June 10, 2017

Cold and Snow in the Cascades

During the last few days, the air has had a chill, with windy/cool conditions more reminiscent of early spring than mid-June.    In fact, about 5000 ft there has even been snow in Cascades, as illustrated by the following pictures Stevens Pass and Crater Lake.

Examining the temperatures for the past two weeks at Seattle and Stampede Pass (4000 ft in the central Cascades) shows temperatures well below normal (the red line is the normal high, blue line, normal low).
The minimum temperatures last night were chilly, with a number of mountain locations dropping to or below freezing.  Eastern Oregon was also a freezer.

To give you an idea how unusually cold it is, here is a comparison of this morning's temperature at around 5000 ft (850 hPa) at Quillayute, on the WA coast, with climatology.  The dot indicates this morning's (5 AM) temperature, the black line is normal and the blue line is the record cold temperatures for each date.  We did not achieve record cold, but were close.

Why so cold?  An unusual trough of cold, low pressure has moved southward to the NW coast and is now passing into Oregon as it weakens.   To illustrate, here is the forecast for 850 hPa (roughly 5000 ft) heights and temperatures for 2 AM this (Saturday) morning...blue is cold.

The snow forecast of the UW WRF model from yesterday predicted snow at the upper elevations, with significant amounts over the southern Oregon Cascades.  Generally a good forecast.

With cold air aloft and strong June sun, the change in temperature with height (the lapse rate) will be large today, which leads to atmospheric convection (bubbling cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds).  Since the upper trough is moving into Oregon, the main shower action will be over Oregon, from Portland southward.    Here is western WA, the main shower activity will be in the mountains and I expect that the UW graduation activities to be relatively dry.  Tomorrow should be warmer and dry.


Ivar's at the Airport.  You may have read about intention of the Port of Seattle to drop Ivar's fish restaurant at Seattle-Tacoma Airport.    A big mistake (and a very fishy one).    Ivar's is not only popular and highly rated by virtually every online service (e.g., Tripadvisor) but is a local institution that is beloved by Washington residents.    They are also very "pro-weather", even creating an innovative local restaurant dedicated to a major local storm (Ivar's Mukileto Landing).   If any of you have any influence with the Port of Seattle, tell them to keep Ivar's at the airport.   In this day, of interchangeable "bistros" and fast food, it is nice to have food services that are locally based with deep roots in our history.
Seattle Port Commissioners:
Tom Albro                      Albro.T@PortSeattle.org
Stephanie Bowman    Bowman.S@PortSeattle.org
John Creighton             Creighton.J@PortSeattle.org
Fred Fellemen              Felleman@PortSeattle.org
Courtney Gregoire      Courtney.Gregoire@PortSeattle.org


  1. There is a noticeable absence of reporting stations in north central Washington, around Mansfield. I imagine it got well below freezing in some of the frost pockets on the Waterville Plateau. Last June we had a killing frost out there that did damage even to the native plants. It will be interesting to see what happened this time when I get back out there.

  2. Any signs as to when the persistent low in the Gulf of Alaska is going to finally dissipate/disappear/move on? It has seemingly been there forever, dropping cold and wet weather on us since late last year. We could really use a transition to some warmer weather and a more sustained break - my tomatoes too.

  3. Have never understood the enthusiasm for Ivar's, other than Ivar himself, who was lovable, and Ivar's Fourth of July, both of which are no longer with us. The food is mediocre at best.

  4. This has got to be great for the upcoming Fire Season, even with much warmer and drier conditions eventually returning you'd have to think that fire suppression efforts will be much easier than in recent years.

  5. The weather the last couple of days has been more reminiscent of normal early June weather, in my opinion, Cliff.

    I remember taking swimming lessons at Juanita Beach in 1964 in early June. One kid in my class just stood in Lake Washington next to the dock shivering; his skin color was actually blue. Lake Washington back then was sort of green. Good times.

  6. The tens of thousands of newcomers, so many of them from overseas, know nothing of Ivar's or anything of our history or our heritage. It's sad, but true, our "home-grown" culture is dying and with it our identity is lost.

  7. Wrote to each Port Commissioner. Heard Ivar's CEO on the Dori Monson show explain the point system used to choose a start up, Lucky Louie's, who no one ever heard of before, over Ivar's. I smell a rat....maybe a Port Commissioner with investment money in the start up? Doesn't make sense to choose some company without a proven track record when Ivar's is well known and loved by most people and exemplifies the other fine food served at our airport.

  8. Giving Ivar's the boot is a total fiasco. Worst case scenario they replace it with an airport Legal Seafood.

  9. I'm going to have to send a link to the WSU extension website. People are having way too hard a time with tomato growing.

  10. I worked a summer at Ivar's fish bar back in 1986. The cod was flash frozen at sea, thawed out the night before and 90% of it served the next day. It was breaded in the morning by folks like myself, I don't know how you can get a higher quality fried fish. The slaw was made fresh. The oysters were likewise very fresh, not frozen and breaded the same day.

    I have lesser things to say about the chowder. Some of the ingredients were preprocessed, but we put it all together each morning onsite.

    This is the only restaurant I use at SeaTac and I fly about twice a month.


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

Is Global Warming Causing Aircraft Turbulence to Increase?

 After the turbulence encounter by a Singapore Airlines aircraft,  there has been a slew of articles claiming that severe turbulence inciden...