August 17, 2020

Extreme Beauty and Extreme Temperatures

The weather during the past 24-h has been  extreme in several ways (some of which I will explain below), but so has been the raw beauty of the atmosphere around us.

Last night, I went with my wife and a friend to cool off at Richmond Beach Park and the sunset was extraordinary (see below).  The sky around the Olympics was on fire, with rays of orange and red extending overhead.   The reason for such extreme colors?  The red/orange light of sunset playing within the clouds and rain from the approaching line of showers/thundershowers.

And this morning, I went outside and thought I had entered an impressionistic painting.

This was the remnant of some low-level instability from the previous evening.   Van Gogh would have a field day with this scene.

But then there were the weather extremes.  Yesterday's temperatures hit record levels at some locations, and I am not talking about daily records.  I am talking about ALL-TIME RECORDS.

The temperatures around Everett and the Kitsap Peninsula were very unusual.  Take a look at the high temperatures for yesterday (below).  Paine Field hit 100F...which tied the ALL TIME RECORD FOR ANY DAY at that location.  Several other locations got to the century mark, with a few (Marysville and Lake Stevens) surging to 104F.  The secondary stations are not of the same quality as Paine Field, but still, this is wild.

And crazy warm temperatures were also found over the southern Kitsap and southwest Sound area, with lots of 100F values, even at sites near water.

So what was going here, particularly around Everett?

Temperatures aloft were quite warm, with lower atmospheric temperatures at Forks, on the WA coast, pretty much tying record levels.  To show this, the climatology of temperatures at 5000 ft (850 hPa pressure) are shown, with the blue star showing yesterday's value.

But there was something else. There was a low-pressure disturbance moving up the coast and high pressure inland, which helped to force strong southerly flow, which isolated Everett and vicinity from the cooling effects of the cool water to the north.  To illustrate, here is map of the heights (think pressures) around 5000 ft at 5 PM Sunday, with winds and temperatures (shading) shown.  Strong southerly flow that pushed warm air into the region.

Although we can't say global warming is the "cause" of this warm event, we should expect the number of such situations to increase slowly during this century as CO2 concentrations rise.

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  1. Cliff
    In the last illustration, you say the low pressure offshore plus the high pressure inland produces the southerly flow which in this case prevented Everett from being “cooled”.
    Would you mind elaborating how the warm air can produce a “high” pressure and the cooler sea temps produce a low pressure? ( I thought it was the opposite ie. Warm air rising -> lower pressure -> for example to a Sea Breeze. )
    OR.... should I simply sign up for the course?? :-)

  2. The Earth's temperatures have got nothing to with the atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    1. Cliff - Thank you for a voice of reason in an otherwise sea of idiocy!

    2. Seriously, you post that on a weather blog from a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington?

      Either your new to the blog or just trolling. Take your comment somewhere that doesn't include academic research.

  3. My thermometer surprisingly topped at 100.8 in Shoreline, not far from the Esperance thermometer on your map. It’s usually within 1degree of official recordings in the area, and is the same thermometer in the same location that topped at 102.5 on the scorching day in the summer of 2009. This would rank its 2nd hottest day in this devices life.


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