July 29, 2020

Extreme Heat and Super Heat Low in Eastern Washington

Tomorrow should be a record-breaking day in eastern Washington with temperatures surging above 105F in a number of locations, accompanied skin-cracking low humidities and even moderate winds.

The forecast surface temperatures for tomorrow are simply stunning, with the Columbia Basin being ground zero for the warmth (the white areas are above 104F!),

The map of relative humidity at the same time shows some locations getting down to around 10%---extraordinarily low.  Seattle will be dry....but no where as arid.

The eastern Washington/Oregon heat is associated with a feature known as a thermal or heat low, something made clear by the sea level pressure map at that time.   Warm air has less density than cooler air, which contributes to the low sea level pressure.  Look closely and you will see the pressure lines will be close together  over eastern Washington.  Such large pressure differences will produce stong wins, in this care strong easterly winds.

With extreme warmth, low humidities, and strong winds, the USDA Forest Service HOT-DRY-WINDY wildfire index will be very high.  Brian Potter, a wildfire expert at the Forest Service, told me that he gets very worried when the index gets over 600...which it does in several locations tomorrow.

Let's hope there is no fire ignition by a scattered thunderstorm or an inattentive human.

A major marine push will occur late Friday and Saturday morning, which will cool eastern Washington over the weekend, but could stoke up any fires.   This is the time we have to be careful folks.

K-12 Outreach Idea

With kids being forced to learn online  by COVID (which is a not-ideal for most), I was thinking that some might enjoy some educational weather related online videos.   Such as:

1.  What are clouds made of?
2.  How to identify clouds and what do they tell you about the weather?
3.  How to be your own weather observer (set up an inexpensive weather station)

Probably would direct it to grades 4-8.

... material like that.  Might Seattle or one of the other school districts be interested in such material?  Would be easy to work up,

Petition Against Defunding Seattle Police

I believe a 50%  (or any) defunding of Seattle Police is a reckless and dangerous proposal.  If you agree, please consider signing this petition:


  1. Spokane area schools might. Do you have a summary of what you want?

  2. I have 4 school age boys that would love this! We've discussed setting up a weather station on top of the chicken coup! Any suggestions on brands or models?

  3. Cliff,

    After having been in your classes I highly recommend your thoughtful and interesting presentation style. Also, you make it fun. I hope schools take you up on your offer as the students would surely benefit educationally and begin to build a foundation of understanding the natural world that may become an interest for their lifetime. Great idea!

  4. Cliff, your suggestion about doing climate related videos for students is excellent. It would be a great resource to have. Thank you

  5. I think material for kids would be wonderful!! I think parents would appreciate it, let alone school districts. I'd love to teach my children more about weather and it fits in so nicely with standard earth science, even math, etc. … Have you ever considered doing even just at little "weekly weather for kids" sort of post, maybe something that breaks down key concepts in weather with broader science/math lessons? Anyway thanks for wonderful, always interesting and informative content!

  6. Hey Cliff! Our first unit is weather and climate starting in Septemeber. I would like to take you up on your offer :)

  7. Please make the education videos, Cliff!

  8. Oh wow! How about a PNW kids weather tracker balloon launch day! Cliff, you could do the countdown and serve as Houston central...imagine balloons everywhere floating up at once!

  9. My four-year old is fascinated with observing and naming different kinds of clouds (among many other things, like all the mountains and the geographic locations of everything and how weather works and all sorts of things) Just to say that even little ones can like weather, and education is always welcome. 😀

  10. Thank you for your support of students and the Seattle Police Department, Cliff. Stay cool today!

  11. My daughter was inspired by the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs when she was younger and wants to be a meteorologist like Sam Sparks when she grows up (if she doesn't train horses). We started following your blog and read your book because it was the easier than navigating the student area on the NWS website and there is nothing for advanced middle school or high school in the homeschool curriculum circuit. We've learned so much from you already.

  12. Our school would love to learn about weather! Please keep us updated!
    Also, petition signed! Nice work!


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