We are now thoroughly stuck in a La Nina pattern, cold and occasionally wet. The mountains are going to get several more feet this week...pretty much guaranteed...but there is also a possibility of some lowland areas....particularly southeast of the Olympics picking up some of the white stuff. A front is approaching the coast right now and an associated low center will be off the Olympic Peninsula around dinnertime tomorrow (see graphic of sea level pressure and lower-atmospheric temperatures below). Temperatures will be a bit too warm for snow in most of the lowlands, where rain showers will be observed, except for where the precipitation is heavy enough to push the snow level to the surface. This kind of pattern produces strong southeasterly flow approaching the Olympics, resulting in upslope flow strong enough to enhance precipitation rates and more upslope cooling...the result: snow.
The problem with this situation is that we have very marginal air for snow (not really cold enough near sea level) on the western side, with good onshore flow. No real push of cold air from southern BC.
And now the thank you. I am extraordinarily thankful to a number of you have contributed to my research fund (link upper right in this blog). I have used some of the contributions to maintain and develop the high resolution weather prediction that I show so often in this blog (including the new ultra-high 4/3 km resolution). A portion of the gifts are also being used as an undergraduate research scholarship, to aid some of our most promising undergraduates in paying for tuition. As undergraduate adviser I have sensitive to the increasing debt loan and multiple jobs many of the undergraduates are burdened with--particularly as tuition goes up 20% a year. I have decided to award the first scholarship of $2000 to Steven Brey, shown below, a very promising junior in our program. Congratulations Stephen! This scholarship could not have happened with the support of the readers of this blog. Hopefully, I will be able to do this again.
Finally, the depressing part of the blog. The Seattle Times opinion and editorial staff have consistently provided misinformation to the public regarding public education issues and today was no different. The main opinion headline in the Seattle Times was:
In this story they claimed that a 6-month old program to improve attendance (like offering prizes and pizza parties!) was working, causing public-school absentee rates to be nearly halved. And they provide as proof a figure showing monthly absentee rates for this and previous years:
This is entirely wacky! The program started in Sept 2011. You will notice that the absentee rates for this Sept through January are virtually the same as the last TWO years. For some reason, 2008-2009 was a bit higher--but that is not an issue here. So other than this February there is ABSOLUTELY no evidence that the new program is doing anything. Where in the world did they get that the rate was cut in half? But it is worse than that. Strangely, they show the absentee rate for February...a month that is not over yet...and that is their best month yet. Is there a reason other than pizza parties and home checks that might explain this? YOU BET! As news headlines have attested, this is one of the quietest flu seasons on record. A lot less kids are getting sick. To illustrate this, here are the flu stats from King County:
Note that this year (2011-2012, red line) is by far the most benign flu year of all, and the difference with the other years is increasing. I suspect that is the major contributor to less absenteeism. Quite possibly, the next ST editorial will talk about how pizza and ice cream parties reduce flu outbreaks in the region.
This would all be funny if it wasn't so embarrassing for our main local paper. And this is not isolated incident. Recently, the ST opinion page pushed charter schools, saying that 17% of them showed improved performance compared to regular schools. What they didn't tell you was that 37% had WORSE performance than regular schools and the rest were no better. Talking about deceiving with statistics. And of course there was their bogus front page headline and editorial about the UW rejecting great straight-A students to get a lot of out of state cash. That was the one that got me kicked off of KUOW for daring to mention the true situation on-air.
One wonders when the Blethen family, which controls the Seattle Times, will intervene to stop a disgraceful situation at this previously proud newspaper.
PS: Last call if anyone wants to go to the NW Weather Workshop...see information on the right.