June 20, 2023

Summer Solstice Snow and Cold over the Pacific Northwest

The summer solstice, when days are the longest of the year and the solar heating is greatest, will occur in less than 24 hours (7:57 AM PDT June 21).  But instead of enjoying the warmth of summer, our region is being buffeted by far cooler temperatures than normal, substantial precipitation, and snow at higher elevations (about roughly 4500 ft).  A number of daily low-temperature records will fall.

The solstice of snow.

This morning's webcams at Paradise Ranger Station and Crystal Mountain show a blanket of fresh snow (Crystal Mountain cam image below).

The low temperatures this morning were extraordinarily cold, with lows in the 30s over Washington State and 20s in Oregon (see low-temperature plots below).  The low temperatures in Oregon were very cold, with some locations dropping into the lower 20s.

To get a better idea of how amazingly cold today will be, below is a plot of the predicted difference from normal surface temperatures at 5 PM PDT today.

The entire west is colder than normal, with startling frigid conditions over southeast Oregon, with temperatures over 20F colder than normal.  Eastern Washington is also amazingly cold.

Consistent with the cold, the UW high-resolution model is forecasting snow around the region, with particularly heavy snow over southern BC and Alberta.  (The predicted snow total through 8 PM Tuesday is shown below).

Fortunately, the upper-level low-pressure trough associated with this cold weather is moving out on Wednesday, and substantially warmer temperatures will move in this week, producing near-ideal temperatures throughout the region.  To illustrate, below are the predicted temperatures at SeaTac, with highs in the 70s the entire week.   Very nice and no rain is predicted through the upcoming weekend.

The cold/wet weather has at least one major positive:   Northwest wildfires are running substantially below normal and the added moisture will substantially delay fires this summer.


I will be giving a talk on the Weather of the western Cascade Foothills on Sunday, June 25th at the Sno-Valley Senior Center, 4610 Stephens Ave., Carnation, WA.  3-5 PM.  Open to all.  There is a sign-up link on Facebook:

The Weather of the Western Cascades w/ Cliff Mass | Facebook


  1. Whether the fire season will be substantially delayed in Eastern Washington will depend largely on weather conditions from here on. There has been only light amounts of rain from this current storm east of the Cascades and a return to extended warm, dry conditions could quickly put us back into a high fire danger situation.

    1. You are certainly right..things can change. Encouragingly, the latest European Center extended forecast predicts cooler than normal conditions for the next month.

  2. Just north of EBRG, I intend to cut, bag, and bury a bunch of Cheatgrass on Wednesday morning. I wait until it partially turns from green to golden, hoping to have to do this only once.
    Wind has finally dropped below 20 mph.

    1. Please let us know if it works. I always worry that cutting that late will leave viable seed scattered all over

  3. It would be great to hear your talk! Wish I could be there. Thanks for all the work you do.

  4. Right now, 6/21, at just after 7AM, it's gorgeous out there, sunny and very clear, though a cloud just rolled over the sun, dimming it, likely for a few.

    The weather channel is saying 71 today, but it did feel a bit cooler this morning than normal, though currently, it's 52F. We've had rain off and on here in Tacoma the past few days. We are looking at partly cloudy skies but it does not look it at the moment.

  5. This graph needs to be front and center. It's one of the few good things that came from the COVID lockdowns (besides more time with my family). The following graph demonstrates that Atmospheric CO2 does not follow industrial CO2. Notice the steep drop in industrial CO2 without a corresponding drop in atmospheric CO2.

    Source data:

    It shows that even with a ~6% decrease in Global CO2 industrial output during COVID lockdowns did not affect Atmospheric CO2.

    The next graph shows that atmospheric CO2 follows ocean temperatures, because as SST increase, it spits out CO2.

    What people don't realize is that the Solar System is a system. When the ice caps on Mars shrink, so does Earth's. The sun-earth system is in flux. Solar cycle 25 is much stronger than expected, how will that affect temps in the future? The neo-Marxists want to disconnect things, so they can push an agenda. Lies will collapse in the face of reality. You can only hold up a blocking hand for so long.

    It's time to reject FEAR narratives that attempt to control the population through technocratic policies.

    As Cliff explains, CO2 has an effect, but firstly it's extremely over emphasized and relatively minor. And secondly, if the COVID lockdowns illustrate anything, nothing can be done about it! Below is the key graph that shows the log-nature to the carbon-effect. The more CO2, the less the heating factor.

    1. This seems very conspiratorial minded. Near consensus among the scientific community does not equate to technocratic, Neo-Marxist mind control, just as a global CO2 emissions do not necessarily correlate perfectly with atmospheric CO2. While there is a clear positive correlation between global emissions and atmospheric CO2 levels, the carbon cycle is too complicated to write off the link between the two just because of a 2 year dip in emissions. It's not like emissions ceased altogether, and a report by Lovenduski et al highlights how oceanic absorption of CO2 was lower during covid due to carbon pressure differences, meaning more CO2 remained in the atmosphere.

    2. I appreciate your data-based approach in the second part of your statement, but sadly, you began your statement with a slur ("Conspiratorial minded"), which destroyed your argument. "Near-consensus" is never science. It could be group-think or it could be false-assessment based on missing data.

