Monthly Archives: January 2010

Warmest January in Recorded History

Much to UW weather professor Cliff Mass’s contentment, this January will indeed go down in the record books as the warmest ever —47 degrees compared to the “normal” 40. Heck, 47 degrees is the average MARCH temperature around here.

Weather-wise, this month has been able to produce so many versions of what hell might actually look and feel like that I may just never sin again. So why has the weather been so putrid lately? We all know by now that El Nino is messing with the jet stream (wind currents), splitting to our north and south, leaving us with wimpy remnants of would-be storms. But we can also thank this anomalous event right off our coast:

That, my friends, is an incredibly dramatic area of low pressure. And this would normally cause intense storms to slam into our region, but it’s not positioned correctly. Instead, we’ve been on the backside of this low, swinging a series of warm, southerly weather systems into our area, thus causing our warmest January ever!

I’m still not convinced this winter is over, however. Why? Because I am, whether foolishly or not, holding out hope for SOMETHING. No scientific reasoning behind my conviction, I just can’t admit defeat I suppose.

Either way, what you’re seeing outside your window will be a familiar picture until maybe mid-late week this upcoming week as high pressure briefly rebuilds over the area. High temperatures will remain in the 40s to low 50s.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:


Mt. Washington’s Wind Record Broken

Awwww shucks! No more bragging rights 🙁

Oh…and these wind speeds would rip that kite to shreds!


By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press Writer, Tue Jan 26, 9:26 pm ET

CONCORD, N.H. – First the Old Man, now the Big Wind. New Hampshire’s Mount Washington has lost its distinction as the site of the fastest wind gust ever recorded on Earth, officials at the Mount Washington Observatory said Tuesday.

The concession came three days after the World Meteorological Organization posted a snippet on its Web site saying a panel of experts reviewing extreme weather and climate data turned up a 253 mph gust on Australia’s Barrow Island during Cyclone Olivia in 1996.

That tops the 231 mph record set atop Mount Washington on April 12, 1934.

“It’s obviously a big disappointment. Having the world record for over six decades was such a part of the soul of this organization and for fans of Mount Washington around the country,” said Scot Henley, the observatory’s executive director.

Western Washington will likely break a record of its own, though nothing nearly as exciting or impressive. January has been an incredibly warm month and is on track for the warmest month ever in recorded history. A few degrees in either direction the next few days, however, could make it or break it.

Professor Cliff Mass, being the warm winter weather enthusiast he is, is rooting for this record to fall. Me? Well, being a cold weather enthusiast, I don’t want us to make it. All biases aside, though, the record will be very close (46.55 degrees in Jan. 06, past warmest January ever) with a current monthly average temperature of 47.1 degrees. Even if we do break the record, it won’t be by much.

In the short term, rain and clouds look likely through the weekend, but looking at long range projections it appears mild and drier weather is in store and should last us through at least the first week of Februay.

Darn it, El Nino. I really, really, REALLY dislike you.

P.S. I’m writing this during my lunch break at work, so I’ll post the 7 day this evening.

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:

Cooler Weather Making a Comeback This Week

Just a quick note, does anyone know why Bremerton Airport recorded a low of 23 degrees at 6:15 this evening? Heck, it recorded 33 degrees at 1:55 PM after a recorded temp of 46 degrees at 1:35. What in the world happened over there that made the temperature drop 13 degrees in 10 minutes?!

Anyway, I just took the lowest temperature I saw recorded before the big temperature plunge and made that the low today (yeah I broke the rules but I have an excuse!) Regardless of the tweaks made to the low temperature, I think the above map describes what this next week’s weather pattern will be like.

After several weeks of highs in the upper 40s and 50s, it appears a “more normal” weather pattern is going to set up shop, meaning periods of rain, clouds and highs in the mid and upper 40s. We may get close to 50 degrees Monday, but overall we’ll stay pretty close to normal! I never thought that would sound so good!

Another thing to note, low temperatures around midweek will get awfully close to freezing. I was talking to a friend that lives out in Seabeck and he was talking about the frost he had to wipe off his windshield the other morning. While Bremerton Airport hasn’t recorded a low at or below freezing since late last month, I wouldn’t doubt some frost/ice formed in the Seabeck area Thursday night/Friday morning as the airport registered in at 35 degrees.

