Weather Blog

First of 4 'Blood Moon' lunar eclipses set for Monday night

First of 4 'Blood Moon' lunar eclipses set for Monday night
FILE -- A lunar eclipse shines over the Space Needle in Seattle on Feb. 20, 2008 (Photo courtesy: Clane Gessel)

Our sunrises and sunsets are legendary around here, but how would you like to see all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth -- at the same time! And it doesn't even require a trip to outer space.

Instead, the moon is going to essentially turn into an astronomical version of a projection screen as we get the first of four consecutive lunar eclipses over the next two years.

Even though the moon will be in the Earth's shadow, it should appear a bit colorful, some shade of red or orange. That's from light around the edges of the Earth - essentially all the sunrises and sunsets at the moment - splashing on the lunar surface and faintly lighting up the moon, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.

According to space.com, the color of the moon could range from a light coppery-red to nearly black, depedning on atmospheric conditions on Earth at the time. Cloudier weather along the sunrise and sunset zones during the eclipse and the moon will drift closer to black.

Lucky for us for this first event, we're in prime geographical position here along the West Coast, getting to see the show from start to finish. The first inkling of the eclipse will begin at 10:58 p.m. PDT Monday night and then the moon will go into full eclipse at 12:06 a.m., staying eclipsed all the way until 1:24 a.m., then starting to brighten up until the eclipse ends at 2:33 a.m. Tuesday.

Why called a 'blood moon'?

According to EarthSky.org, Blood Moon used to be an alternate name of the Hunter's Moon, which was the full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox (got all that?). Now, all of a sudden it's being applied to this current streak of four lunar eclipses, and it's a mystery why.

The site wasn't sure if it's because the moon turns reddish in color -- which it sort of does during all lunar eclipses; this isn't something unique to this particular eclipse -- or if it's some new moniker to go with the four in a row. (Or, could it be related to a recent book and a purported Biblical prophecy?) 

But it appears the name has stuck and I guess Blood Moon will go the way of "Blue Moon" which these days also has a different definition (2nd full moon in a month or fourth in a three-month period) than its original intention.

(Ironically, the second 'blood' moon lunar eclipse in this series will be in October, when it will be the Hunter's Moon -- or the original definition of a "Blood Moon".)

Four lunar eclipses in a row -- is that a record?

First, I should point out it's not 4 consecutive months with an eclipse, but four lunar eclipses six lunar cycles apart that aren't broken up by a partial lunar eclipse in between.

These group of four, called a "tetrad," happen roughly once every 10-18 years. The last one was in 2003-04 (in the days before Twitter and fancy #BloodMoon hashtags so it largely went unnoticed?) and after this current group that spans this year and next, the 3rd tetrad of the 21st Century will be in 2032-33. There will be eight tetrads this century alone.

How's the weather looking?

Iffy. There will be clouds and, eventually, rain moving in during the post-midnight hours Monday. Best chance is to catch it at the earliest part of the show, but even then the clouds may have already won the race.

If I miss it, when can I see them again?

The second lunar eclipse of the tetrad is set for the early morning of Oct. 8, starting at 2:14 a.m., peaking from 3:25 to 4:24 a.m., and ending at 5:34 a.m. The West Coast is again in a good spot to see it, weather permitting. You just have to stay up later (or get up earlier.)

In 2015, the dates are April 4 and Sept. 28. For the April 4 one, the West Coast will get to see just about the whole show but the moon will set toward the very end. For Sept. 28, 2015, the moon will rise already eclipsed so we'll get the second half of the show.

For More Information:

Earthsky.org: What is a "Blood Moon"?
Space.com: Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar Eclipse Series Not a Sign of Apocalypse
Space.com: Moon Observing Tips

 

Seattle's climate instantly cools 1.5 degrees -- but it's not any colder

Seattle's climate instantly cools 1.5 degrees -- but it's not any colder
Sun rises in Seattle on April 13, 2014. (Photo: Brendan Ramsey)

Temperature readings at Sea-Tac Airport -- Seattle's official reporting station -- have been reporting cooler temperatures of late, but don't worry, our climate hasn't undergone a sudden cooling event.

Instead, it seems the thermometer at Sea-Tac is finally back on track, reporting temperatures more realistic with respect to other nearby thermometers.

Safeco Field roof closed for opener, but rainy M's games remain rare

Safeco Field roof closed for opener, but rainy M's games remain rare
FILE -- Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez throws in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers during a baseball game at Safeco Field, Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

In what was quite the poor timing by Mother Nature, a weak and brief cold front  swept through Seattle Tuesday evening and required the roof to be closed at Safeco Field for the Mariners' home opener.

But while you might think the roof gets quite a workout through the season in soggy Seattle, did you know Safeco Field's retractable roof is the least used in baseball?

