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Water Concerns Diminish

There’s been some good news for the western Washington region that will, at least for now, quiet the concerns of local residents. The water outlook for western Washington is looking better.

According to UW Professor Cliff Mass, the recent systems (including the one forecast for Monday), have considerably improved the water situation here.

The national drought outlook has come out for the month of April, and it shows no signs of drought intensification in the western Washington region.

This is mostly a result of multiple disturbances that have loaded up the lowlands with rain, and even the mountains with some snow! The snow-pack in the mountains is still very much below normal, and that may still cause some problems later in the summer. But for now, the reservoirs are full.

Dark red dots indicate snowpacks that are less than 25% of normal.

A frontal system connected to a strong low, will bring another big batch of rain into the region, and also numerous snow-showers in the Cascade peaks on Monday.

Also forecast, is another convergence zone that may setup smack dab over Seattle on Monday after the front pushes through. This “CZ”, combined with the very cold air aloft may be enough to generate small hail through the Puget Sound region in the afternoon, and late evening.

UW WRF-GFS 4km 3hr Precip

After this storm is out, we’re looking at a big protective hill of high pressure to setup. The  High will fend off any precipitation for the next week. Temperatures also may start rising toward 70 soon!

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Multi-day Thunderstorm Outbreak

For the last few days, thunderstorms have dotted western Washington; stunning photographers, weather enthusiasts, and commuters. Lightning, heavy rain, and a blanket of hail struck the I-5 corridor on Tuesday (3-31) and Wednesday (4-1).

These storms were fueled by an upper level system that contained very cold air in the upper atmosphere. The storms were then sparked by a convergence zone that developed on each day.

Most weather enthusiasts will recognize the tortuous dilemma: you’re stuck in one place, while exciting weather occurs in another, then you go to where the weather is, and it switches place with where you just were! I’ve been in Phoenix, AZ while following the recent storms in Washington.

This morning (April 3rd), a strong frontal system brought heavy rain onshore. The air mass associated with this system will have the potential to produce a couple thunderstorms.

The unstable atmosphere this afternoon combined with the likely development of a convergence zone will spark storms around Seattle and Everett.

Strong showers with the possibility of thunder mixed with sun breaks will continue to dominate the forecast through the weekend. Showers will continue into Monday, but a break in the rain is expected by the middle of next week.

I’ll be returning to Seattle on Saturday, and I’ll be able to update on the weather more frequently for the weekend! Stay tuned!

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In The Spring Swing This Week

Some exciting weather may be on the way early this week, and I’ll be watching “from the sidelines” in warm and clear Phoenix, Arizona. A cold front will drop some light to moderate rain into western Washington tonight (Monday), and will also drop the temperatures down a few notches for the next few days.

Another upper level low pressure system is pushing into the region right behind the cold front, and as we know, these upper level troughs can cause a significant chance of thundershowers.

The current satellite imagery and the latest weather models are signaling that a large unstable air mass will move in on Tuesday. The skies will alternate between dark and stormy, and bright and sunny; like Mother Nature is flicking a light switch all day. Scattered heavy showers may be accompanied by thunder and small hail, but will be most frequent in the convergence zones. These zones will form in the Cascade foothills and areas north of Seattle.

Wednesday’s weather pattern will retain the mixed sun-breaks and showers like Tuesday, but will likely be less intense. Chillier nighttime temps in the low 40s may also warrant a spring sweater or jacket if going outdoors.

Looking further into the week, a similar pattern will develop as a rain-bearing frontal system arrives on Friday, and an upper level low sparks some showers through the weekend. Thunderstorm chances will have to be watched for this system as well.

Looks like we’re fully into the swing of spring! Have a lovely week!

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First Week of Spring Forecast

Hey Everyone! The calender has finally caught up with the unseasonable weather Seattle has been experiencing these last few weeks, and I want to welcome you into the first official week of Spring.  This week we will continue to see a mixed bag of weather, with the forecast showing the possibility of warm and clear conditions on the approach.

This weekend we saw one of our first upper level low pressure systems, which are notorious for bringing the sun-breaks and heavy showers during springtime. These systems usually carry a pool of very cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere. When this cold air moves over rising warm air from the ground, combined with moisture and sunlight, you have the basic ingredients for thunderstorms.

That’s what the forecast is calling for on Monday. A large suspended pool of cold air associated with an upper level low can be seen off the Oregon coast over the water, and is defined by the spotty white cumulus clouds and storms within it.

Purple lines represent 500mb heights. (lines of pressure at about 25k ft.)

This system will move into the region on Monday afternoon, and will result in an unstable atmosphere (where warm rising air moves into colder air above). The instability and the apparent sunshine that will be available should be enough to spark thunderstorms. These storms may be capable of producing small hail, heavy downpours, thunder, and lightning. Keep updated here for short term forecast information.

Following this storm producing system, mostly dry weather will resume on Tuesday accompanied by more comfortable temperatures in the upper 50s. A less potent disturbance arrives during the mid-week which will make for a decently soggy Wednesday.

Afterwards, a strong hill of high pressure will possibly build warm and clear weather across the region on Thursday and Friday. However, the National Weather Service seem to be suspicious of this, as shown in their forecast discussion:


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Sunday’s Day-Long Downpour…What Happened?!

