Weather Blog

Just how hot is it?

With hot weather on the brain, I've got a few ways for you at home to track the heat wave just like we do here, and also learn some handy city codes just in case you ever fly regionally and want to make sure they have tagged your luggage correctly.

For right now, my favorite site is from the University of Washington, which tracks current conditions across the entire Pacific Northwest and British Columbia: http://www.atmos.washington.edu/data/nw.cgi?what=0

This site:
http://www.atmos.washington.edu/data/faq.cgi

Will tell you how to decode each column, but some are pretty self-explanatory. I.e, "T" is temperature. "TD" is Dew point.

But the biggest challenge is figuring out what city you are looking at. Near the top of the page is a link:  http://www.atmos.washington.edu/data/nw.stn_names.html

That will show you each code and what city it represents.  The ones that begin with "K" are official NOAA reporting sites, like "KSEA" is the code for Sea-Tac Airport. That is what counts for Seattle records.  All the others that do not begin with K are unofficial, but still reliable sources of data. (Exception: Canadian official reporting stations begin with "C". So "CYVR" is the official site for Vancouver).

This web page updates on the hour, but takes about 10-12 minutes to compile all the sites, so if the list seems short, give it a few minutes and refresh the browser.

Another trick is if you want to, say, go back an hour or two, at the top of that original URL after "what=0" -- you can change that number to how many hours you want to go back. So, putting it as "what=2" will go back two hours.

So this is a good way to take a glimpse at the region at any given moment. But let's say you want to see how one city has been doing over several hours.

For that, start with this link:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/getobext.php?wfo=sew&sid=KSEA&num=48

That shows Seattle (Sea-Tac) over the past 48 hours. But you can tweak this too. Again, the trick is in the URL.

The 'sid=KSEA' is telling the computer which city you want. You can use the same codes from that UW, list, as long as they start with a 'K' they'll be in the database. So Everett is

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/getobext.php?wfo=sew&sid=KPAE&num=48

The 'num=48' is telling how far back you want to go.  That defaults to the past 48 hours. You can set it for, say, 120 to see the past 5 days.  That's great for watching incredible changes in the weather once the heat wave breaks.

To save you some time, here are some good links to just click and watch:
Some heat wave notes so far:

Newport was at 93 degrees at Noon. -- 8 degrees over their record high and their lunch orders hadn't even been taken yet.

It looks like Saturday will end up being the hottest day in the region, so check back here all weekend long.