Check Out This Graphic
It shows a massive ridge of high pressure over the entire Pacific northwest. A set-up means unseasonably warm and sunny conditions right? Not so fast.
The weather pattern we’ve been experiencing lately has been characterized by cold, saturated and foggy conditions. In order for this ‘gloom’ to go away we need this air mass to lift. Air that is able to lift is called unstable air. It happens when the air above us is cooler, which is generally the case.
But happening now is very mild air above us. In fact, this morning at 7000′ in The Cascades we are reporting temperatures in the upper 40s, while the Valleys are just above freezing. This creates a stable air mass – or air that is more difficult to lift.
Without geeking out too much, the set-up for the next several days favors the mountains. Our cold Valley air is dense, (cold air weighs more than warm air) and due to the weight and gravity, this air stays in the lowest locations and is locked in place due to the stability.
So this means people hitting the slopes will be enjoying spring-like skiing and coming off the slopes with sun tans.
In the Valley, we get to deal with air-stagnation, poor air-quality and cool temperatures despite the giant ridge overhead.
If we can get enough of an east wind, we could clear out and see sunshine and mild temperatures, but as of now it looks like this won’t happen. Our only hope is some late day sun to heat the air and give it some instability. But in the dead of winter with such a low sun angle I wouldn’t be too optimistic.
So, advantage – the Mountains.