PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Let’s just preface this conversation with it is still summer, albeit, late summer.
With that in mind, we are still a ways out before we have any conversation about snow in the low elevations. However, it’s starting to be that time that some elements of cold air can find a way to the higher elevations across the United States.
Could we start to see snow up on the mountain tops? We sure might.
Will we see any snow down on the slopes? That will be a bit harder, but it’s not out of the question as we near the month of October.
How about snow down to Government Camp or US 26? That is still out of our window. We will revisit that topic when we get to October.
EARLY SNOW DATES
Looking back at some recent winter years (2012-2022), winter snow has found a place at least down to 5,370 feet in the month of October. That is low enough to start collecting snow at the base of Mt. Hood Meadows.
Most years, we have our first significant snowfall in the month of October. There have been a few years that it hasn’t happened until the month of November at this elevation.
Winter 2021 got cranking around the second week of October. We have had a few years where things get cooking in early October and others take a bit more time — but just because these dates do bring in the snow, some years, there is very little snow after this date and the season doesn’t really start going until November or December.
These are just the early dates, they do not tell the story about the complete winter season.
This is what it looks like up on the mountain as of Sept. 14. It’s about as bare is Mt. Hood will be for the season. As the steady fall rain arrives and we continue to steadily cool, the mountain will again have that coat of white to show off to the PNW.
Temperatures are in the upper 40s and lower 50s right now. We need to get that air down near freezing so we can start picking up some of the fresh snow. We have our first sign of cooler air actually arriving this weekend.
Come Saturday, an approaching trough will collide with the region. This is going to carry cold air in from the northwest, directly into our part of the country. This is going to be a fast-paced system that doesn’t carry much moisture. That means we will likely have some of the ingredients for snow, but not all of the necessary pieces. We of course will still need the moisture.
A trough typically means cooler and cloudy conditions. This is exactly what will be moving in Friday night, passing by and departing the areas by Sunday. Once we start noticing some of the shades of blue, then we will really be cooking.
Let me show you the snow level forecast heading into the weekend. The cold air is expected to dip down to the 6,000 to 7,000 feet range. That’s low enough for some of the higher ski lifts and even flirting with Timberline Lodge. This is just a teaser to what will be moving in more consistently closer to the end of the month and more likely in the month of October.
That snow level forecast will start to move right back up above 7,000 feet by the time the weekend wraps up. Of course, that snow level is now going to be dropping far enough to impact Government Camp or US 26.
Expect the water to arrive late Saturday. As that low pressure holds mostly off the coast, the moisture is going to take a little more time to move in. That water is expected to transport in after dark, and it looks to stay to the south and east. That means, if we do have some high elevation snow in the region, it will be for the central Cascades. We will be watching areas around Crater Lake for high-elevation snow.
We will have to wait it out just a little longer around Mt. Hood for that significant high elevation snow.