June 08, 2012

Depressing But True

 The May climatological numbers are in and the contiguous U.S. has had its second warmest may on record.  But guess what region did not share in the balmy conditions?

You guessed it...the Pacific Northwest.

Here is the difference of May temperatures from normal (red above normal and blue below normal).  The cold almost perfectly follows the state boundaries of our region.  Only the Cascade western foothills were above normal--perhaps due to downslope warming.

What about January through May?  A similar picture with Oregon, Washington and northwest CA cooler than normal.   You will notice that warmest temperatures were shifted back to the Great Plains for Jan-May.

Precipitation?  For May, the Northwest was near normal, but for Jan-May above normal.
June so far has been cooler and wetter than normal, while just to our southwest very warm and dry conditions are occurring.

That is why we are shivering and our snowpack is way above normal while southern Utah has already started their wildfire season (see image below).

Utah Wildfire
The forecast?   The next week looks substantially drier, with only a few light showers, and temperatures should be near normal or a bit on the cool side....but clearly not as bad as the last week.  The best day of the weekend will be Sunday.   For more weekend forecast information, check my segment on KPLU (www.kplu.org), which should be online after 10 AM....or listen to my 9 AM discussion with Keith Seinfeld over the radio or online live.


  1. Given the negative effects of very hot and dry weather on fires and insects and disappearing water supplies and stunted agriculture, etc, along with my dislike of sweltering, oppressive weather (I spent some tme back east last summer and couldn't wait to get home), I'm pretty darn happy with the tradeoff of having a cooler and wetter winter.

    As the years go by, and I watch what the rest of the country is going through weather-wise, we in the PNW, and especially those of us in the rainshadow over the northeast portion of OlyPen, look more and more like we're living in the last bastion of benevolent weather.

    When I returned to the US after being an ex-pat for ten years, we could have settled anywhere in the country. The weather is what brought us to the Sequim area. Yet I had no idea how wise (and lucky) that decision was going to be given the weather trends elsewhere during the last few years, and likely prognosis of climate change.

    So your charts in this post just give me more reason to celebrate, Cliff. Here's hoping we stay blue and green on those charts.


  2. Really like this kind of info- thanks for providing it Cliff.

  3. Ode to Junuary (some in the Salish Sea lament this month. Instead, let us revel in it. Composed while I donned full battle gear to run some errands at lunch on my bike)

    How I love the dirty deegans of wind that doth blow
    Spraying the inner liner of my high necked raincoat
    The water carried by the winds threatens to permeate my waterproof pants
    Yea, on a day when the high is below the average high temp for March,
    I still love the gales, the bilious clouds that bringeth fresh snow.
    I also thinketh how lucky we are in the Salish Sea:

    We avoideth inches and inches of humid rain that marketh yet another right coast "summer".
    Our air conditioning comes from opening a window
    We careth not for the clouds of mosquitoes, whose daily densities are chronicled through indices in Minnesota newspapers
    We have neither the drought of ideas that poisoneth that "other Washington" or the drought that has crackled the forests through fires and pestilent insects in the southwest.
    Though some here complaineth about the squalls and winds, the sun breaks bring views of fresh snow on Mt. Tacoma and the Olympics.
    Soon, shortly after twelve noon,
    on the 5th of July, summer will arrive here, and folks will complain about the 72 degree "heat".
    Let us enjoy Junuary for what it is. Perfect temperatures for a long bike, run or hike (or ski), and a Belgium for our efforts. Cheers to Junuary!

  4. Wow, after that two week dry streak in the middle of May I would have assumed we finished out the month above average, temperature-wise. I hope this isn't a long-term trend of cooler, darker, wetter springs/summers...

  5. John, you may wish to remember that our dismally cold temperatures are stunting agriculture in our own state, too!

    My own gardening is certainly frustrating this year -- I have yet to plant the beans I should have planted a week or two ago, because it's just too cold. And my squash may not do especially well without replanting.

  6. Even as a farmer, I would rather have the additional rain and cool weather to the sweltering heat and fires.

  7. Cliff, I hope you see this: quick question about the maps. The one titled "State Ranks" and "Precipation" assigns Washington 70 and Oregon 56, yet on the map below that they appear relatively wet year to date. What do those numbers mean, then?

  8. Cliff, just wanted to thank you kindly for the update and explanation!

  9. Thanks for the neat weather poem, Targhee. The Ode to Junuary indeed.

    Made my day. I'm sharing it with friends who also love cool, cloudy weather. Those who view sunny and high 70's with less than total enthusiasm.

    Hot and bright is good for a few days, if only for the novelty, just as long as the weather quickly goes back to gray and cool (i.e. Normal).

    No worries about that in June.

    (And no, my friends aren't all vampires.)


  10. "Residents of the wet NW rarely think they have much in common with the Mediterranean climes, but it is true. Rick Steves needs to know about this--why send so many folks to Italy and southern France when we have the same climate right here at home!

    Let me think! King County. Tuscany. King County. Tuscany. Well, that was easy.

  11. Guys,

    I think I am outvoted, but I'll take that sunny and high 70's. I like to swim- outside- and I did so on May 14th. Haven't done so since. I also like to see the view when I get to the top of a mountain.

    I hope this cool, wet spring thing is not what climate change will bring us.



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