November 02, 2014

Wet, Warm, and Windy

We are living in interesting times, weatherwise that is.

Coming after a warm summer and early fall, October was relatively torrid around here (as torrid as Seattle gets), with a number of stations enjoying their warmest October on record (such as Olympia).   The minimum temperatures have been particularly high the past month (over the entire Northwest), with differences from climatology (the anomaly) the last 30 days being SIX TO TEN DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL.   That is huge folks.  Really.  Leaf loss on trees has been noticeably delayed and my vegetable plants are still alive.  I have gotten tired of tomatoes.

And the heavy precipitation in October and February/March has resulted in the total rainfall at Seattle Tacoma Airport so far this year (through the end of October) equalling our normal annual rainfall, around 37 inches (see plot, with blue being normal and red the observed precipitation).

So if it didn't rain a drop in November and December (our wettest months) we would STILL have a normal annual rainfall.  The story is the same over much of the region.
You like this kind of weather? will have more of it this week.

A huge plume of moisture from the subtropics is now reaching our region, as shown by the latest infrared satellite photo and a model forecast of water vapor for 4 PM this afternoon (see below).

Rain will spread over the region this afternoon but the real heavy stuff will come later on Monday and Tuesday morning.   Let me show you the latest forecasts for 24-h precipitation.

For the 24-h ending 4 AM Monday, the precipitation is mainly south of Everett, with Oregon getting the worst of it.

But the next 24-h (ending 4 AM Tuesday) is Washington's turn, with the Olympics and Cascades getting hammered with over 2 inches in places.  Even eastern Washington gets wet.

The next day we are in postfrontal showers with continued (but lighter) precipitation over the western slopes of the Cascades.

You want snow in the mountains?  Forget it.  The air mass will be too warm, except for some of the very highest terrain in the north Cascades.  

Want to play in the snow near the Columbia?  No problem.  Head to Columbia, SOUTH CAROLINA (see pic)

It will get quite windy Monday night.  Take a look at the forecast for sustained winds (not gusts) for 10 PM that night.  Very windy along the coast (sustained up to 35 knots) and over NW Washington (particularly the San Juans and northern Whidbey Is.).   Windy enough over the Sound.

And talking about temperatures, here is the latest NOAA/NWS Climate Prediction Center 6-10 day temperature forecasts. WOW...huge warm anomaly forecast for the west.  Yet very cold on the east coast.

The immediately cause of this contrasting pattern is clear:  an amplification of the waviness of the jet stream over North America.   Here is the forecast upper level (500 hPa) map for Friday at 4 AM--you can see what I mean.   Ridge over the west and trough over the east.

Could this be caused by global warming?  My reading of the literature suggests not.

Got to go....heading out for a run before the rain hits....


Want to sign an online petition supporting improved computers for the National Weather Service?   Go to this link!


  1. Hi Cliff - what do you make of this, 2pm Sunday KLGX? Each red streak was curling cyclonically as it reached land - wonder what that felt like?

  2. I just signed the petition to the Whitehouse urging them to spend the $25 million for a new forecasting computer.

    The last line of text refers to Cliff's blog ("More info at"). It would be more informative if it referred instead to Cliff's most recent blog entry on this subject (i.e.,, but I don't know if that can be changed after people have signed (56 when I signed).

  3. Regarding the petition for the NWS computers, have you worked to get others in your field together to reach out to our Senators/Reps to communicate this issue?

    You can play up to their mantra of "global warming" by indicating this will help in the ongoing analysis and prediction of global warming, which it rightfully will.

    A petition by the masses is good for attention, but you and your colleagues are in a position to collectively get more attention from people who can actually do something about it.

  4. "Could this be caused by global warming? My reading of the literature suggests not."

    Ah, nuance. This is much better than saying there's "no reason" to think there's a link, given current inconclusive-but-interesting research in this area.


  5. Can the demise of the blob help shift us to a more winter like jet stream? Put me down as being in the snow-lover camp, and I need a fix.

  6. I hate to admit it, but I would enjoy some rousing weather, a la winter 2006/2007. Wind storms that is, skip the snow please...

  7. I recorded 7.97 inches of rain for October, on the Bothell Mill Creek line.

    I've been enjoying the benefits of the Blob. But I guess the inevitable has occurred. And the wet chill has finished off my tomato plants.

  8. Thanks for signing the petition. I wanted to link right to that blog entry but had a strict character limit. I didn't think about doing a Tiny URL until it was too late. I'll see if I can edit it now, but I doubt I can. At least it's gotten so many signatures now that it's publicly searchable on the We the People petition site.

  9. You mention that this is rain, not snow, up in the mountains. I wonder if this late, warm, wet weather is hurting our snow pack and glacier levels? Would we normally be adding to snow pack by now, instead of autumn weather melting what little we have?

  10. Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 3 November 2014, p 1
    October average temperature: 59.9ºF; avg. low ≈ 50ºF; avg. high ≈ 70ºF

  11. Just how many "since recording started" events does it take?

  12. Regarding the blob that is out in the Pacific and causing our minimum temperature heat wave - could there be any connection to this:

  13. Cliff, is Typhoon Nuri on your metaphorical radar? Potentially the lowest pressure ever in the Bering Sea... from the DC perspective

    Keep signing the petition! We're up to almost 300 signatures. :-)
    We the People want a Weather Supercomputer

  14. Cliff:
    It would be accurate to say there is growing interest in climatologists in the hypothesis that our warming climate and specifically the (growing) difference between polar and equatorial temperature is driving changes in the positioning and shape of the jet stream. I'm not saying anything is proven, but it would be also be untrue to say that we can rule out climate change affecting the waviness of the jet stream. Here is a Guardian summary of peer-reviewed science in Climate Change Nature on this matter:


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

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