June 02, 2011

Out of the Refrigerator into the Frying Pan!

You are about to experience a magical transition, from cold and damp to extraordinary warmth and sun. It will seem perfect. It will be perfect.

Well folks, you knew this spring has been bad, but the new numbers for the average March through May temperatures at Sea-Tac are in, and by any reasonable measure (average temperature, average maximum), this has been the coldest March through May at Sea-Tac since dependable records are available (1956).

Lets begin by viewing the 5 coldest springs ( average daily temperature for March-May) in the last 55 years from 1957 through 2011 at SeaTac:

1) 2011 47.6
2) 1975 47.8
3) 2002 47.9
4) 1964 48.0
5) 1962 48.0

We win. (some of you might count this as a loss!)

Here is a graph of average daily temps over the same period courtesy of Mark Albright, our local expert on NW cold spells:

There was a warming trend into the late 1990s and the last decade has been relatively cool.

Now out of the refrigerator to warmth.

A very unusual pattern is setting up whereby a strong upper low moves southward and parks off a central California for days (see graphic for 5 AM on Saturday of the upper flow at 500 mb). This is very unusual for this time of the year. California is going to be cool and wet, with more Sierra snows. But ironically, California's loss is our gain. Easterly flow on the northern side of the low will bring warming conditions to us over the entire weekend.

Friday will be the transition day, with highs in the upper 60s, and drying.

Saturday will be warmer still, with temperatures over the lowland climbing into the mid-70s. Here are probcasts temperatures for Saturday's high temps:

Eastern Washington will be torrid--reaching well into the 80s in the lowe basin.

And Sunday...even warmer...upper 70s in reach for the western side of the mountains.

Monday-- still in the 70s, and then clouds and showers back on Tuesday.

And tomorrow (Friday) AM I will release a new videopodcast on the weekend weather.

KUOW Information:

If you are interesting in supporting a petition to reinstate my weather segment here is the petition site: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/cliffmassonkuow

Facebook web site:


  1. "This is very usual for this time of the year. California is going to be cool and wet, with more Sierra snows."

    Cliff, I don't see much usual about it, you must have meant "This is very UNUSUAL for this time of year."

    Speaking of unusual, I have been watching sat photos on NOAA for years, but am perplexed at what I have been seeing in the Pacific this spring. What is up with the jetstream? It seems to start off sort of normal in the western pacific and aims at Alaska, but then it hangs a right and swoops straight south between Hawaii and the US coast. Then it makes a sharp nearly 90 degree turn into mid California. It seems to just keep doing that. I assume that is letting cold air from the north to go well south.

  2. From Vancouver, it should be great weather for Stanley Cup game two. Go Canucks! We have an equally cold spring in Vancouver. Cliff, you need to go beyond.

  3. It will also get hot in Vancouver this Saturday night. Go Canucks! I live in BC but I read Cliff's blog everyday. Cliff, I totally support you. Here, its a similar climate, but there are no tornadoes ever recorded in BC to my knowledge.

  4. cliff, I tried to comment 3 times just pick my last one. I am a academic like you. Kermit

  5. Thanks for the good news, Cliff! I hope you get out and play. As I've said before, I appreciate the podcast very much but still miss your radio voice.

  6. I don't understand the statement about "dependable" weather records from Seatac only being from 1956. I thought they began keeping records there in 1945 or so.

  7. The second-coldest March-May, in 1975, was followed by the no-snow winter of 1976. Any logic to that pattern that might apply to next winter?

  8. Yes, actually BC DOES record tornadoes. Ucluelet in particular comes to mind. About as many as Washington State, on average. Google "BC tornadoes" and you'll see a bunch of info. I live in the lower mainland and am a regular fan of this blog. Thanks for the consistently interesting info Cliff.

  9. I hope you keep doing the video podcast!!!
    I just showed part of it to my 2nd grade class and they are excited about the weekend, and they also learned how to read high and low pressure!


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