June 04, 2011

Record Breaking Storm Hits California

While we are enjoying the most spectacular day since late last summer, California has been hit by a very unusual storm that has brought heavy rain to coastal and central California.

The satellite picture is simply stunning:

A deep low is circling off the Bay area, with a very strong front extending over the coastal areas. This kind of system would be remarkable in mid-winter, but in mid June it is highly anomalous. In contrast, much of the northwest is cloud-free, with high temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. I am even thinking of buying some tomato plants!

Take a look at the surface analysis Saturday morning (below). The NWS is analyzing this cyclone to have a 994 mb low center . An objective analysis of the difference between this pressure field and normal indicates that it is an extremely unusual anomaly.

Take a look at the radar image from the Monterey NWS radar for Saturday morning at 7:03 AM:

The yellows are pouring, heavy rain. You don't want to know about the reds. This would be a major rain event for us during the winter--for cloud-adverse Californians this is extreme weather.

Here are the rainfall totals over the past 24 h (ending 5 PM from the NWS) around the bay area:

Lots of 1-2 inch totals, with some coastal locations getting 3-4 inches. Many stations have received daily record amounts. Here are a few:

California has had some drought worries the past few years. Not a worry this year. This is the first time in years that the NWS drought maps have shown no issue anywhere in California. They have enough problems...at least water won't be one of them this year.

La Nina is rapidly weakening and the NWS is now forecasting a normal summer for most of Washington. The skill of these predictions are not great, but ....

KUOW Information:

If you are interesting in supporting a petition to reinstate my weather segment here is the petition site:
Facebook web site:

A few people have asked whether I will be at the rally on Monday afternoon at KUOW (see facebook site). I won't because the conversation should be between concerned KUOW listeners and station management.


  1. Fellow in California comments:

    “Every weather event is now influenced by global warming in one way or another, and this trend is intensifying. In approximate order, record high temperatures of all kinds are increasing, as are heat waves, droughts and dramatic precipitation events of all kinds, including snow where and when it is cold enough to snow. Hurricanes and tornadoes are more complex, but when conditions are right higher sea surface temperatures alone are enough to intensify them. This combined with 4% additional water vapor in the atmosphere and far greater energy in the system has created storms like those we’ve seen within the last year in Pakistan and Australia that are unprecedented in the human written record. With 40% more water vapor in the atmosphere possible by 2100, this century would see storms no human can now imagine, dwarfing every storm of every kind we’ve seen so far.”

    Richard Brenne

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Amazing!
    A question: Was there anything unusual about the northerly winds we had this evening? While my family picnicked at Sunset Hill Park in Ballard, we were surprised by the sustained wind, at least 15 mph, with "gusts" powerful enough to blow my ceramic commuter mug off the picnic table!

  3. Live from Monterey Bay it's "Junuary"! At any rate won't stop this NW transpalnt from going fishing in the surf the AM for Striped Bass.

  4. Cliff, I obviously don't know what discussions you've had and are having with KUOW, and this has already likely been discussed, but why not this compromise: you have your weather segment and on it you discuss weather. But you also get to be a regular guest on segments discussing issues important to you. Your opinions on those matters are of interest to us, and more interest than those of some other guests, especially on education. Good luck.

  5. What will happen when this low heads east and mixes with the Gulf air? More huge tornado outbreaks?

  6. Cliff; while it's probably not unprecedented, I have a habit of watching the weather on Mauna Kea, and they have some snow there. Very unusual this late in the spring. Look at http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/misc/index.php?cam=cfhtdome

    Floyd Rogers floydr@nwlink.com

  7. Cliff:
    Thanks for the superb photo of our weird June midwinter storm. I don't know whether to place the scare quotes around midwinter or June.
    MIMIC has a spectacular image of the progress of the moisture in this storm,

  8. rpauli: Can't agree with you more.
    Regards, FC

  9. rpauli - see link below for a slightly different perspective on extreme weather in regard to tornadoes -


  10. NWS is predicting a normal summer??!! I've been in the gloom and dark of this wacky spring so long that I don't know what a normal summer is anymore. No offense, but I'm still putting the tomatoes under plastic for the summer.

  11. Cliff,

    It looks like KUOW found your replacement for the Friday weather segment. He's just what Steve Shure had in mind!

    See http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=cc8_1307307538




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