July 06, 2015

Smoke and low clouds

What could be more typical of the Northwest is summer?    Low coastal clouds and smoke.

The visible satellite picture this morning says it all,  Low clouds along the coast, with some of them pushing inland as far as Shelton and Portland.   And smoke...lots of it... spreading as far south as Seattle, with dense smoke over southern Vancouver Island, the Strait of Georgia, Vancouver  and vicinity.  So if you don't like smoke, go south.

The morning cams from a variety of locations show the murk, particularly in southern BC (see below)

The smoke actually cooled the high temperatures down north of Seattle yesterday by reducing the amount of solar radiation.   Here is a plot of the solar radiation measured at the University of Washington yesterday...and Seattle did not get the worst of it.   On the left is July 4 and on the right is yesterday.  See the difference?  One is a smooth curve showing radiation under clear skies, the second has a number of dips and reductions due to the smoke.

 The situation should improve over the lowlands today as the flow has turned more onshore--pushing the smoke eastward.   To show this, here is a plot of the winds at Vancouver Airport.  Easterly flow yesterday switching to weak southwesterlies today.  (red lines are temperature, the y-axis is height in pressure, 700 is around 10,000 ft)
 Finally, here is an amazing series of pictures taken by Steve Smith of Orcas Island yesterday...looking north towards Eastsound.

First, a typical summer day.

 Followed by a series of pictures starting  at 3 PM and ending at 8 PM.

The smoke season has begun over the Northwest and it will continue for a few months.


  1. Germany Breaks its All-Time Heat Record

  2. No real easing up here in north Whatcom County. Have yet to see the "real" sky today.

  3. The temperatures in Metro Vancouver still got to 36-37C despite the smoke yesterday. However in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island where the smoke was thicker it only go to the high 20's Celsius.

  4. Any idea what to expect next week on San Juan islands ? Forecast keeps changing.

  5. Dungeness - high of 68 and smokey all day -same as yesterday.

  6. Cliff, there are currently 3 named storm systems in the Western Pacific Ocean, and 2 low centers in the mid-Pacific. But are they related to the abnormally warm Pacific, or is this typical of a cyclical pattern? If not "normal" is an active Pacific season likely?

    Only if you have time to answer of course.

    John F McBride

  7. Yikes! I've been breathing that brown cloud since Sunday, cough cough.
    BTW, these shots are looking west from Buck Mountain, not east.
    Michael Riordan, Eastsound

  8. Interesting, it seems like the high pressure front that caused the heat wave is losing steam. It's almost over.

  9. Cliff, I though it was a really lovely June but we really need some rain now!

    I seem to remember that all through the 1970's, and into the 80's, there were only a couple days each summer with smoke and when it was clear one could see 100 miles. Now, smoke seems to sully the skies for a couple weeks, at least, nearly every summer. More fires? Is this due to fuel buildup? Or climate change? Or both?


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

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