February 18, 2011

Snow Mirage

You have seen it many times...

Driving down a hot road during the summertime you see some water on the road
... and when you get there... it is gone... The road is perfectly dry. The famous water on the road mirage (due to the bending of light from sky by the heating roadway)

Here is a video of a water on the road mirage (also called an inferior mirage):

Well, we have had a wintertime mirage the past few weeks..the Snow Mirage.

Home many times--3, 5, 7 days out--the models suggest a major cold spell with the flow amenable to snow. And then as we get closer it falls apart, often due to a trough moving westward of the initially forecast position.

And its back.

The model forecasts for next Wednesday and Thursday would warm the heart of a polar bear.

You want a high amplitude trough, well positioned to bring in cold air....you got it.

Look at this pressure and pressure forecast for Thursday...megacold and a huge pressure gradient over us. Bellingham would be blown away with NE winds.

Model forecast of lowland snow? You bet.

The only negative for those of us in central Puget Sound is that rain (snow) shadowing evident in the above forecast...but who knows about the details?

Well, I won't tease anymore....and I won't get too excited about this until Monday. Still there then and the European Center model is on board, I will head out to get a new parka...I will need it.


  1. Even SW WA? I guess I should zip the hood back into my coat...

  2. The snow this week may have been a mirage for some, but we got over an inch, and it's still on the ground in places. It followed exactly the forecast - wet and heavy in the morning, some warming and hail in the early afternoon, and melted on paved surfaces by the end of the day. My kind of snow.

  3. Cliff

    You better pick up some new goretex ski goves to go with that jacket.


  4. I look forward to seeing you get your Jim Forman on

    I think a nice dark Green would be a good look.

    Personally I would not mind a little snow event

  5. Cliff,
    I think you're too late on that parka.... They sold out on all the previous "mirages".... So, it started blowing last night and we have sustained winds in the upper 20's gusting to 40 this morning. I guess this is "modified" arctic air... but, with the wind chill it doesn't feel too "modified". Look's like another interesting week.

    BTW, MS Security Essentials is blocking all of your maps. They are reported to MS as unsafe.

  6. Sometime in the mid-eighties we had a severe arctic outbreak about this time of year following a relatively warm winter. It killed off most of my Asian pear orchard. The trees had already started to bud.

    It appears that upper level trough on Wednesday could retrograde out to sea again following last week's pattern. But it does look more serious.

  7. Why does the EURO always wanna "rain" on our parade?

  8. MS Essentials does not block your maps, he must have some other issue. I see them just fine.

    Putting Cliff and Jim Forman in the same sentence is an insult to Cliff.

    Keep up the great work Cliff!

  9. Hey, SkunkBayWeather -- I'm using MS Security Essentials and I can see all the maps...

  10. About an hour after I posted, all of the maps were fine. At some point, they were reported "unsafe" and then somebody changed the status back to "safe".

    Quite a day yesterday.... I ended up with a 46mph gust and for a period we had sustained winds in the mid 30's. Miraculously we didn't lose power. My wife planted some begonias on our back porch on Friday and they are now deflowered, laying down and pointing due south.

  11. In 1989, western WA had a widespread snowstorm on March 1-2. SeaTac picked up 7.4", Arlington had 13", and even Quillayute had 7.5".

    There was a similar event at the end of February 1962. In this case, though, the low stalled and the snow fell for 4 days. Bremerton had 13" on the ground on March 1st that year.

  12. On March 1-2 1989, western WA had a widespread snowstorm. SeaTac picked up 7.3", and Arlington received 13". Even Quillayute on the coast got 7.5".

    A similar event occurred in 1962. In this case, the low stalled and the snow fell for 4 days. Bremerton piled up 13" on the ground by the 1st of March.

    In case you're interested, the winter of 1988/89 was a strong La Nina, but the 1961/62 winter was Neutral or a very weak La Nina.

  13. Cliff, have you watched ALL of the videos on the YouTube screen? Not that the last one isn't funny... in fact my 17 year old son, 20 year old daughter and I are arguing whether it's more offensive or more funny... Just surprised to find it on your blog. CLS

  14. It's Monday morning and I just sent my 11-year old off to a four-day environmental school retreat (Islandwood) on Bainbridge Island. We packed way more for serious cold than for tons of precip, so I hope the info from Friday turns out to be true... how does it look? Still cold and any water in the form of snow?

  15. what a Birthday present it'd if we do get some snow. I turn 27 next Tuesday. Excellent blog you have here Cliff. I've been a fan and avid reader of your work since I was first introduced to your blog last year during the snowstorm just before Thanksgiving. I was stuck on an icy hill for 2 days and couldn't get to work. ^_^

    Looking forward to seeing what the coming week brings in the manners of winter weather... There have been a lot of disappointments this season so Isuppose only time will tell if it holds up.


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