This is a weather related tip and thus doesn't fit into any of the currently available VirtualTourst categories:
Portland has a well-earned reputation as a place where it rains a lot. The local tourist and convention bureau, colleges and universities, real estate agents, and various others have attempted to pass off the Portland reputation for rain off as overblown and nothing to worry about.
Is everything you have heard true? That depends on what you have heard!
The weather comes from the Pacific Ocean, comes into the Willamette Valley, and hits the Cascade Mountains. The clouds get stuck and unload water until they are light enough to pass over the mountains. We don't get as much rain as, say, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington or the Oregon coast (Newport, Astoria, Tillamook, etc.). However, because the rain frequently comes as very heavy fog rather than hard thunderstorm rain, it means that a "little rain" in terms of quantity can take a long time to fall in terms of days or weeks.
Yes, there are months when we don't see the sun. It is also true that locals tend to not use umbrellas because they aren't very effective with this type of rain - unless you will be out it it for a long period of time. I was born in Portland, and I do in fact own several umbrellas, and do use them - but only on those days when the rain is heavy enough for it to be worthwhile using them.
Some people who visit here, or those who have moved here from California, complain about the weather and the rain. (Didn't they know that it rains here before they came? Apparently not!) So, if you are expecting Portland to be like Los Angeles and have rain only three times a year, you will be sadly disappointed. We are just like the 99% of the world that isn't like California: we get rain here! Be prepared for it!
Isn't it cold in Portland?
Depends on what you consider cold.
Our winter weather is cold, but not as cold as many other cities in the USA. For example, compare winter weather in Portland, Oregon to the weather in Chicago or New York or Bismark, North Dakota, or Havre, Montana, or even nearby Boise, Idaho. Perhaps people think that Portland, Oregon is cold because they confuse it with Portland, Maine?
My Brazilian friends definitely think it is cold here! Look at Belem, or Manaus or Curitiba or Foz do Iguaçu or Londrina or Rio de Janeiro. Keep in mind summer in South America is winter here in Portland - you need to compare opposite months for a comparison of seasons!
The link below is to Weather Underground Portland. Only you can decide if you can handle our weather or not!
I once was walking home from grocery shopping downtown, one beautifuly rainy day. A man passed by me on the street and said..."you must've born and raised in oregon" as he glanced down at my umbrella handle sticking out of my purse and then at my raindrop covered face. It took me a second to realize what he was talking about, I just smiled and said "how'd ya guess?" I had forgot that darn thing was still taking up space in my purse. (and idea from my thoughtful, yet, melt in rain california then boyfriend now husband) Anyway just use a hood, unless you are dressed up for a special occasion then umbrellas are ok. Joking..use one if you want, we won't make fun too much.
Ha, I find it funny that the Oregonians distaste for umbrellas is a category here. Well anyway umbrellas are for wooses and tourists! Of course we all own 300 dollar rain jackets here so we really don't need 'em.
If you pop open an umbrella, almost instantly you scream "I'M A TOURIST". Portlander's are known for sucking it up and bearing the rain.
It does rain a lot, but remember there aren't the storms you get in the South or even Northeast. Mostly overcast with sprinkles, with the occasional good downpour.
But really, how long are you going to be outside that you need one!
Any true Portlander has learned that umbrellas are pointless. because of the winds the rain comes in sideways and breaks them.
other local customs are going out to have a beer, coffee (anytime of day) or to breakfast .
We have many great places to do any of these.
also last thing I have to say is we all do not wear flannel and it is not that common anymore to see this. it is not that plaid of a city. Although if you go to the nature around Portland you will see much more plaid.