September 27, 2020

Bird Migration Alert, Huge Ridge Ahead, and my 101 Course

Last night I was outside and I heard large numbers of unseen birds overhead.  It is that time of the year.

In fact, there is now a bird migration alert for our region, as provided by the wonderful Birdcast website.  Such migrations can now be tracked with weather radar in high-sensitivity (non-precipitation) mode.

The Birdcast migration map last night (3:50 AM PDT) showed active southward bird migration over the western U.S., with the arrows showing migration direction and the shading the migration magnitude.   Much of Washington State is yellow, which means lots of our bird friends aloft.

Turning to our local weather radar, here are the radar echoes at 3 AM this morning.  With no rain, this is all birds.  Wow.   The green colors show very large bird concentrations.  Notice how birds don't like to fly far offshore.  You can also see where we have radar gaps over land (eastern slopes of the north Cascades)

My general impression was that the birds did not like smoke.  But now with clear skies and northwesterly winds aloft, this is an excellent time to fly south.  Birds are smart.

Another major weather story is the HUGE ridge of high pressure that will develop over our region, resulting in dry conditions and warming to well above normal (as high as 80F in some locations) during the next few days.   Let me show you!

Today at 5 PM, the upper level charr (500 hPa pressure, about 18,000 ft) shows a major ridge (H) over the West Coast.  Think of the lines as pressure at 18,000 ft.  Note the intense low over the Gulf of Alaska.

On Tuesday at 5 PM, the ridge amplifies and extends northward.  Good time to enjoy a meal at an outdoor restaurant--you will be quite comfortable, with sun and temps in the 70s.

Thursday at 5 PM.  Same thing.   While we enjoy sunny, warm weather, the Gulf of Alaska is going to be hit by intense, ferocious storms

The latest  surface temperature forecasts for Seattle from the European Center indicate perfect weather ahead, with highs rising into the 70s for the entire week.  No rain.   And because of the heavy rain of the past week, the chances of new wildfires are very, very low.  In addition, we do not expect strong easterly winds.  So air quality for most of the region should be good.


My 101 Class

As I have mentioned before, I am teaching Atmospheric Sciences 101, an introduction to weather and climate, this fall.  Not surprisingly, it will have to be online (Zoom).    But perhaps this is a rare opportunity as well.

As you know from this blog, I am really into outreach to the community through my blog and podcast (and previously my radio segment on KNKX).   I would like to try doing outreach this quarter with the online 101.

If you are over 60, you can sign up for the wonderful UW Access program, where for only a few dollars (I believe 5), you can audit UW classes.   So I encourage all of those interested in taking the class to do so.  Access students can't register until the third day of class, but I can give them the zoom address.

The class meets M-TH at 9:30 AM starting this Wednesday (Sept. 30th).  The class outline is here.

My latest podcast:


  1. How do I take your class if I am not over 60

  2. My application is in for your class, but won't be admitted until the 3rd day of the quarter. I'd appreciate being mailed the Zoom link for the first lecture on Wednesday .. I don't want to miss the first day!! Is this possible?? Thanks.

    1. Hi Dr. Mass, I also registered for your class via the Access program and would appreciate the zoom info for the first class. Thanks!

  3. I don't think I've wished that I was 'older' since I turned 16! I'm amused by the wish that I was now 60. Oh the jealousy for those able to take the course.

    And we can't even just sneak in and sit in the back of the lecture hall to listen and learn.

  4. Thank you for the bird migration information! Very interesting! Also, is it true we may be able to see the northern lights this week and if so what is the best location to see them?

  5. Too bad for those of us 60+ just over the border in Oregon!

  6. Another 'thank you!' for the bird migration map. Very interesting site .. being interactive, you can 'follow the flock!'

  7. How do we sign up for that class if we aren't over 60?

  8. Is there a way a senior on the Oregon Coast could take your class? I love your blog and podcasts

  9. I live in Oregon and I'm over 60. Is there a way I can take the class?

  10. Hi Cliff - I'm registered for your 101 class and interested in the zoom connection until my application can be processed. What do I need to do?


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