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Local Snowstorms

Some of the Area's Snowstorms


   Local Notable Historical Storms and Data:
         Main Past Storms Page | Storm Reports | Tornadoes | Snow | Rain & Floods | Windstorms

Most snowstorms need two ingredients: cold air and moisture. Rarely do the two ingredients occur at the same time over western Oregon, except in the higher elevations of the Coast Range and especially in the Cascades. But snowstorms do occur over eastern Oregon regularly during December through February. Cold arctic air sinks south along the Columbia River Basin, filling the valleys with cold air. Storms moving across the area drop precipitation, and if conditions are right, snow will occur.

However, it is not that easy of a recipe for western Oregon. Cold air rarely moves west of the Cascades Range. The Cascades act as a natural barrier, damming cold air east of the range. The only spigot is the Columbia River Gorge, which funnels the cold air into the Portland area. Cold air then begins deepening in the Columbia River valley, eventually becoming deep enough to sink southward into the Willamette valley. If the cold air east of the Cascades is deep, it will spill through the gaps of the Cascades and flow into the western valleys via the many river drainage areas along the western slope. The cold air in western Oregon is now in place. The trick is to get a storm to move near or over the cold air, which will use the cold air and produce freezing rain, sleet, and/or snow. Sometimes, copious amounts of snow are produced. Nearly every year, minor snowfalls of up to six inches occur in the western interior valleys. However, it is a rare occurrence for snowfalls of over a foot in accumulations.


  1. March 13, 2012

    It was a very active month of March across the Pacific Northwest. Several late season snow events, heavy rain, and strong winds made for a stormy end of winter/start of spring. One of the more unusual events was a strong frontal system that brought rare March snowfall to the North and Central Oregon Coast. The brief burst of snow was heavy enough to set new 24-hour March snowfall totals in Newport and Tillamook.

    Reported Snowfall Totals Along the Coast

    LOCATION

    SNOW (INCHES)

    DURATION OF SNOW

    PREVIOUS 24-HR MARCH RECORD

    Tillamook 8.5 8 HRS 6.0 (1962)
    Newport 6.0 6 HRS 1.0 (1906)
    Florence 5.0 4 HRS N/A


  2. December 29, 2009
    A storm swung through the area causing many headaches for the evening commute.

  3. December 2008
    A series of storms dropped feet of snow over portions of the Willamette Valley. The Portland Airport broke its all-time December snowfall record receiving 18.9" for the month and was second only to January 1950 for the most snowfall in any month. The onset of cold air moved in around December 14 and lingered through Christmas morning.


  4. February 14 to 16, 1990
    A storm brought 24 to 35 inches of snow to the Columbia Gorge cities of Cascade Locks and Hood River. Up to 28 inches fell in the North Coast Range, 16 inches at Timberline Lodge. The Willamette Valley was coated with 2 to 4 inches except the higher hills around Portland received up to 1 foot. On the 16th, 10 to 15 inches of new snow fell in the North Coast Range and 20 to 35 inches in the North Cascades. The South Cascades reported between 1 and 2 feet additional snow. The Columbia Gorge had up to 6 inches of more snow while the Willamette Valley had 2 to 5 inches more. South-central areas did not escape the new snow with 9 inches reported from Chemult, 6 to 8 inches in the Klamath Falls and Lakeview areas. Tipton Summit in the northeast mountains had 6 inches of new snow as did Juantura in the southeast.


  5. February 1 to 8, 1989
    Arctic air pushed southward across Oregon between the 1st and the 3rd of the month. Heavy snow fell over all of Oregon. Some coastal areas had 6 to 12 inches of snow, an event of which is almost unheard. Salem reported 9 inches of snow and over a foot settled over the state. Numerous record temperatures were set. Strong winds produced wind chill temperatures of between 30 and 60 degrees F below zero. There were extensive power failures as well as considerable home and business damage resulting from frozen plumbing throughout the state. Damage estimates exceeded well over a million dollars. Several moored boats sank on the Columbia River because of ice accumulation. There were five weather-related deaths, three in auto accidents caused by ice and snow, and two in which women had frozen to death.


  6. January 25 to 31, 1969 [historical photo in Willamette Valley]
    For many areas, this storm was the most extreme on record. Snowfall over the state was much above normal, mostly in part due to a very cold January. Between the 25th and 30th, snowfall records throughout Lane, Douglas, and Coos counties, were surpassed by incredible numbers. Snowfalls of 2 to 3 feet fell on the valley floors, with much heavier amounts in the higher terrain. At Eugene, a snowdepth of 34 inches was recorded on the 30th, and the total January snowfall was 47 inches, nearly 7 times the normal monthly snowfall! Roseburg reported a snowdepth of 27 inches and a monthly snowfall of 35.2 inches. Along the coast, where the average snowfall is generally less than two inches, January snowfall totals ranged from 2 to 3 feet, with snowdepths of 10 to 20 inches reported. Hundreds of farm buildings and several large industrial buildings collapsed under the weight of the heavy wet snow. Losses in livestock were heavy. Many entire communities were completely isolated for nearly a week. At times, traffic on nearly every major highway west of the Cascades and some in central Oregon were halted at a number of locations. Total losses from this snowstorm in Oregon were estimated between $3,000,000 and $4,000,000.


