Strong Storm Strikes Pacific Northwest – Low Elevation Snow To Follow


Steve Pierce
President, Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society

Vancouver, Washington (March 12th 2012) – “A strong late season storm is making landfall this afternoon along the Oregon and Washington coast. Winds have gusted to as high as nearly 90 mph along the northern Oregon coast and 45-60 mph at some locations in the Willamette Valley today. The airport at Salem, Oregon recorded a preliminary gust of 52 mph late this morning along with a mesowest station in Salem reporting 62 mph. The Portland airport reported a gust to nearly 50 mph as well. Attached to this e-mail is a picture of today’s wind damage in Salem. Please courtesy Salem resident Robert Redfield for this picture, if reused. Today’s strong storm is more reminiscent of something we would see in December rather than March. 

After the front passes by the region this afternoon, snow levels will fall dramatically this evening. Overnight tonight into Tuesday, snow could fall as low as the valley floor. Late tonight, an area of organized showers will rotate around the upper level low into western Oregon and Washington. All elevations west of the Cascades could see anywhere from a dusting to as much as 3″ of snow in the higher foothills from Medford, Oregon north to Bellingham, Washington and points east. This is a rare and cold late season storm. Snow at sea level west of the Cascades in the month of March is rare. Overnight low temperatures Monday night are forecast to remain just above freezing at most valley locations west of the Cascades. This will be the third time in the past month where locations such as Portland and Seattle will likely see some snow in their respective metropolitan areas overnight tonight. 

Here is a list of preliminary peak wind gusts that are equal to or greater than 50mph across Oregon and Washington as of 2pm PDT. A more comprehensive list (in excel format) is also attached to this e-mail. You can also click on the excel spreadsheet station name column for the geographical location of the selected station, as plotted on a map —

Station Name

Max 24 Hour Gust Ending 2pm PDT (MPH)

Hurricane Ridge 87

Pacific Ci PACCTY-2 87

Naselle Ridge 83

Garibaldi 82

Cape Foulwea NEWPRT 81

Cape Meares MEARES 80

Crystal Mtn-top 79

Lincoln City LINCON 77

Mt. Hebo HEBOWX 76

Cape Disappointment 75

Clatsop Spit 75

Megler 72

Mount Hebo 72

Yaquina Bridge Wind 72

Yaquina Bridge Wind 72



Mary’s Peak 69

Rattlesnake Mountai 67

Mt Howard HOWARD 67


Port Orford 65

Bellingham CW9778 64


Point Wilson 63

Cannon Beach DW4535 63

Gable Mountain 63

Silcott Island 63

Road’s End W7KKE-3 62

Salem CW9266 62


Mission Ridge-top 62

Sunnyside 62

Tierra Del M DW2405 61

White Pass-top 61


Ferndale CW3375 60

Newport WA7ZVY-4 60

Oceanside OCNSID 60



Timberline Lodge –  58

Alpental-Denny Mtn 56

Cherry Point 56

Rockaway Bea ROCKWY 56

Springfield CW9669 56



Newport Municipal A 55

Tillamook 55

ZIM 55

Shaniko 55

Buoy 46088 54

Freeland DW9051 54

Smith Island 54

Ruggs DW5076 54


Mount Baker-Panoram 53

Newport DW1265 53

North Bend Municipa 53

Dirty Face Mtn 53

Hanford Franklin Co 53

Pendleton WB7CYS 53

Sandy Pt. Sh CW1394 52

Garibaldi KB7QWZ 52

Salem, McNary Field 52

Anacortes DW6057 51

Lopez Island DW7371 51

Port Townsend 51

Quillayute State Ai 51

Astoria Regional Ai 51

Crown Point DW6193 51

Forest Grove N7NKE 51

South Beach 51

Tillamook Airport 51


Florence/Siuslaw Je 51

Yachats YACHTS 51




Hanford 200 East Ar 51

Hanford Fast Flux T 51

Lexington Airport A 51

Lexington CW9205 51

Outlook 51

Roosevelt 51

Long Creek CW0704 51

Point No Point 50

Augspurger 50

Gold Beach (US 101  50

Port Orford (US 101 50




Steve Pierce
President, Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society
Oregon AMS web site:
: stevejpierce ‘at”
Phone: 503-504-2075

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Howard T. Lewis III
March 12, 2012 5:31 pm

No paper kite flying today.

