Thursday, February 26, 2009

Snow Blindness

It is really frustrating to be meteorologically blind--with the NWS radar covering western WA out of commission. It makes it hard to understand what is happening and to diagnose the situation--something those living on the coast have to deal with all the time.
There was quite a bit of snow yesterday and last night, depending on where you are, and the amounts were very variable. The two biggest snow dumps in the lowlands were near Bellingham and NE of the Olympics (Port Angeles to Sequim), where some locations received up to 10 inches or so. Bellingham has the Fraser outflow, with air accelerating SW as the trough of low pressure moved through yesterday. As air flowed around the low it rose up over the Fraser outflow giving snow. Later as the low moved south the Fraser outflow pushed southward toward the Olympic peninsula...rising on the terrain and causing snow on its NE flanks and adjacent areas (even the usual dry spot Sequim---see image for surface chart at 2AM).
There were some snow showers last night over Puget Sound, and they dropped very variable amounts of snow..something that is evident on the DOT cams. Some places have only a dusting, while others...like in central Puget Sound from Seattle to Bellevue...received 2-4 inches. I have three on the ground in my home in NE Seattle.
The KING-5 radar (which is running in degraded mode) shows some showers over Puget Sound producing a few light snow showers and the 6 AM observation revealed weak convergence over the south (northerly wind on north side, SW winds to the south) that is helping to maintain them. These showers should weaken over the next few hours and skies should begin to open up. The first decent visible satellite picture is now available (see attached)..and you can make out the clouds and shower over Puget Sound and clearing to the north and south. The coast is clear and sunny. Anyway, the worst (and for some the best) is over.


NOTE: Metro's Bus Tracker software AGAIN is overwhelmed and not functioning during a snow event. After everyone complained in December. Someone really needs to be relieved of duty in Metro's IT department and those in Metro that oversee this important application. When we most need to see where the buses are, the system fails. Just incompetence.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

At my house in Bellingham I measure 6 inches of snow on my deck. 22 degrees and that old north-easter is blowing about 25 knots. Clear blue skies.

Quite a change from the springlike WX we've been having...

Owen said...

I've got 3-4 inches in downtown Kirkland this morning. I guess no running for me this morning.

Lance said...

2.5" measured on my deck at my house (Ravenna Blvd and I-5) and it's already starting to melt.

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing 4-5" in Bridle Trails area of Bellevue, and as of 7:45am flurries are falling again.

Mike of MLT said...

Just a skiff, 1/4", here at my place in Mountlake Terrace. Was surprised morning Kindergarten was cancelled--and two hours late for my other kid. An easy morning for me with the wife at a seminar. Quite a bit of graupel on the car, that woke me up around 3am.

Skiing was very good at Stevens Pass yesterday, the ice is buried, and two inches fell from a heavy snow shower there in the afternoon. Skiing was best on Tye Mill.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog said...

All..your comments are extremely valuable...particularly now without the radar..cliff

CatPat said...

In West Seattle near Lincoln Park: about 1" this morning. Still some light new snow, with lots of secondary "blow snow" when the wind takes it off the trees.

I'm impressed at how light some of the large-diameter snowballs are coming off the trees; even at several inches across, they still float lightly down. Does that mean it was a cold and "dry" snow? How does that happen?

Anonymous said...

At 4:50 AM this morning drove from Issaquah (light snow, none on the ground) to Seatac. ~2 inches through South Bellevue and Renton with heavy wet snow falling at a ~1+ inch an hour rate, less snow on the ground near the I-5 corridor, and the ~2 inches at the airport. Roads were snow covered for most of the drive, and quite icy at the airport. At work now in Seatac, ~1.5 inches on the ground, and starting to melt. Occasional flurries down here, but it appears to be clearing with the cloud layer showing breaks.

Anonymous said...

