The current "heat wave" might go down as the warmest spell we've had in January since records have been kept.
For the second day in a row, Seattle broke the record high -- today's record was 60 degrees and we hit 62.
But to those in Port Angeles, 62 would probably feel downright chilly. It was an eye-popping 68 degrees there at 1 p.m.
A rare strong south wind is blowing down the Olympic Mountains and through the city. As air sinks, it both warms and dries out. So they went from 55 degrees at noon to 68 at 1 p.m. The dew point also dropped from 46 to 29, showing just how much it dried out.
But it's not a constant wind. Actually, the winds up there are kind of swirling, occasionally blowing from the south, then the north, then back to the south. It went from 68 at 11 a.m. (south wind) to 55 at noon (north wind) then back up to 68 at 1 p.m. (south wind again.) They topped out at 69 -- before crashing back to 53 degrees at 4:15 under a light rain.
The high of 69 shatters the city's all-time record high temperature for January, which appears to be 65 degrees set... yesterday, when they also had a south wind blow through spiking the temperature.
Before then, our research shows the warmest January day was 64, but that's not official. The 69 would be the second-warmest ever winter day, behind a 71 degree reading on Feb. 22, 1966.
Most of the rest of western Washington were solidly in the low 60s as that warm, tropical moisture continues to stream north from the South Pacific.
To put that in perspective, Tampa was at a chilly 62 today.
As for the flooding, the break in the rains today helped some. Still, as of 3:10 pm, 8 local rivers remain under a FLOOD WARNING. Here's the list: Snoqualmie River, Skykomish River, Chehalis River, Cowlitz River, Skookumchuck River, Snohomish River, Skagit River and the Skokomish River. Most of the rivers have crested and should drop below flood stage late Wednesday or Thursday.
Check this link for the latest information on all flood warnings.
The brief break was courtesy of the hose that is the jet stream has moved north into southern British Columbia, with some rain nicking the northwestern tip of our state. However, the break is just about over.
The jet stream will sink back south again tonight, bringing a return to the steady rains from the north as the night progresses and through most of the day Thursday, as it'll once again park over the main western Washington areas.
We're looking at 0.50"-1.00" in the lowlands and 2-4" again in the mountains, adding more pressure to the rivers. We'll see how that plays out. It'll also stay breezy in the North Sound areas tonight and Thursday, with south winds between 25-35 mph with occasional gusts to 40-45 mph.
As for temperatures, "lows" tonight will stay in the mid 50s. (Note that yesterday, according to our climate research we appeared to set the all-time January record for warmest night in Seattle with a low of 53. I'm still waiting for official confirmation, but it's possible we might stay even warmer than that today. So far, the low is 55.)
Highs Thursday should cool off just a tad as that jet stream sinks south and pushes some of that warm air with it, but we're still looking at highs in the mid 50s.
It looks like we'll get another pause in the rain Friday, leaving us partly sunny and still warm, with highs in the mid 50s.
But then, another very wet and warm system returns for Saturday into early Sunday, with heavy rain at times and snow levels still way up over 6,000 feet. So the rivers might be rising once again. Oddly enough, one positive we have going for flooding not being quite as bad this second time is that there's hardly any snow to melt anymore to add to the rivers.
The rain tapers off again Sunday for another warm and muggy, but dry day, with highs stuck in the mid 50s.
It's finally Sunday night and Monday when this front moves off to our south and east, getting us on the cooler side. We'll have to deal with yet more rain for that time period, but the payoff will be finally cooling back into at least the upper 40s (brrr?)
The outlook for next week still keeps us rather wet at times, but snow levels should finally dip back under 3,500 feet (as opposed to, say, the moon). Perhaps at least we'll start replenishing some snow up in the mountains -- looks like we'll have to start over at zero at this rate.
In the meantime, I'll be brewing up some iced tea!