Weather Blog

Why you don't see Eastern Wash. wildfire plumes until the afternoon

Why you don't see Eastern Wash. wildfire plumes until the afternoon
Video from Air 4 shows a smoke plume rising from the Chiwaukum Fire Complex on July 30, 2014.

Local social media posts have been perking up each afternoon noting tall plumes of clouds over the Cascades. What you're seeing are smoke and the "pyrocumulus" clouds created by the wildfires burning in Eastern Washington. The heat from the fires is its own engine for creating rising air that cools and condenses into clouds.

But why don't we normally see those clouds over here until the afternoon?

5 years ago today, Seattle baked like it never had before

Those of you who were around here 5 years ago today were likely trying to find some place -- any place -- for relief from the heat.

July 29, 2009 remains the hottest day ever recorded in modern Seattle history, be it Sea-Tac Airport or the Downtown Federal Building, with a reading of 103 degrees. Some spots, like Boeing Field and the NOAA station at Sand Point, were even hotter, reaching 105 degrees. Everett hit 100, Bellingham hit 96, and Vancouver, WA took the heat prize with a 108 degree reading!

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?

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.