Winter light on Mt. Hood

by Steve, January 6th, 2013

Mt. Hood 2013
Mt. Hood from Sexton Mountain (Beaverton), Jan. 3, 2013

Cloud Cap
Mt. Hood from our house, Jan. 3, 2013

Mt. Hood Framed
Mt. Hood from Sexton Mountain, Jan. 3, 2013

We often think of Pacific Northwest winters as bland, gray and dreary, but in truth, we get some fantastic winter light around here. Not to mention some nice landscapes to have lighted.

Our weather patterns are typically dominated by (relatively) warm, wet Pacific systems, but we also frequently get cold, dry Arctic air masses pushing down through Canada and Washington along the Columbia basin, and then funneled through the Columbia Gorge into the Willamette and Tualatin Valleys. These are cold, dry, windy times.

When the next Pacific system pushes in and slides over the top, we get amazingly variable light, and sometimes legit winter weather (i.e. snow!). (Even without the Arctic systems, the Pacific systems produce snow in the Cascade Mountains, but the snow level can be pretty erratic throughout the winter, with rain as high as the mountain passes and ski areas at times.)

The bottom picture was taken on New Year’s Day, a cold, clear, dry day. Two days later, a Pacific System was muscling in, and I took the top two pics.