December 23, 2014

Goodbye Hawaii, Hello Ridge

During the past weeks, the Pineapple Express has been running in one way or the other, bring warm, moist air to the West Coast.  The atmospheric moisture forecast for 1 PM (below) shows the story, with a stream of large moisture content heading from the islands to our region.  This warm air has not been good for the local ski areas, many of which have opened with marginal conditions.

The last two weeks have been extraordinarily warm, with the minimum temperatures of most days falling to roughly the average maximum for the day.  Here is the departure of the average temperatures from normal for the last two weeks for the western U.S.   Amazing.   Quite a few places have been 12-15F above normal, particularly in Idaho and Montana.  But Washington and Oregon have many areas 4-8F above normal.

The West Coast has been wetter than normal, particularly California, where many locations received 200%+ of normal precipitation.  The good news is that the big reservoirs like Shasta  have begun to fill.

Here is the Mt. Shasta reservoir levels....big upswing (dark blue line), but still below normal (blue shading).

But the big weather story for the Northwest is the major regime change that is about to occur, with a major ridge developing over the eastern Pacific bring drying and cooler temperatures.  To illustrate, here is the upper-level flow forecast for 4 PM on Friday.  BIG RIDGE.  And one that will bring cooler air into eastern WA, Montana, and the central Plains.  We will finally be cut off from the Pineapple Express.

Take a look at the Climate Prediction Center 6-10 day temperature forecast.  Blue indicates colder than normal.
Regarding snow, there will be some snow in the mountains at the tail end of the current event (see graphic), but after that the ridge will have its impact, drying things out.   Enough to allow local ski areas to stay open until they get a real storm.


  1. Thank goodness, I have been dealing with rain and been sweating under a cover of Gore-Tex. Not quite cold enough for a transitional fashion statement. We need snow for our electricity, ski resorts, and the wildlife that depend on snow cover.

  2. Seattle sets an all-time record!

    From this page:

    All-time record high pressure in Seattle was 1043.9 mbar in 1921. Boeing Field is currently reporting 1044.4 mbar.


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

Undergraduate Scholarship Fund in Honor of Steve Pool

Steve Pool was a leading television meteorologist in Seattle for nearly 40 years..... but he was so much more. In addition to providing mete...