September 17, 2011

The End of NW Drought

The second half of summer has been really dry over the Northwest.  Take a look at the plot of actual versus normal precipitation at Spokane and Sea-Tac Airport for the last 12 weeks: we have had little rain the last month and are down 1-2 inches for the period compared to normal.  Not a serious issue since we are usually dry this time of the year.  And it is going to change!

Here is the lastest infrared satellite picture (Sat morning).  There is considerable cloudiness over us right now from a weak frontal disturbance and even some light showers are occurring), but the main action will be Sunday AM as a strong system reaches western WA. Let me remind you that the whiter the pixel in an infrared image the cooler and thus higher the clouds.

Here is the forecast 24 hr precipitation ending 5 PM on Sunday.  Pretty impressive precipitation after our drought...with .5 to 1 inches forecast over the mountains and windward slopes, and several tenths of an inch over portions of the lowlands.  Even eastern WA gets some scattered precipitation, a fact that is of importance to agricultural interests there.   Want to be dry?...go south of Portland or head to eastern Oregon.

There has been some talk about snow in the mountains, but until you are hiking about 7000 ft I don't think you have to worry about that...but it WILL be wet and windy.  In fact, the winds will also pick up noticeably over the lowlands as well.

Several of you have asked for the latest situation regarding the coastal radar.  The unit is now down for a retrofit for the new dual-polarization option--an enhancement that every NWS radar in the country will receive during the next year.  It is hoped that the radar will come back on line during the next week and the data should be flowing for public use soon after that.  A dedication is planned for later this month at the radar site.   But the radar will still be missing a critical option...the zero degree elevation angle...which will allow the radar to see much farther and better, particularly at lower levels.  Our radar will be the first in the nation to have this option and the NWS promises it will be operational by Nov 1.

Finally, any of you living in Seattle please take a look at the picture and info to the right regarding my lost dog. We took her to local dog sitter who lost the dog over NW keep your eyes out and let me know if you see her.  Thanks.

Reminder:  I am teaching atmospheric sciences 101--Weather--this fall at the UW if anyone is interested in taking it.  Retired folks can do it through the Access program (something like $5) and others can take the course as a non-matriculated student (but they do charge)


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog and I hope that you find her soon! Thanks again for always giving us such great information about the weather.

  2. Next week looks really nice. Warm and humid. My favorite weather condition. Hawaii brought to us.

    The column integrated water vapor you showed us before, has a strong atmospheric river plowing into B.C.. 72hr totals have large areas of 10+ inches, we stay dry though. Keep us updated on any changes!

  3. This storm is coming in a lot earlier than predicted, I don't think the GFS had the best handle on it.

    The GFS did show a rather strong wave moving through next week, wrote about it in my blog. I'm reminded that we can see big storms this time of the year (Columbus Day Storm, anyone?)

    I wish you the best in finding your dog, and I will see you in atmos 101 soon!

  4. Rotten situation concerning your dog, so sorry to hear of it. Dogs are like perpetual toddlers-- adventurous but in need of a watchful eye.

  5. I love this blog, I love Cliff (us Dutchmen are all weather buffs), but since there are often discussions about education and college tuition here, I do need to throw in a few cents.

    I attended the UW and my worst "fellow student" was one of those retired people who took the class for next to nothing and attended more sporadically than any anyone I had ever encountered. She also felt like she had a lot of experience to offer, and wasted tons of time for the rest of us giving her point of view. Then of course she asked questions that had been answered on other dates.

    With tuition rates where they are, why are we letting people who have passed the time in their lives where they are contributing to the economy waste our precious and limited educational resources that our next generation needs to keep the previous one going???!!!???

    College should not be treated as continuing education and entertainments, this is serous stuff!!!

    I think that retired people should pay out of state tuition, so they can subsidize our in state young people get an education.

    If anyone should get $5 per full credit class tuition it should be the young people who need that education for their careers and all of ours future!

    My off topic thought.

    Rutger Buys

  6. I think some of your readers might like this:


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