Weather Blog

Seattle was oh-so-close to having an officially wet July

Seattle was oh-so-close to having an officially wet July

The skies opened up, the rains poured down, and Seattle obliterated a record for wettest July 26th on record with nearly an inch of rain in a few hours!

Were you actually in Seattle Sunday and are wondering, "what's Scott typing about? It rained for a few minutes, but record?!?" you're not alone.

Indeed, there was one spectacularly wet rain storm Sunday afternoon that managed to rain over just a small portion of the city -- namely, the spot at Sand Point where the National Weather Service office keeps their official rain gauge.

They are now an official climate station -- just not *the* official climate station; that's still Sea-Tac Airport, but I'm hoping someday years down the road when it has enough data that Sand Point will take over since it's actually, you know, in Seattle. And as an official climate station, they put out an official report on the rain record they broke:

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
126 AM PDT MON JUL 27 2015

... RECORD DAILY MAXIMUM RAINFALL SET AT SEATTLE WA WFO...

A RECORD RAINFALL OF 0.90 INCHES WAS SET AT SEATTLE WA WFO
YESTERDAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 0. 09 SET IN 2011.

(WFO = Weather Forecast Office):

Yes, 0.90" of rain! That actually broke their office's all-time record July wettest day, which had been 0.89". Their records go back to 1986.

But look at some of the other rainfall totals around the rest of the city and...say what? UW Research Meteorologist Mark Albright shared with me some of the other City of Seattle rain gauges' tallies. Magnuson Park -- which is, what, 6 blocks from NOAA? -- had 0.71" That's 0.19" of rain over a few blocks!

It gets even more amazing: The UW Hydraulics lab -- what, about 30 blocks away? -- had just 0.05" of rain in the shower. The Maple Leaf reservoir? 0.04". The Ballard Locks and Woodland Park Zoo reported no rain. Officially, Sea-Tac Airport had 0.08".

Here's a graphic showing the isolated nature of the rain. Note the big bright blob over Sand Point!


Note, since only that 0.08" fell at Sea-Tac Airport, we stand at 0.09" for the month, the 9th driest on record, despite the nearly inch of rain that fell in the city itself!

Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away

Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away

You've probably already heard the news, especially if you've read my blog anytime in the past six months, that El Nino is here and getting stronger. Scientists say there is a greater than 90 percent chance of El Nino this winter and an 80 percent chance it lasts into the spring.

El Nino's around here have a hallmark of bringing a winter that's not only warmer than usual but drier than usual as well. This plus the infamous "warm blob" of ocean heat offshore and this winter may already be a lost cause for much in the way of lowland snow and puts serious doubts into getting much in the way of mountain snow either.

This video shows why Midwesterners laugh at Seattle storms

Sunday's scattered thunderstorms probably qualified as a relatively stormy day around, here, especially by Northwest standards. Some spots had some torrential rain, and we had a few reports of hail, none super large though.

Western Washington is fortunate that our marine climate makes actual severe weather systems just about impossible to form; and what thunderstorms we get pale in comparison to just about any other thunderstorm you'd find east of the Cascades.

Restless Convergence Zone brings rain 15 different times to Everett

Restless Convergence Zone brings rain 15 different times to Everett
Photo courtesy Paine Field Web Camera

Not that many around here use an umbrella to begin with, but if we did, they would probably be mechanically worn out this weekend, at least if you lived around Everett.

A weak Puget Sound Convergence Zone hung out over a narrow band of Snohomish County from start to finish Saturday, but like a 2-year-old at a restaurant, it wasn't content to just sit still.

The zone was only a few miles wide and drifted north and south from about the King-Snohomish County line back up into Downtown Everett… and back again as the corresponding north and south winds pushed back and forth like a tug of war.

Weekend rain showers dripping with irony for Seattle

Weekend rain showers dripping with irony for Seattle
Chart showing number of times Seattle has had measurable rain on each day from Jan. 1, 1893- Dec. 31, 2014. (Data courtesy: National Weather Service. Chart courtesy: Evan Schmidt)

We're in the midst of one of the hottest and driest summers in recent memory. Seattle hadn't had measurable rain since June 28 and hasn't had significant rain since June 1. The last time it rained on a weekend? April 25.

So naturally, one of the weekends it rarely rains is the one weekend when it does rain.

The last weekend in July is statistically the driest in Seattle with the first weekend in August no slouch. It's rained only about 9-12 times in the past 122 years on those dates -- or about once every 10 years.

In soggy Seattle, that's the best odds you can ask for. That's why Seafair's biggest events are this time of year; why Torchlight Parade is this Saturday evening and why savvy locals know to rush to book their outdoor wedding or party the instant the last weekend in July becomes available on the venue's calendar.

