October 18, 2011

Heat Surge

Today is going to be a MUCH warmer day than yesterday and far warmer than the National Weather Service is forecasting.   The NWS is going for 66 at Seattle---mid 60s are their forecast for the Puget Sound region and they are going 67-69 on the eastside.   Folks...I am convinced we are going to see 70s today at many locations away from cool water and mid-70s at some spots on the eastside.

Compare the temperatures aloft of today versus previous days from the Seattle profiler at 6 AM. HUGE warming above 400 meters--we are talking 10C (18F)--warmer at 600 meters.  Yesterday hit 61F at Sea-Tac:  you do the math (no, it probably won't get as high as 79F--but it will surge)

There is a thin veneer of cool air near the surface, chilled by infrared cooling to space under nearly clear skies. Above that cool air there is a strong inversion in which temperature warms with height.

Easterly flow aloft has really started cranking up as shown by the profiler winds and temperatures shown in this figure (y axis is height in meters, x axis is time in GMT--later to the left):
 20 knot easterly winds above 400 meters!

Here is the pattern of surface (2-meter) temperatures from our super-high resolution numerical weather prediction model for 2 PM today, clearly showing some 70s near Seattle and lots of 70s to the southwest:
But most important, there is probcast....our ensemble-based statistical forecasting tool that is very good in warm-up situations--it is showing mid 70s on the eastside and torrid conditions in the Willamette Valley.

 The only subtleties to this forecast is how high the air will mix vertically under the modest sun of this time of the year and how well the easterlies will mix downward.  In the summer, when the sun is strong, this would be an easy forecast.

Well, it is going to be fun (and very pleasant) to watch the day evolve....I am betting that many of you will experience 70s today.  If all of you stay in the mid-60s, it will be back to the drawing board for me.


  1. Ah, the drawing board. The way things were for my one course: MIT 1957 Elementary Meteorology, Prof Harold Wurtele.

    Being in that course led to a post midnight trip with Prof W to the weather radar control room atop building 20 to look for Sputnik. The class had calculated that the radar couldn't see Sputnik, but the margin was small enough that it seemed worth the try. (The calculation, sadly, was right.)

  2. Cliff, techno-geeks like me are left wondering "Where does that profiler data we are seeing come from?" Is there some way to provide a small link hidden away somewhere to point us curious ones to a place to dig further? NOAA puts up an excellent profiler detail page that answered my questions:
    Thanks, faithful reader Bob

  3. Based on the 1 p.m. readings, it looks like no "heat surge" is in the offing today. I suppose Seatac could hit 70, but I don't see widespread 70s happening.

  4. Well, it's official! We finally broke 70 here in Portland. We were posed to see our first non 70 degrees October since 1949, but we finally cracked 70, might hit 74 today!!!


  5. 61F here in Kingston. Fine for October. But Portland, where I would like to move back to someday, is 70F.

  6. Dunno, Professor...

    3pm obs show Puget Sound stations in the mid 60s. Decent northerly wind on top of QA Hill.

    70s down south toward Portland, though.

  7. We didn't even hit 60 here in Victoria. Not complaining though - I'd take days like this anytime mid to late October.

  8. Yeah, I don't think we hit 70 in Kirkland this afternoon, though it was clearly warmer and sunnier than usual for this time of year.

  9. Well...it did reach 70F in a number of eastside locations, such as 73F in North Bend, 70F in Carnation, 72F at Mt. Si HS,73F in Kent,73 in Redmond, as well as 70F in Shelton.


  10. I had high hopes. My thermometer in the heart of Shoreline at 400 ft. elevation topped at 64. NWS was off by 1 degree. Alas, I saw some east side 70s (KING5) including a 76. Wonderful day though, and, sadly in office, I missed the whole thing.

  11. It reached 77 where I live in Newport on the Oregon coast yesterday. With almost no wind it was a perfect day with a beautiful sunset to end it. Oh, and the old record high was 63.


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