Weather Record In Jeopardy, Winter Recap & More…

Has it felt wet and cold across the Pacific Northwest lately? If you answered “yes” you would be correct. March is currently running approximately 1.5 degrees below normal at the Portland International Airport. February came in even colder at nearly 3 degrees below normal (40.3 degree average). That was the coldest February since 1993’s 40.0 degree average temperature. After a near-miss on Wednesday, the Portland International Airport is still in jeopardy of breaking a “chilling” record for latest date to ever reach 60 degrees for the first time in a given calendar year. Vancouver just inched past the 60 degree mark today (60.1 to be exact) so the record is over at that location. By this time last year, Portland had already recorded 8 days at or above 60 degrees, including a 70 degree high temperature on March 20th. April 1st is quickly approaching and this is also the date in which Portland typically reaches 70 degrees for the first time in a given year. Portland is a solid 30+ days behind schedule this year, struggling to get out of the 50’s. If the Portland International Airport stays below 60 degrees through this coming Sunday, March 27th we will have set a new all-time record for the latest 60 degree high temperature in a given year at that location. 1955 is the only other year that stands in the way of breaking this record. See data below.

Looking even further back at records that date back to 1871 in downtown Portland (140 years), the latest date to reach 60 for the first time in a given year was set on April 9th 1875. The current weather pattern looks conducive for topping the airport record set back in 1955, however the downtown Portland record is still in question. As you may recall, last June set the all-time Portland airport record for latest “first 80″ degree temperature of the year which now sits at June 12th. Additionally, the Portland International Airport has reached the 5″ mark for rainfall as of 5pm Wednesday, which currently ranks March as in the top 15 wettest since records began in 1940 at the airport. With additional rainfall in the forecast over the next week, Portland could easily move up to perhaps 5th place on the all-time list at the airport. Portland is currently 137% of normal on rainfall for the month of March with 5.09” recorded as of 5pm Wednesday. See data below.

Portland International Airport latest “first 60” degree temperature – 1940-2011 = 71 years

3/27/1955 – 60 degrees (all-time record latest)

Downtown Portland latest “first 60” degree temperature – 1871-2011 = 140 years

4/9/1875 – 62 degrees (all-time record latest)
4/8/1897 – 69 degrees
4/6/1880 – 63 degrees
4/5/1876 – 61 degrees
3/31/1904 – 61 degrees
3/31/1922 – 63 degrees

Wettest March’s at the Portland International Airport. 1940-2011 = 71 years

1957 7.52″
1997 7.14″
1983 6.80″
1989 6.73″
1961 6.04″
2003 5.75″
1974 5.65″
1943 5.54″
1972 5.41″
1945 5.30″
2011 5.09″ (through Wednesday 3/23/11 at 5pm)

Winter Recap Presentations Now Posted

The Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society recently reviewed the winter of 2010/2011 at its monthly meeting last week. KPTV Fox-12 Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen and I presented some interesting data! The presentations can be downloaded at the following locations:

Part 1 (Mark) –

Part 2 (Steve) –

April AMS meeting reminder — The Oregon Chapter of the AMS will be hosting its April meeting at Stark Street Pizza in N.E. Portland on Thursday, April 21st at 7pm. The general public is welcome to attend. Bonneville Power Administration Meteorologist Chris Karafotias will give a detailed presentation on the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the impact it had on this past winter’s weather. For more information on this meeting, click:

Stay tuned!

Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce

Steve Pierce is widely known as Oregon and Washington's "go-to-guy" when it comes to fast, accurate historical meteorological research and forecasts. Steve is currently the President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Steve is also recognized as a regional weather commentator and blogger who can be heard on local radio stations and seen in print media outlets across the Pacific Northwest. His Weather Blog is hosted by the Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Check it out! He is a third generation resident of Vancouver, Washington and holds a degree in Communications. Both sets of Steve's grandparents migrated to Vancouver during World War II. One set traveled from Lenox, Iowa to work in the Kaiser Shipyards supporting the war effort. The other set came to Vancouver from Olympia, Washington to work as educators for the rapidly expanding Vancouver School District. When the war was over, both sets of grandparents decided to stay in Vancouver and continue raising their families, as did thousands of other families at the time. Those who are most familiar with Steve can attest to the fact that weather is his true passion. His love for "all things weather" began at the age of 7 when Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980. He was fascinated with which direction the ash plumes were headed. Then came the very powerful windstorm of Friday, November 13, 1981, also referred to as the "Friday the 13th" storm. This was the strongest storm to hit the Portland / Vancouver area since the great Columbus Day Storm of 1962! At age 11, he was asked to publish an extended weather forecast for his elementary school's weekly newsletter. In the 1980's, at age 14, Steve was the youngest of KGW-TV's local "weather watchers" and would phone in his daily Vancouver weather stats to then television meteorologist Jim Little for use on-air. Steve has lived through all of the major Pacific Northwest weather events of the past 30 years, and then some. The most notable events include; the bitterly cold winter of 1978-1979, the record setting snow storms of January 1980, the summer heat wave of August 1981, the windstorms of November 1981 and December 1995, the severe arctic blast of February 1989, the record flood of February 1996, the historic ice storm of January 2004, the Vancouver tornado of January 2008 and the record setting snow storm of Christmas 2008. Not to mention every Mt. St. Helens volcanic eruption in between. With access to the most extensive set of historical weather records available to date, Steve has personally designed and integrated a proprietary system that gives him the ability to quickly locate and manipulate weather data as far back as the 1800's. As one local Meteorologist put it, "Steve has fast access to historical weather data that is needed for media, agriculture, business, personal, historical and other climatological needs. He can quickly manipulate the data in many different ways. His forecasts are also quite accurate, especially at longer lead times." Steve also provides local storm assessments, narratives and weather presentations to the general public, as requested. In his spare time, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, the outdoors, vacationing at his family's coastal cabin and just relaxing! By the way, do you like your weather on the "extreme" side? So does Steve! Whether it is collecting damage assessment data & photos after record setting 125 mph winds at the coast in December 2007, being one of the first on the scene after the January 2008 Vancouver tornado, or feeling (literally) the awesome power of 100 mph wind gusts at Oregon's Crown Point in January 2010, Steve has experienced it all! As Steve says, "don't just love weather, live weather!" Check out Steve's personal weather website at:

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