Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Third Coldest February In Seattle History (And Snow Showers Later Today!)

Knowing the highs and lows for the first 26 days of February, and with reliable forecasts for the next two, it is now evident how February temperatures will rank at Sea-Tac Airport on an historical basis:

It will be the third coldest February in a record going back to the late 1940s.

The average temperature this month at Sea-Tac I calculated was 36.46 F.

The coldest Februaries at Sea Tac were 35.64F in 1956 and 35.88F in 1989.
2019 is next in line, followed by 37.3F in 1949.  I can't imagine this rank changing no matter what the temperature is the next two days.


This February is particularly cold considering all the construction (and thus warming) in the area around Sea-Tac Airport since 1989.   So meteorologically we really we in a league with the top two.

A plot of Sea-Tac Airport temperatures, with the normal highs and lows, is, well, chilling. We had a week where the average high barely hit the average low, and in no day since Feb 4th has the our high temperature even approached the normal high.  The last few days have even cooled. 
An interesting question is whether there are been much of a trend in February temperatures over Puget Sound. 

Using the wonderful NOAA ESRL website, here is a plot of the February mean temperatures over the Puget Sound lowlands from 1950 to 2018.  A lot of variability but little trend over the past 70 years.  Interestingly, there is a big cold spell in February roughly every 30 years:   1956, 1989, and 2019 (not shown, but there will be another major spike down this year).  


The whole state?   Pretty much the same story (see below).  Little evidence of long-term warming, but several degrees of variability (up and down excursions).  Later in the century, we would expect some warming due to increasing greenhouse gases, but warming is slowed here in the Northwest by the slow to warm eastern Pacific.


Finally, there is a chance of snow showers later today, particularly east and north of Seattle.  A weak disturbance is moving through and temperatures are marginal here in Seattle for snow.  The total precipitation forecast through 11 PM is shown below...very light over the lowlands, but heavier towards the Cascades.


The expected snowfall in that period is essentially zero near the water, but ramps up towards the Cascades.   Portland gets some light snow.  Nothing to rush to the food store for.  But more good news for the Cascade snowpack.




34 comments:

  1. Any idea when we will break out of this cold? I'm 63 years here and really getting sick of the cold. Normally we get a day or two of warmer weather in February that gives us some hope spring is on it's way. High 50's even low 60's.

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    1. I’m with you on this, Mike! Where’s our usual “false spring”?

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  2. currently there are light flurries on 18 on my way to North Bend.

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  3. Seattle is in the minor leagues, temperature wise,compared to stations east of the Cascades and especially,east of the Rockies.Seattle is running only about 7 degrees below normal. Spokane is running more than 11 degrees below normal;good chance it will be the coldest February on record at GEG,which has been in operation about as long as Sea-Tac. But,astonishingly,places like Great Falls,Cut Bank,and Havre are running 27-29 degrees below normal for the month. Absolutely incredible.

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    1. And during the second half of February in the Alaskan Arctic, temperatures 45 F above average in some areas.

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  4. Well, it's not over yet. But somehow, my crocuses are soldiering on... several are blooming.

    I note that the jet stream's course now is very similar to what it was during the infamous summer of 1993. Long-term NW residents will remember this: After a more or less normal spring, with a high of 85 in May, that temperature was not reach again until September if I remember correctly. The high for all of July was 78. And it was cloudy from the solstice until August. Summer really did not arrive until, astronomically speaking, it was nearly over.

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    1. I remember that. That was the year I graduated h
      HS. I just forgot that what year that memorable summer was. I swear we had another like that but there’s been so much grey in my life living here that it blurs. Now with the smiley summers.... We told ourselves we would move before another one.

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    2. Lots of other variables needed to predict a summer pattern( and even than any long range outlook is a crapshoot).However you're right Feb 93 was dry and cold although drier than our current Feb. One of the driest on record I recall. I also remember we had a very warm and dry period in September and well into October in 93 (made up for the lousy summer). Snowpack was low in 93 so the wet summer was welcomed for water levels.

