Forecasters check winter weather scoreboard


In the December BEE, we reported on the annual 'What Will Winter Be Like' forum by Oregon members of the American Meterological Society and open to the public at the OMSI Auditorium. Most of the forecasters believed there would be more snow this past winter than the previous one; the renowned 'State Climatologist', George Taylor, said the looming winter looked rather like 1949, when Oregon had its snowiest winter since 1889.

In Portland, the snow was a little less than the previous unspectacular year; the forecasters struck out on that one. But George was certainly right when it came to the northern Oregon Cascades, where all-time records were set for colossal snowfall.

George went on to say the weather pattern also reminded him of 1996, when Oaks Park was under several feet of water, the Willamette River came within an inch of spilling over the downtown seawall, and rural Vernonia flooded.

Although we have had no massive Willamette flooding as of this writing, the snow that could cause it with an onset of sudden warm weather is certainly there in the mountains, and an 11 inch rainfall in less than two days did flood poor Vernonia - again - on December 2nd and 3rd. In Inner Southeast Portland, that same weekend, we measured 4.99 inches at our Westmoreland gauge, making it a uniquely wet two days here as well.

We've now completed the first three months of 2008. So is there anything there in the Southeast rain figures to hint at the year to come?

No, not a thing.

In fact, since 2000, there seems to be absolutely no correlation between Inner Southeast's rainfall in January through March and the way the totals eventually tally on December 31st. Here are the figures for January through March - and for the whole year - for each year so far this decade:

2008 -- 15.54'

2007 -- 12.90' (Annual total -- 42.29')

2006 -- 15.98' (Annual total -- 46.38')

2005 -- 7.18' (Annual total -- 40.99')

2004 -- 11.91' (Annual total -- 32.11')

2003 -- 17.46' (Annual total -- 42.20')

2002 -- 12.28' (Annual total -- 30.04')

2001 -- 7.21' (Annual total -- 29.67')

2000 -- 14.54' (Annual total -- 30.01')

Next up - spring. The season started out very cold, in March - but the daffodils and tulips came up anyway, and the cherry trees blossomed. With that huge snowpack in the Cascades, we can only hope it stays cooler than usual longer than usual to avoid the rapid snowmelt that could bring back Willamette River flooding.