This week for instance, the normal precipitation pattern reversed over Washington State, with eastern Washington getting hit hard, while only light showers damped the west. Here is the percentage of normal precipitation over the past week. Pretty dramatic! Some locations around Yakima and Tri-Cities had over 800% of normal rain. We are talking about 25% of their ANNUAL precipitation in one day! The Olympics, the home of the rain forests? Bone dry.
This role reversal was associated with a reversal of the wind direction and storm locations, with a low center moving northward east of the Cascades and easterly flow causing upslope over the eastern slopes of the Cascades.
But role reversals have been occurring over a larger scale as well. For much of the winter and early spring, the eastern U.S. has been anomalously cold, while the western U.S. has been unusually warm (the reason for the famous snow drought that has caused Governor Inslee to make a statewide drought declaration). But what about last week?
The roles have reversed. As shown by the graphic below (max temps, for the last week), it has been warmer than normal over the northeast and colder than normal in the West.
Why? Because the large scale atmospheric circulation pattern has changed dramatically. For much of the last year there has been enhanced ridging (high pressure) in the west and troughing (low pressure) in the east. Like this.
But last week the pattern reversed, with a broad trough over the western U.S. Big difference!
And this atmospheric pattern will reverse the situation between us and Oregon, which is going to get hit VERY hard with moderate to heavy precipitation during the next week. Here is the forecast precipitation for the next 72h. Lost of rain from eastern Oregon into the Willamette, as well as northern California. Oregon ducks will be happy.
The next 72h? Lots of rain over eastern Oregon, but spreading into SW Washington. California gets plenty. We are talking about substantial drought relief for many, considering such sustained heavy precipitation is unusual for this time of the year in the West.
Why is this happening? Some wags might smirk that it results from all the drought declarations, which are like red flags in front of the meteorological weather gods. But there is another possibility: an extraordinarily resurgent El Nino that is revving up in the tropical Pacific in a way that is highly unusual for this time of the year.
Sunday Morning Update: The eastern slopes of the north Cascades have been hit by substantial rain, with some locations getting over an inch of rain during the last day. Here aer the 24h numbers ending 9 AM Sunday. There are just the areas that often experience wildfires.
Announcement: On June 3, I will be on the Seattle Channel's Civic Cocktail with Governor Inslee. If you would like to be in the audience, you can get tickets at: http://www.seattlechannel.org/CivicCocktail. They charge, but you get appetizers with their no-host bar.