January 24, 2015

Summer in January

Summer air is above us right now.  I am not kidding.    And the temperatures at the surface we woke up to this morning (mid-50s over Puget Sound country) were indistinguishable from our normal summer lows (lower to 50s F).

And it is going to get warmer tomorrow.

Let me illustrate the profound nature of the warmth we are facing.  A lower atmosphereic level meteorologists often look at is at a pressure of  850 hPa (located about 5000 ft above the surface).

This morning (at 4 AM) the temperature at this level measured by a radiosonde (weather balloon and sensor) on the Washington Coast (Quillayute) was 7.5C with a freezing level of roughly (10,000 ft).   See sounding below for the details (red is temperature, blue dashed is dew point).

A warm front has moved through this morning and even warmer air is coming in--here is the forecast from the UW WRF model at 850 hPa for 1 AM Monday morning.  Shading and the blue lines are temperature.

14 C air over Seattle!.  For those of you who are not meteorologists, this is crazy warm.  Let me prove it.

The NOAA storm prediction center has a wonderful site that provides the climatology of the upper air data around the U.S.   Let's take a look at the climatology of 850 hPa temperatures at Quillayute (UIL) on the Washington Coast throughout the year.  The black line indicates the average temperatures for the day (dark black is a smoothed version).  The red line shows the extreme warmest temperature on each day.  The green line is the temperature forecast for Monday AM.

Pretty amazing.  The temperatures on Sunday and Monday will probably exceed the all time records for the date.    They are WAY WARMER than the average temperatures for July and August, our warmest months.  So the air above us tomorrow will be warmer than typical summer temperatures.

The only thing holding us back from having temperatures in the 80s is that the sun is way weaker this time of the year and the cooling effects of clouds.

Today there is considerable cloudiness, but there will be only some high clouds tomorrow and few clouds on Monday.  Here is the cloud forecast for Monday..sunny,with summer air above us!

Let's look at the WRF temperature forecasts for Sunday afternoon at 2 PM.  Temperatures well into the 60s over western Washington and around 70F over the western slopes of the Cascades.  The only issue with this forecast is that there will be a low-level inversion between cooler air at the surface and warmer air aloft.  That will keep some low clouds in on Sunday morning, something the model tends to mix out too quickly.  But where the clouds burn off it will get warm quickly.

And warm or warmer on Monday.  A weak front comes through on Tuesday and then the ridge builds again for warm and dry conditions.  The latest NOAA extended (6-10 day) temperature forecast (below)  indicates much warmer than normal temps on the West Coast and cooler than normal over the eastern U.S.

The extraordinary warm temperatures and persistent high pressure has led to very  low snowpacks in some locations, particularly the Olympics.  Here is the last cam shot of the Hurricane Ridge parking lot and surroundings today.   Hard to believe for late January...MOST OF THE GROUND IS BARE!

Is this warmth associated with human-caused global warming?  The answer in a future blog.

 And enjoy summer in January.


  1. I can't enjoy it - it feels like a failed winter. Birds are singing everywhere, the crocuses are coming up in the front yard, and I jogged in shorts and a t-shirt this morning. It's just WRONG!!!

  2. Third failed winter in a row. When was the last time there was essentially no measurable snow at SeaTac for THREE WINTERS IN A ROW? Two is not common.

  3. Gotta agree with C.P.O. This is plain wrong. I don't enjoy summer in January any more than I would winter in July. Call me crazy, but I like a brisk, cold winter run, followed by a cozy fire. Warm chocolate chip cookies. Hot toddies. Skiing. All great reasons to appreciate winter. Sigh...

  4. Not sure where you came up with the idea of a "failed winter"?

    Our snowpack last year was perfectly fine by the end of the season.

    Just because there was no measurable snow at SeaTac means jack squat.

  5. Please let it be global warming.

  6. Crazy weather. What's next Christmas in July?

  7. I kind of enjoy the see-saw weather. The only thing that'll be problematic is if the temps stay warm long enough for the fruit trees to break dormancy.

  8. No doubt, mild and dry crazy weather. Takes me back to similar patterns in the early 1980s which were deemed unusually extreme.

    Speaking of extreme, how about guidance differences for New England wind and snow from GFS and NAM compared to the Euro.

  9. This isn't funny anymore. and this isn't going to be very funny at all come summer. when we have no more snow in the mountains to use for our summer water source.


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

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