July 05, 2016

Two Places to Enjoy Fresh Summer Snow: Greenland and the Pacific Northwest

Some of us really miss snow in July and it is such a pain to travel to Greenland to experience it.

But don't worry, because of an usually cool weather pattern, you can enjoy snow within a day's car drive, without going to Greenland.

Don't believe me?    Here are National Weather Service precipitation type forecasts from their GFS model.  Blue is snow, rain is green.  First, the forecast for next Sunday morning at 5 AM.   Amply snow in Greenland, but also over the higher elevations in the Northwest.

Six hours later, snow in Idaho!

The origin of this wacky summer weather?   An amazing triple low over western North America and the eastern Pacific, as illustrated by the upper level chart at 11 PM Saturday.   The trifecta of cool.

The long range models have been having a very hard time forecasting the persistent cold trough (low pressure) over the Northwest.  Here is the 4 week forecast centered on July 10th (the date of the above figure).    Yellow or red are above normal heights or pressures.  Didn't have a clue.

The long-term forecasts have consistently missed this persistent western U.S. troughing  (low pressure) and cold.  So I would not put away your sweaters and be prepared for snow at higher elevations in the mountains.

You don't have to go to Greenland to experience snow this week.  Just head to the North Cascades.


  1. Cliff, I know it's a long way out in the future, in terms of the forecast, but what's the prognostication for the weekend of the 16th and 17th? We're starting to get a bit nervous for the STP and would like warm weather and those northerly tail winds to boost us down to Portland.

  2. I was first introduced to these guys about 15 years ago and have found them to be consistently "pretty damn good", at least for southwest BC.


    I find their short term climate outlooks great for a reasonably reliable snapshot of 1 to 2 weeks out. True to form, they have been nailing the past month or so pretty good, whatever error seems to be associated with us ( and you just to the south) being just on the southern edge of the storm track

  3. What's the thinking among the weather gods regarding the extreme shift in summer weather, last year to this? Has the configuration of the atmosphere over most of the northern hemisphere changed this year, or is this a regional effect?

    Or is this some kind of rebound effect when coming out of a strong El Nino, given conditions are reportedly neutral now, trending toward La Nina for winter? Have we reached the bottom of multiple recurring weather cycles?

    With this coolness expected to last until mid-July, and maybe beyond, it would be interesting to learn if there's a bigger picture. Clearly, the long-range forecasts didn't go this way.

  4. I'm wondering the same as John Marshall- the long range forecast was all about a warmer than normal summer through late August, up til very recently.

  5. Bring back the Blob! Bring back the Blob!

  6. http://www-k12.atmos.washington.edu/k12/grayskies/plot_nw_wx_climate1.cgi

    There is nothing odd about this weather; the only thing odd was the heat wave in late May. While it's certainly true that the average for the last week is running a bit closer to the average low for this period, the temperature has yet to cross below the average low, and certainly not to the tune of 20F, which is how far about the average high we were just four short weeks ago.

    Have we been setting low temperature records overnight? At the UW last night it reached 57F, which is barely even "cool". The low at SeaTac July 2 was 19F above the record low, and we're below average cumulative rain for the last twelve weeks.

    While it makes for a good update from Cliff, I don't think the weather is "whacky". If one walks up a mountain for a few thousand feet and finds that the precipitation is falling as snow, the most likely conclusion is that the atmospheric temperature drops with elevation. ;)

  7. So its looking like persistent cool, wet fall weather for the foreseeable future then,
    the first "non-summer" in recent memory, maybe as far back as some of the ones in the late 90's. Whats scarier is that if we're getting fall this early, when real fall comes we're looking at waiting all the way till 2017 to roll the dice on next year's summer.
    Thats one huge, nasty 18+ month wet cold fall/winter combination that started back in 2015 to have to live through. Heaven for you nut rain & cold enthusiasts but miserable for everyone else.

  8. I am pretty sure the heat will be back by the 3rd week of July, always seems to, at least in Central Washington. We had more than a few heat spikes, there were at least 4 this Spring where it was going 10-20 degrees above normal, for days in a row (two in April, two in May, a small one in June). I can't ever remember seeing 100s for 3-5 days in a row in Spring, but we did in late May, some in June as well. I think the summer will be just fine but probably not as hot as the last two which were absolutely influenced by El Nino and the so-called blob. And frankly, if La Nina does develop, I have been reading it is going to be weak, so I don't see the winter being any worse than last year, and probably a bit less on the precipitation frankly (I don't see Seattle breaking rain records this winter).

    Bruce: Thanks for the link, some really good information on that weather site.

  9. This isn't weird weather, it's just our regular summer weather, which I know a lot of newer residents don't want to hear. You really weren't lied to when you used to hear that it rains here all the time!
    Heck, it's not even July 13th yet, which is when we were always told to expect summer, which was then limited to 6 weeks.
    Occasionally we do have those years where summer never comes, but chances are always good for warm, sunny days in September, if not before.

  10. @Evert: You want miserable, come down to Houston for the next few months. I'd dance naked in the streets if it were overcast and 59 here. I truly miss summer weather where you can actually get out and be reasonably active without losing several pounds of water weight per hour via sweating.

  11. Everett, were you one of the folks who were complaining about the excessive heat and dryness over the past two summers? I was, and I grew numb to the constant fire warnings (which were, sadly, all too accurate) and persistent drumbeats of how we were all doomed to perish in the eternal flames of worldwide, catastophic drought and global warming. While the overall warming may indeed continue, this spell of below average temps and above average precip is a welcome relief to those who've been waiting for this kind of "summer" weather to finally make it's reappearance in the NW.


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

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