It started snowing hard in Duvall around 11pm last night so we had high hopes for serious accumulation. But, alas, the grass isn't even totally covered this morning. The streets are mostly clear. It is frustrating to hear that other places like Kirkland and Bellevue recieved more snow than us! We usually top them. But, the snow we do have is pretty and better than nothing.

JewelyaZ said...

We're getting more snow right now in Phantom Lake (south of Crossroads in Bellevue) and my trusty plastic ruler clocks the snow at 3 inches... more thsn it looks like to me.

We're up to 32.2F now and we are trending up 0.4 per hour, so the melting will start in two hours or so, if I had to guess.

Anonymous said...

Olalla: About half an inch of snow; it was snowing when I got up at around 7, but the driveway was still gray so I guess the temp stayed above freezing overnight. Now at 8:20 it's mostly clear.

- Pete

Jessica said...

2" in Eastlake/Lake Union - not sure of our elevation but we're maybe 50'+ above the lake. Cannot believe the snow returned - love it!

That's a pretty funny story about the kids not jazzed to go to school.

I couldn't believe I was seeing a repeat on the news; a jack knifed accordian-style bus slid off the road on 520. Please take the weather seriously Metro.

Anonymous said...

Olalla: I meant in my last comment that the sky is mostly clear.

- Pete

Julia said...

Richmond Highlands, Shoreline, 2.2" on my deck, light snow still falling but wind is kicking up.

Jessica said...

whoops sorry, I meant "kids not jazzed to NOT be going to school".

Anonymous said...

Prof Mass,

What happened to the radar and why is the King5 radar operating in degraded mode?

Anonymous said...

Great post as always.

You can try a third party bus info site providing detailed Metro info I've found quite useful - http://www.onebusaway.org

Ashley said...

Received close to 3" in my neighborhood here in Woodinville, lightly snowing now.

I was confused why it was pouring at my house yesterday yet the radar showed it doing nothing at all. I figured something must be wrong with the radar, thanks for the confirmation :)

Anonymous said...

upper Queen Anne got 2-3 inches. Fortunately Metro has figured it out and has the #1/#2 RUNNING on snow route. Yeah!

Jason said...

We need another Doppler in Western WA. Yes!
Incompetence at Metro indeed. My son walked ten blocks this morning at 6 AM to catch his regular bus, only to have it not show up after waiting 45 minutes and no Tracker to find out if it would even be late!!! Meanwhile the guy in charge, Ron Sims is busy packing his housewares, to head back to HUD. By the way, what has been done since December to get the Metro IT system fixed?
Answer coming, in about the same time as the 205 bus...

Jason said...

BTW, onebusaway.org is dependent on Metro Tracker and, therefore, was not operational this morning since 6 AM or so... One idea would be to have Metro hire the UW wizguys who did onebusaway and FIX the dam+ system.

Anonymous said...

SE BELLEVUE (Lake Heights/Newport Hills area, located 2-3 blocks east of I-405 and about 1 mile south of I-90, elevation = about 200')-- Looked out at 7:30am, found 2" on ground and very fine flakes still lightly sifting down, 31 degrees. Flurries stopped soon afterwards, and now at 9:10 temp is still 31. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Update in Duvall - 31 degrees, snowing lightly, fluffy looking flakes. More, more, please!

Jim said...

Less than an inch in Sammamish, but still snowing lightly with the temp @ 31.6 degrees.

Ashley said...

Snowing hard in Woodinville now

Anonymous said...

2.5" one mile north of the UW. Metro really is a joke. Buses were 30-60 minutes late this morning, and many people south of North Seattle waiting for a route downtown were unable to get on a bus for an even longer time. You'd think they'd learn from December...

Cliff, do you know where to find annual winter snowfall totals at SeaTac? I've heard that this winter is the 11th snowiest since 1945 - is there a "Top ten snowiest winters at SeaTac" list floating out anywhere in cyberspace? We must be over 20" (at the airport) with this morning's snow.

Anonymous said...

We received about 2.5" of snow overnight in East Woodinville/Ring Hill, with a low temperature of
27.7F. It is now 32.2F and has been snowing for the past forty-five minutes, heavily at times

Bruce said...

