January 01, 2013

Darkness and Now Redemption

Folks have been complaining that last month (December has 2012) was one of the worst in memory.  Dark, wet, and dark again.   But was this our imagination?   Let us cast light on this darkness!

Let's begin by examining a plot of cumulative solar radiation on my department's roof since the beginning of December through the end of the month (the numbers on the bottom are the number of hours into the month).  This is a measure of the total solar radiation you could have soaked up at any point in the month.  The black line is for December 2012  and red is normal (past 13 year average).  For the first few days we were getting normal sun, but then we started falling behind more and more. Yes my friends it was darker much than normal.

But we can go further.   December 2012 is tied for darkest December with December 2007. So December 2012 was as bad as we have seen during this century!  That is enough to give nearly anyone a bad case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and turn on their interior floodlights.
But there bright, lustrous` news..today January 1 is virtually clear over much of western Washington and Oregon.   Don't believe me?  Look outside or check out the latest image from my department's web cam looking towards Mt. Rainier.

Some of you near the water have some fog right now, but most of that will burn off. Only those in the fog/stratus laden basin of eastern Washington will be denied the sun's face.
The visible satellite picture Tuesday morning shows a cloudy eastern Washington and east-slope valleys.  Clear skies over the crest, western slopes, and most of the lowlands.  Only in the Chehalis and Willamette Valleys and the Strait can you see some shallow fog
 Believe it or not, tomorrow (Wed) will be sunny too.

A good way to start the New Year.  And a happy new year to all of you!


  1. Ha ha! I spent most of the month in Hawaii. Turned out to be a good choice this year. I usually go in January. Nice to be back and see the sunshine.

  2. Btw, Happy New Year Cliff! Thanks for the effort you put in this fine blog of yours.

  3. Happy New Year, Cliff.
    This week we received a burn ban in Snohomish and Pierce counties. King does not have one. I've seen this a few times. Driving from a clear Bellevue last night we encounter fog in Canyon Park as we drove into Snohomish Co. So, is the a reason why King County is clear? Elevation difference, more upper level wind? Or is it politics that keeps the burn ban off in King Co.?

  4. Happy New Year Cliff! Thank you for writing your blog, I enjoy reading it on a regular basis! Cheers, Jenni

  5. Happy new year Cliff, thank you for all you do, you are my sunlamp!

  6. Fog throughout the day, did not warm up beyond 34.0, but the snow cover (all 2 inches of it) did make it brighter.

  7. yeah--fog all morning till noon then fog again by 3:30--Cathcart area-the usual fog place when elsewhere has sun

  8. Cliff,

    Pardon the somewhat nerdy questions, but is the variation from normal statistically significant (I'd be surprised if it wasn't)and out of curiosity, how "noisy" is the data from year to year for December, i.e. how much variation is there.

    Thanks much

  9. Ok, Cliff! What's your take on the "hint" of cooler temps and possible snow for the middle to end of next week? Is it too far out to be hopeful and excited? I want snow!

  10. Happy New Year, Cliff! An online comic I love called Wondermark posted a comic today that I thought you would enjoy, since it's meteorology-related:


  11. I rather thought it was a little more dreary than in the past.

    Happy New Year to you and thanks for all your expertise and insight over the year.

  12. As I recall, last spring the long-term forecasters were saying that La Nina was gone and we had shifted into an El Nino pattern, indicating that we would have a drier-than-normal winter (as I understand it).

    Since that's obviously not what has transpired, I was wondering if you would please address this in a future post.



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