portland weather

The unexpected late season snow

Portland’s snows are usually not big, and not frequent. We had snow around Christmas that lingered for a couple days. Since then, we hadn’t seen snow, and temps got pretty mild, even scraping 60F/16C. But this last week, it got cold, and the unlikely happened: it snowed again.

In the past seventeen years here, the biggest chance of a good snow happens from about December 15 to January 15th. After that, snows can happen, but it’s usually a pretty minor event where it snows a bit and either doesn’t stick, or a small amount sticks then melts fast. Now I’m not saying a significant snow can’t happen after January 15th, for example the snowstorm around February 6, 2014. But that was early February.  I haven’t seen a significant low elevation snow later than that, though it can stick in higher elevations in town. (And of course, the Cascade Mountains to the east of Portland can see snow into June.)

This winter has become the exception. We just had one of the mildest Januarys on record, so mild that it felt that spring had started. So having the cold and snow come now has been a shock. And not exactly that welcome by me.

Alright, a brief report. This snow week started Sunday February 18, with a cold day and a mix of snow and rain during the day, but nothing sticking. Then, later in the evening, a brief burst of snow stuck to the ground. It was almost instantly gone.

Nothing happened on Monday. It started to snow Tuesday morning, and did so all day long. A slight amount stuck in the morning on my way to work, but didn’t last. The ground was too warm. Not until the evening, when the flakes got bigger and things got colder did we get accumulation. We ended up seeing a couple inches by Wednesday morning. The riding in the AM was fine, and going from work to the bike shop was no big deal, as the snow may have well been rain (though snowflakes did get into my eye.) I took the bus home since I had to drop the bike off.

I had the brief urge to ride in on Wednesday morning, but that nice fluffy snow had turned into icy ruts on the streets, as it is wont to do in these parts. So I took the bus. I thought about bringing the bike along if it thawed later, but decided against it since it may not, and I didn’t feel like dragging my bike around. Of course, it DID melt later and the streets dried out. Murphy’s law…

Emee and I hung out in Goose Hollow in SW that evening. We took transit back to her house. It was snowing good at 9 PM but nothing sticking. Then I awoke Thursday morning to snow on the ground! Apparently it did start sticking, and there was an inch or two on non-hard surfaces. But yet again during the day things melted. I walked the three miles to work and checked out what was left of the snow. The sun felt strong, which is why the snow hasn’t been lasting long. If it was December, the sun probably wouldn’t have been powerful enough to thaw things as it has.

I type this on Thursday night. The snow is pretty much gone, but it’s supposed to drop overnight, so there will probably be ice. And they talk of more snow later Friday, but after that things are supposed to warm up.

As I said, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see this snow. One of my frustrations is that I don’t have a properly equipped bike right now. Oh sure, I thought about setting up a bike with studded tires earlier in the winter. But we hadn’t see a freeze, much less a snow since Christmas, so I didn’t get around to it. And man, I would have loved to do some riding right now, but not enough to risk riding in ice. Of course, once the sun’s been out for a few hours, it’s been fine riding, but I haven’t had access to a bike. Now the more reason to have a bike stored at Emee’s house! 😀


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