September 19, 2012

Extraordinary Dryness and a New "Record" Achieved

This dry spell continues to deepen and lengthen.  Keep in mind a period of no rain in mid to late September is far more unusual that in late July and August.   August was the driest on record in Seattle.   September has had two days of .01 inches, so unfortunately we are already wetter than the previous record-breaker (a trace).

We came close (47 days) to the all-time record stretch of less than measurable rainfall (.01 inch), which is 51 days.

But what is SO special about .01 inches?   What if we picked the longest stretch at Sea-Tac Airport of daily precipitation less than .02 inches?  What year would be the winner?


Yes, it is true, yesterday we tied and TODAY we achieved the record long stretch of such dry days: 58 consecutive days less than 0.02 inches.  For those weather-number lovers in the blogosphere, here is a graphic (produced two days ago) that shows you the record stretches of dry weather for various thresholds (thanks to Neal Johnson of the UW for collecting this information.

The latest forecast models indicated no rain over the next week, but a minority of the forecast models show the potential for rain later next week....but that is too far into the future to have much confidence it. 


  1. I think it's HIGH TIME we had some rain! We need a good soaking statewide.

    This climate is so schzophrenic- you can't get any sun in the wet season, but once the dry season starts, it's too far the other way. It is like flipping a switch.

  2. How close to the record are we for the summer season as a whole?

  3. The smoke in Ellensburg was the worst I have seen. We did our normal morning in the car, stopped for gas, dropped our daughter at high school, i rolled window down to take a few picks of the red sunrise, then we set off on I-90 west, I made it about 15 miles and we had to turn around and drop me off. The smoke made me physically ill that quick. I'm not a smoker, and I don't have breathing problems or asthma. Today, my throat is shredded from the air and the aftermath. I know that you always warn people on these things (lightning, smoke, etc), so i guess I have learned my lesson that if I can't get the picture without the window up, forget it for now :) This morning did not seem quite as bad in Ellensburg, but we did not see the sun until 30 minutes after sunrise. It was totally blocked by a ring of smoke too thick to penetrate.

  4. We were in the middle of the Taylor Bridge Fire and now we are watching in awe how slowly the Table Mountain Fire is being contained. Praying for rain. We just posted photos of the Table Mountain Fire from last night at

  5. It looks like 2009 had an extremely long stretch of dry weather as well. Wasn't that the summer that we had the extreme heat (>100F) as well? Are there any interesting comparisons to be made between this year and that one? Also, are there any interesting periodicities (greater than 1 year) in those nice charts?

    On a different topic, when are you going to go out on a limb and make some long-term winter (snow) forecasts? ;-)

  6. I agree with Ansel. Clean the air and refresh the ground with some rain. Enough smoke and red sun. Yes I am worried about the moss on my back.

  7. Hey Cliff,

    This relates to an interesting post of yours a few days ago. I noticed the 5pm roundup, Omak and Ellensburg were 90F and 94F, but Wenatchee was only 72 degrees.

    There was beautiful pyrocumulus this afternoon from my location. You could see the heavy smoke shield drifting east out over the basin but the cloud debris or anvil moved west towards Seattle.

    A natural and ultimate example of clouds not moving in the direction the wind. One of my pet peeves. Why so many people believe that lol.

  8. This is El Nino weather - payback for the last two years. Rain will occur aplenty after October 15th in Western WA with the wettest month of the year November not far away. So for now, kindly enjoy the sun and quit complaining.

  9. Cliff, would love to know your thoughts on the latest info coming out about the Table Mountain Fire. Ellensburg Daily Record is reporting this "Fire officials say the Table Mountain Fire has produced enough smoke to cause lightning storms. At one point yesterday, smoke columns reached 40,000 feet into the atmosphere." Thanks!


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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