June 25, 2015

June Without Gloom

One of the unfortunate aspects of Northwest weather is that west of the Cascade crest, June is often a cloudy, gray month.   Generally not much precipitation, but many days of low clouds.  June Gloom. Here is a sample of the typical murk.  Lots of stratocumulus, our signature June Gloom cloud.

 But as shown by a picture from the Space Needle this AM, this June has been a very different animal, one of sun and warmth.   July or August weather in June.  A climate as close to perfect as one can imagine.

But you come to this blog for hard numbera, so let me give them to you!  Here is the average number of cloudy days for each month at several Northwest cities.  A cloudy day is defined as having 80% or more coverage of the sky.  This data is from the Western Region Climate Center.

In June, Seattle Tacoma Airport typically has 17 cloudy days, with most of the remainder being partly cloudy.  Quillayute, on the coast generally has 20.   This is why vampires like Forks and other NW coastal locations.

But what about this year so far?

From official National Weather Service observations, Seattle Tacoma Airport only has had 4 cloudy days so far and from the forecasts it is clear that cloudy days will be hard to find the rest of the month.   The bottom line:   June 2015 will only have roughly ONE QUARTER OF THE NORMAL NUMBER OF CLOUDY DAYS.   4 or 5 cloudy days compared to 17.

But are you REALLY prepared to be impressed?

Quillayute Airport on the NW WA coast typically has 20 cloudy days.   This year?  ONLY 3.  You read this right.  Only three cloudy days on the normally stratus-bound Washington Coast.  You can imagine the impact on local vampires.

Want more.  Yakima typically has 10 cloudy days per month in June.   How many have they had so far?  ZERO.

An amazing month.  Probably the sunniest month in Northwest history.

The reason for all this sun?  The upper-level circulation pattern has been very anomalous the past 30 days, with higher pressure over the eastern Pacific.  Here are the upper level (500 hPa, around 18,000 feet height anomalies) for the past month.   Much higher than normal heights over the eastern Pacific (yellow colors) are evident, with some these higher heights extending over our region.  And the temperature of the Pacific Ocean is much warmer than normal...that works against low clouds as well.

We are about to experience a major warm up, with temperatures rising into the mid-80s to near 90F in western Washington, and highs reaching up 105F east of the Cascade crest.   Lots of sun.  But there will be thunderstorms and the risk of lightning-caused fires.


  1. "A climate as close to perfect as one can imagine." That is not universal. Some of us actually like the grey, cool weather. This summer is going to be long and miserable for me. I'm looking forward to late September.

  2. As a resident of Aberdeen, I can attest that June is usually very foggy. And July. This year? I get woken up at 530 am because sun is streaming into my house. Can we expect the low clouds and fog to be held at bay for the rest of the summer on the coast???

  3. Warm too. There have been around 175 days so far this year and I could find only 17 days that were below the average high, that's only 10%. In an average year that number would be closer to 88 days, not 17.

  4. Well I am very happy for you sun and heat lovers but *I* am not a happy camper right now! I moved here from Florida to escape sun, heat and humidity. Granted it's not humid! I do like sun when it's cool out. After comparing the forecast for Tacoma vs San Francisco I think I want to move! Looking forward to fall and from what I hear it's going to be a long wait :(

  5. Tell the people and animals suffering from the record low river levels and dried out vegetation west of the Cascades how perfect this weather had been. I have never understood the enthusiasm of some local pro-mets over the gradual californication or our beautiful, lush PNW climate. They, if anyone, should realize the negative long term ramifications of this sort of thing. The type of anomalous weather we have seen this month should be a cause for concern, not celebration. I will take our June gloom any day. Some people actually like our normal climate. If you want LA weather, move there, rather than trying to coax it up here.

