2007: Another crazy year in weather

2007: Another crazy year in weather
John and Colleen Crawford sent in this photo of a wind-whipped wave splashing over the front of a ferry on the Mukilteo run Thursday afternoon.
SEATTLE -- While 2007 might be considered a bit calmer in the weather department than its 2006 counterpart (which saw the two stormiest months on record, plus a massive December windstorm), it will still go down as pretty eventful.

The year was punctuated by the second major December storm event in two years. The storm of December 1-3 had just about everything Mother Nature had to offer -- damaging winds, heavy rains, major river flooding, coastal flooding, and incredible amounts of mountain snow.

But there were plenty other weather events through the year to make their marks in the record books as well as the hearts and minds of those who lived through it.

Here's a recap of the year gone by, just in case you might have forgotten:

2007 Begins Same Way 2006 Ends: Stormy

Right off the bat, two windstorms stuck the Northwest. The first one was on January 2nd, knocking out power to about 25,000 and causing $100,000 in damage, and then again on January 5th and 6th, knocking out power to over 100,000 customers in the North Sound. Damage there was over $1.6 million.

Jan 3 -- Calendar Changes... Weather Doesn't

Seattle? Or Buffalo?

Soon after the winds, here comes the arctic air. A cold front on Jan. 8th swiftly dropped temperatures from the 50s to the 30s, followed by another push of arctic air by the end of the week, dropping temperatures to what would be their coldest readings of the season.

Olympia dipped to 12 degrees, while Seattle got down to 19. Many other spots in Western Washington had lows in the low-mid teens for two-three days -- about on par with a typical morning in Buffalo, N.Y.

It also brought a little bit more snow to the area.

On Jan. 11, the snow came at the worst possible time -- the evening commute. A convergence zone started in Snohomish County, then sank south into the Seattle/Bellevue area, bringing a heavy snow that brought shades of the late November 2006 snowstorm that left cars scattered across the freeway and people stuck for several hours.

Jan 8 -- From 50 & Rainy to 32 & Snowy
Jan 11 -- Snow snarls evening commute; ice threatens morning drive
Jan 14 (recap)-- Seattle? Or Buffalo?
Jan 15 -- Dog gone it, more snow in the forecast

February Mostly Quiet -- Until The End

The shortest month of the year didn't have much weather to remember, unless you were one of the unfortunate few stuck in a surprise snow storm in Whatcom County, where our old weather monkey wrench, the Puget Sound Convergence Zone, wreaked havoc with travelers along I-5.

Feb. 23 -- Convergence Zone brings snow to some areas

Then March Comes In Like A Lion

Raawr!

That was March all right this year, which began -- almost literally at midnight for some -- with a monster Convergence Zone that dumped as much as a foot of snow in some spots in Snohomish County, with spots around the Everett metro area seeing 5-6". Meanwhile, 20 miles to the south in Seattle, there was nary a flake.

Feb 28. -- Convergence Zone Strikes Again

Mar. 1 -- Snow storm dumps as much as a foot in the North Sound

The snow was gone a day later for most, but a few weeks later came the warm, tropical rains of the "Pineapple Express" and strong gusty winds. Winds gusting as high as 54 mph knocked over a tree that damaged two homes near Oak Harbor.

Mar. 11 -- "Pineapple Express" steams through Northwest

The month didn't completely end like a lamb. There was one last flooding event toward the end of the month.

Mar. 24 -- Heavy rain prompts flood warnings

The Invasion Of The May Flowers

They say April showers bring May flowers. But typically those mean rain showers. Not this year. A little snow kicked off April in some spots.

Apr. 2 -- Can't wait for the flowers these April showers bring

A few days later, it was break out the shorts as temperatures soared close to 80 degrees, finally allowing me to use an image of two dogs sunbathing on a jet ski that a viewer had sent in several months earlier and I had been holding in reserve for just such a story.

Apr. 6 -- Behold the dog days of...spring?

How Dry April Was...No, Really!

Despite the brief "heat wave" the month was generally cool and cloudy, but despite the plentiful gray days and rain on 22 of the 30 days of the month, it just didn't add up to much in Seattle. It ended up being the fifth driest April on record.

May 1 -- Wow, it's been a dry month...no, really!

Summer Gets A Few Days' Head Start

May ends with a sizzle, sort of. Temperatures across the area climbed into the 80s, with a few spots hitting 90. It would be one of the few heat waves this year:

May 31 -- Seattle gets sneak peek at summer!

June -- Quiet Weather, Cool Clouds

June was pretty much slumber city when it came to the weather, but those who were up late on June 21st to welcome in the summer solstice got to see a very neat atmospheric effect -- the noctilucent cloud.

Some even theorize that these ultra-high clouds are caused by the Space Shuttle.

June 21 -- What was that strange glowing cloud?

98 Degrees Visits Seattle -- No, Not The Band...

The middle month of the year also brought the hottest weather. In fact, Seattle darn-near reached its all-time record high ever, hitting 98 degrees on July 11. Seattle (Sea-Tac) has hit 100 just once on July 20th, 1994, and 99 two other times. During the early afternoon on the 11th, Seattle was actually on pace to reach 100, but fell off the pace at the buzzer.

Hoquiam did hit 99 -- their hottest day ever.

July 11 -- Do you know the way to sand or shade?
July 12 -- Bellingham ties heat record, Seattle falls just short
July 13 -- How do you spell relief? O-C-E-A-N A-I-R?

November Arrives a Week Later

Just a week later, moisture from a former tropical storm drenched Western Washington, producing close to 200 percent of normal rainfall for July. For Seattle, it ended up being the 10th wettest July on record.

July 21 -- Gobble, gobble? November-esque storm arrives

Hey, What Happened To Summer?

Summer vacation ended with quite the light show as thunderstorms moved through the area. It was a fitting end to what many people considered a dismal summer.

But despite the wet and dreary appearance to summer, the statistics showed summer wasn't all too far from normal. There were two theories by our crack meteorological research staff (i.e., me): One was that it paled in comparison to the very sunny, warm, and dry summer of 2006. And the second was that of all the cool, cloudy and rainy days happened to fall on the weekends.

But all in all, temperatures were about normal, the number of sunny days was just a little below normal, and while July was wet, August and June were about on par to a little below normal.

What little summer we did have ended abruptly on Sept. 13th, when we had our last 70 degree day of the season. It was the second-earliest that had ever happened.

Sept. 4 -- Summer vacation ends with a bang!

Pitch One: Mother Nature Swings And Misses

October is traditionally the start of the stormy season, and right no cue, a very strong storm developed off the coast. How strong? About a category 4 had this been a hurricane (which it wasn't. You need a tropical-based storm to be a hurricane.) It stayed well offshore, and didn't affect the Northwest in any way. But it was sure cool to look at:

Oct. 9 -- Northwest dodges bullet, but it'll still be breezy

Pitch Two: Swung on and Belted!

A few days later, Mother Nature had more of a direct hit with sending a storm our way, making for the first windstorm of the fall season.

Winds gusts over 60 mph in many places, and this was the storm that made the now infamous photos running all over the Internet of the Mukilteo ferry getting slammed by waves out in Puget Sound. (If you haven't been e-mailed those photos at least four times, then you need more online friends.) As many as 310,000 people lost power in the storm.

Damage was estimated at $2.5 million. That probably doesn't include the amount of Dramamine purchased on board those ferries.

Oct. 19 -- Crews restoring power after storm

November: Hey, We Have Windstorms Too

November 12-13th saw a pretty typical windstorm race across the area. This one brought gusts as high as 74 mph in Bellingham (and 92 mph in Clallam Bay) and knocked out power to nearly 250,000 people.

Nov. 12 -- Winds gust past 70 mph as storm rolls through area

A day later, Mother Nature made up for it, putting on a spectacular light show with Mt. Rainier, courtesy of the mountain and a neat optical trick that makes it look like the mountain is erupting, when if fact, it's just being a big wall.

