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Portland, OR– Not Your Average Winter

Portland, Oregon is the type of city that cancels school the moment a stray flurry sticks to the road. This might come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, but this bit of caution is for good reason. Stumptown, Rose City, Riiip City, or whatever other name you may know this hipster mecca by doesn’t quite explain the geography or climate of the region.

Portland, OR Snow

What a winter!In yet another snow storm, parts of the Portland metro picked up a foot of snow or more in the past day!

Posted by WeatherNation on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rain v. Snow

For starters, Portland doesn’t see much snow in a given year. An average of just three inches, usually spread out between a few days. So a wintry precipitation is a rarity in the Pacific Northwest. This is thanks, in part, to its location. Close to the Pacific Ocean, Portland’s main source of moisture becomes this massive, warm body of water. The onshore flow from the Pacific means that usually what falls on Stumptown is rain. An average of 43 inches of it each year.
In order for these coffee connoisseurs to see snow, something needs to change. This typically means shifting the flow from westerly to easterly. Cold air pushes in from the mountains to the east or northeast for that matter– dropping temperatures to the point where we see snow instead of rain.

A "Herd" of Jeeps Pull Semi

Well that's one way to pull a tractor trailer out of a slick situation . . . hitch up the Jeep's and go! This out of Portland, Oregon's I-84. – Video: jeepblvd Instagram

Posted by WeatherNation on Friday, January 13, 2017


We briefly touched on Portland’s geography in the paragraph above, but there is more to it than just that. Sure the coastal influence is a major player when it comes to weather patterns and precipitation, but what about the geography of the city itself?
Portland is a city of hills. Ask any resident– the hills in and around the city are steep enough to leave even the best bike-commuter out of breath on the way to the office. That means even the smallest amount of snow can make for the biggest headache!
Check out this video by Derek Porter from January 2007 of cars pinballing down a snow-covered hill.

This Season

This winter has been a bit of an anomaly. In fact, so far this has been the coldest winter on record dating all the way back to the bitter cold of 1978-1979! Making it the coldest and snowiest winter most residents have ever seen! There are endless stats and fun facts that we could go through illustrating this point, but after a while those all blend into a mess of useless Jeopardy facts. So to make this easy, here’s a list!

  • 5 separate storms brought wintry precipitation to the Portland metro this season
  • The worst was Jan. 10th – 11th where parts of the metro picked up more than a foot of snow
  • Cold air in place kept snow from melting for more than a week
  • This is already the coldest winter Portland has seen since the Bee Gees were topping the musical charts

Hate the snow? These critters in Portland, Oregon don't seam to mind! – Video: Oregon Zoo

Posted by WeatherNation on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Now What

Ironically, with retro being cool and records making a comeback, this is probably also the season with the most spins of those old Bee Gees records since Portland last saw this kind of cold. And we aren’t in the clear just yet! February is typically the snowiest month on average. Although the biggest storms historically occurred in the month of January.
Moral of the story is– you shouldn’t put away that shovel just yet. But odds are the rounds of snow to come won’t be near as bountiful as our early January pummeling.

By:  Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

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