Some folks that UW have developed a great open-source tool for bus riders: One Bus Away (http://onebusaway.org/). It's much better than anything Metro offers, and it you can use it via Web site, mobile phone, and SMS.

inkprincess said...

Reporting from Gig Harbor (about 15-20 minutes NW from the actual city). We got a crappy light dusting. Very unhappy! I love snow!

Joan Neslund said...

Holden Village
11 Miles S Stehekin WA
48.2°N 120.75°W (Elev. 3224 ft)

Frustration is the only word I can express. Western Wash temps are colder than here, we were above freezing all day and only 23 last night. Snowed all day but very little accumulation. At the 4000 foot level the accum was over a foot due to a lower temp, but here at 3200 ft, we still sit with very little snow.

Kevin Purcell said...

You can track radar status at

http://weather.noaa.gov/monitor/radar/

The Camano Island radar is KATX

Quote:

"Message Date: Feb 24 2009 18:26:06
katx will be down until further notice due to a mechanical failure at the radar.
NOUS66 KSEW 252213
FTMATX
MESSAGE DATE: FEB 25 2009 22:15:00
UPDATE: KATX WILL BE DOWN UNTIL AT LEAST THURSDAY AFTERNOON, FEB 26TH FOR REPAIR. THE MECHANICAL FAILURE FOR THE RADAR IS MORE EXTENSIVE THEN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT...AND MORE PARTS ARE ON ORDER."

Anonymous said...

Metro problems or not, this is not a time to advocate for someone to "be relieved of duty"...reprimanded maybe, but wishing unemployment on someone is not healthy or professional. No one advocates you being "relieved of duty" when your forecast is incorrect, eh?

andycottle said...

Here in Woodinviile, it`s sunny and 33 with dp at 26. I got 1.5" of snow with this system.

Anonymous said...

Getting Metro tracker working properly is a whole lot more doable than reliably predicting the weather in Washington state with limited equipment.

The former is a finite tast, the latter almost infinite.

Josh-B said...

Missed your bus. Where is the violin.

Maggie said...

We have 2.25" in Wallingford. I imagine that's pretty close to what you measured in the U district as well.

Cliff, with former WA governor Gary Locke soon to be in charge of the Department of Commerce and NOAA, do you think our chances for getting coastal radar will improve? I don't know how much he has been a proponent in the past.

SnowLover said...

What a weird storm. We went from "not much snow in the lowlands, but expect a trace in the foothills" to Sammamish getting less than Seattle or Bellevue.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Anonymous said...

2 inches of snow outside my house between Woodinville and Redmond. 1 inch at my school (The only King County district that started on time)

Anonymous said...

Assuming SeaTac recorded 2.0" inches of snow this morning (which is indicated by their "snow depth" column), we have had ~20.2 inches of snow this winter.

This is more than 2008-09 winter snowfalls for:

Kansas City
Omaha
St. Louis
Philadelphia
New York City - Central Park
New York City - JFK
Newark, New Jersey (by .01 inch).

Amazing!

andycottle said...

Gona be a cool day today with highs barely reaching 40. The morning commute will likely be dicey/icy/slippery as temps will likely fall below freezing tonight as 925mb temps stay below freezing through early tomorrow. So folks will need to be careful when out on the road.

With this system out of here....looks like our eyes turn to the weekend weather in which it could and or perhaps be a bit breezy depending on how close the area of low pressure shown in this mornings models, comes to the WA or Oregon coast. Some are weak, while other models show a moderate area of low pressure out over the off-shore waters of the WA/OR coast. So we`ll see.

Anonymous said...

Near Pine Lake I had about 1" of wet, heavy, snow. When I left the house at 9:00 AM there was very light snow coming down.