Why has it been so warm so long? This picture says 1,000 words

Why has it been so warm so long? This picture says 1,000 words

We're coming up on 17 months in a row with above normal temperatures on average, and several of those months have been the warmest on record in Seattle. This summer, we've had dozens of days in the 80s, already the second-most 90-degree days on record with August still to come. The coldest low temperature we've had in the entire month of July? 57. The average low is 55.

People have been asking me why has it been so warm for so long? Well, NOAA did me a favor and sent out this handy graphic which shows exactly why: The warm Pacific Ocean.

Sharknadoes -- COULD THEY HAPPEN HERE?!?

Sharknadoes -- COULD THEY HAPPEN HERE?!?
Screen grab from SyFy preview video for movie "Sharknado"

Scott's note: It's SHARKNADO DAY! Sharknado 3 airs tonight at 9pm on the SyFy Network. To celebrate, the blog today has encore entry from when the first one aired two years ago. And if you want to watch the latest installment along with me, I'll be Live Tweeting during the show on my Twitter page @ScottsKOMO


Story originally published July 12, 2013:

Sharks.

Tornado.

Sharknado.

Social media and water coolers were abuzz Friday with the next DVD blockbuster sci-fi (emphasis on the 'fi') movie "Sharknado" that aired on the Sy-Fy channel Thursday night.

But this jaw-dropping (jaw-clenching?) story brought up an important facet of meteorological studies that have been historically and woefully underfunded: The science of shark-infested tornadoes from hurricanes that strike the Pacific Coast of the United States.

Seattle warm stretch to last into October ... 2016?!?

Seattle warm stretch to last into October ... 2016?!?
Photo: Mark T. Davis

OK, I admit it, I'm cheating the headline. It's nearly the same headline I wrote last month in my blog, only it said September instead of October. But the new monthly maps have been updated, and -- surprise -- the warm blobs in the forecast remain intact through not just this fall, but next autumn as well.

In the short term, there still remains very high confidence the Northwest will have a hot remainder of summer, and, well, it was sure right about the first part of summer.

We've already had as many hot days so far this year than we average in an entire year, shattered the record for hottest June on record, and the first half of July in on the pace to set the same record (although there are some signs July will back off the flamethrower switch after the weekend. More on that in a bit.) In fact, if the second half of July were to mirror the first half, we'd be talking about hottest month in Seattle history! (But as I just teased, that seems unlikely.)

Friday Night Lights: Another incredible summer sunset

Friday Night Lights: Another incredible summer sunset
Photo: Greg Johnson, SkunkBayWeather.com

Smoky skies make for surreal scenes around Northwest

Smoky skies make for surreal scenes around Northwest
Photo courtesy YouNews contributor lfsleos

If the smoky skies this week haven't been noticeable to you during the day, it's certainly been a factor in the evening sunsets, as it's been turning the sun a brilliant red the last few nights.

The smoke is coming from a massive wildfire burning near Pemberton, B.C.

Since Sunday, the upper level winds have been out of the north, pushing the smoke south across the border into Washington as you can see on this satellite image from Wednesday.

(Note the chalky gray streaming out of the mountains just across Vancouver Island on the B.C. Mainland and sinking south:)

Miss Seattle's rain? This video might help...

Miss Seattle's rain? This video might help...
A soggy day at the Seattle's Space Needle. (Photo courtesy: Brendan Ramsey)

It's been 36 days since Seattle has had a day considered below normal…

36 days since we've last had significant rainfall…

23 days since we've last had a high below 70 degrees…

18 days since we've had a traditional cloudy day…

12 days in a row with highs above 80 degrees…

A record-tying 5 days in a row at 90 degrees…

It's official: 73 percent of Seattleites DONE with this 90 degree heat

It's official: 73 percent of Seattleites DONE with this 90 degree heat »Play Video
June 27, 2015. Seattle, Wash. KOMO PHOTOS

It doesn't matter if it's a "dry heat" or that it might be even 15 degrees hotter somewhere else, as Seattle swelters to its record-tying fifth day in a row at 90 degrees or warmer on Sunday, a vast majority of Seattleites say they've had enough.

Seattle has been in the midst of a nearly year-and-a-half long warm spell, but it's been taken to the next level of late, with not only the hottest June on record by far but now July has started and we have yet to have a day under 90 degrees. The 92 degree reading Saturday was the hottest Independence Day on record here, and that includes 124 years of records. It's been 11 days since we've failed to reach 80 degrees, well on our way to a record there too.

Seattle's average high temperatures in the summer are in the mid-upper 70s and while days in the 80s and 90s do happen in summer, they are usually a few days here and there followed by more days in the 70s -- enough to where most don't need air conditioning. The result is that a vast majority of the region is not only sweating through the day, but sweating through the warm nights with little relief from any fans and nighttime breezes. It's the reality-show version of "Sleepless in Seattle."