January 30, 2010

Record Warmth and The El Nino Blahs

I should start by noting the return of much warmer than normal conditions after a few days of cooler conditions (see graph, with average highs and lows and observed temps). It is now certain that Seattle will beat its all time temperature record--we are now experiencing the warmest January in Seattle recorded history! Not a single day has had a mean temperature below normal. And this warmth has been observed over much of our region. The mean tempeature this month will come in close to 47F...that is warmer than an average March day (45.15F), but not quite April (49.4F). My garden is really responding right now...my grass is really growing and bulbs are pushing out of the ground.

The weather situation that we have been seeing this month, and which appears to be dominant in our future, is classic late-winter El Nino. In such a pattern there is unusual troughing offshore, with the jet stream..the current of strong winds...going south of us into California. They get more storms and precipitation. We get split flow and a dribble of weak systems. Really dead. Below I have put a graphics of the flow at 500 mb--roughly 18,000 ft for you to examine. The lines tell how high that pressure level is above sea level. Winds parallel the lines with higher heights to the right of the winds. The closer the lines are together, the stronger the winds. With all that said, you see the obvious--trough/low offshore and the main winds going to California.

We are running out of time for winter. In three weeks, we pass the unofficial end to NW winter...after which we rarely get major storms or flooding events. And our computer forecasts can see well 1/3 of the way and nothing is going happen here.

Finally, want to see a wonderful video of mountain wave clouds...lenticular clouds..downstream of the Olympics? Check this out!



  1. Two things fruit growers concern with El Nino is drought and early bloom.

    While these warmer temperatures might set bloom two weeks earlier than normal, we expect with El Nino that our last freeze will occur two weeks earlier.

    Green Lake Snotel site west of town is actually 100% of normal SWE which is good news. Unfortunately its not the case in other parts of the Cascades.

    If I include the rain we got New Years Eve, my guage recorded 2.89" for the month. With our annual rainfall under 10", pretty good considering the El Nino split.

  2. This winter has probably been the most boring winter of my life...

  3. Looks like a good time to go to Les Schwab & take off my winter wheels! :D

  4. BTW: I noticed we're having mosquitos & flies earlier this year... I got a bad feeling spring is going to be the "Year of the Insects". =:-O

  5. I noticed some fruit trees blooming in Indianola (south of Kingston) this morning and we are starting to hear the frogs 2-4 weeks early.

    Fortunately the record hard freezes of late fall hopefully killed off many noxious bugs.

    For dramatic weather - just head to northern California. I was in Mendocino last weekend and the waves on Monday were 30+ feet. Lots of wind and rain, and snow in the hills above Eureka.


  6. Beautiful movie. From where was is it taken, and looking in what direction?

  7. I was just debating whether to put my snow tires on. Maybe not this "winter."


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