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Weather and Climate in Portland - what to expect

Weather and Climate in Portland – what to expect during your stay

The city of Portland OR is quite well-known for having wet weather throughout the year and not too many sunny days. Fondly known by many as the Rose City, one of the reasons that it got its nickname is because it has amazing weather that is perfectly conducive for growing a lush rose garden. Some of the weather descriptions you may have heard about Portland might not sound too appealing but the truth is that it’s not really bad at all. Whether you are just heading to this city for a quick visit or are considering a more long-term stay, here are some important things that you would need to know about the weather and climate in the city…

What are the weather statistics in Portland?

Portland Saturday Market - Portland

These numbers are just averages and can fluctuate throughout the different days and seasons but they will give you a pretty good idea of the weather that you might expect when you get to the city and help you prepare accordingly.

Temperatures in Portland

Summers in Portland are pleasantly warm with an average high of 76° F and an average low of 54°F. The hottest days usually read at 84° F but there have also been a few rare instances where the city had gotten really hot summers of more than 100° F.

Winters are not that bad either, with an average daily high of 52° F. December is the coldest month, with an average high of 45° F and an average low of 36° F. It can also get below freezing during the night. The warmest hours of the day in Portland are usually between 2 pm and 7 pm.

Sunshine in Portland

Sunny weather in Portland

Portland gets 144 sunny days in a year, which is just a little bit more than what Seattle gets. This can be seen in the higher amount of solar energy generated in Portland’s solar center, with a daily 1.35 kilowatt hours per square meter compared to just 1.15 for Seattle.

In terms of hours of sunshine, Portland gets about 2,340 sunshine hours in a year. July gets the most amount of sunshine at 332 hours or an average of 10.5 hours of sunshine per day. On the other hand, December gets the least number of sunshine hours at only 64. The daily average for December is just 2 sunshine hours in a day.

Precipitation and Rainfall in Portland

Things to do in Portland when it rains

It’s hard to tell exactly how many wet days Portland will get in a year because this varies considerably due to a large number of factors. However, historical data shows an average of 164 days of rain in a year. The wet season does last almost 7 months from the middle of October to early May, during which every day comes with a 32% chance of being a wet day. November is the wettest month with an average of 5.7 inches of rain.

The rest of the year falls into the drier season, during which days can still get rain but with a lower likelihood. The driest months are July and August with rainfall of only 0.6 inches. At 42 inches, downtown Portland gets more average rainfall than the US average of 37 inches. If you are staying in the areas of Happy Valley or Damascus, you might expect a little bit more rainfall. However, most of the rain comes in drizzles instead of downpours.

Snowfall in Portland

Snow in Portland Oregon

Portland does not get a lot of heavy snow. The yearly average amounts to only 4.3 inches. Snowstorms, while a possibility, are extremely rare. In 1950, Portland was hit by a raging blizzard that left 41 inches of snow just in the airport area in January.

More recently, 14.9 inches of snowfall within a month was recorded in 2008 when a massive snowstorm happened from the 20th to the 22nd of December. However, these are very rare occurrences. On average, snow may fall from the end of November to the middle of February. January gets the most snow with an average of 2.4 inches.

What Are the Yearly Seasons Like in Portland?

Portland’s seasons are easily distinguishable and quite typical of the Pacific Northwest, with summers that are warm and dry, and winters that are cool and very wet. The changes in weather from season to season cause notable transformations in the outdoors that can be really quite spectacular to witness. For the most part, there are no remarkably unpleasant extremes and in fact, it’s pretty comfortable in the city all year round.

Summer

Best boat tours in Portland Oregon

Many would agree that summertime is the best season to visit Portland because of the nice, warm weather that is rarely disrupted by rain. The city gets an average temperature of about 80° F during the day, which drops to 60° F or so during the nights. July marks the start of summer, during which the evenings are quite long, with the sun still shining until 8 or 9 pm. Occasional heat waves have been experienced in the summer months, with temperatures reaching up to 100° F. The highest recorded day temperature so far was in 1981 when it reached 107° F.

