Waterfalls to bypass spring snow, helping drought conditions

PORTLAND, Oregon (KOIN) – Temperatures have always been warmer in the state and winter seems a step behind us now. We will briefly pause in this reflection on Wednesday as a cold front enters the picture.

The passage of this cold air will help bring more snow for Oregon’s Cascades ski resorts and will drop our temperatures below average for a day or two. You can spot the cold front in the surface map analysis below.

This cold is expected to arrive in the morning, possibly causing snow levels to drop later in the day. Behind the initial leading edge of cooler air will be a pool of cold air. This air mass will remain for a day, maintaining snow levels over the passes through Thursday afternoon.

Snow levels are expected to reach the government camp by Wednesday morning. Snow levels will likely drop to around 2,500 to 3,000 feet. Once we combine some humidity with this cold air, we will see light snow for the cols.

Snow levels are expected to recover over the passes by Friday. However, we are not immune to more snow as we enter the month of April, as spring skiing generally continues well into May.

If you scroll to the second graph below, you will see the estimated snow totals for Government Camp and the mountains. By the time we get through Wednesday and Thursday, we may only have an inch to potentially 2 inches at US 26 at the government camp. It will be cold and windy overnight until Thursday. Now, some weather models are projecting a bit more than that for the region, but at this time it surely doesn’t look like we’ll have enough moisture to accompany this event. It really will be winter up there.

Sometimes it’s more than snow we get. We also just want to keep the temperatures cooler at altitude so we don’t see melting. It also sets the bar low, so when we get humidity it will be cold enough to produce snow at the base of the ski resorts and not rain. We will at least have the cold air in the air, regardless of the humidity.

The weather model chart will show a weak trough over us from Wednesday through Thursday, which is associated with the integrated low pressure and approaching cold front. This trough is usually a mass of cooler air.

Right now here is the view coming out of Mt. Hood Meadows. There’s a heavy snow base in Oregon’s North Cascades, but the rest of the state is still hoping for more snowfall. This will be additional snow for the water bank that we need to tap into for the summer and early fall. It is in early April that we start to see this mass of snow going the other way, causing the snowpack to decrease in the summer. These types of spring events are always critical to the success of combating our future drought conditions.

We will most definitely have rain in the Willamette Valley by Wednesday morning. The leading edge of this cold front pushes from the northern Willamette Valley and extends southwestward to the central Oregon coast. This wedge of cold air will help generate showers and possibly snowfall for the mountain by mid-morning.

Futurecast has light snow as early as 7am, but the snow intensity will likely increase later in the morning. If you browse the futurecast slideshow below, you’ll notice how the humidity progressed throughout the day.

There won’t be as much snow for the Cascades of central and southern Oregon. Again, this will further benefit the North Cascades.

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