Bill Jamison
March 12, 2012 5:56 pm

It’s even going to be cold in SoCal this weekend with the NWS issuing a Special Weather Statement saying snow levels would drop to 2,000 feet. The good news is that California is finally going to get some real rain and snow. Hopefully it’ll be enough to make a dent in the season deficit.

Brian H
March 12, 2012 5:56 pm

Piers is crowing about having called this a couple of weeks ago …

March 12, 2012 5:58 pm

So that´s why the 60′ Cedar in my back yard´s been at a 45º angle all day.

March 12, 2012 6:01 pm

Piers was right and has been right too many times to dismiss what he is doing.

Howard T. Lewis III
March 12, 2012 6:04 pm

Cedars and other trees need others round them to stand against the wind.

Ken in Beaverton, OR
March 12, 2012 6:15 pm

Yep, it’s stormy. I lost power for over 5 hours and a 30″ potted plant weighing 150 lbs. was blown off its stand. I’ve lived here for 41 years and I have never had this kind of storm this late in the winter.

March 12, 2012 6:44 pm

Seems winter was late everywhere as was summer here in SE queensland Australia.

March 12, 2012 6:51 pm

Here is the Washington State pass reports.Click on the mountain icon to get the individual pass report.
Snoqualmie is one of the snowiest mountain pass in the world.

March 12, 2012 6:52 pm

Not unusual. Go back and check 2006 (41 hectares of Stanley Park ruined) and 2007 (January 9 2007). My grandkids were once on a ferry between Vancouver and Vancouver Island that blew the doors off and broke windows.

Pamela Gray
March 12, 2012 7:35 pm

Back in the 70’s we were driving through snowy white flakes on July 4th in Wallowa County. I’m laying bets that the spring wheat will freeze again this spring. And the usual person will get his yearly insurance for the destroyed crop. What’s funny ’bout that is the insurance company thinks global warming is a’comin. Hasn’t figured out that the rest of us are planting spring wheat because the insurance agency said it would be a sure thing regarding a warm weather crop. So every year we line up for our frozen crop insurance check, with oh so innocent looks on our faces.

Gail Combs
March 12, 2012 7:53 pm

Pamela Gray says:
March 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm
….. What’s funny ’bout that is the insurance company thinks global warming is a’comin. Hasn’t figured out that the rest of us are planting spring wheat because the insurance agency said it would be a sure thing regarding a warm weather crop. So every year we line up for our frozen crop insurance check, with oh so innocent looks on our faces.
And the US Government thinks farmers are so dumb the USDA recommend their agents address them at the sixth grade level….

John F. Hultquist
March 12, 2012 7:55 pm

I-90 was closed in both directions today with multi-car (40) fender-benders and minor injuries.

Howard T. Lewis III
March 12, 2012 8:40 pm

Watch out for the harps that the angels don’t play.

March 12, 2012 9:18 pm

Glad I took a peak at WUWT tonight. NWS for Portland:
“Tonight: Showers. Low around 37. South wind between 5 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Tuesday: Showers. High near 44. Calm wind becoming south southwest between 7 and 10 mph. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Tuesday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 38. South southwest wind between 6 and 9 mph becoming calm. ”
Talk about dropping the ball. At least they issued a special weather statement.

March 12, 2012 9:46 pm

Gail Combs says on March 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm:

And the US Government thinks farmers are so dumb the USDA recommend their agents address them at the sixth grade level….

They don’t have to listen, ya know? (Unless that sixth grade thing has some basis …)
International versions out now too: Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

March 12, 2012 9:51 pm

Howard T. Lewis III says:
March 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Hmmm … the noted ‘conspiracy theorist” on the web …
Have you heard this one Howard:
. . . . . . . “Conspiracy theories are the tools of the weak-minded”?

