Weather Blog

'Fire Rainbows' dot the skies over Puget Sound region

'Fire Rainbows' dot the skies over Puget Sound region
Photo courtesy: Jen Brazas

The thin, wispy clouds floating around the Puget Sound region Monday usually do nothing more than give the blue skies a little bit of character.

But today, they were giving the skies a little bit of color.

UW's Cliff Mass: 'Blob' of warm Pacific Ocean waters has returned

UW's Cliff Mass: 'Blob' of warm Pacific Ocean waters has returned
Sun sets over Seattle on June 10, 2015. (Photo: Sigma Sreedharan)

It's baaaaack....

Not that we really missed it, but the large 'blob' of warm waters off the Pacific Coast is strengthening again, and the main reason why the forecasts have been steadfast in maintaining our persistently warm weather patterns, according to University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences professor Cliff Mass.

The original 'blob' -- the moniker the UW weather department has given it -- has been there since the fall of 2013. It had faded a little bit last fall, but here it comes again.

Mystery of the 'milky rain' in Eastern Washington solved!

Mystery of the 'milky rain' in Eastern Washington solved!
Photo of a dirty, milky substance that has fallen on cars outside the National Weather Service office in Spokane, Wash. on Feb. 6, 2015. (Photo courtesy: National Weather Service)

The mystery surrounding a white, milky rain that fell across Eastern Washington and parts of Oregon and Idaho in early February has finally been solved, definitively.

Actually, it's more of a confirmation that the leading theory was correct -- a bit of a fluke in a strong wind storm over a dry lake bed, an unusual wind pattern, and then a whole lot of rain.

Northern Lights come out to play over Western Washington

Northern Lights come out to play over Western Washington
Photo of Northern Lights as seen from Mukilteo, by Liem Bahneman.

They're tough to get in the summertime here due to our shorter periods of darkness, but the Northern Lights managed an appearance last night!

Liem Bahneman captured this time lapse video from the Mukilteo pier. These photos are using time-expsoure, but he said they were visible to the naked eye for a solid three hours:

200 trillion gallons of rain fall across U.S in May; very little of it in Seattle

200 trillion gallons of rain fall across U.S in May; very little of it in Seattle
FILE - In this May 26, 2015 file photo a boat is paddled down a flooded street in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

WASHINGTON (State & D.C.) - With 26 days of dry weather around here in May, it might surprise you to learn that last month just went down as the wettest on record for the contiguous United States, according to federal meteorologists.

On average, 4.36 inches of rain and snow - mostly rain - fell over the Lower 48 in May, sloshing past October 2009 which had been the wettest month in U.S. records with 4.29 inches. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records go back to 1895.

Seattle: Not exactly Rain City USA this year

Seattle: Not exactly Rain City USA this year
Seattle on a sunny Friday. (Photo: Tim Durkan)

All of the press this year has been focusing on Seattle's long stretch of warm weather dating back several months now, but in case you hadn't noticed, it hasn't been raining as often either.

While Seattle sits somewhat close to normal for annual rainfall as far as measured rain goes, we've been doing it with much fewer rainy days.

What's in Scott's Inbox? Sunsets, thunderstorms, and fire rainbows

What's in Scott's Inbox? Sunsets, thunderstorms, and fire rainbows
A circumhorizonal arc photographed on July 2, 2014 on Highway 26 in eastern Oregon by Marc Allen.

I've found even when you take a couple weeks off, the weather blog material still flows into the ol' email (along with thousands of other emails. 3,797 emails awaited my return! E-gad.)

So much like Thanksgiving leftovers, here are a few tidbits that probably would have been posted in the blog had someone been here to write them.

Seattle's warm streak reaches 15 months, could stretch beyond 2 years?

Seattle's warm streak reaches 15 months, could stretch beyond 2 years?
Photo courtesy: Mo Aoun

Another month has changed, but the story of our stubborn weather pattern… hasn't. And signs say Western Washington has among the best chances in the nation to stay warm for a long time.

May went down as the 15th consecutive month with above average temperatures in Seattle, checking in at 59.1 degrees, 3.1 degrees above normal and the 5th warmest May on record.

If that sounds familiar, then (A) you really read my blog a lot and (B) you have a great memory, because (stay with me here) it’s the third consecutive year it's been the 5th warmest May on record. The year we replaced was… 2014, which was also at 59.1 degrees, which last year replaced 2013 as the 5th warmest May, now the 7th-warmest May. (If you followed all that, you are now qualified to calculate "OPS" in baseball statistics.)

Watch: Time lapse video of gorgeous Mt. Rainier lenticular cloud

They're sometimes mistaken for aliens, but really, it's just a sign rain might be on the way.

Luke Meyers just recently published this time lapse video of a rather strange-looking lenticular cloud over Mt. Rainier last March. It's a good illustration of how they form -- the clouds look stationary but there's quite a bit of movement in them as air rises just enough to saturate, then dries enough as it sinks to "go invisible" again.

Photos: Intricate natural designs on Earth as seen from space

Photos: Intricate natural designs on Earth as seen from space
Sometimes the #world seems to shimmer. #YearInSpace (Photo & Caption: Scott Kelly, courtesy NASA)

'Tis the season for brilliant 'fire rainbows'

'Tis the season for brilliant 'fire rainbows'
Circumhorizontal arc taken over Spokane, Wash. on June 3, 2006. (Photo: Ron Glowan)

NOTE: Story orignally posted May 8, 2013

The first week of May is probably better known around here as the Opening Day of Boating Season but did you also know it's when we kick off the fire rainbow season?

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.

Ron Glowen, now of Arlington, Wash., just sent me these photos that were taken in June of 2006 while visiting his hometown of Spokane.

Snohomish storm chaser gets 1-in-a-million shot of tornado, rainbow

Snohomish storm chaser gets 1-in-a-million shot of tornado, rainbow
Tornado and rainbow during storm near Wiley, Colorado on May 8, 2015. (Photo: Benjamin Jurkovich)

Not sure I've ever seen a photograph that captures the beauty and power of weather in one singular shot.

Snohomish's Benjamin Jurkovich, part of the JWSevere Weather Chasing Team has been out storm chasing in the Midwest for the past few weeks and he's had his share of twisters, super cells, and other images that define Tornado Alley in the spring.

But this one he got near Wiley, Colorado Saturday afternoon might be the most unique in his portfolio -- a tornado at the same time as a rainbow.

A few easy tips that can save your life on the water

A few easy tips that can save your life on the water

As sunshine and 70s become more common this time of year, so do the spontaneous trips out to enjoy the warmth out on the water. And with that comes the busiest time of the year for water rescuers.

Sadly, May is the month with the highest amount of water-related fatalities in the Northwest and this year is no different.