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News / Clark County News

Weather Eye: With cold, unstable air settling in, we’ll see showers

By Patrick Timm for The Columbian
Published: March 23, 2023, 6:04am

No complaints about Wednesday’s weather, with afternoon temperatures in the 60s. Vancouver topped out at 65 degrees, 7 degrees above average but far from the record high of 78 degrees, set way back in 1939. We won’t be enjoying highs in the 60s for a while now.

Did you see those towering cumulus clouds to the west on Wednesday? They began to form as the leading edge of colder air was pushing inland. The warm air at the surface and cold air aloft pushed some of those clouds’ tops to near 30,000 feet. Impressive for west of the Cascades. There were some reports of hail in Cowlitz County.

Today we have rain showers and perhaps hail, too, as that cold, unstable air settles in. Today through Saturday, we will have highs in the 40s, so temperatures will be running 10 to 15 degrees below normal. Winter storm warnings were posted for the Cascades and higher elevations of the Coast Range, with a foot of snow possible.

With this type of cold air mass and what we have seen this month, nocturnal showers of rain or snow will occur. Sticking snow should keep above 1,000 feet, but again, in heavier showers, wet snow can fall all the way to the deck. If heavy thunderstorms pass overhead, we’ll see wet snowflakes and hail that could cover the ground.

The cold air mass will linger through the weekend. Next week, we’ll trade it for a cool rather than cold air mass — more typical of late March weather. At least the highs will bounce back into the 50s, and maybe 60 degrees if a good sunbreak shines. That also means rain showers, hail and, of course, rainbows. March will shine brighter next week.

If our high temperatures are not able to reach the upper 40s today, we could approach the lowest recorded high temperature for the date, which was only 45 degrees in 1902.

Looking east to the Cascades, they are all unusually white down to low elevations. To the west, the Coastal Range also is white. Snow on both sides of the valleys.

Endure the blustery weather, and we will chat on Sunday.