When I got out of bed and came downstairs this morning, the floor was cold. I opened the door to let the cats in, and the air outside was cold. I started run my bath, and the water was cold. “It’s that time of year,” I thought. “As soon as Thanksgiving has passed, as soon as we hit the first of December, the cold sets in.”

I think the same thing every year. In fact, as I soaked in the hot tub, I realized that I have a bunch of “weather rules-of-thumb” that I’ve developed after 40 years of living in and around Portland:

  • The rain sets in about October 15th. Late October and early November are soggy.
  • November can be windy (though this really hasn’t been true over the past decade).
  • The cold sets in around December 1st and lasts into early February. (Though it’s intermittent until early March.)
  • If we’re going to get snow, it’ll usually be during the six weeks running from just after Christmas to the first part of February. (This has been blown away in recent years, though, as we’ve had heavy snowfall before Christmas and random dustings in mid-March.)
  • There’s a high chance of snow during the first week of February.
  • By mid-February, we get some nice days. By early March, we’ve got meteorological spring: It’s warm and wet.
  • Average lost frost is around April 15th — but to be really safe, you shouldn’t plant out your tomatoes until May 1st.
  • The rain lingers until about June 15th. (That gives us an eight month rainy season, if you’re scoring at home.)
  • June is lush and gorgeous.
  • The first hot days come at the end of June, around Kris’ birthday.
  • Late July and early August are hot. The heat lingers until Labor Day.
  • September and early October are warm and dry.
  • The rain sets in again around October 15th — and we do it all over again.

Okay, Oregonians. Which of these do you agree with? Can they be refined? What rules of thumb do you go by when considering the weather in your area?

3 Replies to “Willamette Valley Weather Rules-of-Thumb”

  1. bethh says:

    ooooh I’ve got one: 4th of !uly weekend is either HOT or rainy, isn’t it? I’m remembering the blues fest: either absolutely nelting, or huddling under the Hawthorne Bridge span to stay dry-ish. And the Rose Parade is pretty reliable for getting yucky weather.

    I’ll be in Portland this weekend so I half expect Snow of Doom, like last year (took me 3 hours to MAX 5 miles to the airport…clearly I’m not quite over it!).

    JD: hold a reader meetup at the beer fest on Sunday afternoon! Either way, I’ll drink one for you 🙂

  2. Eric Stoller says:

    This post should probably be titled “Willamette Valley Oregon Weather.” For example, the weather on the Oregon coast is markedly different from the valley.

  3. Jason says:

    That’s “cold”? I guess it’s all relative – we’re at a “chilly” 19 degrees outside in Colorado, with about a foot of snow on the ground. In our garage it’s a balmy 4 degrees. The good news though is that by this Saturday it should get up above freezing.

    I think we’ve had our “frost” for while now too! 🙂

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