  7. January 9 to 18, 1950
    January 1950 was a very cold month statewide, with freqent snowstorms. For the state as a whole, snow was the heaviest during this January than ever before since the beginning of weather record keeping, which began in 1890. For some areas, the heaviest one-day snowfall was reported during the first few days of the month, while for others the heaviest one-day snowfall occurred during the last few days. For most locations, the heaviest occurred during the period of January 9 through the 18th. Actually, there were three storms, but very little time separated them. Their net effect was a nearly continuous storm. On the 13th, snow was accompanied by high winds, creating widespread blowing and drifting of snow. Deep snow drifts closed all highways west of the Cascades and through the Columbia River Gorge. A very severe sleet storm began around noon on the 18th.

    Within hours sleet piled up to depths of 4 to 5 inches in northwestern Oregon. During the night of the 18th, the sleet turned to freezing rain, and created much havoc on highways, trees, and power lines. Hundreds of motorists were stranded in the Columbia River Gorge. The stranded motorists had to be rescued by train, though even all rail traffic had considerable difficulty and many delays in getting through the Gorge. Freezing rain downed many trees and power lines, creating widespread power outages across northwestern Oregon. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage occurred.

    Select 1950 Snowstorm Totals (inches)
    Location 1 day 3 days 10 days Greatest Snowdepth
    Crater Lake 27.0 66.0 180.0 136.0
    Parkdale 17.0 32.0 75.0 61.0
    Bonneville Dam 12.0 25.0 42.0 39.0
    Bend 16.0 23.0 33.0 25.0
    Portland 8.0 14.0 22.0 15.0

    Also, here are the snowfall totals across the state for the entire month.

    Western Oregon January 1950 Snowfall Totals
    Location January 1950 Snowfall
    Albany 54.7 inches
    Astoria Agricultural Station 39.4 inches
    Bandon 6.0 inches
    Brookings 6.0 inches
    Clatskanie 68.5 inches
    Corvallis 52.0 inches
    Cottage Grove dam 121.0 inches
    Detroit dam 122.0 inches
    Estacada 31.0 inches
    Eugene 36.0 inches
    Falls City 78.0 inches
    Forest Grove 59.0 inches
    Gold Beach 3.0 inches
    Hillsboro 42.4 inches
    Leaburg 50.0 inches
    Marion Forks 196.0 inches
    McMinnville 47.0 inches
    Medford 20.1 inches
    Molalla 30.0 inches
    Newport 6.2 inches
    North Bend 2.5 inches
    Oregon City 34.0 inches
    Otis 20.0 inches
    Portland Airport 41.0 inches
    Portland downtown 32.9 inches
    Powers 18.1 inches
    Prospect 87.5 inches
    Reedsport 5.0 inches
    Riddle 42.9 inches
    Roseburg 28.0 inches
    Salem 32.8 inches
    Santiam Pass 128.5 inches
    Sexton Summit 73.9 inches
    Three Links 96.0 inches
    Tillamook 18.9 inches
    Timberline Lodge 224 inches
    Troutdale 36.7 inches

    Eastern Oregon January 1950 Snowfall Totals
    Location January 1950 Snowfall
    Antelope 40.0 inches
    Baker City 24.4 inches
    Bend 56.5 inches
    Burns 31.9 inches
    Cascade Locks 92.5 inches
    Condon 43.1 inches
    Crater Lake 136.0 inches
    Dufur 18.0 inches
    Enterprise 30.8 inches
    Fossil 49.3 inches
    Fremont 49.2 inches
    Granite 80.0 inches
    Grizzly 42.5 inches
    Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge 25.5 inches
    Heppner 36.5 inches
    Hood River 93.8 inches
    Klamath Falls 56.5 inches
    Klamath Falls airport 38.1 inches
    La Grande 42.0 inches
    Madras 28.0 inches
    Meacham 41.8 inches
    Mitchell 25.8 inches
    Moro 54.0 inches
    Ochoco Ranger Station 67.7 inches
    Odell Lake East 134.0 inches
    Ontario 17.0 inches
    Parkdale 138.5 inches
    Pendleton 41.6 inches
    Prineville 24.0 inches
    Redmond 36.0 inches
    Redmond airport 28.8 inches
    Rome 8.1 inches
    The Dalles 76.0 inches
    Umatilla 24.8 inches
    Union 24.8 inches
    Unity 19.0 inches
    Wickiup dam near Sunriver 68.3 inches


  8. January 31 to February 4, 1937
    While this storm was quite general over the state, the heavy snowfalls were largely confined to the western slopes of the Cascades and the Willamette Valley. Heaviest snow fell on the afternoon and evening of January 31 and into the morning of February 1. Deep snow drifts blocked major highways and most minor roads in northern Oregon and the Cascades mountains passes for several days. Following are some snowfall amounts from the storm:

