Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Bad Has It Been?


Another round of rain struck today and the grumbling has increased...

"The worst summer I can remember"
"I thought Septembers were good around here"

and other comments that cannot be repeated on a family friendly blog.

Looking at the temperature versus normal for the past four weeks, tells the recent tale (see below). Except for a few brief warm periods, most days have been below normal.
Today was particularly noteworthy: the temperatures hardly fell last night and the humidity was palpable.
Dewpoints were in the low to mid 60s today...which is very, very unusual around here. It felt like the East Coast during the summer! Here is a plot of dewpoint for the past six months (click to expand). Remember, dewpoint is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air...the temperature to which you have to cool it to get saturation. Yesterday, was the highest dewpoint in SIX MONTHS.



I asked UW staff member Neal Johnson to plot up the number of days equal to or greater than 70F from January 1 through September 15th for this year and all other years since 1948 (see below). The results?

(click to expand)

We had far fewer 70F days (55) than normal (72) and in fact this has been the worst year by this measure since 1980! Yes, the worst summer for three decades! No one younger than 35 can remember anything worse! 1980 was comparable, and then you would have to go back to 1954 and 1955, which were even cooler, believe it not.


Tomorrow (Friday's) forecast? Rain coming in during the afternoon. You don't want to know about the weekend--even eastern WA will get wet.

One final thing...I will be giving a talk in Bellingham on the fascinating, and often extreme, weather of Northwest Washington on October 2 at 7 PM. See details in the upper right hand corner of this blog.

25 comments:

  1. I'm somehow comforted by these facts. It has seemed pretty crappy. Glad I'm not imagining things.

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  2. I had heard radio commercials that stated that there were 99 days over 70F last year. This year, there were 44 fewer days and the fewest since 1980. I was thinking that 1999 was probably as bad as this summer, but not quite. Seems like the La Nina has been hanging out in this area since April.

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  3. what was the winter of 1980-81 like? Cold as well?

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  4. wondering if those cool summers were followed by snowy la nina winters...

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  5. My garden has not done well this year. Usually I have tomatoes enough to dry in the dehydrator and also to give away. Not this year! Only enough for me to eat fresh.

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  6. Hi Cliff,
    I think the humidity is kind of neat, and I like the way the spider webs look (seems like there are more spiders this year, too)!

    This is off subject, but can you comment or maybe do a post about the crazy storm that happened in NYC last night? What happened? Was it just a run of the mill big east coast thunderstorm?

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  7. We need to add another factor to this entire psychiatry mind game. We had an extremely warm winter. You had the most days above 50 then the most days under 70. What is this, the twilight zone?

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  8. Times like this I get nostalgic for the east coast. Fall used to be my favorite season and then I came here where not loving summer is a crime! Really I can't appreciate warm weather unless there was snow and sleet for at least two months beforehand. Seattle winter is like a rainly spring back home. *misses snow*

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  9. Hey, that looks like the view out my window. Actually, the background of your blog looks like the view out my window, too.

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  10. Let me just say that as humid as it has been here, it does NOT feel like "back East," where I spent almost 3 weeks this summer and where it was over 90 degrees most of the time. I'll take cooler humid weather over hot humid weather any day. But I would like some sun.

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  11. Funny, I went for a run last night at 9:30 in my neighborhood and I came back and told my wife it felt like East coast weather out there being so humid and warm.

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  12. Cliff:

    You have said that we are now in a La Nina year. When does the La Nina condition have its most pronounced effect in our area, and when does the impact ordinarily begin?

    Thanks,

    Art D.

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  13. I remember 1954 and 1955. I was in grade school and yet remember knowing even at that age with not too many years by which to gauge, that the summers seemed strange.

    If I remember correctly we also had 2 very strange winters those years and a lot of snow in the mountains.

    Cliff will know if I'm wrong about one or the other or both.

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  14. Cliff, I'll trade the brutal summer we had here in New Jersey for your 'miserable' Seattle summer :-)

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  15. Ha! I've spent all summer telling people this is nothing compared to the summer of 1980.

    I moved to Washington that year, and as I remember it, the weather never cleared. It was overcast for the whole summer. It was unbelievable.

    At least we had some sunny afternoons this year.

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  16. we are having serious street flooding here in chehalis

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  17. The winter of 1980/81 was lousy in terms of snow and cold. Bellingham did have one week of good winter weather in early December; however, the Arctic air was quite limited south of Skagit County.

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  18. it's all a matter of preference and perspective...

    i sit here roasting yet another day in "good ol' sunny southern california" and couldn't be more miserable. can't remember the last time it really, truly rained here...january?!? i long for the glorious gray, wet days you folk are currently "enjoying" up there right now...

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  19. Just saw this on the NWS Forecast Discussion...here's a snippet...
    "THERE WAS STILL SOME TIMING
    DIFFERENCES WITH THIS SYSTEM BUT THE MEDIUM RANGE SOLUTIONS ALL
    APPEARED TO AGREE THAT A MAJOR PAC STORM WILL AFFECT THE REGION THE
    END OF NEXT WEEK. THIS SYSTEM IS ANTICIPATED TO TAP INTO MOISTURE
    FROM THE REMNANTS OF TYPHOON FANAPI...WHICH WAS E OF TAIWAN AT THIS TIME."
    Sounds like a possible doozy!

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  20. Tomorrow I will be dealing with way more rain than y'all are at home... I'm working in Taipei for a month and we are in final preparations for Typhoon Fanapi, currently a category 3 that will probably weaken to a 2 before it hits our area. (By "final preparations" I mean that I have to go to the grocery store for a bottle of vodka, and then I'm all set) LOL

    The are saying that the city will get 10-15" of rain in 24 hours and the mountains will get more than 20". It's already started to rain, so judging by the size of this thing, we might have 48 hours of rain... I'm guessing Taipei's total for the whole storm could touch 20" if they're correct about the predicted track. If it swings northward at all, we will get more precip and more wind.

    This afternoon, I went to the coast at the top end of the island. My pictures are here:
    Baisha Bay, Taiwan, Sept 18, 2010 The surf was already very rough, about 24 hours before the storm's predicted landfall, and it was really hot and humid today (95F and 69% at 6 pm). Even with the wind speed steady at around 25 mph, I got sweaty at the beach just standing around... it reminded me of Myrtle Beach, SC, in the summer for heat and humidity.

    I'm going to freeze to death when I come home to Bellevue in early October!!

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  21. I experienced the fabled summers of 1955 and '56- it seemed as though we didn't get a full day of sun during whole summer, and then once we were back in school, it came out for several days in September. Still remember the disappointment.

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  22. I'm a Seattle guy. I think 75 deg is hot. So I really liked this summer since it was mostly cool.

    In mid summer, I had to go to South Carolina for 5 days, and when I was there the air temp and humidity combined to give a heat index of 124 deg F. I don't care who ya'are... that's uncomfortable. 2 hours after my last meeting ended, I was on an airplane back to Seattle which got me home after midnight, but even that was better than one more minute of being in a sauna.

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  23. I spent June in Washington, DC and July in Michigan, so compared to those swampy cesspools, Seattle has been a dream. Maybe it's just relative?

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  24. Dr. Mass,

    Was the cooler summer of 1980 triggered by the Mt. St. Helens eruption earlier in the year?

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