So that all of you have the proper sympathy with our brethren in eastern Washington here is a WSDOT cam shot Saturday in Richalnd. How many ways can you say dismal? And such low clouds and fog coupled with low temperatures often produces freezing fog on the bridges in the Tri-Cities. Just wonderful.
The National Weather Service forecast for Richland says it all. You won't find this on the Tri-Cities convention bureau website.
The key issue is that the Columbia Basin of eastern Washington is a topographic bowl, with very narrow openings (e.g., the Columbia Gorge, Okanogan) . Cool air can settle into the lower elevations and sit there. With warmer air frequently overhead, the temperature change with height over the Basin is often characterized by an inversion, with temperature increasing with height.
Take a look at the temperatures, dew point and winds with height at Spokane on Saturday morning (below). The right solid line is temperature. 900 hPA is roughly 3000 ft above sea level. You see that temperature increases with height to above 850 hPA (about 5000 ft) and that temperature and dew point are on top of each other near the surface....that suggests saturation and clouds. We knew that already!
A surface temperature forecast illustrated the cold air in eastern Washington at 2-meters. Dark blue is the coldest. Colder near the Tri-Cities than at the surface in the Cascades!
Moving up to 850 hPa (around 5000 ft), there is warm, southwesterly flow.
Richland is in clouds more than 90% of the time from roughly Dec. 1 through Feb 1. Not much different than Seattle. And Richland's clouds are the worse type: low or at the surface. But things improve rapidly in February and by April 6st they are down to 50%. Midsummer...down to 3%.
Seattle is no worse in mid-winter, but clouds stick around until early summer, slowly decreasing in time Seattle NEVER hits the 50% mark, but there is an amazingly rapid decline in late June and early July.
So avoid the Columbia Basin in mid-winter, but starting around March 1st it is a good bet for sun-starved west siders.
Seattle Public Schools Math Curriculum Review
As noted in earlier blogs, Seattle Public Schools is now in the process to review and recommend new math curriculum in K-5, a critical issue considering the poor books now in place (Everyday Math). Three finalists will be selected. The question is whether the process will allow parents and others to comment in an effective and convenient way. Potential books must be available in some public libraries and community centers that are open at night or weekends: not just in a few schools or the Stanford center that close at 5 PM on weekdays. Community members who work need after-hour access. And it is very important that online commenting on the books is allowed. A large amount of information about the potential curricula is available online, including extended samples of the material. Excluding online commenting will limit input, something that works against a fair and representative decision.