Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Strongest Summer Jet Stream to Hit the Pacific Northwest EVER!

An extraordinary weather event has been occurring above our heads during the past 24-hour.   A record that was not only broken, but shattered to little pieces.

The strongest summer jet stream ever observed over the Pacific Northwest.  

The jet stream is a narrow current of strong winds in the upper troposphere (roughly 25,000 ft to 35,000 ft above sea level).   It is often the conduit for storms and is associated with a large temperature gradient (change in temperature with horizontal distance) in the middle and lower troposphere.   Winds in the jet stream are westerly (from the west) and aircraft like to fly in the jet stream going east, while avoiding it going west.   You are now Jet Steam certified!

The ECMWF 12-h forecast for 5 AM this morning for the wind speed at the 250 hPa pressure level (about 35,000 ft) clearly shows the jet stream, with the orange/red colors being the strongest winds.


This is a HUGE and very zonal (east-west oriented) jet stream...as shown by the next map at the same time.  This looks like January, not July.


But now I will really impress you. 

 The wind this morning at the radiosonde site at Quillayute (UIL) was 140 knots (161 mph) at the 250 hPa level (again around 35,000 ft).   This is amazingly fast for this time of the year.

The plot below shows the climatology of the winds at this level throughout the year at this location, with the red lines being the all-time record for each date (the black lines are average winds for the date, blue lines, the record low winds).   Vertical soundings at Quillayute go back to the late 1960s...so we are talking about a half-century of observations.   The previous record was around 110 knots...so the 140 knots observed today absolutely shattered the record.     In fact, the wind over us right now is greater then the records for any date from April 1 to mid-October.


Record, but lesser winds, are being observed at the next upper air station to the south:  Salem, Oregon (see below)


A truly unusual event.   And one that should not be pinned on global warming.  In fact, several of the global warming jet stream papers (e.g., by Jennifer Francis and others) suggest that global warming will bring a weak and wavy jet stream.  This is just the opposite.


24 comments:

  1. I’m worried about smoke being brought in from central Siberia in this pattern.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Does this create a hazard for air travel? This whole thing is confusing to me and doesn't sound good. Does this suggest our winter could be "super-zonal"? Stormy?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not a hazard but a nice tailwind for the Airlines coming over from Asia. Not too good for the other direction but the airlines take the northern polar route over Alaska going from North America to Asia thus avoiding the strong headwind from the jet stream.

      Delete
    2. I know that in june of 1994 myself and 3 buddies went to Japan for a couple months after graduating high school. On the way over we frew Seattle-Portland-Tokyo-Osaka. Anyway, about 4 or 5 hours into the flight from Portland to Tokyo, i looked out the window and all i could see to the horizon was snow capped mountains. At that point i was certain our plane was going the wrong direction haha. Come to find out we were over Alaska. I always thought up till then that we would be over the ocean the entire time, but almost halfway to Japan and all we see was mountains was very surprising. Also, the flight over was a little over 11 hours, and the exact same flight back was just under 10 so the winds saved us over an hour. It was also odd leaving Japan at about 5pm on a Wednesday, spending about 12 hours flying to portland then seattle, and arriving home on Wednesday afternoon. That August day was around 40 hours long for us haha! I guess technically we did make it to Thursday early morning during the flight before crossing the international date line, causing us to go back 24 hours to early Wednesday morning... It was just really weird..

      Delete
  3. Nice post with nice explanations! Thanks again...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm continually amazed at how Cliff's posts often contradict the MSM these days, I haven't seen anything from the big weather sites describing this phenomenon. Ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is more on the esoteric side. But the NWS covered it on its Twitter feed:

      https://twitter.com/NWSSeattle/status/1151905121313464320

      Delete
  5. Good description, but ... Why? One key hallmark of a dynamic system that's in transition from one state to another is highly increased variability in behavior - perhaps jet stream patterns re climate change.
    Cliff, I know you aren't a climate change expert, but do you know of anyone who's working on/published on the transition phase from modern humans' historically quite stable & benign climate/global temperature regime to one at higher temperature set point? Anyone looking at what (temporarily) increased variability might look like?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Usually strong jet stream winds indicate significant tropospheric temperature difference either side of the jet. Like what happens in this Northern Hemisphere winter. Is this pattern due to something occurring in the upper stratosphere and mesosphere?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post, and fascinating. I don't remember much July wind like what we got at the surface yesterday either. And to answer Jeff's questions, no and no.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's huge compared to the rest of the globe right now. https://www.netweather.tv/charts-and-data/global-jetstream#2019/07/18/1200Z/jetstream/surface/level/overlay=jetstream/orthographic=-162.69,59.25,201

    ReplyDelete
  9. Not directly related to your interesting post.... What do you think of the article in the July 16 Atlantic magazine entitled "California's Wildfires are 500 Percent Larger Due to Climate Change"

    ReplyDelete
  10. There was a lot of Lightning on the Canadian border today along with the winds. Rain in that area dropped the temperature drastically in the mountains. It felt like snow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't believe it's mid-July. I have my furnace running.

      Delete
    2. Yep, same down here in the Columbia Gorge. It's on the verge of cold today.

      Delete
    3. Yesterday morning here in Centralia it was in the 40's .. july 19th .. yep.

      Delete
  11. That kind of shear will wreak havoc in the Midwest when it noses in.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Interesting to view on:

    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=-112.84,49.20,568

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have been following you for some time and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your posts. In my former life I did aviation meteorological briefings for pilots, but through your blog you have taught me so much! ....much more than I learned “in school”. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This wouldn't be something to expect in a solar minimum, would it?

    ReplyDelete
  15. I would classify this an extreme weather anomaly, which actually could be contributed to global warming.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Cliff

    I really love all the data you supply visually and graphically. It helps us see what is happening. Like mzjohansen above I just try to learn and observe.

    ReplyDelete
  17. So Cliff, the strongest jet stream EVER. Would you care to tell us how long the strength of the jet stream has been measured in this region -- and anywhere else, for that matter? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete