Weather Blog

Scott Sistek

Meteorologist

Scott Sistek
Scott Sistek
Meteorologist
Originally from Port Angeles, Scott graduated from the UW in 1994 with a degree in Atmospheric Sciences and has been producing weather reports for broadcast and on the Web ever since.

Recent stories by Scott Sistek

Weather Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February (Photo Gallery)
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?
Weather By the numbers: Wednesday's record rainfall By the numbers: Wednesday's record rainfall (Video)
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:
Weather Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine
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.
Weather How to celebrate 12 straight days of 80s in Seattle? In song! How to celebrate 12 straight days of 80s in Seattle? In song!
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.
Weather 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
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.
Weather 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.
Weather Hot days, chilly waters make for some strange sights Hot days, chilly waters make for some strange sights (Photo Gallery)
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?
Weather UW Prof: Sunday's sensational sunset a 'trifecta' of perfect conditions UW Prof: Sunday's sensational sunset a 'trifecta' of perfect conditions (Photo Gallery)
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.
Weather July 10th among Seattle's ''Final Four'' of original heat records July 10th among Seattle's ''Final Four'' of original heat records
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.
Weather 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...
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.
Weather Seattle heat wave of 1870 puts 2009 to shame Seattle heat wave of 1870 puts 2009 to shame
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.
Weather Who's excited? July 3rd marks start of ''Dog days of Summer'' Who's excited? July 3rd marks start of ''Dog days of Summer''
Well, I know one four-legged friend who is excited the calendar has turned to July 3rd!

That's Astro above in the photo there who is apparently psyched about the start of the "Dog Days of Summer", which begin today.

The term originated in southern Europe, when back in ancient days, observers along the Mediterranean Sea used to follow Sirius, which is the brightest star in the nighttime sky and part of the constellation known as Canis Major, or "The Big Dog," when translated to English.
Weather Seattle nearly sets new mark for temperature whiplash Seattle nearly sets new mark for temperature whiplash
Talk about flash in the pan...

Seattle's 94-degree "heat wave" lasted all of 24 hours this week, as a thermal trough quickly built up then was shoved east of the Cascades before it even had a chance to buy a postcard.

I was actually quite surprised that Seattle reached 94 after only reaching 78 degrees the day before. Usually Seattle needs a better springboard the day before to reach into the 90s the following day, although there are a handful of dates it reached 90+ while being in the 70s before.
Weather June ends with some peculiar weather statistics for Seattle June ends with some peculiar weather statistics for Seattle
As we turn the page into the first of our two summer stalwart months, June ends with a few interesting Seattle weather statistics in its wake:

* The temperature didn't reach 80 for the month -- just the fourth time in Sea-Tac history that May has reached 80 degrees but June did not. It's the only time May has reached 85 degrees (May 1) and June then didn't reach 80. (Not to worry, July 1 easily got that 80 degree reading out of the way -- and 90+ too while it was at it.)
Weather Could the ''No 90s'' curse of July 1st be broken? Could the ''No 90s'' curse of July 1st be broken?
Update: Stand aside everyone and let July 1st into the club! It did reach 90 degrees on Tuesday, finally getting July 1 with a record high at 90 or warmer.


Correction: I've been stating that July 10th also did not have a record high at 90 and above, but it turns out that is not the case. Most online NOAA records go back to 1948, but there are three years of records at Sea-Tac Airport from 1945-1948 that are not online. Turns out, July 10, 1945 hit 90 degrees. So, everyone's in the club!

We always pick on July 4th around here -- it's statistically the rainiest day of the month! And since it's arguably the most important outdoor day of the month, it gets a lot of attention when the weather doesn't cooperate.

But at least July 4th can say one thing: It's been over 90 degrees in Seattle before.

It's a claim that July 1st can't make. In fact, it's one of only two days in July never to hit 90. (July 10 is the other). Seattle has hit 90 as early as May 17th but never on the 1st of July.
Weather Long range forecasts still portend warm summer -- and winter -- for Northwest Long range forecasts still portend warm summer -- and winter -- for Northwest (Photo Gallery)
The monthly updates to the long-range seasonal forecasts came out a few days ago and sure enough, they are sticking to their guns of a warmer summer for the Pacific Northwest. But also new creeping into the forecast: A moderately strong signal now that the winter will experience a similar fate.

Now, you might be thinking: "Hey, wait a minute, they said the same thing about May and June and it was wrong!"

Actually, it was right. Despite May being a bit wetter than normal, it was indeed warmer than normal -- Seattle ended up a full 3.1 degrees above normal, buoyed by four days at 80 or warmer. Even June so far is running about a degree above normal, even though we have yet to reach 80 this month.
Weather Brilliant 'fire rainbows' make multiple appearances around Puget Sound region Brilliant 'fire rainbows' make multiple appearances around Puget Sound region (Photo Gallery)
June 21 not only brings the start of summer but it also brings the peak of the "fire rainbow" season, as evidenced lately by three separate sightings of the brilliant and colorful displays around the Puget Sound region these past few days.

Fire rainbows, or more officially (and more boringly) known as "circumhorizonal arcs" are caused by ice crystals in the thin, distant clouds being at just the correct angle to refract the sunlight into the colors of the prism.