Your obligatory 'It's sunny and warm in Seattle!' story

Your obligatory 'It's sunny and warm in Seattle!' story
Seattle Center on a (rare?) sunny and warm day in early April. (Photo courtesy: Jason Erskine, April 7, 2014)

SEATTLE -- Usually when a weather story is in the top stack of our website, it's because there is impending meteorological mayhem, be it 4 inches of snow, a windstorm, flooding, or maybe some rare rumbles of thunder.

Not this time!

For once, we decided to declare it's news when it's a sunny, warm day in early April. Highs around Seattle are expected to reach the upper 60s with perhaps a rogue 70 out there in Southwestern Washington and there is plenty of sunshine to go around, as long as you're not on the coast.

Now while many might think it's not that rare to have a day in the upper 60s that could threaten 70, you would be wrong!

Sorta, kinda.

Weekend eye candy: Weather time lapse videos

Weekend eye candy: Weather time lapse videos

With the weather relatively tame and no more drama around what the record rainfall will be in March (9.44" for those who missed it), I figure we can use a relaxing weather blog to get us through the weekend.

And what better way to relax than watching some gorgeous time lapse video?

'Scud clouds' -- Don't be fooled by Mother Nature's ultimate prank

'Scud clouds' -- Don't be fooled by Mother Nature's ultimate prank
Nope, nothing to see here folks. Just harmless scud cloud approaching Mukilteo on March 30, 2014.

Coming off of April Fool's Day and coming into the month that traditionally has the most "severe" weather (at least by paltry Pacific Northwest standards) I wanted to highlight a trick of atmospheric dynamics that fools countless people every year: "Scud" clouds and their tornado-like funnel impersonations.

Tornadoes are quite rare around here -- Washington just averages about 1-2 a year somewhere in the state, the last notable one being the tornado that damaged a Frederickson plant last September. The vast majority of them are quite weak thanks to our climatology that greatly inhibits tornado development.

Hilarious video shows how meteorologists help Canadians deal with endless winter

A bit of a Thursday funny for you today in the weather blog, courtesy of Canadian humor show "the Rick Mercer Report."

Ever wonder how Canadians get through days and days... (and days) of brutal freezing temperatures in the winter? Apparently their meteorologists hold their hand a bit. (Remember, they use Celsius for temps and 0° is freezing.)

No comment on whether we always put a sun on Day 7 of our forecasts during our relentless Seattle rainy stretches :)

Scientific breakthrough: Raindrops that smell like french fries?

Scientific breakthrough: Raindrops that smell like french fries?

Sometimes advertising is a bit subtle (watch KOMO!) and other times it's more of a blaring, in-your-face barrage (NO, REALLY! WATCH KOMO-TV -- WE HAVE A GREAT NEWS TEAM!)

But now one Seattle-based company wants to take advertising to a whole new level: scent-based marketing using the world's first branded aromatic rain.

That's right -- next time you're doused by a rain shower, it's not just clean air you'll smell, but perhaps doughnuts? Or cupcakes?

Seattle smashes record for all-time wettest March

Seattle smashes record for all-time wettest March
A soggy day at the Seattle's Space Needle. (Photo courtesy: Brendan Ramsey)

SEATTLE -- We all know it's been a soggy month of March. Now we have the trophy to prove it.

The rains Friday were enough to set the record for the all-time wettest March in Seattle history.

That's not just Sea-Tac Airport,which goes back to 1945, but also far and away surpasses anything the Downtown Federal Building measured in its years from 1891-1972.

50 years ago today: Alaska rocked by record 9.2 quake

50 years ago today: Alaska rocked by record 9.2 quake

Scott's Note: Mark Furman is a fellow web producer at our sister station KVAL-TV in Eugene. He put togehter this recap of the great Alaska "Good Friday" Earthquake that hit 50 years ago today.

The earth shook for 4 1/2 minutes on March 27, 1964, at 5:36 p.m. as the largest earthquake in U.S. history tossed and bent Alaska.

The damage was costly: $113 million in 1964 dollars, more than $2.3 billion by today's standards.

PHOTOS: Aftermath of 1964 magnitude 9.2 earthquake in Alaska

The legacy of the quake is still paying scientific dividends.

Photos: Northern Lights dance over Alaska's frozen north

Photos: Northern Lights dance over Alaska's frozen north
Northern Lights shine over Chandalar Lodge and Two Rivers Lodge. (Photo courtesy: Tyler Mode. See more pics at weathercrazy.smugmug.com)

Latest forecasts reaffirm warmer than normal summer for Northwest

Latest forecasts reaffirm warmer than normal summer for Northwest
Sunset over Deception Pass on Oct. 13, 2013. (Photo: Dana Weber)

SEATTLE -- Evidence is growing that after a very soggy February and March, that we're going to dry things up for a while around here.

Latest 30- and 90-day forecasts from the NOAA's National Center for Environment Prediction continue to forecast a long period of warmer-than-normal temperatures through spring and the summer across the West, and are now starting to forecast slightly higher odds of a drier than normal spring as well in the Northwest.