  6. I will unnecessarily add my vote for the side of "NOT perfect weather!" I want my highs to be 60-65, not my lows. (But okay, 72 isn't bad. On occasion.) We don't have air conditioning, like many in the PNW, and (like many in the PNW) we rather like the fact that we aren't supposed to need it. So days of 90 degrees, with nights that don't cool down enough for comfortable sleep until 5 a.m., at which point the sun is rising again--well, those are exactly why I swore I'd never again live in central California. Now it's even looking like the Central Valley out there, what with the dry brown grass and shriveling leaves and sticky dust on the cars. Perfection? More like hell. But hey, we who dislike "beautiful" summer weather and prefer moist cool days are used to being shouted down and booed out of the theatre. So, carry on.

  7. "An amazing month. Probably the sunniest month in Northwest history."

    NOooooo! Make it stop. I want fog and clouds, I need moisture. That is why I don't live in Arizona (where my dad retired to after I was accepted to the Univ. of Washington... well he did graduate from WSU).

  8. One thing I noticed today as I was grinding north from Portland to Seattle in I-5, especially during the 10 mile backup south of the accident in Centralia, were the numbers of smokers flicking ashes and cigarette buts out their windows. This dry weather increases the fire risk and the possibility of dry lightning increases the risk. We can't do anything about lightning but we can do something about stupidity. To those drivers - use your ash tray! Or bring one if your car is not equipped and use it. The firefighters will soon have enough work to do without your carelessness adding to their workload!

  9. Too warm! I can't enjoy the warm days when we don't have cool ones. Instead it feels like a big old endurance race. I made my husband swear that the house we buy next spring must have AC already or will be installed before June because last summer and this one have made me so unhappy. I'm a native PNW'er who always said I would never move because the climate was perfect for me. I'm starting to change my mind.

  10. Fascinating....but WHY????? WHY the increased temp in Pacifice waters and why the high pressure....just anomaly, or trend??

  11. Naysayers gonna nay. As a bike commuter and general-outdoors lover, I'm thrilled about this weather. Yes, it's hot. Drink more water, put your body in a body of water, sit in some shade (it's cooler than your sweltering living room), wear a tank top -- it's great, I promise. I'm a pale freak and I put on sun screen and hey it's fine. The lush beauty of the region isn't going anywhere anytime soon; this is an anomalous year. Enjoy it while it's here.

    1. Good point, it couldn't possibly be the very global warming that Professor Mass himself has written books about. Not to say that this particular episode has been caused directly by it, but I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that stretches like this will become more common if current predictions of a warming planet pan out. As Professor Mass himself said, this is a taste of 2070 weather. The joys of biking and sweating aside, the PNW might lose some of its signature lushness between now and then. And it's not a good thing.

  12. I'm with Tyler. While I'm a bit worried about vegetation and animals, I will enjoy what we've got. The gloom will return, I'm sure.

  13. Welcome to Washington. Everyone complains about it being too wet or too cloudy, or it's too hot and dry! I've been hearing it for 20 years from my customers! Get over it and enjoy the sun when it's sunny, and enjoy the moisture when it rains! We live in a green state and its nice and warm right now. Sure you'll all be complaining when it's raining on July fourth 2016.

  14. So June this year looks more like July most years. Not enough for this alone to be sufficient evidence of long term change. I'd be interested in seeing a table of cloudy days per month in Seattle over each of the past 10 years

  15. Personally, I love the sun, the clouds and the rain in the PNW. But, I liked the proportion of sunny to cloudy days we had previous to the past few years better than the proportion we have now. I agree with Keith House, I'd like to see a table of cloudy and sunny days per month in the PNW for the past decade. I was born in the PNW and have lived here all my life, and I have certainly noticed that our beautifully cloudy, cool Junes have turned to greatly increased, sunny and hot June days for the past few years - not just this year. We also have significantly more sunny days throughout the winter than we previously had, as well as more frequent and intense windstorms. Interesting, that all these changes are what climate scientists have been warning us about for decades. Considering that these changes are harbingers of increased climate disruption with all its concomitant calamities, I abhor this increased sun and heat, and mourn the likely soon to be permanent passing of the PNW's formerly typical June gloom!


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