October 20, 2015

Warm October and Seattle School Board Races

Things have been heating up here in the Northwest, both in the atmosphere and in the election sphere.

First, the atmosphere.  This has been a very warm October so far, particularly for the nighttime minima.

Here are the temperatures for Seattle Tacoma Airport and Yakima for the last four weeks.   Temperatures were near normal at the end of September on both sides of  Cascades, but in early October we switched to a warm pattern, particularly for minimum temperatures.  Blur your eyes a bit...there is really no downward trend for temperature over the past month.
Another way to see the recent warmth is temperature anomaly maps (difference from normal) for the past two weeks.  The ENTIRE western U.S. has been warm, with much of WA state 3-9F about normal.  One of the best mid-October periods I can remember.

Why so warm?  The upper air height anomaly map (difference from normal of the heights/pressures at 500 hPa, about 18,000 ft).  There is a trough offshore (blue colors) and a big ridge (yellow colors) over much of the U.S.

This pattern is quite typical for El Nino years and we have a big one this year.  Precipitation has been near normal over the Northwest, so things are greening up.

We have another 5 days of warm/dry weather and then things change in a big way.  The end of October is often a dramatic step into wet and murk.  The latest model runs indicate the atmospheric switch will be flipped into a different position.  Get ready.

Seattle School Board

Four seats are up for grabs and only one incumbent is running.  Here are my picks for three of the races.

District 6:  Marty McLaren

Rated Very Good by the Municipal League and the only incumbent running, Marty brings a very special combination of experience, even-temper, and judgement to the school board.  She has been a successful warrior for better math in elementary schools, pushing successfully for the non-fuzzy Math In Focus and the dumping of terrible Everyday Math.   She played a major role in securing Dr. Larry Nyland as school superintendent... a home run considering his deep experience and competency.   Marty is able to keep channels to the district administration and know how to maintain respectful and productive relationships.  She has substantial support including outgoing School Board Presidents Sharon Peaslee and Sherry Carr, who know Marty's value on the board, and major political groups like the 46th District Democrats.  With so much turnover on the board, it is critical to keep Marty in place.  And she has big plans, like replacing the poor middle school math program currently used:  Connected Math.

District 3:  Lauren McGuire

Rated Outstanding by the Municipal League.  Lauren has deep experience in Seattle Public Schools on a number of committees and positions.  I met with her over coffee--I came away impressed with her vision for Seattle Public Schools and her broad knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses. She has a math background and understands what is wrong with the Seattle Public School math program and how to fix it.  I talked to her opponent, Jill Geary, about math and it was clear this was not her issue.

District 2: Rick Burke

Rated Very Good by the Municipal League.  I know Rick very well and he is about the most perfect candidate you can imagine for the position.  Three kids in Seattle Schools and highly active on a number of levels.  Rick has been a major leader in the fight for better math education in our area and has a technical background.  He has excellent people skills, works well in groups, is razor smart, and is focused and organized.  He will be a major leader on the board once he is elected.

There have been a lot of school board critics making  a lot inflammatory statements, but the truth is that the district has made major advances during the past few years, with better management, substantial growth in student populations, rapidly rising test scores, and an absence of financial disasters.

There is a reason that students are flocking to Seattle's schools.


  1. Thank you, Cliff, for your Seattle School Board recommendations. I read the voter's pamphlet, of course, but value your opinion much more.

    And yes, I have noticed the warm October. I am still getting ripe tomatoes from my West Seattle garden. The nighttime temps have been very warm.

    I just took the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to King Street Station last week. 108 degrees Fahrenheit in Anaheim last week...passed through the Salinas Valley and saw the seemingly endless lettuce and the various cole crops. California is an impressive state. Disneyland not so much because of the over-crowding...hehe.

    Thank you Cliff.


  2. I'm a Bellevue voter and love our schools, but as someone who wants to see the rising tide lift ALL boats, I'm really glad to hear your optimism about the Seattle School Board elections. They've really struggled over the last 5-10 years and it would be great to see a quieter, more productive period.

    I am enjoying the warm weather too, knowing it's not going to last. I do hope I can get the garage clean-out project done before it gets too bad, because I'd love to park the electric car inside this winter. We shall see.

