does it snow in salem oregon

Does it snow in Salem Oregon? Salem is an interesting tourist destination with so much to see and do, but most people consider it a damp and cold place.

This often makes them question if it snows in this region or not. And if it does, how often does it snow in the city of Salem Oregon?

If you want to plan your winter vacations based on “when does it usually snow in Salem Oregon?”, we’ve got you covered.

Yes, it does snow in Salem, but it is usually very rare and not enough to support winter activities like skiing and snowboarding. 

A Bit about the Climate of Salem Oregon?

climate of salem oregon

 Salem enjoys a warm climate because of its location in the Willamette Valley.

The average low temperature hovers around 36F, but it can sometimes go as high as 83F during the day.

Average TemperatureJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Average High (F)485257626875838377655347
Average Low (F)363740424751555551454136

It does rain in the area, which means you need to know about when to plan your visit to avoid those rainy days.

Here is a bit about how often it rains in Salem:

Days ofJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mixed Precipitation0.6d0.3d0.1d0.0d0.0d0.0d0.0d0.0d0.0d0.0d0.3d0.8d
rains in salem oregon

While it rains in Salem, the intensity is not always the same throughout the year.

For instance:

MonthRainfall in Inches

Does It Snow in Salem Oregon?

does it snow in salem oregon

The answer is yes, Salem, Oregon does get snow.

Salem may be in the comparatively warm Willamette Valley, but the city is not immune to snow during the winter.

The first significant snowfall of the season often occurs in November or December, and Salem can have multiple snowstorms over the course of the winter.

Fact: The amount of snowfall varies dramatically from one winter to the next, with some years having very little snow at all. 

How Often Does It Snow in Salem Oregon?

the snow in salem

There can be large variations in the annual snowfall totals in Salem, Oregon.  

The National Weather Service reports that Salem typically receives around 4 inches of snow each year.

This, however, is a highly variable figure. There are years with much more snow than typical, and there are years with much less snow than usual.

Here is a bit more about the frequency of snow in Salem, Oregon:

MonthSnow Frequency
Fact: The record amount of snowfall in Salem is 24 inches, which was reported in 1937. 

How Much Snow Does Salem Get?

the snow salem gets

Salem occasionally has light snowfall. In 2016, it had 8.2 inches of snow, which is above average (average is 5.6 inches).

Salem may be a decent option if you do not want to live in an area with a lot of snow. The months with the most snow fluctuate.

Between December 3 and February 11, an average of at least 1.0 inches of snow falls per month. The average snowfall in December is roughly 1.4 inches.

Here is a bit more about how much snow to expect in Salem:

MonthSnowfall in Inches
Fact: Approximately 9.7 months out of the year, from February 11th through December 3rd, Salem does not receive any snow.

When Does It Snow in Salem Oregon?

does it snow in salem oregon

Winter is the coldest season in Salem and the surrounding Mid-Willamette Valley.

There is a lot of rain throughout this season, and the sky is frequently cloudy. While it does not snow much in the major portions of Salem, higher elevations of 1000 feet or more may get some snow.

The first snowfall in Salem usually falls in late November or early December.

However, until approximately mid-January, there is not enough snow to go sliding, have snowball fights, or make snowmen.

Salem gets about 4 inches of snow each year on average. 

Why Is Snow So Rare in Salem Oregon?

Due to its mild and moderate temperature, Salem, Oregon’s capital city, sees far less snowfall than other places in the United States.

Here are some possible explanations for this phenomenon: 

Geographical Location

geographical location of salem

Salem is in the Willamette Valley, which is a lowland area in western Oregon.

 It is smack dab in the middle of the Coast Range on one side and the Cascade Range on the other side.

The city’s location near these mountains has a big impact on how much snow it gets. 

Rain Shadow Effect

One of the main reasons why Salem does not get much snow is due to the rain shadow effect, which is largely due to the Cascade Range.

When the air from the Pacific Ocean gets all moist and starts moving towards the land, it runs into those big old mountains.

The air gets cooler and lets out some moisture in the form of rain or snow on the side of the mountains facing the ocean.

But when the air comes down on the other side of these mountains, it gets all dry and hot, lowering the possibility of rain or snow.

Marine Influence

marine influence in salem's weather

The weather in Salem is affected by how close it is to the Pacific Ocean. It also has a big impact on the type of precipitation the city gets.

The Pacific Ocean’s temperatures are pretty cold, and but it does not get super cold around here.

In fact, during winter, the sea surface temperature off the Oregon coast is usually in the 50s.

This warm weather makes it so the air is above freezing, which means it is more likely to rain instead of snow. 

An Important Consideration

The chances of snowfall are even lower, especially in places closer to the sea and at lower elevations.

This is because the oceanic conditions are relatively mild. So basically, in Salem, they get more rain than snow during the winter. 

Temperature Inversions

temperature inversions of salem

Temperature inversions happen when there is a situation where warm air is holding down cooler air close to the ground.

When it snows, sometimes the temperature can be weird and stop the snow from falling to the ground, even if there is moisture in the air.

In Salem, sometimes the weather gets all wonky and can cause a situation where there is cold air stuck close to the ground, but warmer air higher up stops snow from coming down.

This process makes it rain more in Salem instead of snowing.

Fact: The Pacific Ocean lowers the chances of snow in Salem, as the ocean's thermal inertia means it holds onto heat in the winter and lets it go in the summer.

Elevation and Topography

elevation and topography in salem

Salem is not very high up, only about 120ft above sea level – but in some places it goes as high as 800ft.

The lower elevation means the temperatures are not as extreme because the colder air naturally goes down to the lower areas.

On the other hand, places that are higher up, like the Cascade Range with mountains taller than 10,000 feet, get colder because they are at a higher elevation.

The difference in height between the Cascade Range and Salem means that the Cascade Range gets more snow during winter storms.   

What to Do in Salem in Winter?

If you are interested in visiting Salem in winter, you will be able to find so many activities to keep you entertained.

Here are a few options to consider:

Visit the Oregon State CapitolYou can take a tour of the State Capitol at any time of the year. But during winter, it looks even more amazing because it is decorated with holiday lights.Year-round
Explore a winter wonderland at the GrottoThe Grotto becomes a cool winter paradise when it gets cold outside. With lots and lots of lights, it is a place you have to go to see its peaceful gardens and hiking paths.Winter months
Go ice skating at the GalleriaThe Galleria, Salem’s main shopping center, offers an indoor ice skating rink during the winter season. A perfect opportunity to enjoy some skating while taking a shopping break.Winter months
salem winter activities


Does it snow in Salem Oregon? Yes, it does snow in the city, but it is very rare.

It happens due to its location and topography, but you can find more snow in the Cascade Range.

While you may miss winter sports like snowboarding or skiing, you can still have fun trying ice skating and exploring different landmarks in the city.