Weather Blog

Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February

Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February
Sen sets over Seattle on July 17, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Bruce Hogarth)

For much of late winter and spring, the message has been the same by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center: Expect a warmer than normal summer.

So far, July is delivering, with several days of 80s and 90s around the Pacific Northwest, and even a few triple digit days east of the Cascades. Seattle is just one spot in the region, but it's a whopping 3.0 degrees above normal so far and through Sunday, is tied for the third-hottest July on record at Sea-Tac Airport (Average temperpature (high+low/2) so far: 68.6° -- record is 69.5° in 2009; 2nd is 68.8°.)

And the forecast for this week brings a return of more warm-to-hot weather to finish off the month and potentially cement the month as 2nd warmest on record.

So what about August? Those same long-range forecasts suggest more of the same. And September. And October. And November. And...see a theme developing?

The forecasters who create these long-range models are still basing the short term summer/early fall warmth on a number of extended forecast models that concur with the heat.

As for late fall and winter, the orange/brown warm/dry blobs are based on the idea that a weak-to-borderline-moderate El Nino will develop this fall. The latest indications there are for a bit more uncertainty now about the El Nino's strength than in recent months, but trends are still pointing toward weak-to-moderate event.

The forecasters warm there is still a chance the event could end up stronger than predicted -- or revert back to neutral conditions like we saw in our last El Nino event, but say highest likelihood is still the weak to borderline-moderate scenario. They did say the slimmer chances of the strong event are even a little slimmer now than they have been.

El Nino's tend to make for dry and warm autumns...and especially winters around the Pacific Northwest, and that's where the forecast maps are leaning. Here it is in table format, and you can see the best odds for warm weather come in the mid-late winter months:

90 day period: % Chance above normal % Chance Normal % Chance Below Normal
Aug-Sep-Oct 2014 39 32 29
Sep-Oct-Nov 2014 39 34 27
Oct-Nov-Dec 2014 35 35 30
Nov-Dec-Jan 2014-15 37 32 29
Dec-Jan-Feb 2014-15 40 34 27
Jan-Feb-Mar 2015 44 35 23
Feb-Mar-Apr 2015 47 34 22
Mar-Apr-May 2015 34 33 32
Apr-May-June 2015 32 33 34
May-June-Jul 2015 31 31 34
June-Jul-Aug 2015 33 34 33

The models show El Nino should weaken and fizzle out by spring and thus no real signal is signified yet for next spring and beyond yet.

Remember these forecasts represent weighted odds for being cooler/warmer-drier/wetter than normal. Sort of how you can give higher odds the Mariners will win a baseball game if Felix Hernandez is pitching, but -gasp!- the Mariners do occasionally lose one. So put another way, let's just say El Nino is like having Felix on the mound for a warmer/drier winter!

By the numbers: Wednesday's record rainfall

After the first three weeks of July began generally sunny and warm-to-hot, things changed in a hurry on July 23rd as a potent storm rolled through Western Washington, bringing a record amount of rainfall to the Puget Sound region.

Here are some of the statistics from the storm:

Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine

Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine
Photo: Jonathan Yuhas, KSTP-TV.

The wildfires raging across Washington, Oregon and Idaho are not only bringing a dense, smoky haze to much of the area just to the east of the Cascades, but its effects are being felt over 1,000 miles away across the Upper Midwest.

Jonathan Yuhas, a meteorologist with KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, noted that skies over Minnesota have taken a "frosty haze" to them ever since the wildfires have erupted here in the Northwest.

Seattle's break from heat wave comes with a price for Central Washington

Seattle's break from heat wave comes with a price for Central Washington
The view from near Leavenworth, Wash. as the Chiwaukum Creek fire continues to burn. (Photo courtesy: Dominic Urbano, FallenLeafImaging.com, Leavenworth WA" Backlink to appreciated but not required.

Many of us in Western Washington are breathing a sigh of relief that our days-long stretch of 80-90 degree weather is coming to an end.

But one region's relief is another region's pain. The process that is cooling down Western Washington is wreaking havoc in Central Washington and the firefighting efforts over there.

How to celebrate 12 straight days of 80s in Seattle? In song!