  3. Looks like Death Valley is the new Seattle:

    The park has received 1.23 inches of rain this October, exceeding the average rainfall of 0.07 inches for the month, according to the National Weather Service. The annual rainfall average in the park is 2.36 inches, the weather service said.



  4. NOAA climate Summary for September 2015


    The September average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average&mdash. This was the highest September temperature on record, surpassing the previous record set last year by +0.12°F (+0.19°C). September's high temperature was also the greatest rise above average for any month in the 136-year historical record, surpassing the previous record set in both February and March this year by 0.02°F (0.01°C).

    The September globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.09°F (1.16°C) above the 20th century average. This was also the highest for September in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2009 by +0.16°F (+0.09°C). Record warmth was observed across much of South America and parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

    The September globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest temperature for September in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2014 by +0.13°F (+0.07°C).

    Climate scientist Kevin Anderson:
    Limiting the average global surface temperature increase of 2°C (3.6°F) over the pre-industrial average has, since the 1990s, been commonly regarded as an adequate means of avoiding dangerous climate change, in science and policy making. However, recent science has shown that the weather, environmental and social impacts of 2°C rise are much greater than the earlier science indicated, and that impacts for a 1°C rise are now expected to be as great as those previously assumed for a 2°C rise. In a July 2011 speech, climate scientist Kevin Anderson explained that for this reason, avoiding dangerous climate in the conventional sense is no longer possible, because the temperature rise is already close to 1°C, with effects formerly assumed for 2°C. Moreover, Anderson's presentation demonstrates reasons why a temperature rise of 4°C by 2060 is a likely outcome, given the record to date of action on climate, economic realities, and short window of time remaining for limiting the average surface temperature rise to 2°C or even 3°C. He also states that a 4°C rise would likely be an unstable state, leading to further increases in following decades regardless of mitigation measures that may be taken.

    My advice, Don't invest in low lying coastal property (South Florida, Charleston S.C.). Don't build in flood plains or land slide prone slopes. Expect warm weather agricultural crops to expand northward (think Washington state vineyards). Expect near record to record weather events to be commonplace. Don't panic, climate change relative to a human life span is slow. But Climate change is occurring, now.

  5. When do we think we might have some rainfall? October is nearing an end, and Seattle's had only half of its normal precip (with the bulk of it falling on just one day!).

    Is this the El Nino "mild but dry" pattern already starting? Not good not good .....

  6. Cliff when will the rain return?

  7. We need it. At work we sponsor a project enhancing the spawning habitat for chum salmon in the Columbia river, at Hamilton Creek east of Vancouver. It typically goes dry for a few months in the summer, and then the groundwater from nearby Table mountain magically comes up after the rains start in October, and then it is freely flowing and ready for the fish spawning in November. Chum search for special sites with warm upwelling groundwater. If it doesn't start flowing by November they will spawn in upwelling spots in the mainstem Columbia.

  8. Lauren McGuire seems like a mixed prospect. She seems pretty sharp and quite knowledgeable about SPS and education issues generally. She seems nice and to care about students. That said, as past president of Seattle PTSA, she was rather indifferent to corporate reform efforts of Goodloe-Johnson (bringing TFA teachers to Seattle) and was MIA on the charter initiative. As others have said, she has some suspect endorsement (business backed current and former board members, and fallen from grace director Peaslee). She also has received sizable donations from Chris Larson, a retired MS exec who's helped backroll numerous corp reform efforts/board directors in Seattle; and Lisa Macfarlane, head of the WA chapter of "Democrats for Education Reform", a national group of corporate reformers and backed by billionaire hedge fund managers. And, finally, Lauren has donated to the League of Ed voters, a Seattle based corporate reform group primarily funded by the Gates Foundation which has promoted charter schools and high stakes testing. These are not good associations to have given the problems associated with these players. Could she be different? Sure, but past experience with similar candidates makes this a risky proposition. When we have a stellar candidate like Jill Schlegel Geary as an option, the choice seems clear. Vote Jill Geary

  9. Looks like Death Valley is the new Seattle:

    The park has received 1.23 inches of rain this October, exceeding the average rainfall of 0.07 inches for the month, according to the National Weather Service. The annual rainfall average in the park is 2.36 inches, the weather service said. Rozapk


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

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