Weather Blog

Brrr! Seattle, Portland briefly tied for coldest major city in lower 48

Brrr! Seattle, Portland briefly tied for coldest major city in lower 48
Map shows temperatures across the mainland United States at 11 a.m. PDT on May 22, 2013.

Does it feel a bit like January out there today? Your skin does not deceive you.

A cold system from the Gulf of Alaska has settled into the Pacific Northwest, bringing not only a steady winter-like rain but has kept temperatures stuck in the 40s(!) through the late morning.

In fact, at 11 a.m., Seattle was stuck at 46 degrees -- about the average high for mid January. It's so cold in the Northwest that Seattle and Portland were tied as the coldest major cities in the lower 48 states -- and it wasn't even close! (Boise was at 50. Anchorage was also at 46. If we do lower our population threshold for "major city", Spokane checks in at 41.)

Portland would gradually take the trophy by itself as Seattle later warmed into the low 50s as Portland remained stuck in the mid 40s.

While it was cold and grey down here, it was cold and white up in the mountains. Paradise Ranger Station at 5,500 feet up Mt. Rainier had 14 inches of new snow (more than a foot!!) Monday night into Tuesday as their snow base went up from 126 to 140 inches. Temperatures there had dropped to 25 degrees overnight but had "warmed" to 34 by late morning.





But snow even fell at lower elevations. Check out Stevens Pass:



Stevens Pass reports 4" of new snow to their base.

But wait, there's more -- Snoqualmie Pass also got a dusting of snow down to 3,000 feet! Although it quickly melted.

The record lowest high temperature for May 22 in Seattle is 54 degrees. We'll see if we break it, but at least for now, we can take solace that no one is cooler than the Northwest right now!

Central Washington kids get snow day in May!

In addition to the snow in the mountains, snow also fell in the small Klickitat County town of Bickleton forcing the cancellation of school there just weeks before the start of summer vacation.

School Superintendent Ric Palmer says 10-to-12 inches fell in places overnight and heavy snow brought some tree branches down on lines, knocking out power and phones.

He said it was the lack of power at school rather than the snow that forced him to cancel classes. Still, it marked the first snow day of the school year, after only a few delays caused by snow during the winter.

"Yeah, they love it," Palmer said about his students. He noted, however, that they will have to make up the time before classes end next month.

About 170 students attend kindergarten through 12th grade classes in one building in Bickleton. Utilities should be restored and classes resume on Thursday.

A recorded message about the freak snow on the school phone line had an incredulous tone: "I repeat it's Wednesday, May 22, and we have had to cancel school."

The town has an elevation of about 3,000 feet. The sheriff's office says a couple of inches of snow also fell on 3,100-foot Satus Pass on Highway 97 between Goldendale and Toppenish.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.