March 12, 2012 10:11 pm

This is not a rare event. We seem to get a storm each March, often with snow accumulation. There is nothing special from my experience living here. We received a foot of snow March 31st 10 or 11 years ago.

Gary Pate
March 12, 2012 10:22 pm

Down here in San Diego County we have a winter storm warning for this weekend with a few inches of rain Saturday & up to a foot of snow at my place at 4200′ on Sunday. Snow is expected to be as low at 1000′
Since I am on a well I can use all the liquid & frozen global warming I can get.
Does anyone know if Al Gore has been spotted on the west coast recently? I blame it on him.

Mac the Knife
March 12, 2012 11:07 pm

“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, !”
11:00pm, 560 feet altitude, between Renton and Maple Valley, WA.
No wind, snowing straight down, large loosely agglomerated flakes, a little more than an inch on the deck railing and just enough on the ground to make it and the fir trees white.
It will melt quickly, as the ground is well above freezing… but it shore do look purty!!

Chris G
March 13, 2012 12:00 am

No mention of climate change on the news tonight for Portland. Have to wait for that one day in July when it hits 100 degrees for that I guess.

Howard T. Lewis III
March 13, 2012 12:07 am

The weather wouldn’t bother the elite if they could make it to the underground cities. I hear two of them had redecorating problems.

March 13, 2012 1:00 am

I have inches of Global Warming in Southern Portland / Mt Hood area. This is thick and sticking.

Pamela Gray
March 13, 2012 6:42 am

It appears the NWS believes that Pendleton will be high 40’s to low 50’s warmish with rain and “blowing dust”:
–Rain likely. Areas of blowing dust after 11am. Cloudy, with a high near 49. Windy, with a west wind between 26 and 31 mph, with gusts as high as 46 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.–
Not so sure about that blowing dust thing. Blowing mud, maybe, but blowing dust seems a bit schizophrenic to me along side “rain likely”. Plus, at an elevation of 1,266′ I am expecting some rain to look decidedly less like rain and more like cotton, especially if this temperature drop that started early this morning continues.

Pamela Gray
March 13, 2012 6:47 am

Abracadabra. Seconds after my above comment, just up the road before pass level, trucks are now required to chain up. Why? Are they driving through blowing dust?

Josh C
March 13, 2012 7:00 am

A couple inches in the Bellingham area – wife wants to move to Texas.
With the PDO looking to be in the negative for the next 20 the move south seems like a good idea, we lost quite a few sunny days this last year. We are running 2-4 degrees below normal. Ick. Not to mention 1.5″ inches above normal rain fall for the year already, with nearly 12″ instead of 10.5″ – Global warming is going to mean moving to a warmer climate for us…

March 13, 2012 7:17 am

Great skiing last night up Cypress, Vancouver, BC. Mountain was closed until 4PM due to high winds winds and blizzard conditions. Tons of new snow. When it opened there was no one on the hill. Snow drifts everywhere which are very unusual for the local mountains. Winds were still high and still snowing heavily. Every run was fresh tracks – the blowing snow had filled in the last runs tracks. When thing finally shut down at 10PM, for the hardy it had been the best snow of the year. A good day to play hookey today.

Michael C. Roberts
March 13, 2012 9:28 am

Here at an undisclosed location just south of Tacoma and north of Olympia, WA it snowed from about 0730 until around 0845, leaving an 1-1/2″ of the dreaded white stuff (including road surfaces) for us to fret over. The sky now has intermittant blue patches but when the coulds roll back, we have the fluff drifting down. Temperature at 0930 PDT is 33 degrees. Not out of the ordinary, but since we jst went to daylight savings time, really would rather have flip-flop and tank top weather……if the last few springs and summers are an indication of the “new weather paradigm” for the PNW, may just have to go south for some radiance from old Sol….

TG McCoy (Douglas DC)
March 13, 2012 10:45 am

Woke up here in the Grande Ronde Valley to wind and spots of blue in the clouds,
go have coffee look out to a nice snow and lots of wind.
“nice” is subjective…

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