Winter 2005-2006's Worst Cold Wave

It arrived with heavy hype! Frantic Storm Warnings from Portland's TV Weathermen filled the news hours for several days. In one bizarre scene a TV reporter held up a dog's paw for a camera close-up, and dire warnings advised to keep all your dogs indoors for danger of frostbitten paws, emphasizing that if you had to take a dog outdoors to keep them on grass because paved surfaces would lead to frostbite! Click to see Storm pictures at page bottom.

 Location Portland, elev. 100 ft., Oregon's largest city   Seneca, 4,700 ft., holder of Oregon's all-time record coldest  Joseph, elev., 3,800 ft., legendary home of the Nez Perce Indians in far NE Oregon
 Feb. 15th, the arctic air arrives in the very early morning hours with powerful, gusty N to NE winds.

 46 high temp.

26 low temp.

 23 high temp.

13 low temp.

 28 high temp.

14 low temp.

 Feb. 16th, the cold wave air begins to settle and stagnate in Oregon's coldest locations

 45 high temp

25 low temp

 25 high temp

10 below zero low temp

 26 high temp

6 low temp

Feb. 17th, cold air is now in place, but coldest is yet to come. Crane Prarie records 16 below zero.  

 37 high temp

25 low temp

 19 high temp

8 below zero

 10 high temp

1 low temp

 Feb. 18th, the coldest day overall in the Cold Wave; Meacham records 19 below zero two times (Feb. 18 and Feb. 19).

 40 high

27 low

 21 high

13 below zero

 17 high

19 below zero

 Feb. 19th, this is the day the arctic air dies out and winds calm; the cold wave is on its way out. Horse Ridge east of Bend records 20 below, coldest anywhere during this Cold Wave.

47 high

23 low

 21 high

15 below zero

 21 high

15 below zero

 Feb. 20th, the icy winds have ended and in the Willamette Valley the calm air creates the coldest morning low temperatures of the entire Cold Wave.

38 high temp.

22 low temp, with average temp. for the day of 30, the lowest of the entire cold Wave!

 27 high temp

12 below zero

31 high temp

0 low temp

 Feb. 21, the whole State has warmed up and the Cold Wave hits the history books as six days long, with Portland's lowest having been 22 degrees ABOVE ZERO.    

Notes: In the "good" Old Days, major arctic air invasions would produce 7-14 straight days where Seneca might have average lows in the minus 30 to minus 40 degree range! Nowadays, minus 15 to minus 20 figures are about the best that a cold wave seems able to produce in Oregon..... Is it due to Global Warming? Click to see some of my discussions of this subject. (image is of Bend at 4 degrees and looking very, very frigid, with bitter winds and some blowing snow--- even though 4 degrees is not the truly arctic temperatures of former years, it can still get pretty wintery in Bend)

Second Note: It has been common throughout Oregon's recorded weather history, that the first two weeks of February can suffer the Winter's worst arctic air invasions. What was unusual about the above cold wave was not its severity, but its lateness in the winter. Note: although there was a slight amount of snow produced during this cold wave, it was restricted to zones east of the Cascade Range, and to the summits of the passes, such as the VERY blizzardy, frigid picture of the summit of Santiam Pass of Feb. 17th (note the 15mph winds and blowing snow)....But west of the Cascades, there was an absence of any snow cover, eg. in Portland, and this acted to moderate the cold wave's effects West of the Cascades.


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Page Last Revised 2/22/2008 (reviewed June 2020)