September 29, 2019

Early Snow Hits the Northwest

With cold air and plenty of moisture, an early snow has blanketed parts of our region....with convective cells even bringing temporary icing to Portland and vicinity.  Blizzard conditions with winds gusting to 50 mph and feet of snow are hitting parts of Montana.

Some of the images this morning are downright...chilling.

Mission Ridge, at 4500 ft above Wenatchee,  looks like it received just under a foot by 8 AM this morning.


Paradise on Mount Rainier (around 5000 ft), perhaps an inch.


Stevens Pass at 4000 ft-- a dusting, but much more just above.


What is more notable perhaps is Spokane, which beat its daily and month snow records with a snowfall of 1.9 inches.

Here is the National Snow Analysis at 11 PM last night (in two pieces).     The higher elevations of the Cascades (above 4000 ft) got whitened, with Montana getting huge amounts on the eastern side of the Rockies due to upslope flow. There is a lot more snow now and even more later today.



The cold unstable air that swung around the low center brought some heavy showers in parts of the west, with a particularly strong cell covering the ground with soft hail in Portland, turning the ground white (see picture taken by Justin Sharp).


The radar image at 4:13 PM, when this bedlam was occurring, was impressive, with intense precipitation (red colors) around Portland.


Winds?  You bet.   With a large pressure difference down the Fraser River Valley and air jetting out to the southwest, some areas around Bellingham had gusts to 30-40 mph, with one gust hitting 43 mph.


And the northerly and northeasterly flow attending the low center, FINALLY caused the BLOB to release it warm grip from the region, with our low temperatures falling below normal.  Examining the temperatures during the past 12 weeks at Seattle (compared to the normal highs and lows), Seattle for the first time in that period had its low temperatures drop to well below normal. 


Finally, there will be plenty of new snow falling today, as shown by the UW WRF total snowfall over the next 24 h. The ridges near the eastern slopes of the Cascades will get hit hard and parts of Montana will get a foot or more. 


The heavy September rainfall, plus this rain-snow event, is a boon to our water resources going into the fall.  All Northwest wildfires have been extinguished.   But there is a sad note  regarding this wet/cold bounty:  my poor tomato plants are turning yellow and dying.   Will the green tomatoes turn red?  Time will tell.

26 comments:

  1. Nope. Time to throw in the towel. Lots of green tomato recipes online though.

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  2. Thanks for the update Cliff! My tomatoes are also doing the same as yours! Oh well! 😊

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  3. um well sorry to blow it, but according to old farmers Almanacs Extended winter forecast its showing us as the chilly normal precipitation. cliff we deserve a better forecast lol

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  4. There appeared to be 6-8" of snow on the ground at around 5500' in the northern part of the North Fork Nooksack watershed yesterday afternoon.

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  5. We're visiting our daughter who lives on a high Spokane hill, about 10-12 miles from downtown. It started snowing and blowing here yesterday morning. (30-40 mph wind gusts took down part of her fully-loaded 4-variety apple tree.) As I write this at 10:50am Sunday it's still snowing with 5" on the ground. Thankfully, the wind has calmed considerably. It's forecast to turn to rain later today. Sure hope we won't have trouble getting down their steep road tomorrow.

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  6. Cliff,

    Any idea when the last September Fraser outflow event of this magnitude occurred?

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  7. To Jonathan,

    Sep 25, 2013 was almost as cold.

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    1. weatherguy,

      I see no evidence for your claim in KBLI's records. The maximum temperature on 9/25/13 was 62F, minimum temperature was 45F, minimum dew point was 45F, maximum wind gust was 17mph from the WNW. In fact, September 2013 was relatively unremarkable with monthly temperatures ranging from a max of 83F to a min of 40F. There was a 43mph wind gust on 9/22/13, however, that was associated with a typical, if a little early, Pacific frontal system as the direction was southeasterly. I have not done exhaustive research but my initial impression is that September Fraser outflow of the intensity and severity experienced in Western Whatcom County over the weekend has not occurred in decades.