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    3. I was pregnant with a September baby in 1993. I remember I was the only person grateful for the weather that summer.

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  5. Do you have any comments or thoughts on the snow events happening in Eastern, WA over the last couple of days? Seems like we are getting more snow than we anticipated.

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  6. So we received a scant to one inch in most of Portland. All schools are closed - many businesses as well. Some things never change.

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  7. Is a cold february typically correlated to a colder than average March and spring? If it is, I'm buying a one-way to Puerto Rico.

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  8. -10F temperature anomaly in Bellingham for the month. Max temp: 49F, min temp: 15F; avg max temp: 48F, avg min temp: 33F.

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  9. First half of January was the warmest on record for Seattle, so this all looks like a reversion to the mean. Basically, January and February were reversed. All year I kept getting the feeling that the season was a month late.

    https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/climate/yeardisp.php?wfo=sew&stn=KSEW&submit=Yearly+Charts

    https://twitter.com/NWSSeattle/status/1085897856349818881

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  10. "Human-caused climate change and the sixth mass extinction are the biggest stories for all humans, and for every species on the planet. We stand on the brink of our own possible extinction. We’ve already emitted deadly amounts of greenhouse gases. The last time there was this much CO2 in the atmosphere, it warmed the Earth 7°C higher than today’s temperatures, and the seas were 23 meters higher. We are now in a time where the damage has been done. We are simply waiting for the Earth to fully express all of that damage." http://zielonewiadomosci.pl/tematy/obywatele/we-are-off-the-cliff/

    and:

    "The result might hold up, but we already have more than enough reasons to avoid reaching this point, says Kate Marvel at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
    Emissions are currently growing in line with the worst-case scenario...
    The reason why the cloud feedback effect had not been discovered before is that general climate models of the planet have to greatly simplify cloud physics to make the computations manageable.

    Schneider’s team instead modelled only a small part of the subtropical atmosphere in great detail.

    And if the models are missing major effects like this, there could be more nasty surprises in store as the world warms. “Yes, for sure,” says Muri. “We will certainly see more surprises.”

    Earth could warm by 14C as growing emissions destroy crucial clouds: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2194781-earth-could-warm-by-14c-as-growing-emissions-destroy-crucial-clouds/

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  11. Cold and snow for you, cold and dry for us... Looking at the forecast it looks like we'll be coming up on 2 months in Revelstoke without any significant snowfall... nothing more than flurries. mostly sunshine, deep cold and wind.

    When the hell can we expect the storm track to pay us a visit again? These persistent long term arctic ridges seem to be coming more and more frequent north of the border. The storm track left us mid Jan and I see nothing in the forecast to indicate it's coming back anytime soon... Just slightly warmer but still dry.

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    1. Not in the next 2 weeks but March is often a stormy month for BC.

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  12. several scientists have stopped saying climate change and are now using the term climate disruption.....

    here's an argument that we are now in ENVIRONMENTAL BREAKDOWN....

    "First, the term “climate change” no longer captures reality. The scale of environmental change that our earth is currently experiencing far exceeds it. We are depleting soil, killing species, damaging oceans. This is happening at a pace that is unprecedented in human history and in some cases millions, or even billions, of years.

    We call this what it is: the age of environmental breakdown – a term that is a more proportionate description of the totality that the earth presently faces. "

    from the NEW STATESMAN here: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2019/02/it-s-no-longer-climate-change-we-re-living-through-it-s-environmental

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    1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08824-8

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  13. A summer where it doesn't get above 80 sounds perfect. 70-75....just perfect. Bring it on! Its why we live here.

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  14. I remember February of 1989 very well, I turned 21 on the 2nd, it snowed and the temperature dropped into the teens...no one wanted to go out for my first legal drink.

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  15. "Sahila":

    It seems from your bizarre and incoherent submissions that you may be experiencing a MENTAL BREAKDOWN. Please do take care of yourself and get help.

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  16. Hey Salia, we get it. Were all going to hell in a handbasket unless we do SOMETHING NOW. You can put down your bullhorn and repeated wall 'o texts for the future.

