May 25, 2024

New Podcast: Memorial Day Weekend Forecast and More on Western Washington Wildfires

This weekend will be a mixed bag west of the Cascade Crest but warm over eastern Washington. 

The predicted high temperatures for the next few days are shown below.  Today (Saturday) will be cool in the west, frigid in the mountains, and comfortable in the Columbia Basin.

Sunday says cool in the west, while eastern Washington warms considerably.

Monday is the best day.  Decent over the western lowlands, warm enough for hiking in the Cascades, and downright warm in eastern Washington.

I talk about the forecast in some detail in my podcast (see below), and discuss the apocryphal forecasts of enhanced western Washington wildfire threats this summer.

You can listen to the podcast below or through your favorite podcast server.

Some major podcast servers:

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May 23, 2024

More Wildfire Misinformation at the Seattle Times

 The Seattle Times continues to shamelessly exaggerate and hype the regional effects of climate change.

This week they really went overboard regarding wildfire.

Yesterday's front page features a large banner headline stating that western Washington faces an above-normal risk of wildfire.

Why?  They claim because of low snowpack and precipitation.

The truth is that there is no reason to expect an above-normal wildfire season in western Washington this summer.  Let me tell you about the situation and note that I am writing a paper on this topic (the meteorology of westside wildfires) for my real day job.

Wildfires in western Washington require very different conditions than wildfires in the interior of the Northwest.  Specifically, to get a major wildfire over the wet/cool westside requires strong easterly (from the east flow).

Major western Washington wildfires are rare because the region is moist and dominated by cool, moist maritime air.  

Strong easterly flow pushes out the marine air and causes warming and drying as the air sinks down the western slopes of the Cascades and Olympics.  And this strong easterly flow has to occur in a very limited time window when the fuels are dry enough to burn:  essentially late  August and the first half of September.

The last major westside wildfire was in September 1951 on the northwest side of the Olympic Mountains near Forks (about 33,000 acres).  Strong northeasterly winds were observed.  There have been a few smaller western Washington wildfires (again with strong easterly flow) such as the Bolt Creek Fire (15, 000 acres in September 2022).  There is no increasing trend of such fires.

I read this book last week

Snowpack has very little correlation with western Washington fires because such fires are generally at lower elevations where the snow melts out early even in normal years...and again, these fires don't happen until late summer anyway.

If the easterly winds occur, a hot/dry late summer helps, but at this point there is no reason to expect unusual summer conditions.  El Nino is gone and this summer we will be transitioning to La Nina.  In any case, the correlation of El Nino/La Nina with our summer weather is very weak.  Furthermore, May is turning out to be seasonally wet and cool.

Importantly, there is no reason to expect an increased probability of an unusually strong easterly wind event this summer.  None.  

In fact, the latest European Center pressure prediction for September (the big easterly wind month), is for higher than normal pressure offshore, which WEAKENS easterly flow (see below).

And if the above front-page article is not scary enough, the Seattle Times had a hyped-up opinion piece about the wildfire season now becoming everywhere all the time.   

It even included the claim that:

In fact, it’s getting to the point that wildfire season is all year long.

Do you know how many wildfires are burning over Washington State and adjacent areas now?  Zero.  See proof below.

The article notes there are some fires in Canada, BUT THAT IS TYPICAL for the Boreal Forests.

For those of you worried about wildfire, guess what the forecast is for the next few days?

A nice wetting rain  over western Washington (see below, through Sunday morning)

And then EVEN MORE rain is predicted new week (see ensemble of many precipitation forecasts over Seattle).

Finally, today I was sent the most wonderful video of the aurora, with a background of triumphal music (see below).  Created by 
Bart Durbin. 

Be prepared to be emotionally affected.   Bart did a wonderful job creating this.

New Podcast: Memorial Day Weekend Forecast and More on Western Washington Wildfires

This weekend will be a mixed bag west of the Cascade Crest but warm over eastern Washington.  The predicted high temperatures for the next f...