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  8. Cliff,

    It may feel like a long winter since we're getting an early start on snow monitoring! Perhaps a sunny getaway will be in order this year.

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  9. Here in Ashland, I pulled the tomato plants a couple days ago, still loaded with unripe fruit, and hung them upside down in the garden shed. Good timing, as the garden is in a low spot and the NWS just issued a frost advisory for tonight.

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  10. Before the first frost we have pulled up our tomato plants and wrapped the whole plant in layers of newspaper and then stored them in the garage. They ripened to a deep red and we had fresh tomatoes long after the garden was put to sleep for the winter. According to growveg.com at lower temperatures 10-15°C (50-60°F) ripening typically takes 3-4 weeks whereas at 18-21°C (65-70°F) they can take just 2 weeks.

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  11. 11 inches of snow and 27 degrees at Timberline Lodge this afternoon at @ 3PM and still snowing.

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  12. Pup your tomatoes on a window sill in the house. Most will turn red.

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  13. Green tomato salsa verde! I just made some earlier this week.

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  14. Cliff, can you comment on the snow records broken over the weekend? I read last year we had the earliest snowfall on record (for steven's pass) on october 2nd, earliest in 14 years.

    This year I'm reading spokane got it's earliest snowfall in almost 100 years. How does steven's pass snowfall this weekend compare to historic records?

    It feels like we are breaking more and more records with early snowfall and early meltoff of snow in the past few years.

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    Replies
    1. "...breaking more and more records with...early meltoff of snow in the past few years"?

      Can you please cite the records that were broken? I find no evidence of that whatsoever, including this year which was very early - and came in at the 5th earliest in 39 years: https://komonews.com/weather/scotts-weather-blog/snow-is-gone-from-stevens-pass-5th-earliest-meltout-in-39-years

      And, as noted in that article, 2018 was exactly one day shy of normal, so not close to a "record". 2017 wasn't close either.

      Cliff and others at the UW have studied this and, in truth, meltout dates in the Cascades have been trending *later* since the 80's: https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2016/05/stevens-pass-melt-out.html

      Anyway, looking forward to you refuting Cliff's analysis with the stats you must have to make a very serious claim like that.

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    2. Man, you got WAY too defensive and aggressive with your comment. I'm wondering if you want to re-read my comment and try replying again without the aggressive tone?

      I said, "it FEELS like". That's my OPINION.

      My comment was asking Cliff to compare recent snowfalls and meltoffs with historical data to see if we really are breaking records.

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  15. Cliff
    You show Mission Ridge yesterday with just under a foot of new snow. Look at it this morning with just under 2 feet of snow!!

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  16. Yesterday's max temp in NW Bellingham was 57F. Minimum temperature this morning was 37F. This is the first time a September temperature below 40F has occurred at KBLI since 2016 and is the coldest September temperature at that location since 2015.

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  17. I got 5.1 inches of rain in September on the Bothell- Mill Creek line. A record?

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  18. I would yank those tomato plants to minimize any possibility of late blight.

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  19. Mission Ridge got a third of their annual snowfall, so it seems.
    I don't recall ever seeing more than 48" the whole season on NWAC.
    I guess they did have one huge dump recently, where a system came up from the SE?
    Was that last winter or the year before?

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  20. Jonathan: Weatherguy seems to have a good handle on the range of what's normal, long term. In Whatcomm, BLI's statistics (and also Blaine's) are often outliers. Both are near water, coastal, and neither correlate very well with inland lowlands or the highlands. This seems like a very early fall but "early" is relative. Last year in the hills: 10/3-10/6 lows in were 32.4, 32.2, 33.5, 31.9 F and on 10/14 it dropped to 29.2 F.

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  21. hey cliff, you should put an update for the 2019-2020 winter season and the funny thing is, i really think we are gonna have another huge winter than last year. us getting the amount of snow for the amount of time we did this last winter was unbelievable this year just might be the huge snow event breaking worldwide like it did in port angles

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  22. The minimum temperature in Cut Bank, MT this morning was 1F.

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