How to celebrate 12 straight days of 80s in Seattle? In song!
Photo: Joshua Lewis, KOMONews.com

With a late surge of warm air Thursday, Seattle managed to reach 80 degrees again -- the 12th day in a row with highs at 80 or warmer.

It's the second-longest such streak at Sea-Tac Airport, tying a streak in August of 1967 and coming up three days short of the all time record of 15 set in 1977.

Forget Kevin Bacon, Washington had 50 degrees of separation Wednesday

Forget Kevin Bacon, Washington had 50 degrees of separation Wednesday

It was the hottest of places; it was the coldest of places.

Our state had quite the dichotomy Wednesday afternoon, courtesy of an intense heat ridge in Eastern Washington counterbalanced by a chilly fog bank along the coast.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the temperature in Pasco was 107 degrees. Contrast that with Forks on the coast which was... 57 degrees. (Some of the buoys offshore were even a little chiller like Destruction Island at 53 degrees). That's about 265 miles apart for the 50 degree swing.

Hot days, chilly waters make for some strange sights

Hot days, chilly waters make for some strange sights
Mirages form on Puget Sound on July 12, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Greg Johnson, Skunkbayweather.com)

They weren't a throwback to the tall-sailed pirate ships of yore or a maritime version of a Star Trek Borg, but those who were on the western shores of Puget Sound this past weekend might have had to rub their eyes a bit while gazing out toward Whidbey Island.

Weather conditions were just right to create mirages on the water that turned simple container cargo ships into what looked like...perhaps a 1980s video game rendition of space invaders?

UW Prof: Sunday's sensational sunset a 'trifecta' of perfect conditions

UW Prof: Sunday's sensational sunset a 'trifecta' of perfect conditions
Photo: Steve Scholle

It's been the talk of the town this week, the amazing sunset we had Sunday night across the Puget Sound region.

A lot of people have been asking what caused such brilliant colors: Wildfire smoke from Eastern Washington? Lucky cloud formations?

Yes, and yes, according to University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences professor Cliff Mass. And, add in some evaporating rain for good measure.

July 10th among Seattle's ''Final Four'' of original heat records

July 10th among Seattle's ''Final Four'' of original heat records
Photo courtesy: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

July 10th has somewhat of a badge of honor in Seattle weather records -- it's home to one of the last four original record highs for Seattle.

Sea-Tac Airport's first year as the official weather records were in 1945, and of course, every temperature recorded that year is a record high and a record low. Those records fall and adjust higher/lower as the years pass and our weather goes through its expected peaks and valleys.

Now after 69 years, you'd expect those records would have been replaced, and almost all have but there are still four that have withstood the test of time and today is one of them.

Sunshine 6 days a week in winter in Seattle? Earliest records said so...

Sunshine 6 days a week in winter in Seattle? Earliest records said so...
FILE -- Late 19th century weather map of the United States. (Photo: National Weather Service)

Sure, Seattle has quite the rainy reputation, but did you know when records first began being kept in Seattle, there was nary a drop to be found?

In fact, the very first observation in Seattle noted in official record books was: a sunny day!

In February!

(I guess the pessimist would say it had nowhere to go but down.)

I stumbled upon this little fact while researching my blog for Monday about the intense heat wave of 1870. In looking for where exactly in Seattle those observations were taken, I found this incredibly thorough 52-page report on the history of weather observations in Seattle, written and prepared by Glen Conner of Scottsville, Kentucky for the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. Conner's excellent research is the source of this blog's information. 

Seattle heat wave of 1870 puts 2009 to shame

Seattle heat wave of 1870 puts 2009 to shame
Weather observation log of conditions in Seattle in the month of July, 1870. (Image courtesy: Mark Albright)

What if I told you that 144 years ago today (Monday, July 7) it was 100 degrees in Seattle?

And then what if I told you it wasn't even the hottest day of that week?

University of Washington research meteorologist Mark Albright has some of the very infant weather records from Seattle that began in 1870 and noted that it was quite a toasty July back then.

Photos: Amazing cloud formations around the Sound this week

Photos: Amazing cloud formations around the Sound this week
"Mare's Tails" -- officially known as cirrus clouds dance over West Seattle on July 1, 2014.