It's been a very warm and sunny summer so far with more of the same on tap for the next several days. While it hasn't been super hot, the usual cooling marine clouds have been absent in Seattle and for the many without air conditioning, the nights haven't been all that comfortable.
For those who long for cooler weather, I don't have good news in the immediate future, but there is a silver lining to Aug. 2: Seattle has reached the pinnacle of our steady climb to the warmest and driest time of year, and now, it's all downhill from here.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?