March 05, 2011

Endless Spring

The weather will be quite benign the next few days...downright boring after all the action of the past month. I don't want to jinx anything, but we are now entering northwest spring.

In the eastern part of the U.S. there are frequently big storms in March---remember the old saw of March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb? For us, March should be replaced by February.

In our area, major storms in March---big floods, big windstorms, major lowland snowstorms-- are very, very rare. For all intents and purposes we should be done with winter. Jim Forman will be able to send out his yellow jacket to the dry-cleaners, and switch to fires instead of weather.

But we pay for our early spring in a strange never ends! Our spring often lasts into early July, while in the east summer-like weather starts in May and June. The standing joke at the Seattle National Weather Service office is that summer starts on July 13th (or something like that). And that is not half wrong.

Getting back to the current is the latest visible satellite picture:
Unimpressive convective clouds offshore, a weak convergence zone in the north Sound, and upslope clouds (and a few showers) over the Cascades. And real clear over the Tri-Cities (those folks know how to enjoy their sun!). The radar is also unimpressive..a few showers in the convergence zone and on the windward side of the Cascades.

With several feet of new snow this week, our snowpack has made a wonderful recovery. Here is the snow-water-equivalent...the amount of water in the snowpack compared to normal. We jumped from 50-60% to 89-90% in the central Cascades and above normal over the Olympics. Water is not going to be a problem this summer and fall. We have it in the bank!
Here are the precipitation forecasts for the 24-h ending 4 AM Sunday and Monday.
You see the showers for today (not very heavy) and the generally dry conditions on Sunday. Except partially sunny skies west of the Cascades today and lots of sun tomorrow. Sunday will be extraordinary for skiing and snow fun in the Cascades...loads of new snow and great weather. And the roads will be fine.


  1. Great post.

    I've noticed how alot of our mediocre storms blossom into squally lines of severe storms with blizzards on the backside when they move east of the rockies this time of year.

    FYI March is the snowiest month for many states in the upper midwest and Canada. Weird.

  2. I thought Summer officially started on July 5th!

    I can't wait to see how this spring plays out. I'm really hoping it's a bit warmer, a bit sooner than last year. I would love for my garden, especially my tomatoes and peppers, to grow and ripen this year!

    And summer? Again...hoping we have a better one than last year.

    What are La Nina summers usually like? And if there's a chance of going into a nuetral weather pattern what are nuetral summers usually like? I know that this winter didn't play out as everyone expected...but it would be nice to have an idea of what we may be in for......

  3. Sadly true title. But to make matters worse. Last year and this year, having relatively mild and dry Jan. and Feb. has made it feel like spring starts earlier too!

    I am proud to say that Summer probably starts more around June 10th in E. Wash. Its always really wet the first week or so, but then the skies dry up and the heat is on.

  4. Dr. Mass-

    Where can I find the Pot of Gold at the end of a rainbow? ;-)

    Perfect cycling weather. I bonked since I have not ridden in a while due to the cold and the wet!

    Looking forward to the Pacific Northwest Weather Workshop.


  5. Heading to the Coast today as I went from I-5 South to 101 by West Olympia I went through a rain squall, but to the right of me (North) the sky was blue and sun shining and to the left of me (South) it was snowing in the hills above the Black Hills just west of Tumwater. Not sure what the Olympia airport says, but it was a strange site.

  6. I love the light on days like today. The sun is getting high enough to give us some small twilight, and the convective clouds surrounding the snowy mountains is beautiful.

    The endless spring is my biggest complaint about the weather here, it just never gets warm enough for long enough. My wife always heads to the Midwest in May so she can get some 'real' early summer.

    I'm hoping for a better spring than last year. There was way too much hail and t-storms at baseball practice right through May.

  7. You noted that "In our area, major storms in March---big floods, big windstorms, major lowland snowstorms-- are very, very rare."

    However, over on the KOMO weather page, Scott Sistek (one of your former students?) blogged that he found March 3rd to be the date that "Mother Nature has picked on the most to hurl her winter fury." It is, according to his criteria, "stormy of stormiest dates."

    A slight conflict of opinion there? [g]

  8. You write: Water is not going to be a problem this summer and fall. We have it in the bank!

    But doesn't that at least to some extent depend on how soon it warms up?
    Early warm weather/very warm weather all spring => early/high run off => less water/snow in the mountains.

  9. We had a morning of very wet storms this morning on the west side of San Juan Island. No wind to speak of, but at one point the rain rate was .61. In the mix was hail and/or graupel. We've had almost a half inch of rain since midnight. Lionesque enough for me!

  10. I`ve lived in all regions of the United States and by far IMO Puget Sounds summer/spring is preeminent,the best.

  11. Hey I'm not complaining about early spring. I've had my fill of the ice, snow and arctic winds.

  12. I think it was a KOMO weather guy (was his name Harry Wenkler?) That said July 13th was statistically the first day of weather sunny enough to be summer. Years ago.
    Looking forward to your talk Wednesday in Mukilteo!

  13. I bet any money we will have summer-like weather before July - probably in April or May. We always do. And then it lasts until September or October.

  14. Sure, there is almost always a weekend or even a full week of summer-seeming weather in May. Then we return to weather more in keeping with what we're having right now (aka "Juneuary"). False summer is not real summer (any more than the frequent bouts of March weather we get in July and August is actually spring).

    FWIW, I've always told people the Seattle seasons are:
    Memorial Day to July 4: Spring
    July 5 to Labor Day: Summer*
    Labor Day+1 to Halloween: Autumn
    Nov 1 to Memorial Day: Winter**

    * Subject to abeyance and outright revocation
    ** Northwest Winter, but subject to occasional brief intrusions of "real" winter.


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