Weather Blog

2009: A year of extremes

2009: A year of extremes

The National Weather Service Portland Office recently issued the annual climate report on Portland's weather for 2009.  You'll find a full version of it and other yearly summaries from other Oregon cities on its Web site: www.wrh.noaa.gov/pqr/.

This yearly report gives meteorologists and weather enthusiasts a chance to reflect back on the year's most talked-about weather events, records and impacts on the region. 

2009 turned out to be a year of extremes, from record-shattering heat last summer to extreme cold snaps and surprising snowfall in December. Overall, average precipitation was lower than normal, while average temperatures skewed slightly warmer.

Here are a few of the weather highlights for last year:

- The new year ushered in a powerful winter storm,  producing heavy rain, flooding and mudslides across the area in January 2009.  Small streams and rivers swelled from Cowlitz to Clackamas counties.

- Strong thunderstorm outbreaks occurred in May and June. On May 2,  thunderstorm activity caused numerous power outages and higher wind gusts to metro Portland-Vancouver. One person was killed when strong wind gusts in S.W. Portland caused a tree to land on their car. Strong thunderstorms in early June brought even higher wind gusts ... including reports of a funnel cloud forming near La Center. The storm produced the highest wind gust of the year at PDX (49 miles per hour. Other weather spotters around town recorded wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour.

- Record heat took over in the summer.  A record 10 consecutive days of 90 degree heat impacted all local residents. July 27, 28 and 29 stayed above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (103, 106 and 106 degrees respectively) nearly tying Portland's all-time hottest day on record (107 degrees). 

- A rare Oregon coast tornado touched down near Lincoln City at Road's End on Nov. 5. Several decks, and cars were damaged by the small twister.  A similar event occurred near Oregon City in October; cutting about a quarter-mile swatch through trees and out buildings. Both were EF0 tornadoes, lowest on the scale, with winds estimated between 65 to 85 miles per hour.

- We ended the year with an arctic chill that kept an icy grip on the Northwest for six days in early December 2009. Record low temperatures were set at the airport, including the coldest December night in more than 35 years at 12 degrees! And none of us can forget the surprising, evaporative cooling snowfall event on Dec. 29 that literally shut down all transportation in and out of downtown Portland. One to 7 inches of snow fell in less than eight hours.