Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the edge




It is snowing now in much of the western interior, except for light rain around Tacoma, with rain on the coast. The temperatures aloft are right on the edge. Over Seattle, the temperature is 32 F for the first few thousand feet above the surface. In the business we call such a situation "isothermal" and that temperature is being dictated by the melting of snow falling from aloft.

You can see the incoming system in the satellite picture (image) and the precipitation in the radar picture to the right. The rainshadow(or in this case snowshadow) in the lee of the Olympics is clearly visible over Sequim and northern Whidbey Is. The lack of coastal and SW Olympic radar coverage are clear as well. Really frustrated we can't see what is coming in on the radar! The lack of a NWS coastal radar is similar to the city's lack of salt and snowplows...a reconsideration is needed.
The forecast from last night is still on track at this point...with snow for a few more hours and then change to rain as a stronger system comes in this afternoon. But the snow will be close...only a few thousand feet above us...and if our models and analyses are off....well, you know what could happen! In any case, the mountains will get large amounts of snow..which is good for our water supplies and those looking for some recreation over the holidays.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad that the city doesn't use salt on the roads - seeing how much better our cars hold up thanks to that!

Anonymous said...

Finally started snowing in E. Woodinville elev 500ft. Thank God! What took it so long to get here? woops, gotta go get the piled up snow off the costco storage tent so it doesn't collapse like the other one did....

Anonymous said...

It's about 7:45 AM and it's been snowing for at least an hour here in Ballard, but sometimes it seems like a mix of rain and snow...or maybe it's alternating between rain and snow. Whatever it is, it's right on the cusp between the two. About 1" accumulation.

So, does rain inherently mean melting and possible clearing of roadways, or just that everything will be a slushy mess?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, commented on the wrong post: Yesterday I saw a letter carrier pull up to a row of mailboxes and have to clambor through a pile of plowed snow to get the letters to the mailboxes - poor thing! This morning I am going to shovel a path to our mailboxes - maybe even I can get enough out of the way so he can actually drive the mailtruck up to the mailboxes without having to get out. Then I'm going to put some kind of incredible treat inside. Anyone out there want to join me in this?

Anonymous said...

At 5:30pm I was walking north on Linden Ave North. A city "sander" truck went by in the southbound direction. The cars parked on both sides of the streets, pedestrians on both sidewalks, and
parked cars were pelted with cinders. I don't think any of it landed on the pathways of cars. What a bunch of idiots. I was hit on the cheek, just below my eye. When I did lawn chemical work, the first thing you would do before you leave the yard is check/measure your spread. I wonder if the driver was supposed to be driving at 5mph, but instead was driving at 20mph. The "sand" that I saw didn't look like sand.
It looked more like cinders, but would classify as sand since it would pass a No. 4 sieve.

Steve said...

7:49am, 2 inches new. South Shoreline. 32.4 degrees.

To Anon: I always dig out the path for the delivery people. They have a lot of work this time of year without trudging through the mess.

Anonymous said...

Snowing in Lake Forest Park, 39 degrees at 400 feet. I woke up to at least three more inches of light fluffy snow. The warm-up has resulted in dripping from my gutters, so there is some melting. Unbelievable the amount of snow. I still wonder where all the water is going to go once it melts. The usual explanations - gravity, absorption, creeks, storm gutters, etc. - don't seem adequate for this amount of water. Yikes. Still, my giant maple tree has rarely looked more beautiful.

Chris said...

Snowing in upper Fremont (near the zoo). All Cliff wants for Christmas is coastal radar!

Anonymous said...

On the flats on Alki it seems to be just rain that turning the snow to a slushy mess. Be careful, it's just as slippery and slick as before if not more so by foot or tire.

Anonymous said...

I woke up to one more inch of snow here on the west hill of auburn. What's falling now is mainly rain and we are having a lot of melting on the trees. The sidewalk is wet and bare where we shoveled and had it completely clean. 33 degrees.

Anonymous said...

Orcas Island, Mount Constitution NW slope, 650 foot elevation, approximately 15 inches of snow since Sunday, 2 more this morning...waiting for the rain...

