Weather Blog

Let me guess -- they water the lawn at 5:03 p.m. at Fort Lewis?

Let me guess -- they water the lawn at 5:03 p.m. at Fort Lewis?
Strange things are afoot at the Gray U.S. Army Air Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Or, maybe it's just a zealous attempt to keep the lawn near the runways green?

Despite crystal clear skies Tuesday, the weather equipment near the runway reported a series of short periods of drizzle and light showers.

It first showed up as a period of drizzle from 2:13 to 2:27 p.m., where it "graduated" to a light rain from 2:27 to 2:32 p.m. This despite the equipment also registering clear skies.

Then, a few hours later, the drizzle began at 5:17 p.m., ended at 5:27 p.m., started up again at 5:50 p.m, turned to rain at 5:57 p.m., switched back to drizzle at 6:04 p.m., and finally it all ended at 6:17 p.m.

And yes, the weather gauge registered a "trace" of rainfall.

What's more suspicious -- the rain gauge also measured 10 minute of drizzle from 5:03 p.m. to 5:13 p.m. on Monday.

Could it just be spray from a sprinkler getting blown into the rain gauge? Some mechanics getting too aggressive with afternoon squirt gun fights? Who knows?

These mysterious rains are not uncommon in some spots. Olympia Airport too has been known to see 10 minute or so rain showers on sunny days.

And when I was a senior at the UW, as part of our forecasting class we had to do daily forecasts for four cities across the nation, and Pittsburgh was the one in the east.

Every Monday and Wednesday, Pittsburgh Airport would report about a 7 minute "shower" just after noon. We quickly learned to always forecast at least a trace of rain there, even if the forecast was bone dry.

NOAA does go through and filter these obvious errors out before they get permanently recorded in the climate data, lest Tacoma and Olympia end up in the books as rainier than they actually are.

No word if the Chamber of Commerce has ever petitioned to have some of Seattle's rainfall stats tossed out either :)