Did you know that the all time record lowest temperature in Portland occurred on this date, Feb. 2, it was -3ºF. In 1950! A notable year with 6 consecutive days that still are the coldest on those dates, from Jan. 29th through Feb. 3rd., 8º, 10º, -2º, 1º, today’s -3º and tomorrow’s at 4º! 1950 also still holds the record cold temps here for Jan. 14th at 9º, the 16th and 17th, both at 8º!
We moved to Portland, from Bend, in the fall of ’85, a year that gave us the coldest Thanksgiving week ever here. I remember moving a couple yards of gravel frozen into an ice cube, getting blisters in the process. From Nov. 22-31, six of the daily record lows from 1985 still stand, dropping to 13º and 17º at the coldest. This was a surprise to me coming from cold Bend where this would have been normal.
Our understanding of a place is mostly defined by our own personal histories with it and the dependability of our memories. It is shaped to a more limited extent by what we may be told or read.
Temperature records have been kept in Portland for nearly 150 years, since the 1870’s. Over my 34 years here 81 daily high records have been set during the period of Nov.-Mar. that still remain. Over the same period, which includes 153 days, 42 record lows were set, the rest all occurred over previous 115 years…prior to 1985. On 54% of the possible dates the record warm temps have been set since my arrival, while 28% of low records have been.
Is it getting warmer? It seems to be, but there are a lot of other factors and patterns to take into account in order to say. One of them is what’s happening with daily minimum temperatures, not whether they are record breaking, but whether they are trending up. This last month of January would seem to support that with our average low for the month at my house 40.1º, while the 20 year ‘normal’ is 35.7º. There are many more. Climate scientists tend to look at 20 year long segments when they attempt to understand this. There is so much variability in temps day to day and from year to year, but the facts, over my time in Portland would seem to bear it out when looking at our wintery months.
Okay, that’s probably more than enough!
Want to geek out on weather? I regularly refer to these three sites along with my weather underground and accuweather apps: https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/usa/portland-or/historic