Jim said...

Vaughn Bay, Case Inlet, (Pierce County) 34 deg. F
One inch fresh overnight; snowing but seems quickly turning to rain. Brisk wind out of the south blowing big wet chunks of snow/ice from trees. I'm looking for my hard hat before I go out!

Not really looking forward to the drive to Seattle later this AM. Downtown, Madison Park, Hunts Point are my stops today. This is the worst time in the typical Pugetopolis snow event: monster slush piles, deep puddles that won;t drain, trucks slinging big waves of slush into oncoming traffic and sidewalk pedestrians. You know the scene =-(

Be careful out there if you have to go!

Kathryn said...

Has anyone driven from Port Townsend to Seattle yet this morning? My 8+ month pregnant sister and her husband hope to make that trek this morning and I'd love to hear about road conditions.

Anonymous said...

Someone's getting mail? Must be nice. We haven't seen a mail truck on our Woodinville (English Hill) street since last Thursday. The Seattle Times and the Redmond Reporter haven't missed a day. Those delivery guys are getting a nice holiday tip - as soon as the mailperson picks up the card.

Anonymous said...

snow began about 4 am and already several more inches added to base of 11 inches. last mail delivery 12/17, last newspaper 12/18. this in zip 98118 facing west on 200 ft hill about mile from Seward Park. my poor 62 year old husband has been walking most of way home from work downtown.
he was a big bus fan until this past week.......

Anonymous said...

Rain in bellingham @ sea leval.

nocurling said...

east olympia - 200'. snow started around 7:45am with moderate winds from the south. started as big flakes - now much smaller, almost rain.

Andrew said...

I wonder at the potential for Boxing Day floods...NWS seems to keep the temperatures low enough to avoid substantial melt, but depending where the rain/snow threshold falls, I imagine it's a possibility. Any predictions on that score?

snowlover said...

*sigh* I really hope it stays snow up here in Sammamish. I don't want a slushy yucky mess for Christmas. We have plenty of time for rain the rest of winter. One beautiful white christmas is all I ask.

Anonymous said...

Mill Creek Highlands -- steady snow at 500', 1-2" additional so far. Temps right on the edge.

J-Ren said...

Shorline, Richmond Highlands, still snowing (albeit wet snow), 1.75" new snow accumulated.

I'm in total agreement w/ Cliff that we need a more reasonable snow removal policy. I'm all for environmentally sound policies. But really, do you think a few days of salt every 8 years only for these types of major events would really cause that much more degradation? And that infrequent a use won't hurt our cars either. Heck, I get more exposure than that traveling to the pass or to Spokane every year. The benefit would be keeping the local economy functioning, keeping the roads safer, keeping kids in school, keeping charities functioning...


Cliff - question about the snow/rain radar images we see. Can the radar feedback really tell whether its snow or rain or is the data cross referenced w/ the temperature readings to make the interpretation on the graph? And what do you use to get 1000 ft temperature readings?

Gotta get that book of yours...

Matt said...

Love the first comment on "our cars holding up" cause the city isn't using snow. Cars in the midwest rust out due to salt cause they salt for two or three months EVERY YEAR. Two weeks of salting the roads in Seattle every few years is not going to hurt your car. And by not using salt on the roads (or using metal tipped plows that go all the way to the concrete) the City of Seattle is powerless to actually clear the roads. The failure of the regional government to deal with this weather has been massive.

Snowed in - Fairwood said...

Ugh, a ton more snow up here in Fairwood/Renton. It's still coming down too.

Seriously, how the snow is ruining my life is taking away any "magic" it had. I, for one, am OVER IT.

I hope it turns to rain this afternoon, I really want to be with my b/f for Xmas tomorrow. It's our first together.

theartist said...

Matt

Right on, it's amazing the ignorance of snow and all things snow-related by some. Oh my, the city salted for a week and my car was ruined! ;)

Another "snow amateur" moment I've seen, and a dangerous one at that, are folks who do not clear the snow off of their car roofs. The first time they brake seriously the snow slides onto their windshield. When they drive that snow flies off and hits other cars behind them. Can't decide if it's laziness or ignorance.

camco said...

