Take a look at the temperatures above Seattle this morning. The inversion (temperature increasing with height) is incredible. 13C increase between the surface and 500 m (1640 ft). That is 23F increase in 1640 ft!!
Can you imagine taking a hike up one of our foothill peaks? It would be amazing. Cold at the bottom and sweating at the top!
The inversion is so strong because temperatures have warmed up aloft, a very strong offshore pressure gradient developed (producing strong subsidence/compression warming on the western slopes), and cool/foggy air is trapped at low levels. The Space Needle Cam this morning showed the shallow cold/foggy layer very well.
I love the Space Needle Cam and today there was a spectacular optical effect visible...what is known as a glory surrounding the shadow of the top of the Space Needle. You see the rainbow-like circular ring of colors? Sort of like a rainbow halo. That's it.
Glory's are found opposite the sun and result from a combination of reflection, refraction and diffraction of sunlight by a field of cloud droplets of similar size. One sees this effect all the time from airplanes. But not the Space Needle.
Another amazing observation....Paradise on Mt. Rainier got into the lower to mid 60s yesterday and today. Here is the proof:
Finally, the warmth above us today is very, very unusual. Here is the plot of this morning's temperature at 850 hPa (about 5000 ft) over Quillayute, WA. The warmest on record for an January, February, or March day!
Northwest Weather Workshop
The big local weather workshop is less than a month away (March 4-5, Seattle). This is the big regional meeting to talk about Northwest weather. If you are interested in attending, the agenda and registration information can be found here.