What to wear in Portland in the summer

Since the weather has warmed up considerably, your typical summer outfits will do nicely. Sundresses, shorts and t-shirts should be pretty comfortable for a summer stay in Portland.

There are also plenty of evening activities in Portland that take advantage of the great summer weather like hiking or dining at outdoor restaurants so you might want to bring light evening outfits for these as well. Bringing sunglasses and a high-quality sunscreen is also a good idea.

Fall

Portland in Fall

After summer ends in September, the average temperatures in Portland drop to 60° F up to the low 70s during the day and about 50° F or even 40° F at night. The days are likely to be cloudy and have frequent light drizzles. This marks the beginning of the fall season, which is also heralded by the vibrant colors of the trees as the leaves turn into beautiful shades of yellow, red and orange. The agreeable weather and the beautiful scenery make fall in Portland the perfect time for taking outdoor strolls and enjoying the beauty of nature.

What to wear in Portland in the Fall

The temperatures during fall are hard to predict because they could be anything between a late summer heatwave or an early winter drizzle. It’s best to be prepared for both possibilities by bringing clothes that you can layer on or wear solo. You should also take along a jacket for protection from the cold, especially during the evenings when you will start to feel the impending winter chill. Boots for outdoor walking are also necessary so that you can enjoy the beautiful sceneries of Portland during this time of the year.

Winter

Portland in the winter

Winters in Portland are cold and wet just like most of the Pacific Northwest, though not to the same extremes as Vancouver or Seattle. It will get below freezing a couple of times during the winter, and the average day temperatures are at about 50° F. The lowest recorded winter temperature in Portland happened in 1950 when it dropped to -2° F.

When is winter in Portland?

Winter in Portland starts around mid-November and carries on until mid-March. In this period the temperatures range from daytime highs in the 50s, to the low 40s.

Does Portland get snow?

Snow is not unheard of but it only falls to about 1-2 inches. Cold rains are more common, with an annual rainfall of about 37 inches. Roads can get difficult to drive on during winter though because of the ice. There is a good chance of fog forming during the night and in the early hours of the morning.

Does Portland get a white Christmas?

Usually, Portland has a wet and gray Chrismtas and the odds are stacked against Portland having a very white Christmas and the odds are about 1%. 

 Although The Oregonian on the Dec. 25, 1921, boasted “the first honest-to-goodness white Christmas in Portland’s history.”

What to wear in the winter in Portland

Although it is not quite the coldest city in the country, Portland winters can certainly bring a chill to the bones especially if you are not used to frigid weather. It is best to bring a thick winter jacket or coat, along with weatherproof boots so that you can walk around the city in relative comfort. Of course, you should not forget to bring some warm gloves, a scarf and a hat to keep you warm.

Spring

Spring in Portland Oregon

The temperature in the city begins rising again as spring takes hold. By April, the days are back at 60° F and it will continue to get warmer until summer starts again. Rain is plentiful during springtime and while some find this dreary, the showers do come with the upside of bringing forth gorgeous colorful blossoms in almost every yard that would easily brighten any rainy or cloudy day. The variety of flowering plants is a joy to behold during this season.

What to wear in Portland in the Spring

Springtime is a great time to visit Portland but make sure that you bring adequate rain clothes so that you can enjoy the outdoors and explore the city comfortably in spite of the frequent drizzles. A light windbreaker or raincoat should be enough to wear over your regular clothes. You should also bring sensible boots and an umbrella. Even when staying indoors, it would be good to bring a few sweaters as the weather is still pretty cold during this time of the year.

Does Portland have any webcams where you can see the weather live?

Yes Portland does have webcams where you can see for yourself what the weather is like, here are some of them…

Beth was born under a wandering star, with drama in her veins and ink in her pen. After stints studying theatre in Dublin and Utrecht she used her creative streak to see as much of the world as she could on as little money. She toured Italian Schools with a children's theatre troop, lived as an au-pair in both Rome and Washington DC, explored the British countryside, worked her way through much of Europe, Salsa'd in Cuba and road tripped down America's west coast where she discovered her spiritual home; Portland, Oregon. In between adventures she resides peacefully with her cat and ukulele amid the misty valleys and rolling hills of beautiful South Wales.

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