Monday, June 1, 2020

The Darkest Late May Day in Twenty Years

Saturday, for many reasons, was an extremely dark day here in Seattle.

The view at 1 PM Saturday, near solar noon, was ominous and forbidding.

Meteorologically, it was the darkest day during the last week of May in twenty years, according to Mark Albright, a research scientist at the UW and past Washington State climatologist.

The solar radiation at the top of the Atmospheric Sciences Building at the UW was extraordinarily low, only reaching 2.82 megajoules per square meter (mega is million and joule is a unit of energy).  The day before it was almost 27...nearly ten times more!



A plot of the daily solar radiation from the wonderful WSU AgWeather site showed that Saturday had the lowest solar radiation in Seattle since early March, when the day wass much shorter and sun much weaker.



The reason for the low solar radiation?  The key one was the extremely deep and persistent clouds that hung over us the entire day, something evident in the visible satellite image at 1 PM:



May turned out to be substantially wetter than normal in Seattle, with 3.12 inches in the rain gauge, 1.18 inches higher than normal (1.94 inches).  Compare that to last May (.62 inches).   In fact, May was wetter than normal in much of the state, particularly the eastern portions and the western slopes of the Cascades (see below).

The wet May will aid in staving off wildfires this summer.  Temperatures average a few degrees above normal for the month.

Saturday was, of course, a dark day for Seattle in other ways, as documented by the Seattle PanoCam's image at 4:30 PM,  with smoke from burning cars spreading across downtown.  An extremely sad image for those who care for this city, and a warning of what can happen when those with violence and malice in their hearts are not countered by forces of reason and good will.



16 comments:

  1. Reason and Good Will aren't the language spoken, nor understood by the violent.

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    1. That's true. Donald Trump is immune to reason and good will.

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  2. Is that last sentence about the Seattle PD? If so, I agree!!

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  3. the storm saturday morning was a most welcome thing along with some dramatic clouds. I think Mother Natures was just reflecting our spiritual grief and shame.

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  4. The problem is..how do you change what is in people's hearts?...most people hold views that they keep for a lifetime.

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  5. Good observation. I've found that most people (and by most I mean 99.9%) do not learn anything new, nor are able to make any meaningful changes in their lives after about the age of 17 or so. In fact, the more one tries to explain alternate ways of understanding something to them, the more entrenched they become in their existing beliefs. This is human nature, the way it has always been, and is the way it will always be. End of story.

    All these protests and these kids with their bullhorns.. people so desperate to make others change.. they are on a fool's errand.

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  6. It was good to see some citizens in Seattle armed and ready to protect their neighborhoods. I see a few of my fellow citizens here in Portland ready to do the same - if local politicians are unable to protect their own citizens from life and property damage, nature abhors a vacuum.

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  7. Thanks for the observations and comments. Our PV panels (in coastal NW CA) had their 2nd lowest day of 2020: 2.24kWh (vs. 1.94kWh for Jan 1). Avg daily for May: 18.6 kWh.

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  8. I measured 2.76MJ per square meter at my location NW Bellingham. Particularly impressive given the 14 hours of measurable daylight that day.

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  9. Cliff,

    I couldn't agree with your closing statement more.

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  10. Cliff, I found your first graph (solar radiation) particularly interesting - not only for the data contained therein but also for the manner in which they are displayed. On the left axis, solar radiation is expressed in Langleys/hour, on the right axis in Watts per meter squared and in the text of the graph in megajoules per square meter. Good grief!

    BTW, my Davis Pro2 solarimeter here in Olympia shows almost exactly the same trend for May 30 - solar radiation increasing to a mid day value of about 1,000 W/m squared, with a tiny spike going up to about 1,200.

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    1. Yes, those little spikes represent the sun shining through a hole in the clouds, which can temporarily bring the solar intensity up above that of a clear sky because scattered radiation is added to direct radiation.

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  11. It is the era of manipulation and projection. Be careful what one says for it will surely be proven wrong usually by quoting incomplete science. Science is a process not an outcome. Those who manipulate do not care about the greater good. Those who blame others are usually covering up their intentions.

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  12. This is hard to respond to; but, I will add my voice. I was thinking about a scene from a Greek myth “Saturn eating his Children”, that has been repeatedly depicted in paintings across generations from Rubens, to Goya, to today’s memes. Its theme is a depiction of what those in power fear most - being usurped. Power is at its most virulent in political circles. On the local level, when we plebians, witness those who are in power, killing an innocent man, it is horrific. The plebians’ outcry is only effective when heard in unison - with demonstrations. As always, there are those with sinister motives who wreak havoc: looting and destroying (the things and places we enjoy) for their own self-serving purposes.
    As for the younger generation, I am glad they “question authority.” It is their right and duty. They are more interconnected with the rest of the world than at any time in history. That’s something! They have grown up seeing the totality of how an action can cause an equal and opposite reaction - more clearly today than at any time. I’m glad the two millennials in my life think, ask questions, discuss, reject or embrace. I love the youthfulness of youth. Did you watch the SpaceX/NASA launch? It brought me to tears when I heard someone say that today’s youth are the Artemis Generation. Their curiosity and drive will send them to the Moon, to Mars, maybe Saturn, who knows?…we won’t be there for the ride.

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