Regardless, I sure hope we can manage a freeze or two before the month’s end so January 2010 doesn’t go down as a COMPLETELY pitiful month weather-wise.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:


Doing the Splits: El Nino-Style

ca storm

A resident improvises a sandbag with a trash bag and mud that  washed down his road in the Tijuana area of Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Yeah…so…remember that firehose that was pointed at us since day one of this month? Well, it wasn’t done, but thanks to El Nino’s strong influence, CA is getting in on the fun. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

As promised, this week has featured much less in the way of rain and much more in the way of sunshine, something many of you have been asking for. Of course, that other “something” is lowland snow and all I can say by looking at the models is “yikes…” as temperatures will remain too warm for the next 16 days to provide any exciting precipitation.

So why the sun all of a sudden? As expected by this time of year during strong El Nino’s, the jet stream splits and dives well to the south and north of us, though the more pronounced effects are being felt in California where major flooding and mudslides have been occurring as rainstorms pound the area day after day. This is not unusual in an El Nino year, however. The unusual part is the massive amount of rain WE have received.

We’ve also had persistent storms coming in from the south, bringing very mild air with it. Temperatures are already averaging more than 6 degrees warmer than normal.

Things won’t change too dramatically as tomorrow through Sunday look like a repeat performance of this week so far: partly sunny skies, highs in the 50s with occasional rain light rain. We  do crank the rain and cloud cover back up as temperatures go down next week meaning snow in the mountains and a cool rain down here.

Enjoy that sunshine, folks! The Californians will be more than happy to trade by next week 😉

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:

7 DAY FORECAST (Note: Thanks to commenter “Matt C.” who helped provide the new graphics for my forecast map. I’ve been in the process of updating some software, so that’s why my 7 day maps haven’t been appearing much lately.)

new 1

Story of the Sad Balloon


Well bloggers, we’re closing in on 6” of rain so far this month, temperatures 6.5 degrees above normal, constant cloud cover (save for a few gorgeous sunrises mixed in) and some unexpectedly strong winds. So if you’re anything like me, a humorous little story (which is slightly weather related) will cheer you up during these sad, gloomy El Nino days.

The following is an experience at work I had that I will never stop being embarassed about, but there is actually a good little moral at the end that ties this awkward moment together nicely. It is up to you to decide how stupid I really am by the end of this story, but please understand…I do know my periodic table.

Have you ever been in such a hustle and bustle that you make stupid decisions because the moment is too fast for your brain to keep up with? If so, you can relate to this story well:

After his procedure, a little boy no more than 6 years old slid off the dentists chair and walked over to the assistant who was working on him. His question was very simple: “Um…can I have a balloon?”

The assistant smiled and said, “Sure!” as her focus turned from the boy to me, signaling to hurry and go grab a balloon from the back room to give to the little numbskull—I mean, tender child.

With my typical long strides and swift “news anchor”-like walk I made it to the back room in just a few steps which would take a normal person several more steps to accomplish, but not that that matters. Just thought you’d like to know…

I opened the door to the back room and searched frantically for the helium tank. Where could it be? The mom had her purse hanging on her shoulder with the car keys in her other hand. She was ready to leave and obviously didn’t want to wait for decades as some silly sterilizer goofed around in the back room looking for the helium.

Now this is where the disconnect happens: In the rushed state of mind I was in (that’s my excuse) I just grabbed a balloon from a nearby “balloon bucket” and blew it up—with Matt Leach air. Like my air was so much better than everyone elses and it would suddenly float up to heaven because of the greatness thereof.

That was not the case. Not the case at all, folks.

But again, at the time I wasn’t thinking about that. I sincerely believed it would float without that stupid helium. The balloon expanded to what I considered historic levels and I ripped off a piece of silver string and tied it delicately to the end of my perfect knot made at the end of the balloon.

As if this didn’t give it away, I emerged from the back room holding the balloon in one hand and the string in the other. The boy’s eyes lit up as he saw the gargantuan light blue balloon in front of him. He reached his hand out and I gave him the string.

Not a second after he grabbed my beautifully blown up balloon by the string it began to sink to the floor—and fast. Awkward silence filled the room. The mother and boy looked at the sad balloon lying pitifully on the floor, and then turned their disapproving eyes towards me.

I quietly asked the assistant: “Would you like me to make another one…with helium?” The assistant smiled forgivingly, and responded:

“No, you idiot. How can you call yourself a weatherman if you don’t know the fricken difference between helium and oxygen? The poor kid is probably going to be messed up for the rest of his life…”

Actually, she didn’t quite say that. She sweetly responded, “No, Matt. That’s OK.”

The little boy frowned and his mom patted him tenderly on the back. They then walked towards the exit of the office, the little boy dragging the balloon, bobbing along behind him.

Such a sad and embarrassing story, I know, but there’s a good lesson to learn from this!

MORAL: In life, its one thing to have a goal (the balloon), but it’s quite another to achieve that goal (putting helium in the balloon so it rises to success!)

