science environment

Meteorologists Say Oregon Could See A Seriously Stormy Winter. Or Not.

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Oct. 26, 2019 8:30 p.m.

In a few months, the Pacific Northwest could see big winter weather events. Or it could see another average year.

Local and regional meteorologists got together Saturday morning for the 27th annual Winter Weather Forecast Conference at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland to discuss weather predictions for the upcoming winter season, and forecasts are still up in the air.


One of the key points the presenting meteorologists made was that this winter won’t see a La Niña or El Niño weather pattern, but rather a neutral one.

While La Niña and El Niño patterns mark colder or warmer than average temperatures, neutral years are somewhat of a wildcard, where anything could happen — including big storms.

“These are the years we can get big events, could be big lowland snow events, could be a damaging windstorm, could be a flood event,” Tyree Wilde, a meteorologist with Portland’s National Weather Service said. “Any of these can occur and they have occurred in neutral years.”


Wilde said 60% of Portland’s snowiest winters have happened during neutral years. Though, sometimes neutral years bring minimal or no snow at all to the metro area.

Carolyn McMahon shovels her driveway in Southeast Portland, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.

Carolyn McMahon shovels her driveway in Southeast Portland, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.

John Rosman / OPB

Wilde said generally he estimates that snowfall will be likely in the lowlands and there could be some flooding possible for the season.

Another meteorologist, Kelley Bayern with KOIN, said she estimates some early snowfall for the season in the Portland area.

“I think we will see early snow and a very active December and January,” Bayern said. “Also lots of mountain snowpack and a great ski season that will probably be open by Thanksgiving.”

Regardless of if a large-scale storm hits, Wilde said, people need to be prepared.

“No matter how we end up for the winter, we’ve always got to be prepared for that one storm — that one storm that’s going to turn our day sideways or our week sideways,” he said.