On a clear (and cold) day...

On a clear (and cold) day...
SEATTLE - Wow, there are mountains here?

That might be the reaction of those who have moved to the area in the last few months as the Puget Sound region is bathed in only its third sunny day in what seems like ages.

The only other sunny days since the start of November were on November 22nd and December 8th. (Don't you love how we in Seattle can remember the exact date it was sunny?) But it shouldn't be too surprising to see sun in January. In 2007, January was tied for the fourth sunniest month of the year. (I'm not sure if that speaks as much to how nice January was or how cloudy the rest of the year was.)

But ironically, with the sunshine comes some of the coldest temperatures we've seen so far this season.

A big ridge of high pressure is in control of our weather, keeping the skies clear and cameras clicking as the snow-capped mountains finally creep out from behind their stubborn curtain of clouds and show off to the surrounding area.

One particular show was Mt. Rainier. Take a peek at the mountain today and you'll see what perhaps looks like smoke rolling off the summit.

But the mountain is not pulling a Mt. St. Helens and blowing off steam. Instead, strong winds nearing 60 mph in the upper levels are blowing snow off the summit. It sure makes for a spectacular sight for us down here (although I'm not sure the same could be said for anyone up there right now. The temperature on the summit is expected to be -2 today, making the wind chill a numbing -40 degrees.)

The wind chill is fairly low in spots in the lowlands as well, but still some 60 degrees warmer than the Rainier summit.

Aside from the sunshine, some modified arctic air is filtering in from British Columbia. Overnight lows last night ranged from the mid 20s to low 30s, with wind chills near Bellingham in the upper teens/low 20s.

The wind will be subsiding later Monday, but that will allow temperatures to drop farther Monday night. Lows will drop into the teens in the outlying areas to low-mid 20s in the city.

We'll stay in a similar pattern Tuesday and Wednesday with sunny days but chilly nights with lows in the upper teens/low 20s and highs in the mid-upper 30s.

Frigid Air Is Right On Time

One last interesting tidbit: The coldest weather of the season is right on time. Today is one month since the winter solstice, and late January is typically the coldest time of the year.

That's because there's about a 30-day lag time for the atmosphere to react to changes in the sun angle. (Just as it takes a while for water to boil when you put it on the burner, the air takes some time to heat or chill.)

It's also why the hottest time of the year is in late July/early August, despite the summer solstice on June 21. Hopefully by then, seeing the mountains will not be a once-in-a-month experience.