Regarding the shots at Metro (I ride, don't work there), they have budget restraints, equipment problems, personnel who do their best to provide safe, timely commutes. One might say that the weather people should have learned their lesson after the Inaugural Day storm and installed coastal radar and better forecasters, and that they shouldn't have let the local radar go down a few days ago. Should someone lose their job because of this radar incompetency? Shouldn't someone be fired for not doing an adequate job of documenting the need for better radar?

We have had a long ride of low taxes, failure to support infrastructure, and expecting someone else to fix it or give it to us. But Metro, or weather forecasters, or anyone else is supposed to be competent at the outliers? Why dont we pay Metro drivers $5,000,000 per year. Then we know they would be good. Same with forecasters, and even college professors.

I really enjoy this blog, but c'mon people, let's have some charity for the working stiffs.

climo man said...

The weather pattern today is very similar to the one on March 7-8 2002, which on the average, gave about 3 to 4 inches of snow to the Seattle area.Although that years event was more from a CZ, than convective shower bands like today.I am impressed how this upper low held together and didn`t open up and weaken like they often do.It made all of us snow skeptics believers.
By the way, my snow total was 2.6" on Becon Hill just south of Downtown Seattle. Approaching 30" for the winter total, the most since `68-69.

Ron said...

To Joan at Holden Village, the offical seasonal snowfall total for you as of this morning is 154.6 inches. Compared to the historical totals at Holden Village (since 1938), this ranks 5th on the least snowfall by 26 Feb. The horrible drought year of 1976/77 is the worst winter, with only 36.7 inches of snow up to 26 Feb. In that year, they had 46 inches in March (twice the normal) so there's still hope for more for you there.

Anonymous said...

Andy, please use your own blog for forecasting. Isn't that what you created it for?

Anonymous said...

Here in Lynnwood City Center (Hwy 524, 1 mile west of I-5) my son told me at 1am that it wasn't snowing yet. When I woke up this morning (9am--work at home day, lol) we had about 1" of snow on the ground and none on the roads. It's all gone now, even in the shade.

I ride CT, not Metro, and they seem to handle snow/slippery weather better than Metro does. Sometimes, we'll get delays while the busses in the field wait to be chained up, but CT's reroutes are posted on the website and tehy're sensible, staying as close to the original route as possible. They try to get the busses back into the field and onto normal routes as soon as possible.

Winter's not over yet. We've had snow accumulation as late as late March around here!
Lyn in Lynnwood

andycottle said...

I too think that is about as late as it`s ever snowed in the Puget Sound region. Early or mid-March at the latest. Though, think it has snowed in April here/there..

Anonymous said...

Cliff says:
"Someone really needs to be relieved of duty in Metro's IT department and those in Metro that oversee this important application."
since the world is not functioning as he would like. First no radar, then no salt and now this. Can the world disappoint us any more?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12:45:

Andy just doesn't get it. He should at least make his forecasts grammatically correct.

William C Bonner said...

I've read that the underlying technology of the bus tracker is purely based on odometer readings, and nothing to do with GPS. Since the buses normally follow a proscribed route, this works. In the case of switching to snow routes, I don't know if all of the calculations are taken into account.

Masdeleine said...

Yes, I am ready for the abundance of Spring, and find these wintry blasts tiresome, to say the least.

Can Seattle get a bit more urban? All the qvetching about metro, they are and will continue to be lower-case. I agree that a sudden layoff for incompetency is too harsh right now - but let us go forward with optimism and acceptance of some of the great ideas seen (read?) here on CM's great blog. Given the craziness of our convergence zone problems here in the NW - can we bunk up with each other when things are dicey? My beloved will be staying where he works - yes, at cost, but also safety for he needs to work late and then start again early in the morning - cost? - worth every penny knowing he is safe. For those that rely (I'm sorry, believe me) on Metro, perhaps they can have a pajama party near where they need to be the next day (week?) and their neighbors, who care, can take in their children and watch after their pets until it is safe to return home - of course then we all have to cook overtime and exuberantly to repay the neighbors and friends for their nurturing kindness - but I think there is a great best-selling book and movie in this idea - go for it!