This weekend I took a mini-vacation to Vancouver BC, and was unable to update the blog.  Upon my departure, the weather in Seattle was forecast to be rainy on Saturday, with a transition period on Sunday; a reasonably straightforward situation that we’ve seen numerous times this season, or so I thought. Continue reading

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Dream Weekend Weather – Possibly Stronger Storms This Spring

My claim of the ” the return of winter” in my last article may have been slightly premature or unwarranted. After a few chilly nighttime lows dipping into the 30s, it appears that for the foreseeable future, cold weather is long gone from the Pacific Northwest.

Continue reading

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Return of Winter – Northwest Weather Workshop

This article, I’m going to briefly describe the forecast for the next few days, and then go over the topics discussed during the Pacific Northwest Weather Workshop.

The weather patterns are beginning to shift, and Winter is returning with a vengeance.

An upper level low pressure system traversed the region from the north on Thursday (2-26) which not only led to some heavier rain showers throughout the night, but will also lead to the onset of a rather potent cold spell in the days to come.

Cold air will come spilling through the Frasier River Valley and the gaps in the Cascade mountains in the weekend. Near freezing temperatures will rapidly begin to take hold during the nights, while the daytime highs will reach the upper 40s. Lows in the 20s are even possible by the middle of the week.

Pacific Northwest Weather Workshop 2015

This was the first time I’ve been to the Northwest Weather Workshop. I didn’t know much about it other than that Cliff Mass had been advertising it on his blog for the last month or so.

I arrived and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who came from every walk of life from all over the western US. I met lawyers, retail executives, chemists, medical doctors, and of course meteorologists and atmospheric scientists; all enthusiasts who love the weather.

The talks were 12 minutes each, and very diverse in the range of topics that they covered. Some talks were emotional in nature, and some talks focused purely on the science involved. Here is a description of some the topics that popped out to me the most! The National Weather Service will be releasing the full video of the talks and when that is rendered, I will post the link to it for all to see!

The first topic that was introduced was obviously the SR-530 Oso, WA Landslide. This catastrophic and tragic event was covered in detail from multiple angles. Ted Buehner  and Brent Bower (NWS Meteorologists) went in depth into the heavy rain events before the slide, and the Geology and Hydrology that came together to create the conditions that caused the slide to occur. Then, the event was described from the response and recovery perspective from Incident Meteorologist Andy Haner, Emergency Manager Heather Kelly, and Emergency Director John Pennington.

The next big topic discussed in length was models, models…and more models. The computer generated forecast models that forecasters and researchers use to simulate the atmosphere on high powered super computers were the primary discussion by many  scientists, forecasters and students throughout the event. Cliff Mass discussed the upgrades and changes to the  UW WRF-MM5 model that I use frequently use when looking at the short term and long range forecasts. There were a number of upgrades that have already been initiated that will make huge differences in forecast accuracy. Such changes will be: new computer components, upgraded land-surface models (essentially, how the model simulates the interaction between different features on the surface such as snow and vegetation with the atmosphere) as well as a future plan to improve the graphics of the model, and integrate it with Google Maps. This is exciting stuff for me!!

Scientists from the University of British Columbia talked about their in-house weather models that they’ve upgraded. There were several talks that went into researching different effects when various parameters are changed or fabricated to experiment with different results from the model outputs.

There was a session dedicated to Fire Weather that included talks about forecasting smoke plumes in Canada, and the thunderstorms that sparked the large and destructive Carlton Complex Fire in 2014.

My most favorite part of the Workshop was the “Year in Review” time lapse compilation that was captured and presented by Greg Johnson from Skunkbayweather.com. This video in my opinion, perfectly portrays the passion that all of us weather enthusiasts have. Research and data is immensely important for the understanding and future of weather and climate forecasting, but nothing can intrigue and captivate as much as seeing the beauty and wonder of nature in action…especially when set to music! Here’s a link to the video!


Over all, the Workshop was an enlightening experience, and I can’t wait to go again next year!


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Small Changes this Weekend.

You may have noticed that this Winter has been wet and well above the normal temperatures.  You may have even given up all hope for a normal Winter and accepted that Winter is already over. Well, not so fast!

Spring doesn’t officially start until March 20th and Nature is here to remind us that. The computer models are finally signaling a shift in the weather pattern coming soon. By this weekend a cold air mass will begin intruding towards western Washington, butting up against the eastern Cascade peaks.

The result will still be milder than usual with highs in the mid 50s. Night-time lows will drop down into the 30s through the weekend, giving us a little taste of winter. The snow level will drop enough that some ski areas in our mountains might make up a little bit of snow, however likely not enough to replenish the historical lack of snow this season.

Next week will be mostly dry, maintaining mild temperatures.

If you’re interested in learning about the weather or meeting others interested in weather in our region, be sure to check out the Pacific Northwest Weather Workshop being held at the National Weather Service in Sandpoint on Feb. 27-28! If you can’t visit, then you can catch up on all the topics discussed when I write up an article about it when it’s over. 


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What Winter?!

There seems to be nothing Winter-like about this Winter! I suppose we’ve skipped Winter and jumped straight into Spring because there’s hardly any snow in the mountains (15″ on Snoqualmie) and we’ve hit multiple high temperature records this season. Continue reading

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Week Long Storm Shooting Gallery

It’s pretty stormy out there! Heavy rain and winds peaking in the low 40mph occurred Friday morning and more heavy rain and wind has been the story for Saturday as well.  The cause is yet another strong atmospheric river setup bringing in loads of warm tropical moisture. Continue reading

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