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  17. Cliff,
    Thanks for sticking to the facts and mentioning UHI effect.
    Hopefully the climate thought police don’t give you too much trouble.

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  18. While it is most likely that as mentioned greenhouse gasses will continue to increase this century, the increasingly rapid movement of the magnetic north pole and weakening of the Earth's magnetic field could quite possibly at least as strongly influence the climate. While related predictions are difficult since any cooling would likely result from the net of a combination of forces as some forces support warmer temperatures while other forces support cooler temperatures, it is possible that as a result temperatures in Seattle will become cooler in February.

    Longer daylight hours and greater exposure to UV in combination with cold temperatures and snow cover tend to support ozone depletion and the stability of a polar vortex over eastern Canada in late winter. Lack of daylight and UV near the pole during February also support a polar vortex being over eastern Canada rather than farther north. However as the magnetic pole rapidly moves away from eastern Canada, support for additional ozone depletion near the magnetic pole during solar events is reduced. To the extent that this results in a weaker polar vortex over eastern Canada and an increased tendency for the polar vortex to break apart, more often only the central and eastern US will be downstream from northerly flows as warmer temperatures in Seattle are supported by the position of a low over the Aleutians and an upper level ridge over the western US.

    The magnetic pole now being near the north pole to some degree supports a greater overall tendency for the coldest air in the northern hemisphere to be near the north pole rather than over eastern Canada. However without daylight and UV,related support doesn't occur until late winter. Without additional support for a ozone depletion over eastern Canada related to the magnetic pole, support is reduced for a strong polar vortex being at any particular location in the northern hemisphere along with related positive feedback for ozone depletion until daylight reaches near the north pole.

    Colder February temperatures in Seattle could result if a strong polar vortex near the north pole or over Siberia tends to more often develop in late winter. Further support could result as the magnetic field weakens and ozone depletion and UV intensity increase farther away from the magnetic pole during solar events. This would tend to result in more rapid cooling over snow covered areas in northern regions. With a reduced tendency for a polar vortex to remain over eastern Canada, this would tend to support a ridge over the north Pacific as it becomes relatively warm compared to the land. With a related northerly flow off the west and cold air near the north pole rather than over eastern Canada, Seattle would more often be downstream from cold northerly flows in February as weather patterns similar to those during this month occur more frequently. However since the weather pattern this month is quite unique, it will take a while to determine if a trend is occurring.

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  19. BAMCIS,

    Not in my book if it is as cloudy as it was during summer 1993. I got rained off the Ptarmigan Traverse and snowed off of Church mountain. When some friends suggested an escape to Colorado, I didn't even have to think about it.

    Anisa,

    Yes there was another summer almost as bad as 93: That was 99. Again, very little sun until September. And yes, for what ever reason, those have gotten more rare. Recent summers have been great. Except, if it is dry too long we get forest fires, which are no bargain either. A thundershower once a week like back East would be welcome in my book.

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  20. For the eastern part of the State, see here;
    http://inlandnorthwestweather.blogspot.com/2019/02/february-recap-records-broken.html

    Thanks Cliff.

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  21. i'm posting links to climate disruption information as a 'public service' so to speak....

    i think there is lots to discuss and we need to consider how (and when) we should plan and prepare to cope with the changing world we're going to be facing sooner perhaps than the IPCC reports would have us believe...

    for those who dont like me posting this information, please feel free to scroll on by - you have the power!

    i'd remind you that this blog is moderated as to what comments get posted or not....

    Mr Mass has seen fit to post my comments....

    maybe he thinks there is information in them that people might find valuable....

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    1. I think the the responses are moderated for vulgarness and language not peoples opinions. He lets most comments through even if they are nonsense.

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  22. 23F this morning in NW Bellingham. Coldest March reading at my location since measurements began October 2015.


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  23. I just read about a polar vortex coming from another blog. Please say it isnt so.

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  24. hi all - where can I get a downloadable dataset of monthly average temperatures in Seattle by month from 2014 to present? I am trying to compare the temperate to my power usage to derive correlations over time. Appreciate your help.

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