January 12, 2017

High Resolution Satellite Imagery of Washington/Oregon Snow

Today's high resolution imagery from the NASA MODIS satellite (below) shows a snowy region, since there are practically no clouds  to obscure the view over most of the domain.

A NOAA snow depth analysis is found below (which is not perfect, but useful).  Eastern Washington is completely snowed in and snow covers NE Oregon (except the immediate coast) and southwest Washington, as far north as Chehalis.


With some strong winds in Grant County on Tuesday/Wednesday, the snow drifted--in some locations up to eight feet high.  Here is an amazing image from the Grant County Sheriff's Office....more of a tunnel than a road.

With all the recent snow, the snowpack in Oregon is WAY above normal (see below), with much of the region with 130-140% percent of normal.  Some of the coastal mountains over NW Oregon are 3900% of normal.  Washington, other than the southern Cascades, is near normal.

Obviously, this healthy snow pack, coupled with excellent reservoir levels bodes well for water resources and reduced fire potential during next summer.


  1. The early forecasts for next week here for Portland are indicating another tropical jet stream flow probable, hope it doesn't wash away too much of the snow currently residing in the Cascades.

  2. With the snow on the ground and the clear skies comes extremely cold temperatures. Eastern Washington has literally been an icebox. I really cannot recall the last time this has occurred. Maybe 2007 or 2008. It's been that long since major cold. Hasn't reached freezing this month. Feels like it's been below freezing since two weeks before Christmas.

    With the east coast baking this feels like our turn of the polar vortex (hate that term) displaced over us. I know it's not exact science but the CPC winter forecast had wetter and colder especially for Idaho and Montana but it's been further west and south and actually drier where they had wetter. I think we still have a lot of winter left.

  3. I am confused about the diagram. You state: Some of the coastal mountains over NE Oregon are 3900% of normal. It looks to me that the diagram shows them in NorthWEST Oregon. What am I missing?

  4. Are you sure that the diagram shows "Some of the coastal mountains over NE Oregon are 3900% of normal"? Looks farther west to me.

    1. Typo Tim. The coastal mountains are indeed in the NW of the state (near the coast)

  5. It has indeed been uncharacteristically persistently cold and dry this winter. It's quite fortuitous that October 2016 had such a significant rain surplus, in order to make up for the rapidly-building 2017 deficit. January is normally one of the wettest months, yet until now, (nearly halfway through), there has been hardly any rain at all. The one silver lining is how severely parched California is currently getting desperately-needed moiture.

    If our cold/dry pattern were to stubbornly continue through the end of winter, Cliff will need to rethink his above statement about things boding well for the upcoming dry season. If winter continues to yield hardly any precipitation, then summer would indeed look quite worrisome in terms of potential fires and potential loss of life/property.

  6. Umm Really tracksdc89? This winter has been far from dry. Yes we have had periods of cold and dry but the record wet in October, wet November, and December and January have been all about building the snowpack!! Unreal amount of low level snow now!!


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