Anonymous said...

I too think that is about as late as it`s ever snowed in the Puget Sound region. Early or mid-March at the latest. Though, think it has snowed in April here/there..(entry by andycottle)

Ummm...ya, Andy? Just last year we had about 3 inches of snow....On April 19th!! They cancelled baseball games because of it! I also remember back in 1982 waking up to about 3 inches of snow in the beginning of April. And last night on KING 5 news they said we have actually had measurable snow as late as May. I thought you were up on this stuff? You sound like you think you know it all in your comments/forcasts, anyway!

CherryCherryBoomBoom said...

My school was the only one that had a normal schedule :(

Anonymous said...

Andycottle ~ I know you get tired of people getting on your case but really....This is Cliffs blog...HE makes the forcasts, we ask HIM questions and make comments to HIM! I thought you started your own blog so you could ramble all you want without any critisism? So why do you keep coming back here and annoying us? And, yes, I am annonymous....choose to keep it that way.....as do many others.

Josh-B said...

Hey I love technology. Shoot Seattle is one of the main tech places in the world. I read wired and I am gadget crazy. But it still is technology IE "It breaks down people" I love it when it fails us. It's like in Wall-E when everybody looks up from their screens for once.

We cry "why". My iphone said the bus should be here.


Oh well I just might need to think outside the box, or should I say computer. Shoot, better go, iphone battery almost out.

andycottle said...

I am aware it`s Cliff`s blog and that he makes the forecasts, but as with anybody else on here, I like coming here to see Cliff`s daily comments on the weather and then posting about it. He always brings a lot of interesting info to his blog when time allows. He does a good job of doing so.

I don`t know everything about the weather. There is lots out there to know, and it would be hard for anyone to "know it all". It`s a field of science to continue learning about for anyone involved in the weather department. So that`s my answer.:o)

Anonymous said...

Andy Cottle is so very annoying! When will he ever go away!??!!?

andycottle said...

I will leave then..

Jim said...

8" at 470' elev. in Port Angeles this morning.

Anonymous said...

Hey all you low self-esteem liberals, leave Andy alone.

climo man said...

For those who are wondering, Sea-Tac and the old Downtown Seattle weather stations have had measurable snow in April eleven times in the past 118 years of record, so it`s about a one in ten probability in any given year. For March, the odds are a little better--about once every three years.Looking at the current medium range models, I`d surmise that our chances this year are better than usual.Another snowfall in March would be a fitting coup de grace for this winter.

Anonymous said...

Guys, calm down. You waste so much time and energy trying to put down Andy. He should be allowed to post like the rest of you.

Anonymous said...

Andycottle said...I like coming here to see Cliff`s daily comments on the weather and then posting about it. He always brings a lot of interesting info to his blog when time allows. He does a good job of doing so.

Andy....then comment about it...that's fine....but you don't just comment about it! When someone asks CLIFF a question, YOU answer it! And you don't just comment! You list your own "forcast", and usually when nobody even asks you for it!

Answer questions that people ask YOU. If you want to give YOUR forcast, do it on YOUR blog, not Cliffs!

And you're right....HE (meaning Cliff) always does bring a lot of interesting info to his blog when time allows. (and because we all understand that he is a busy man and we appreciate him taking time out of his day to teach us, etc. we are all willing to wait for HIS information and answers!)

Yes, CLIFF does do a good job! That's why we come to HIS blog!....to read HIS forcasts and have HIM answer our questions!

Craigf said...

How can some of you be so petty and childish when it comes to putting down Andy...? If you have not noticed Andy has backed off on his "forecasting" input but still has the right to share on this blog. I enjoy his input and what he has to offer. He is not trying to forecast as much and just shares his thoughts as ALL of us do. He may not always be right but he is not always wrong either. This goes for all of us here.

PLEASE people calm down! Some level of maturity is a value that goes a long way.

