The current infrared satellite image shows the circulation of a low center west of the northern Oregon coast and an impressive band of clouds over Washington and Oregon. The frontal band should sweep northward during the day, but showers will follow in its wake. Sunday should be much drier and warmer--allowing fathers to enjoy some deserved outdoor activity.
But what is striking to me is how different late spring 2016 is from the same time last year, with important implications for wildfire danger and drought issues. The plots below show temperatures at Seattle Tacoma Airport for the last four weeks, this year and last (since roughly May 20th).
This year temperatures were very normal, except for the hot spell in late May and early June. A number of days got to the normal minimum temps.
Rainfall? This year has been dry, but we have gotten about 60% of normal precipitation for this 4-week period. Last year, maybe 15% of normal.
Why so different? Last year there was persistent upper level ridging (high pressure) over the West Coast, while this year the high pressure has moved over the central Pacific (and the interior of North America), leaving a trough (low pressure) over the northern and central West Coast. Let me show you the forecast upper level maps (500 hPa) for today (11 AM), Monday, and Friday.
You notice the similarity? Troughing over our region.
The ending of El Nino has led to a substantial reorganization of the atmospheric circulation, and it appears that this change will persist at least through the end of this week. The fact that eastern WA is getting a good wetting in mid June will push any potential fire season into the future, which is good. Cooler weather has greatly reduced water demand.
So the rain is good news, except for one group: the nude bicyclists that are expected at Seattle's Solstice parade today. Waterproof body paint is recommended.