      Authoritarians (of whatever ilk) will cherry-pick to push an agenda. The present agenda is most certainly and most clearly of a technocratic nature. COVID policy based on lies made that abundantly clear. (Yes, this statement is backed up by innumerable FOIA evidence, even here in WA State.)

      In regards to climate, we cherry-pick CO2, but ignore many other interconnected factors: sun-earth relationship, solar cycle, oceans, clouds, gamma ray, and all the unknown factors (ocean currents, interstellar relationships?).

      The 2020 dip illustrates simple that shutting down global industry did absolutely nothing to even cause a minor dent in atmospheric CO2. And it would only be through extreme, severe totalitarian means (worse than COVID lockdowns) to reduce CO2 beyond the ~6% we saw in 2020, which had zero noticeable effect!

      If you take just one step back, we see a picture: We've been coming out of the Little Ice Age since 1850s. Oceans are warming and spitting out CO2. Oceans and forests are also carbon sinks, which are moderating CO2.

      Of course, we should learn to use other energy resources. But will we do so via Orwellian/Huxley/Marxist methods? Or will we allow freedom of the individual? Our country is based on the idea "that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness." "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is what is at stake.

    3. For the record, I didn't call you conspiratorial minded, just that your argument around fear narratives attempting to control the population through technocratic policies appeared so. Do you not think that is a bit conspiratorial? I'm not quite sure how to unpack what you are referring to by "Covid policy based on lies" and how it relates to anthropogenic climate change, but I can speculate it relates to a lot of the unsupported theories about covid and the "deep state".

      Are you saying that the seemingly exponential rise in CO2 concentrations are mainly attributable to natural processes and that NOAA's estimate of 5 billion tons of incremental, human generated CO2 that remains in the atmosphere annually (contributing to 2.3 of the 2.5 ppm increase per year on avg), isn't contributing to warming? Or are you saying that the impact is negligible, and that natural processes are contributing to the accelerating increases in both atmospheric and sea surface temperatures? I am asking because that would fly in the face of near scientific consensus on the topic. I would also argue that our natural carbon sinks are not able to keep up, as evidenced by Pleistocene level CO2 concentrations.

      I can appreciate your concern for draconian solutions to climate change. I can also appreciate your cynicism regarding our ability to do anything about it. But I have the feeling that our threshold/definition for what can be considered Orwellian or Marxist may differ. Unfortunately for a problem of this scale, we may have to utilize societal levers that may not be compatible with our current economic systems, at least without some amount of updating. We have the tools at our disposal, we just need to use them. That said, the longer we wait, the more the solutions are going to hurt.

    4. I'm a naturalist. I look at nature. I ask questions. In that I ask questions and search empirical data for answers, I am a scientist.

      When people stop asking questions, they are no longer scientists, they are propagandists.

      To touch on your questions. Here's a graph of how CO2 concentrations affect atmospheric heating. The existing argument is what is the value of 'a'. https://www.desmos.com/calculator/cvx4sxw0tf

      I am saying that there are many factors to climate. To build a model under such a complex system is essentially impossible. We barely understand the sun-earth system and do not understand the galaxy-sun system. And even hardly understand the ocean effect. Do we really understand ENSO?

      We don't have enough data to demonstrate that carbon sinks can't catch up. We do know that plants grow more under higher concentrations of CO2; that the taiga is enormous; that the oceans (CaCO3 sinks) are even more enormous; etc.

      From 2020 data we learned that a small ~6% reduction in CO2 didn't have any effect in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. To make that fractional reduction required authoritarian policy. I wasn't allowed to go hiking (yes, crazytown draconian measures).

      I actually don't have cynicism toward inability of action. That sort of action is a total waste of humanity. Authoritarians always abuse fear to control people. That's what happened in COVID and that's what 'climate change' is being presently used for. It's not a conspiracy to say that the elite want to create a technocracy. That's what "Build Back Better" was all about. Know what's going on in China? 15 minute cities? Thankfully, it didn't happen, but they will continue to try. Climate is the present route. And our state is the worst. Gas taxes are totally regressive and we are $1.30 over the national avg.

      People need to live freely and close to the land. Why do the elites want to push us into cities (read WEF documents)?

      The elite want control of "the levers," as you put it. That's the definition of a technocracy. But technocracies are essentially a sci-tech-Marxist system. I am a naturalist and a high school math teacher. I worked on citizen science databases for 15 years for multiple federal agencies. I even worked as a subcontractor for a NASA climate project. I've been a part of the propaganda machine.

      Always question anyone who says the science is settled. They have gone from scientist to propagandist.

    5. Well said @Dave Z. Unfortunately, that kind of independent thought isn't common west of the Cascades.

  6. My sister was intending to drive from Jasper to Golden BC on Monday. Highway 93 had over 60cm of snow at the passes. Needless to say the drive didn't happen!

  7. "But will we do so via Orwellian/Huxley/Marxist methods? Or will we allow freedom of the individual?"
    I've said this previously to other commenters, but I have to assume that your question is, indeed, rhetorical.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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