Cliff: With respect, the city/county state/region simply cannot afford to increase snow removal equipment and supplies. We're truly in the most dire financial crisis since the Great Depression, and since the last time we had a weather event like this was in 1990, we must prioritize our needs. Take a peek at the gov.'s newly released budget. This will result in true human suffering. If we can't get around the streets in Seattle for a few days every 20 years or so, so be it.

Bob Moore said...

"'Let it snow,... let it snow,'
But then, when and how do we know
Where and when and how to go?
Don't just go out and slog...
Check the wisdom on Cliff's blog!
With Prof. Cliff [&me]as coach and teachers,
Maybe THIS TEAM can win, from the bleachers?"

Yes, We Can! "The Times, They are A Changin', Bob Dylan sings!
(Maybe Pres Barack will award us the Olympic Coast radar we really need? Drench him and NWS with Cliff-fan email demanding Change!)

Is this singin' your song?

Bob Moore
UW Assoc. Prof Emeritus of "Where's The Math" and SE Lake Forest Park view hillside resident, with 2 1/4" new snow, more than 1/2" since we shoveled the stairs to the street at 7:15 AM.

And,my wife Jo seems to have successfully driven our AWD Subaru Outback wagon to Gold's Gym in LFP Towne Ctr. for exercise and then a Women's Breakfast Group Conversation at OUR Third Place Commons, bringing life to Ron Sher's "Third Place" dream (see bookmarks from what I like to call "consumer co-op Third Place Books." That bookstore feels to me like PCC Natural Markets and REI, (and probably Group Health). And, by joining Friends of Third Place Commons and attending Cliff's book-signing, we can JOIN that CO-OP!
(Are "commercials" OK on this blog, if we advertisers don't get $$$ profits from the sales? I think Cliff deserves a Standing Ovation from this team in January, when we can feast together at the superb restaurants at Third Place -- another commercial or maybe a rave Consumer's Checkbook Customer Report...?)

Enough preachin!
Namaste!
(This didn't seem to post on my last try, so here's a second try...)

The Joyful Garden said...

We are getting lots of snow in North Seattle (85th & Greenwood area). About 1 inch of new snow as of 9am on Christmas eve. It's heavy wet flakes and slippery ice all over the place.

Julia said...

On the edge at Union Mills:

Awakened to the sound of rain- 32F at 7:40am, a half-inch of slush on the porch. Overnight low 26.4; the temperature fluctuated between about 27F and just above freezing all day yesterday. At some point last night it got warm enough to clear the ice off the trees.

And at 8:45, after one of those conversations with Fed-Ex the temperature dropped to 20F and it started to snow again.

I wish everyone who decides they need to go to the movies tonight, especially at suburban multiplexes, would understand that they are chosing to put not only themselves but also the theater employees at risk. Stay home, make cocoa and popcorn, open the Giftmas dvds early, and let everyone be safe, OK?

Anonymous said...

Snowing steadily here in Sedro Woolley, at least 4 more inches this morning, about 31 degrees.

Wouldn't be surprised to see 2-3 more inches before it turns to rain. Sigh.

Julia said...

30F, by the way, not 20, in my last post. And since I wrote it, back up to 32 and mixed rain and snow.

Anonymous said...

On Demery Hill of Sammamish (at 560 ft) by my very precise Omnigrid quilting ruler ;-) we have slightly over 2 inches of snow, still coming down in buckets.

The East Side needs its own weather reporting. In my very non-scientific experience, this isn't going to change to rain for us. If it does, it'll be freezing rain.

I think that's why people like me don't trust the weather report. Weather in Seattle just isn't the same as weather on the East Side....maybe in summer it's similar. In winter, it's very often, very different.

mortonmanor said...

Snow has turned to rain on Crown Hill (near ballard). Elevation is about 315 feet. Don't know if it will continue as rain or not, but that is how it is now at 9:15 am.