Cliff I love this blog and I want to thank you for putting it up. I find it very informative.

Andy, I enjoy your input and knowledge. I think you have a lot to offer and appreciate your insight.

Anonymous said...

I too am posting on behalf of Andy Cottle, He has just as much a right to post as any body else here, and frankly he adds more than most people here. So if you do not have anything more to do than complain about Andy you should post elsewhere.

Mike R said...

Re: The Metro tracker ... my understanding is that it's a hardware issue. In order for the tracker to do anything reasonable during a reroute (due to adverse weather, construction, etc), they'd need to install GPS on all the buses - which would take time and money, so it's not something we're likely to see in the near future given the low tax revenues due to the economic situation. I believe that the current tracker system just uses radio transponders that record when the buses arrive at certain major stops. They use that combined with historical data about how long the bus takes to get between stops to estimate where the bus is at any given time. This system falls apart when the bus is not on its regular route, because (1) it may miss some of the recorded stops, and (2) the time it takes to get between stops is more than the usual time. The tracker location view even says at the top that it is not reliable when buses are on reroute.

As a regular, 5-day-a-week bus commuter I would love to see this improved, but I don't expect it to be any time soon because Metro is already short of money and certainly can't afford a hardware update like this. I'd rather they use what money they do have to maintain their current service levels (there have been rumors of up to a 20% cut in bus service next year, which would mess up commutes 365 days a year, as opposed to the 5-10 snow days we typically get in a year).

Cliff Mass Weather Blog said...

All,
Please stop all this interpersonal stuff. Everyone can have their say on the blog..just stick to weather and the occasional commentary on how we adapt/deal with it...

Some good news:

(1) the radar has been fixed

(2) metro called me and said they would fix the problem...insufficient server capacity.

..cliff

Anonymous said...

hey, at least people aren't arguing about what's "nice" vs. not "nice" right now! :)

Andy, I appreciate your comments... ignore the people who tell you to go away.

Anonymous said...

Cliff: "Everyone can have their say on the blog..just stick to weather and the occasional commentary on how we adapt/deal with it..."

But if someone questions the weather-related terminology you use, you tell them to stop. Why can't they have their say too??

andycottle said...

To the ones who are kindly speaking on behalf of me, I want to say thank you and I appreciate it as well.

In other weather news....today was pretty good. Got to see some sunshine this morning which made the snow on the tree look real nice and preaty. A good way to end the month of February. Seeing snow. The clear skies didn`t last long as skies became cloudy by early afternoon and my high barely reaching 40. Had a high of 38.

For any side streets and shade wet pavement areas, you folks who do the early commute may find it icy. But should be back in the 40`s for tomorrow.

Capt. Jack said...

A little clip to help keep it all in perspective....Metro IT, radar problems.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoGYx35ypus

Keep smiling...

Anonymous said...

Re Metro's IT problem, I was thinking that it sounded like insufficient server capacity was at least part of the problem.

I haven't seen any mention of the fact that the road cameras are a good source of info as to the weather at a given location. Washington and Oregon both have a great many road cams all over the states.

Washington: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/

Oregon: http://www.tripcheck.com/Pages/CamerasEntry.asp

And, here's a cool webcam, at the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado. At night if it's clear you can see the lights of Colorado Springs.
http://www.springsgov.com/units/pikespeak/

- Pete

seattle said...

We are definitely getting strong-ish easterlies here in teh cascade foothills. It was exactly this way last weekend, also.

I understand that descending air is compressed and warms but wondered if anyone could answer why it should be warmer than where it started (i.e. in eastern WA). That is, the air starts out cold, rises and cools some more (as it travels over the cascades), then descends and warms back up. But shouldn't its temp just return to the temp at which it started (which was presumed cold)? We had a day in early feb where it reached the mid sixties in Monroe.

Also, in my experience strong easterlies indicate the approaching storm will make a more direct hit on western WA than the models presently indicate (I could be totally wrong about this though...)

-Somewhere in Sultan