    Select 1937 Snowstorm Totals (inches)
    Location 1 day Storm Total
    Albany 16.0 18.0
    Cascade Locks 22.0 46.0
    Cascade Summit 8.0 28.0
    Corvallis 12.0 18.0
    Crater Lake 24.0 72.0
    Dallas 24.0 26.2
    Forest Grove 9.0 16.0
    Government Camp 10.0 33.5
    McMinnville 7.0 15.5
    Parkdale 10.0 32.5
    Portland 13.8 17.5
    Salem 25.0 25.6
    Siskiyou Summit 10.0 13.0
    The Dalles 7.0 7.0


  9. December 9 to 11, 1919
    This snowstorm was one of the third heaviest snowfall-producing storms to hit Oregon on record. It was a particularly cold December with the lowest statewide average temperature since record keeping began in 1890. The Columbia River froze over, closing the river to navigation from the confluence with the Willamette River upstream. The snowstorm affected nearly every part of the state, with heavy snow falling over a widespread area. The heaviest snow fell on the 10th. Here are some of the many snowfall reports:

    Select 1919 Snowstorm Totals (inches)
    Location 1 day Storm Total
    Albany 10.0 25.5
    Ashland 15.5 17.8
    Bend 28.0 49.0
    Cascade Locks 13.0 21.5
    Corvallis 11.0 20.0
    Crater Lake 22.7 45.0
    Eugene 4.5 8.5
    Forest Grove 13.6 25.1
    Fremont 11.0 22.0
    Government Camp 11.4 21.4
    Grants Pass 5.5 5.5
    Heppner 12.0 16.0
    Klamath Falls 8.0 8.0
    La Grande 3.5 7.0
    Lakeview 5.8 5.8
    McMinneville 14.0 24.0
    Parkdale 40.0 63.0
    Pendleton 12.0 15.0
    Portland 13.5 17.5
    Salem 17.5 23.0
    Siskiyou Summit 36.0 50.0
    The Dalles 17.0 26.0


  10. January 30 to February 3, 1916
    Snow produced by this storm fell mostly along the northern Oregon border. Heaviest snowfall occurred in the Hood River valley where Parkdale received 29.5 inches in one day (February 2) and a storm total of 81.5 inches. Heavy snow also fell at other locations, especially in the higher Cascades. Government Camp had a one-day snowfall of 41.0 inches and a storm total of 85.7 inches. There had been considerable snow earlier at many of these locations, especially those in the Cascades. At many of these locations, the earlier snow had not melted. As a result, very substantial snow depths occurred with the addition of the new snow.

    Select 1916 Snowstorm Totals (inches)
    Location Storm Total Greatest Snowdepth
    Cascade Locks 46.5 61.0
    Glenora 33.5 35.0
    Pendleton 28.0 31.0
    Portland 13.5 not available
    Condon 21.0 not available
    Heppner 28.5 not available
    Parkdale 81.5 not available
    Government Camp 85.7 110.0


  11. January 11 to 15, 1916
    This storm affected the entire state. A few days earlier, on the 6 through the 10th, heavy snow fell in the mountainous areas. During the first snowstorm of the 6th through the 10th, Siskiyou Summit received 15.0 inches in one day, and 34.5 inches for the entire storm. During the same storm, Cascade Locks received 7.0 inches in one day and 24.0 inches for the entire storm. During the second storm of January 11 through the 15th, every reporting station in western Oregon, except for the southwestern interior and the coastal areas, recorded storm totals of at least 5.0 inches and most locations had 8.0 inches or more! McMinnville had the honors of the most snow in one-day, with 11.0 inches falling on the 12th. Siskiyou Summit received another 24.0 inches, adding to the 34 inches already on the ground from the previous storm. Higher elevations in the Cascades received very heavy snowfall.



  12. January 5 to 10, 1909
    Many locations, particularly in western Oregon, received more snow in this 6-day period than they normally would receive in an entire year! Here are some of the snowfall totals:
    Select 1909 Snowstorm Totals (inches)
    Location 1 day Storm Total
    Albany 3.5 11.5
    Ashland 4.6 9.1
    Eugene 7.5 15.1
    Forest Grove 8.0 29.0
    Grants Pass 5.5 8.5
    Lakeview 7.0 17.0
    Portland 8.5 19.3
    The Dalles 4.5 14.5


  13. December 20 to 23, 1892
    Substantial snow fell across most of northern Oregon, with the greatest snowfall reported over northwestern Oregon. In the northwest part of the state, storm totals ranged from 15 to 30 inches. Here are some the more extreme snowfall reports:

    Select 1892 Snowstorm Totals (inches)
    Location 1 day Storm Total
    Albany 9.0 15.0
    Corvallis 9.0 14.0
    Portland 14.0 27.5
    Forest Grove 15.0 28.0
    Pendleton 6.0 8.0


  14. December 16 to 18, 1884
    Only a few widely scattered observing stations existed at this time. However, enough reports were available to provide some insight to this heavy snowstorm. Most of the heavy snow fell over the Columbia River Basin from Portland to The Dalles and along the Cascades foothills in the Willamette valley. Here are some snowfall reports:

    Select 1884 Snowstorm Totals (inches)
    Location 1 day Storm Total
    Albany 16.0 19.0
    The Dalles 29.5 not available
    Portland 12.4 22.3


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