Nov. 14 -- Mt. Rainier puts on spectacular light show

December: Still The King of Stormy Months

November 2006 might still go down as the stormiest month ever, but December now holds the crown of the two biggest storms to strike the Northwest in recent history.

Several storms hit the region in succession, starting with a tease of snow, but finishing with a major windstorm that caused incredible damage along the south Washington and northern Oregon coast, and record flooding in south-central Washington.

For the wind, gusts were recorded over 100 mph in several spots, with a 119 mph gust recorded in Bay Center, Wash. and 125 mph in Lincoln City, Ore.

As for flooding, the Chehalis River reached all-time record flood stage -- just one of 17 rivers that flooded amid the 3-6" of rain that fell in the lowlands. Seattle had 3.77" of rain and that made for the second-wettest day ever recorded at Sea-Tac Airport.

A 20-mile stretch of I-5 was under water and closed for several days, forcing a several hour detour for those going between Seattle and Portland. The flooding caused billions in damage and Lewis County in particular will take months to fully recover from the damage.

Urban flooding was a major problem in North Seattle, Snohomish County, Northeastern King County, Olympia and the Kitsap Peninsula.

Nov. 28 -- Mother Nature to pull off hat trick... just not yet

Dec. 2-3 -- Two die as area rivers approach record flood levels

The year finished fairly wet, but generally calm in the lowlands. Just a few fringe bouts with snow in the lowlands -- some areas got just a skiff of snow on Christmas Day for the first White Christmas in the area in 11 years (although not officially in Seattle). The Hood Canal area did get nearly a foot of snow Dec. 27th.

One place where the snow never stopped were the Cascade Mountains, where Snoqualmie Pass received 174 inches of snow in December -- narrowly missing the record of 192 inches set in December of 1968.

Also for Seattle, December will finish with 9.08" of rain -- the 4th wettest December on record for Sea-Tac Airport, no doubt aided by the 3.77" that fell on Dec. 2.

Other General Stats

Temperature:

With the streaks of warm and cool weather, temperatures were close to average in Western Washington throughout the year.

Seattle set 5 new high temperature records and tied three others. There were no record low temperatures set. The hottest temperature was 98 on July 11th. The lowest was 19 degrees set on Jan. 12. Olympia set six new high temperature records and tied two others. It also set two new record lows.

Hoquiam set 8 new record highs, including their all time record high of 99 set on July 10th, while setting one new record low and tying a second.

Bellingham set four new record highs, and tied two others. They also set four new record lows.

Rainfall:

Seattle will finish up the year with 38.95" of rain, a little above the normal of 37.07". But rainfall varied widely around the state, with the northern half getting picked on more. To wit: Forks ended up 8 inches above normal this year while Olympia was 2 inches below normal.

Seattle had 166 days of measurable rain, 12 days more than usual.

Where's The Sunshine?

This might not shock you, but Seattle was well below normal for number of sunny days, defined as 30% or less cloud cover through the day. We only had 37 sunny days, well below the average of 58. Between February and April, the region recorded one lone sunny day, and was skunked again in June. November and December each had one sunny day, so I hope you enjoyed it.

On the flipside, that left January and its 6 sunny days tied with May for the third sunniest month of the year. (August had 8 and July had 7.) Who would have thought?

But it wasn't as overcast as usual either. Seattle only had 156 cloudy days, defined as 70% or more cloud cover. That’s way under the normal of 226. It turns out, we had over double the amount of partly cloudy days (defined as, you guessed it, between 30% and 70% cloud cover) -- 172 observed versus 81 normally.

And One Thing We Didn't Miss

Finally, to wrap this up, the State of Washington didn't report a tornado in 2007 -- the first time that's happened since 2002. The state averages between 1 and 2 tornadoes somewhere in the state per year.

It looks like 2008 will start stormy once again. Guess we'll have plenty to write about in next year's recap as well!