Awww, wasn’t that sweet?!

Stay strong, Kitsap. We’ll be basking in 70 degree sunshine before you know it! Until then…the mild temperatures, rain and clouds continue.

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:

Worth the $$?: New Radar to Look for Storms 150 Miles Out into the Pacific


This is a measure I enthusiastically support. While 7 million dollars worth, a coastal radar for the Pacific Northwest is a much needed chunk of technology meteorologists have gone without for years. According to Cliff Mass and the Tacoma News Tribune:

“Th[is] region’s storms more than rival the hurricanes and nor’easters elsewhere in the nation. A storm on Columbus Day in 1962, considered the most intense nontropical storm to hit the U.S. in a century, had sustained winds along the coast of 150 mph, with gusts to 180.”

Cliff Mass says about the storm, ““If it hit today it would cause Katrina-like damage. We get some of the most intense storms in the world [and] we have no radar.”

In fact, Washington State is the only coastal area in the continental U.S. with no radar coverage.

We can think of it this way: right now, meteorologists in the Pacific Northwest are looking at the ocean through a tiny hole. With the addition of a coastal radar, this tiny hole will turn into a massive window, giving scientists a much better handle on storms in this area. Forecast accuracy would improve overall, but it is also not expected that this new radar solve ALL forecasting problems.

Conversely, a commenter on the News Tribune article says (and what I think is meant to be taken humorously):

“This new weather radar won’t just…rob us of our unpredictable weather, it will deprive us of our heritage. We must stop this insidious attempt at making us just another place where picnics can be planned precisely. We must preserve the mystery of northwest weather!” And in a way…I kind of agree. To read the full news story, click here.

So what are your thoughts? This project is already underway thanks to President Obama’s signing of the 2010 Appropriation Bill with 7 million dollars for a coastal radar for the central Washington Coast, but do you think it’s worth the money? Or would it be better used somewhere else?

As for the weather in the short term, it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day today, but clouds are increasing and will continue to do so throughout the afternoon. Rain, while not as intense as this past week, will continue through the upcoming week.

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:

Seriously Rain…GO AWAY!: 4.11” and Counting


Remember that really long dry streak earlier this fall? Temperatures were soaring into the 90s in late September and it seemed as if winter would never come? Yeah…so what were we complaining about?

After a relatively dry, but unseasonably cold December we have entered a dreary, soaking wet and unseasonably warm January weather pattern that has drenched the Northwest since day 1. So far, Bremerton Airport has recorded 4.11” in the gauge, a little behind Seattle’s 4.23”. But no matter how you slice it, we are still averaging over 2” above the 2.04” we should be at right now.

Let me first address the sunny weather fans: let’s just be honest—it sure stinks to be in your position right now. I can’t find a single shred of hope in any weather model that points to a period of 2 or more consecutive dry days, and finding even ONE dry day is far and few in between. In the next 7 days, temperatures will remain warm. The long range has been hinting at much colder weather to end the month, but that’s as far as anyone should read into it right now.

Now for you snow fans: I feel your pain, and it equally stinks to be a snow fan during this moss-fest, but trends have been in our favor for at least producing some marginally “cold enough” weather later this month. With the help of wet bulb cooling and our proximity to the Olympics, it won’t exactly take a miracle to produce some mid-winter snow here. Keep your chins up high!

As a general rule, this week will be full of rain and clouds with maybe a side of brief sunshine mixed in on a good day (isn’t it sad we have to say that?).

Have a great evening folks! Be safe on the roads out there…

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:

30 Years of Global Cooling Are Coming, Leading Scientist Says


Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

December temperatures compared to average December temps recorded between 2000 and 2008. Blue points to colder than average land surface temperatures, while red indicates warmer temperatures.

Oh great…first warming now cooling?! Hmmm…well, I think the public is going to be a bit more receptive to a “mini ice age” scare than a global warming one given the handful of record cold winters this past decade…that is, until we go through a series of global heatwaves during the summer. Is it news the pendulum keeps swinging? That the weather does, in fact, go through cycles? Take this article for what it’s worth.

**************************************************************************************************************** report—From Miami to Maine, Savannah to Seattle, America is caught in an icy grip that one of the U.N.’s top global warming proponents says could mark the beginning of a mini ice age.

Oranges are freezing and millions of tropical fish are dying in Florida, and it could be just the beginning of a decades-long deep freeze, says Professor Mojib Latif, one of the world’s leading climate modelers.

Latif thinks the cold snap Americans have been suffering through is only the beginning. He says we’re in for 30 years of cooler temperatures — a mini ice age, he calls it, basing his theory on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the world’s oceans.

