The National Weather Service Portland is predicting snow across the Cascades starting this Friday. It is expected to reach the elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 feet by Monday, a relative anomaly in the spring months.
“It’s more unusual to see snow fall down below 4,000 feet, and it looks like we should get some light snow accumulation as low as 2,000-3,000 feet by the end of the weekend,” meteorologist Colby Neuman, of National Weather Service Portland, tells WW. “That doesn’t happen quite as frequently in May.”
The weekend snow is part of an unusually wet spring that has seen Portland well exceed its typical rainfall. Portland International Airport just recorded its wettest April ever. That’s great news for the upcoming wildfire season—a bigger snowpack, especially late into spring, means the mountains won’t be tinder-dry come summer.
Still, it might make for difficult travel this weekend. The forecast suggests that people should expect winter travel conditions during the night and early morning, but that snow will have difficulty accumulating at major passes at midday and in the afternoon.
“For travel, during the late morning through the afternoon hours, it’s going to be pretty hard for snow to really stick to paved surfaces,” Neuman says. “Because the sun is so strong this time of year that enough of its energy is going to come through the clouds to keep paved surfaces right at or just above freezing during the day or the afternoon.”
While Neuman believes the new snow will be ideal for skiing, he is warning people not to go climbing on peaks like Mount Hood, even though spring is volcano-climbing season in Oregon.
“In fact, it could be very dangerous, with very poor light conditions,” he says. “And it’ll be cold, windy, as you go up higher. I think we’re looking at earlier today and by Sunday, at 10,000 feet, the temperature’s looking like it’d going to be in the upper single digits to low teens. Wind chills will be below zero at 10,000 feet up at the volcanos.”
If you’re planning to go climbing this weekend, consult the Northwest Avalanche Center.