Memorial Day Update
Yesterday's models ALL had a major timing error.....the front is coming in must faster than predicted and rain has just reached Puget Sound (see radar at 8:20AM below). So rain today. But perhaps this will allow the front to clear by dinner for some of you.
The forecasts were too optimistic for today for much of Washington. On Sunday morning, the radar shows lots of showers over the Cascades and the western side of the state and the visible satellite image shows plenty of clouds (see below). Yet the media were going for an improving trend as late as last nigth, with one TV station talking about sun and 70F on Sunday.
My forecast was online on this blog and updated in KPLU (my audio is found here)--and yes, it was not perfect. My take was that there would be clouds and showers on Saturday, with some sun breaks and that things would improve Sunday afternoon. That clouds and rain would be worse to the south. But there was something to be concerned about: the European Center model (ECMWF), the gold standard for numerical weather prediction, was bringing much more moisture and light rain into the region on Sunday than the U.S. models. The European Center forecast was right. And all the models showed a front approaching Monday, with rain spreading north during the afternoon. The current runs agree with this.
The differences among the models were subtle as were the errors in the U.S. model solutions. Let me show you what changed. Here is the UW WRF prediction for sea level pressure for Sunday at 11 AM that was initialized only a few hours ago-very close to the truth. You will notice a weak low over the coast--this is associated with moist southerly flow entering western WA and upward motion...bringing clouds and precipitation. In contrast, the second panel gives the forecast for the exactly same time but started on Friday morning ..no low and there was a weak trough off Oregon. This kind of small scale feature can be difficult to forecast and clearly the EC model did better.
So what about the rest of the day Sunday and Monday? The rain is now pushing northward and the Langley radar shows little behind it. So the coast is drying and soon the drying will push up into Puget Sound. The skies will brighten. Strangely enough, Friday's forecast for Sunday will still verify in one way...much better during the afternoon south of Everett. The visible satellite shows weak spots in the clouds behind....maybe a few sun breaks. So if you want to do something outdoors--there may be a chance this afternoon.
Monday will start off dry, but the next front should push in with rain during the afternoon (and clouds a few hours before that). Here is the UW WRF forecast for precipitation for the 3 hours ending 2 PM Monday. Keep in mind the timing could be off by a few hours. Watch the radar to plan your outdoor activities tomorrow. If you are planning a Memorial Day barbecue....be ready for rain, particularly from Seattle southward after mid-afternoon.