Where is the rain and is it on the way?


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The million-dollar question this spring is: where is the rain?

As we are nearing the end of our meteorological spring, the sun keeps beaming down on the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and the rain has decided to take an extended lunch break. The spring is usually our third wettest collection of months of the year, but only shortly behind fall. It should be an extension to our winter months that bring in all that rain and snow for our PNW states to thrive and to go to the distance into the summer.

Lincoln City 5.11.21

Well, the same old pattern keeps setting up, with high pressure moving over the west coast and a thermal trough starts to develop north through California. This continues to leave us warm, dry, and at times, breezy (especially for California).

If you watch the loop below of the visible satellite late Tuesday morning, you can see the dry conditions riding up the west coast and all the clouds and action holding to the Gulf of Alaska and points west. It sure looks like that cloudy mass could move in, but in reality, it’s stuck there.

Below is a slideshow of the last 14 days, but only picking out three moments (April 28, May 5, May 11). They all represent a very similar situation about a week apart. Each surface analysis paints that high pressure riding up the Pacific next to the West Coast. Meanwhile, any sort of soaking rain is avoiding contact with our land and that extends to Vancouver B.C. Most locations this spring coming in with just over 2 inches of rain. That isn’t nearly enough for a spring rain catalog out here. If you cycle through the graphics below, you’ll notice that they all look just about the same. A persistent weather pattern that we haven’t been able to break in multiple weeks and for the most part all spring.

Where is the rain? Well, there has been a heap load of wet moments coming out of the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans, Louisiana, has brought in a massive 30.37 inches of rain from March 1 to May 10. You can see in the weather model below that they are due for another large amount of rain through the next three to four days.

Of course, the development of thunderstorms and the way the atmosphere acts in that warm and moist region is different than Portland, but it has been extremely wet. They are currently sitting at the top four wettest springs on record and they still have half a month. Meager precipitation totals through Friday night west of the Rockies.

There is a shift in the forecast by next week, but will it be enough to bring in some much-needed rain in the PNW before May wraps up? Any measurable rain will help, but it won’t be enough to improve our drought status.

Let me show you what is going to happen over the next week to help stir in some rain to the forecast. If you use the slideshow below, you can see an area of blue out near the Aleutian Islands, which may be our source to rain by next week. Notice in the second image of the slideshow, it builds and moves east.

At this point in time, high pressure still holds west of the PNW and that keeps us mainly dry and warm into the weekend. I speed the graphic up to Friday evening of May 21, where you can see that the area of low pressure eventually finds a way to the PNW, although not as potent.

We may start seeing those changes arrive earlier in the week, next week. That could cool us down and hopefully bring in some measurable rain. For now, we stay dry and we continue the beautiful spring weather in the PNW.

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