PORTLAND, Ore (KOIN) – Winter is around 90 days and we are just about at the halfway point after Dec. 21’s Winter Solstice to March 20’s Spring Equinox.
This means we still have plenty of opportunities to find some lowland snow or an atmospheric river or two.
It has been relatively flat as far as snow chances go this winter, but we have had our fair share of rainy days. Outside of our snow chance last week, it’s been way too warm. January had plenty of warmer than average days and only a small stretch where it was below. The NWS tweeted out that the combination of December and January may tie for the second warmest stretch dating back to 1940.
You can see how January unfolded with the temperatures in the calendar below. That is a lot of red and very little blue. Of course, those blue days, that is when we had low elevation snow. We have warmed back up to above normal and that is likely to hold through most of the first week of February.
Outside of just completely feeling like winter, one thing that can come from the mild temperatures, is the ability for more moisture. It isn’t a coincidence the two days that we had in the lower 60s in January were the same two days we saw our very wet atmospheric river. This is because mild air was providing large amounts of water vapor, leading to a heavy rain event for the region. With that, we finished the month with 7.03 inches of measurable rain, putting us a few inches over the 30-year normal for the Portland airport. It also lead to some high snow levels, which kept the snow for the mountains a bit underwhelming, but the water was good to have.
What about February? It can still be a rainy month, with an average of 3.66 inches coming from the Portland Airport. We usually see somewhere around 15 days of rain with four days of a trace, and nine days of no rain, which doesn’t feel like a lot. It’s safe to say we are still working through the rainy season. You may recall 1998, where we had 25 days of rain and two days of a trace! That only left one completely dry day. I know that we are starting with some rain this month, but we should manage at least a few dry days by the time we finish the weekend off. I don’t anticipate a 1998 February in 2021, based on the current forecast.
Based on the February outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, it may turn out that we have a few more dry days as well. The monthly outlook doesn’t always pan out to the prediction, but it tends to give a general idea of what is to come for month. It does look like we have a shot for some below normal temperatures, which may arrive late next week or around mid-month. We are definitely starting the month with rain, but I think time will tell on how we finish the month off.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this weather pattern image. It does a good job showing the amplified jet and the ups and downs that is spelling out some cold spots. We still have a trough bundled up to the west coast and that is going to be a day or so before it sidles over to the northern Rockies. With that shift, the mountains will have a brief moment of colder air on Tuesday. This should allow for snow to the passes and ski resorts. That cold air mainly stays aloft, with highs near average in the valley. After that shift, that should allow for that large ridge that is building to the west to move into place, preventing the heavy rain and it will also keep us slightly warmer heading into the weekend.
We will have to see how long that will hold and if we will have a return to colder air around mid-February.