Latif, a professor at the Leibniz Institute at Germany’s Kiel University and an author of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, believes the lengthy cold weather is merely a pause — a 30-years-long blip — in the larger cycle of global warming, which postulates that temperatures will rise rapidly over the coming years.

At a U.N. conference in September, Latif said that changes in ocean currents known as the North Atlantic Oscillation could dominate over manmade global warming for the next few decades. Latif said the fluctuations in these currents could also be responsible for much of the rise in global temperatures seen over the past 30 years.

Latif is a key member of the UN’s climate research arm, which has long promoted the concept of global warming. He told the Daily Mail that “a significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th Century was due to these cycles — perhaps as much as 50 percent.”

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSICD) agrees that the cold temperatures are unusual, and that the world’s oceans may play a part in temperatures on land.

“Has ocean variability contributed to variations in surface temperature? Absolutely, no one’s denying that,” said Mark Serreze, senior research scientist with NSIDC. But the Center disagrees with Latif’s conclusions, instead arguing that the cold snap is still another sign of global warming.

“We are indeed starting to see the effects of the rise in greenhouse gases,” he said.

Many parts of the world have been suffering through record-setting snowfalls and arctic temperatures. The Midwest saw wind chills as low as 49 degrees below zero last week, while Europe saw snows so heavy that Eurostar train service and air travel were canceled across much of the continent. In Asia, Beijing was hit by its heaviest snowfall in 60 years.

And as for the cold weather?

“This is just the roll of the dice, the natural variability inherent to the system,” explained Serreze.

Hurricane Force Winds in Oregon and a Snowy Scene in Florida

I’m really not sure what 100 MPH wind FEELS like, but I saw this video on a weather forum produced by Steve Pierce of the Oregon AMS (American Meteorological Society) that illustrates at least what 100 MPH wind LOOKS like on January 7th, 2010.

Professor Cliff Mass describes the unusual gusty Columbia Rover Gorge Winds like this: “The wind action of the past few days has been caused by a large pressure difference across the Cascades, a difference that has some connection with the frigid, cold air in the eastern half of the U.S.”

So at least the PNW made SOME weather headlines this month in relation to severe weather, but we still haven’t had a whole lot of action in these parts. Heck, look at this recent picture from central Florida!


How embarassing…Seattle has yet to experience a scene like that this winter!

And look at this incredible temperature profile in the southeastern portion of the U.S. at about 10:53 am Saturday morning EST:


20 degrees in Dallas! 29 in Brownsville! 35 in Tampa! 19 in Atlanta! 45 in Miami! All taking place an hour before noon time. This is some wicked cold, and the PNW has been (thankfully?) robbed from not just the worst of it but from ANY of it. We’ve been stuck under the influence of a nasty S/SE flow which has been bringing copious amounts of rain and much above normal temperatures since the beginning of this month.

This week looks like a classic El Nino gloom fest, but there are definite signs of a dramatic shift to our weather pattern later this month…and I’m talkin’ consistency, folks. Historically, late Jan/early Feb is the best time to receive historic cold and/or snow around here. We’ll see.

For now, stay dry and hold your breath! We won’t be coming up for air until maybe later this week.

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:

Finding the Optimism in Such Pessimistic Weather


I really wish I could take control of the weather…kind of like in “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” (fantastic movie by the way, and not just because it’s weather related. I highly recommend it!). Each day I could get a request for a specific type of weather event, punch in a few codes and before you know it, your weather has been customized. I have a feeling the “snow code” would be used quite frequently, however.

Mother Nature has clearly forsaken the PNW and pushed the “default” button on the WeatherMaker 3000 until further notice, but is there any hope of taking at least a couple brief breaths of fresh air this weekend/next week before holding our breath underwater yet again? Yes!

This weekend is already shaping up to be far better than today and, now that I think about it, better than most days this week. Tomorrow will feature more in the way of sunbreaks, but I can’t guarantee a totally dry day. Highs will approach 50. Sunday looks dry and partly sunny with highs in the low to mid 50s—yeah, it’ll be a mild one. I might have to take my bike out and ride around!

Rain slowly creeps back into the forecast early next week and continues from there on out. So definitely take advantage of the dry and mild weather this weekend, because it won’t last! (well, the dry weather won’t last…the mild temperatures will)

Speaking of mild, SeaTac airport temperatures have been running about 5.8 degrees above normal with precipitation almost an inch above normal.

Typical El Nino? Temperaure wise, yes. But all those “dry” forecasts have busted badly…

Have a great weekend everyone and look for the optimism in everything!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at: