March 10, 2009

The Geography of Cold

This morning it was mightly cold out there...particularly as I biked into work. But such cold varies greatly over the area, particularly on cold mornings in winter when the winds are light. This morning was a good example (see map). At 8 AM the temps varied from the upper teens in the western foothills of the Cascades to the mid-30s over Puget Sound. The range of temperatures were somewhat limited last night by the considerable cloudiness, that lessens the ability of the surface to radiate heat to space. Thus, on some nights the range of temperatures are even greater. In my NW weather book, I describe a night when five cars of UW students and staff drove around the region in instrumented cars. We found temperatures ranging from 25 near Maple Valley to 45 near the sound. Temperatures were several degrees cooler in valleys that were only 50-100 feet lower than the crests. Tomorrow morning should be just as cold, with temps certainly getting into the mid and lower 20s. My rhodies are not doing well.
The models are in agreement that conditions should stay dry until this weekend, when some frontal systems will approach, bring rain and warming conditions. But the real excitement may be early next week, when some models are suggesting a potential pineapple express period..with heavy rain in the mountains.


  1. Hey Cliff...

    You said you biked into work this morning? Well guess what. I to bike to work every day and it can feel free cold as it makes you nose run and your eyes water just from the cold air it`s self.

    You mentioned about your rhodies. Not worry, Cliff. The leave may look a bit shriveled, but that is because they are protecting then selves against the cold. We have some rhodies here as well, and they come back each spring when it warms up. So I`m pretty sure yours should spring back when our weather finally stays mild and no more cold snaps invade our region. Hope this takes some 'worry' off your mind about the rhodies. :o)

  2. all you need to know ;-)

  3. Oh and Cliff, you mentioned about a Pineapple express possibly next week sometime. Well to me for early next week, looks like a frontal system gets stalled over our region with strong SWLY winds at 850mb. So we`ll see what the models say as the days go by.

  4. I did not ride motorcycle today because there were small ice crystals all over the road. I hope it dried out enough today so there won't be ice tomorrow NWS the temps will be lower than 29 at my house north of Phantom Lake.

  5. Sorry, repost because I did not want still another Google ID.

    I did not ride motorcycle this morning because I saw small ice crystals on the road and driveway at my hse north of Phantom Lake. I hope it was dry enough today to remove all moisture from the road. Keeping hands warm is biggest problem. Cliff: Costco Issaquah has toe warmers, which work better than chemical hand warmers as they are smaller. You might try Outdoor Research for gloves roomy enough for the heaters. Yep, I bought your book at Costco, and a very fine book it is. But when you selected the designer (can't recall her name) you hit a home run.

  6. The temperature variation for tommorrow morning should be quite extreme, depending on snow cover and wind exposure.I suspect that an easterly wind component will kick in overnight at Sea-Tac, and the minimum temp there will stay at or above the current forecast of 26 degrees, while wind sheltered locations, especially those still with snow cover, will drop as low as the mid teens.
    Also,for those of us who are snow lovers,a very rare mark was achieved at Sea-Tac with yesterday`s snowfall.It was only the second time in more than 90 years that a Seattle weather station has had a snowfall of one inch or greater in the months of Dec./Jan./Feb./March in the same winter season.The only other time, since World War I,was in the winter of 1970-71.

  7. Cliff Bloggers:

    I'm very pleased to see that the UW Retirement Assn has sent this out to all members, so we may soon be joined by other retirees who have time to post useful comments.
    And, they even give me "Brownie Points" for supplying this info...

    Message: 2
    Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 14:41:17 -0700
    From: "UW Retirement Center" [Uwramember] Check out Cliff Mass's blog

    We hope you're looking forward to hearing Professor Cliff Mass at the UWRA
    luncheon on April 30. To get you started thinking about Professor Mass and
    his work, UWRA member and Mass fan Bob Moore suggests checking out and posting comments. Bob urges: "Provide local data for Cliff and other blog fans!"

    Also, Bob has found out that KCTS 9 will re-broadcast Cliff Mass's program
    (originally aired on March 1) several times:
    Saturday, 3/14, 1:30 am
    Sunday, 3/15, 12:00 pm
    Monday, 3/23, 11:30 pm
    Monday, 4/6, 11:00 pm
    Sunday, 4/12, 12:30 am
    Thursday, 4/23, 11:30 pm

    Digital cable subscribers can watch the program through On Demand. To access
    KCTS 9 On Demand, press the "on demand" button on your remote control, go to "Get Local," then to "Northwest TV & Radio," and select "KCTS" to find the program.

    Bob Moore

  8. Nice work Cliff. Completed the survey yesterday...very interesting. Best of luck on the research project(s) and keep the good work going with this wonderful, insightful blog.

  9. Cliff, your prayers may partly be answered by a gift from Sen. Cantwell, in the form of a $2M earmark for a coastal WA weather radar in the omnibus bill that passed today (details not given).

  10. This variation in cold temps illustrates how my location by Puget Sound in Olympia, is often misrepresented by the readings taken at the airport several miles to the south. In the Winter, the inland airport's a lot colder, in the Summer, the reverse happens with hotter temps on the inland prairie and downtown by the saltwater being cooler. Well, I think downtown Olympia's cool anytime of the year...

    Looking forward to your visit, Cliff

  11. Cliff and Andy,
    This report is very encouraging. How can we surf up details? Maybe the "Farewell Edition" of the PI might cover it, or the "Victory Edition" of the Times? KUOW hasn't had anything yet this morning...

    "...a gift from Sen. Cantwell, in the form of a $2M earmark for a coastal WA weather radar in the omnibus bill that passed today (details not given)."

    Anyhow, this kind of comment is why I check the blog 4-6 times a day and hype it to the world (like the UWRA in my last comment...)
    "What the world needs now is Cliff, sweet Cliff..." Right?

    And, the Comments are one of its biggest assets. Thanks, everyone!


  12. From my experience, Sammamish is typically at least 5 degrees colder than Seattle in winter and at least 5 degrees WARMER than Seattle in summer.

    I'd like someone to print out this map and show it to Emmert. It is a travesty that there is no accommodation for the 30% of UW staff and students who commute to UW from the East side during snowstorms. I take about a class a quarter. I have literally put life and limb on the line to get to UW for an exam. Last year, I escalated the weather/roads issue all the way to Emmert. He pawned me off on the Student Life Director and there the issue died. This quarter, I said ferget it, and took the quarter off. Someday, someone is going to get hurt commuting to UW ...and I'll be right there offering um, whatever help they need, when it happens.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

Rain without Clouds, the Upcoming Cooling, and Strong Leeside Winds: All in My New Podcast

The radar image this morning at 5:30 AM showed rain...some heavy... offshore. As shown in the satellite image at the same time, much of that...