Anonymous said...

BIG HONKIN snow flakes here in Birch Bay--been going strong since last night about 4 more inches on top of whats already out there--a lil more than a foot. Don't think they snowplowed I-5 North of Slater Road--bad driving. Of course if you can get out of your neighborhood up here. As usual we get overlooked and included with Bellingham weather wise--lots of snow falling here I heard it was raining in Bellingham.

Imaflatlander said...

Cliff,
Maybe you can shed some light on this question. I can understand how meteorologists are able to look at conditions and systems and predict precipitation (rain, snow). What I don't understand is how you are able to predict amounts.
I love the blog, thank you for all your hard work and educatin'.

Anonymous said...

Lakewood, Steilacoom,Back End of N Ft. Lewis

We're about 400' up, just above the Steilacoom Ferry.

Currently snowing, but not sticking. Snow is melting off my roof and my shoveled out drive is clear.

jenyum said...

Watching the rain turn to sleet turn to something more like snow, just now in Tacoma.

Mikey said...

East side Woodinville, 300' elev. There is about 4" of new accumulation since this morning. It is coming down heavy & wet. Hard to stay in control on the road with RWD+chains. But it's doable. Be careful out there.

I'll post again when (if) it turns to rain.

Anonymous said...

It's raining in Ballard and things are definitely melting!

Anonymous said...

Cliff is my favorite meteorologist in the northwest. Having said that, I think he should stick to the weather and forget about chiding the environmentalists for not salting the roads. I believe it's salt in the fresh water that they're worried about, not the salt water.

Monzie said...

I'm with Matt. I lived in Toronto for many years. Salt damages cars, roads and sidewalks when it is used for four months or so every year. Used in Seattle for several days every couple of years? Not very much at all.

Salt doesn't promote grass or plantings, either. But the costs of the limited use needed in our neighborhood seems well worth it in terms of vehicular damage, pedestrians' broken/sprained limbs, and general economic loss.

9:32 am at foot of Ravenna Park: snowing purposefully; flakes look larger in the last few minutes, and wetter.

camco said...

935 am --Still snowing lighty here in lovely Lynnwood/Edmonds, but I'd say with reports of rain now in Ballard, this once-every-20-year weather event is officially coming to a sloppy end!

Cliff, thanks for helping us understand it all.

Jamie on BI said...

Looks like we've had about 3/4" snow, central Bainbridge. Snow is falling, but old snow is melting, falling off the trees and lines. Woodward PWS shows current temp of 34.2* Getting some pretty good winds right now, tops of big trees are really blowing around. Crossing finger power stays on (out just up the road).

Brad said...

Been snowing all morning in Mountlake Terrace. Lots of big fir branches are falling from the weight of snow. Be careful out there, folks.

James said...

9am on west side of Beacon Hill - snowing - 3 inches on plastic surfaces and 2 inches on the previously cleared concrete. Had very large flakes with thick snow at 730am. Now 940am it is very wet snow, coming down lightly.

Thanks for the helpful forcasts. By the way why don't they just black out the areas on the radar where all you get is ground clutter and mountain reflections? I think if they showed that blind spot blacked out or some other way of showing no coverage then it would be obvious to everyone that we don't have the right radar coverage.

christopher said...

32 and rising here on top of Pioneer Hill/Clear Creek Road on Poulsbo. About 3 inches of new snow that just stopped.

Scott K said...

Lake Stevens
9:40am
Temp: 32/33 on the edge
Snowing heavy with a couple inches new already. Doesn't look like it's stopping soon, but with temps already at freezing I'm guess it will change to rain around 11 or 12 today.

Katy said...

We've had another 3 or 4 inches in Maltby, NE of Woodinville on the way out to Monroe and it's still coming down hard.

Anon in Sammammish on Demery Hill, you are in the Cascade Foothills so when you listen to the weather forecasts pay attention to that part rather than the Seattle part. Much more accurate.

Diane said...

