Weather Blog

A place even colder than Seattle -- and now could La Nina return?

A place even colder than Seattle -- and now could La Nina return?
The city of Port Angeles is seen in the distance against the backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. (Flickr photo by Kevin Krejci)

Most of us have heard of the whole "78 minutes of summer" deal (which is now actually 351 minutes, but hasn't budged since July 24th). But my Dad decided to do Seattle one better.

My parents live on the bluff in Port Angeles, right on the Strait of Juan de Fuca -- otherwise known as the conduit for Seattle's natural air conditioning.

Being located right next to that large 55-degree body of water and getting a nearly constant west wind blowing that cool air on by, Port Angeles is among the cooler spots in the nation during the summer. It's even cooler than the coast on a number of occasions because on many summer days, the coast gets a big warm boost from east winds that Port Angeles doesn't get. In fact, Port Angeles' overall average annual temperature is 56.6 degrees, cooler than Forks (57.3) and Hoquiam (57.6).

So my Dad, taking cue from my counting the minutes of Seattle summer, went back over his weather station on the roof and found these interesting statistics:

Since June 1, his house has only had 45 minutes of temperatures above 75 degrees. That was one 77 degree day on July 24. What's chillier, he's only had 4 hours and 43 minutes above 70 degrees.

Now, one thing that we in Seattle have been well versed in is how the few warm days we've had here have been met with a rapidly cooling evening. (Did you know the three 80 degree days we've had since July 1 have all been followed by a day in the 60s?)

My Dad's data shows just how the air conditioning has raged inland on those "warm" days. On the day he hit 77, that reading was taken at 3 p.m. Then the west winds kicked up on their way to Seattle and his house was 61 degrees at 4 p.m. Even the day it hit 71 for 98 minutes on June 6, 30 minutes after the 98th minute elapsed, the temperature was 57. (He even joked that the "wind chill" was 48!)

Port Angeles can get warm if we have an east wind (just not as hot as the coast will) but overall, it's one cool place to be.

"Double Dip" La Nina

Another place that is a cool place to be? The Equatorial Pacific Ocean. La Nina officially ended in May, and the latest temperature gauge shows the last three months' average is... average -- a 0.0 degree anomaly. That means we're in neutral conditions. However, the atmosphere hasn't noticed and has been still "stuck" in a La Nina-type pattern, keeping the West cool while the Midwest hot and the South dry. We're not sure why.

Many models had been indicating that we would stay neutral into the winter, but lately there has been a change. Now one set of models is indicating a return to La Nina, and most recent temperature readings suggest the waters in the Equatorial Pacific are starting to cool once again.

Officially, NOAA is now saying "equal chance" we stay neutral or go La Nina.

UW Professor Cliff Mass wrote up an excellent explanation in his weather blog Wednesday that goes into much more detail about this. Suffice to say, this winter is looking quite interesting again.