March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring: A Very Warm Winter Ends

Spring began today at 3:45 PM PDT.  The fancy name?  The vernal equinox (vernal denotes spring, equinox indicates day and night are nearly equal in length).   At this time, sun is over the equator on its way northward (see figure) and daylight is nearly equal (12hr) over the entire globe.

Commenter tz0226 had a great suggestion--to look at the satellite image yesterday.  At the equinox the terminator (boundary between sun and darkness) is north-south (while it is tilted other times of the year except the autumnal equinox).   Here are visible satellite images from yesterday to show this from the NOAA GOES E and GOES W satellites.

But this is a special vernal equinox, the moon is new and there was a total solar eclipse today (not viewed here, but rather over northern Europe--see map)

So ends one of the warmest winters in Northwest history.

Let's take a look at the departure of the daily maximum temperature from normal over the past 90 days for the western U.S.  Amazing anomalies.  Much of northern Nevada and California, eastern Oregon and eastern Washington were over 6F above normal...some locations 8-10F above normal.  Western Oregon and Washington were 2-6F above normal during this winter.

The official 6-10 day outlook?  RED HOT!  While the poor devils back east stay in the cold and snow.
 The three-month outlook for April through June?  Red hot...well above normal along the coast.

For the fisherman in the community, what are the sea surface temperatures like?  A huge pool of warm water, 2-4 C above normal, along the entire West Coast.

Soil temperatures are far warmer than last year, with the 8 inch (deep) soil temperatures now getting into the 50s in parts of western and south-central Washington (see plot from the WSU AgWeather website). Seattle has soil temperatures 4F warmer than a year ago (54F today).   

Such warm temperatures means you can start planting some of the veggie seeds you normally wait until April to sow (e.g., parsley, onions).

Looking forward to getting out into the garden?  Sunday AM look dry, but rain will come in around lunch time.... nature will do the watering for you after you get your seeds in!


  1. New moon, not full. Can't have a solar eclipse unless it is new moon.

  2. should start to hunt morels in the usual places!!!

  3. The whole disk visible cloud image shows the Equinox very well: (Select 8 frame animation, I'm not sure where there might be an archive).

    You can see how the shadow is along a meridian. On the solstice it is tilted 23 degrees.

  4. With such warm temps predicted for the next 3 months and ocean temps above normal, what are the chances of a repeat elnino for next fall and winter 2016? Seams like we're about have a similar spring as last year. Above normal temps.


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

The Other Type of Mountain Wave Cloud

 Folks love to talk about lenticular clouds , which are generally produced by air moving up (and down) downstream of a mountain barrier (see...