3+ inches in Shelton and snowing hard. It is 36 degrees on my back porch. We still had 12 - 14 inches of snow left from before. I have never seen this much snow for this long in the lowlands, even in the Hood Canal Snow Zone.
Thanks for the updates about Lake Forest Park. I was planning to head there today, but that is not looking very likely.

Laura said...

Over here in Skyway/Upper Rainer Beach we've been having loads of snow and about 3 more new inches. It seems to go from big, wholesome flakes to small, confetti flakes. I am a little weary of the snow at this point and am ruing our decision to live on top of a hill.

Laurel said...

@Kathryn with the pregnant daughter--if they are coming down Whidbey 525 is passable, fairly clear from use, but side roads are bad. Ferries are easy on and off, very clear. Staying on main roads is best.

AS for the plowing situation, seems like Seattle ought to have something like a Snow National Guard--outfit some people with plow equipment and train them and just pay them during emergencies like this. I know plenty of guys who'd love do something like that. We had a medical emergency yesterday and had to borrow our neighbor's car to get out from our side streets--I am certainly glad for the kindness of people in times like these, and I hear a lot of that here. I'm planning to "pay it forward..." starting with the mail carrier!

Anonymous said...

Katy: We don't really get Cascade Foothill weather either, e.g. not as much snow as North Bend, etc. We're in our own little world. We're probably more akin to Bothell, albeit on our little hill, we have a microclimate.

Really there are 3 weather bands. Seattle, the Eastern East Side and the Foothills.

Forgetmenot said...

Where is my snow? Gees, Port Townsend just misses out on the fun. Been above 30 degrees no rain, no snow, breezy. The green ground is showing up all over!
All the side streets are a mess and I think Jefferson Co has maybe one plow? The main roads are in great shape bare in most places.
After ten years in southeast Alaska where snow,rain,ice more snow,rain,ice this really is exciting as long as you don't need to travel. Speaking of which I have plans to drive to San Fran which day would be better Friday or Saturday (flooding?) and which hwy to take 5 or 101? Oh and I think Juneau used a chemical de-icer which worked great after the around the clock snow crew took all the white stuff away! Places that get these conditions often have trained experience folk with the right equipment to get the job done.

stevemcn said...

Still snowing in South Renton, East Hill. Big wet flakes. Looking across the Kent Valley toward Seatac, the visibility is dropping again, so looks like we're in for some more. 4 inches now in my formerly, freshly shoveled driveway.

Laurel said...

by the way, big winds here, not much snow on S. Whidbey, Freeland...a bit of spattery rain, and some melting going on...

Anonymous said...

At 275' on Phinney Ridge, looking over newly hip and trendy Ballard, it was snowing this morning, we got 2-4" overnight. The snow changed to light rain about 20 minutes ago, like someone flipped a switch. A half-hour ago I was worried about the accumulation of ice and snow on power and phone lines but now it's melting and dripping off.

Mikey said...

Woodinville @ 300' (and down to 100', I had to go to the bank).

In the worst car, ever, for driving in the snow. But I made it, using chains on my rear wheels.

There are tree limbs down all over the place (too much snow weight) and these roads haven't seen a plow in days. In fact we lost two tree limbs in our yard.

It just stopped snowing. No rain yet.

theartist said...

Camco

Once every 20 years? I don't think so. We get a good snow dumping much more frequently than that. Good going that you remember 1990. But did you forget 1996? We actually had MORE snow then and the exact same removal problems.

Cliff, ignore folks that tell you stop shaking the boat and complain about the city, or worse yet, who seem to forget that it does snow around here, sometimes quite a lot, and certainly more than every 20 years.

The "environmental concerns" on using salt are complete bunk. We are going to devastate the environment by having to use salt for such a short period of time? Bunk.

It will not ruin your cars. The bottom line is that the city government is pathetically unprepared. It should cause some concern because the quality of "response" can extend to other events.

I wonder when we have the next serious earthquake (not the dress rehearsal back in 2001) if we'll have some folks saying, "well, this only happens ever 200 years and it's just not economic to prepare". ;)

stay safe folks, and don't forget to wipe the snow off of your car roofs!