the Oregon coast, unlikely carrying measurable rain to Portland. I would count on a few more clouds on Thursday, but no rain. That will keep the consecutive days going until the weekend.

It is likely to come to a conclusion this weekend, as a slightly stronger, yet fairly weak, system comes sliding through Saturday into Sunday. Notice that there is a lot more moisture to work with and it does carry some of that into the Willamette Valley. It’s possible that this system falls apart or is nudged to the north of Oregon by the time we get to the weekend. There has been more agreement with the weather models for light rain and a few showers by Saturday. You can see two different weather models in the slideshow below. Again, the heaviest of the rain will likely be for areas of Washington and the coastal communities.

With all of that in mind, what are you hoping for this December? Are you one that supports the gloomy December days that bring in rain and mountain snow? Do you prefer a sunny winter stretch that allows for a good day hike? It’s safe to say you will likely get both this year, with a nice sunny and dry start to December.

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