Seattle gets sneak peek at summer

Seattle gets sneak peek at summer
"In a world... where clouds are non-existent, and shade has become a precious commodity, one city's residents will do what it takes to fend off an infrared invasion. It's: Seattle Summer....'07!"

Pirates, green ogres and a superhero who means it literally when he says he's created a web site might be the talk of May so far, but the real trailer for our blockbuster summer might have edged them all.

The heart of summer is still a good 5-6 weeks away, but today is a good preview of what might be coming soon to a thermometer near you.

A strong ridge of high pressure has combined with a thermal trough to bring sunny and hot weather to most of western Washington today.

How hot? Most the area from Everett south were well into the 80s. Seattle tied its record high for the day at 87 degrees, set also in 1956.

Here's how some of the other cities did:

Vancouver (WA): 90
Kelso: 88
Olympia: 88
Shelton: 87
Seattle: 87
Tacoma: 86
Renton: 86
Bremerton: 84
Arlington: 82
Bellingham: 79
Everett: 78

As far as we know, Seattle's was the only record to fall.

It wasn't quite an area-wide heat wave -- the coast and areas along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the northern islands only reached the 70s. To wit, Port Angeles only hit 71, while Oak Harbor was at 67 and it was the mid 70s along the coast.

For those new to the area over the winter and aren't familiar with how Seattle heat waves go, we're a bit lucky in when we do get hot around here, it's more of a desert-dry heat than a humid Midwestern heat. To get hot here, we have to hold back the cool, ocean air, and the way to do that is to have an east wind. But as an added effect, as that air comes from the east and sinks down the Cascade Mountains, it gets warmer and drier. To wit: humidities today are in the 15-30% range.

We're also lucky in the sense that it's difficult for heat waves to last too long -- typically 2-3 days at the most, and rarely four days -- because eventually that thermal trough will move off to our east, the west wind will overpower the east wind and kick in what we call our "natural air conditioning."

And, lo and behold, our "natural air conditioning" is set to get going tonight -- although it'll be on the "low" setting.

For Thursday, we're expecting another sunny day, but somewhat cooler as we get more of a light marine wind instead of the warmer offshore wind. Highs will drop to the upper 70s around Seattle, and low 80s in the warmer spots. A much bigger change will be felt along the coast and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where the marine air will be more influential. Highs there will drop back to the 60s there.

Friday is looking about the same for highs -- maybe a few degrees cooler as we could see brief period of morning clouds, but sunshine for a vast majority of the day.

We might actually bounce up a few degrees to the low 80s for Saturday as the marine flow weakens again.

The flow turns to the south for late Saturday into Sunday in advance of a front that will be approaching offshore. That is a recipe for adding a muggy feel to the air and perhaps touching off a few showers or thunderstorms over the Cascades that could drift over the lowlands. So far, we're thinking most will stay dry, but this will bear watching and we'll toss a few drops on the extended forecast for now. Temperatures will cool a bit for Sunday but might feel warmer with the humidity.

Rain returns for Monday, and then dry and cool (well, relatively cool. Actually, it's about normal) for Tuesday and Wednesday amid partly sunny skies and highs in the upper 60s before rain returns for the end of the week. Maybe the perfect time to catch up on some of the real May blockbusters?