It was supposed to the guest of "honor" at the annual fall and winter festivities in the Pacific Northwest this year, but as we all stood milling around, El Nino was fashionably late.
Then it was pretty late.
Then we all started glancing at our watches. Did El Nino get lost? Did its GPS lead it astray? Car broke down?
It's a surprisingly common question we get around here: "What's the difference between 'partly sunny' and 'mostly cloudy'? Isn't it if it's one, it's also the other?"
Yes and no. At least for the forecasts written by the National Weather Service, there are very specific definitions in their zone forecasts that are broken down into each region.
(You've likely seen those forecasts -- for instance, they're the ones in all caps you see if you've ever been a fan of "Weather on the 8's" on a certain dominant national weather channel.)
Walk around the Puget Sound area and you'll notice trees starting to bloom and perhaps the whirr of a lawn mower or two, even though winter still had a solid 3-4 weeks left in its reign.
Seattle finished up February as the warmest on record, on the heels of a very warm January (and record-warm December) as well, and the early spring-time weather has in tandem brought out the first signs of spring.
You know it's been a paltry winter around here when beaches in Southern California look more the winter wonderland than some of our ski slopes.
Check out what happened in Huntington Beach when an intense hail storm moved through Monday morning. Some of the pics from social media are truly amazing!
Here is the story from the Associated Press:
In what will go down as one of the best -- or worst -- winters on record, depending on what you want out of a Seattle winter, now there will be some meteorological trophies to go along with the memories.
Seattle has set its record for all-time warmest February since official measurements began at Sea-Tac Airport. The average temperature (high temperature plus low temperature, divided by two) was 48.8 degrees narrowly edging 1977's record at 48.7. (And I mean narrowly. Had Saturday just been one degree cooler, it would have been a tied record instead.)
It was a bit of a surprise considering there wasn't much solar flare activity but the Northern Lights made a faint appearance over Western Washington Monday night.
Those who were up early enough Sunday morning in Surrey, B.C. and happened to look up were treated to a spectacular scene in the heavens that looks like something straight out of the imagination of a futuristic Hollywood alien blockbuster film.
In actuality, it was the combination of two rather routine events that just happened to have impeccable timing:
A sunrise (one for the ages on its own) …and a plane descending through a solid, stable cloud layer.
It's the third week in February, and that means it's time for NOAA's monthly long range forecast update. But while skiers and snow lovers have probably trained themselves by now to just skip reading this type of entry in my blog, I bring tidings of GOOD NEWS!
Let's hold off the inevitable bad news for a few paragraphs to show this map in all its glory:
One nice benefit from the rather sunny February is that the sunshine and fog have been making for some dramatic sunrises and sunsets around here.
Michael Reid has been capturing quite a few of the amazing sights and has put together a few time lapse video.
The weather pattern this winter has been stark in its dramatic differences -- temperatures at record-warm levels in the West, and a relentless march of arctic air masses pummeling the East.
The map above is a snapshot in time -- actually a forecast depicting areas of expected below and above normal temperatures for later this week, but it's been the consistent story the past several days anyway.