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The fog days of winter

Evening, everybody!

Here’s bringing up some old news: I spent Christmas in Island Park, Idaho and missed the snow event here on the Kitsap Peninsula. Thankfully, some of you e-mailed in your Christmas snow pictures. Here are a few of them:

SEABECK (sent by Don Geidel, taken by a friend)

Christmas Day 2012, by Seabeck Post Office[2]





Thanks to all who sent in photos! Seemed like another fun day around the peninsula.

As far as the forecast is concerned, we’re going to switch gears from a dry spell (July-October), a wet spell (October- mid December), and a cold/snowy spell (mid December) to a cool/foggy spell. As is often the case around here when a large ridge of high pressure sets up over the region after a long rainy period, fog will be a key ingredient the next few mornings. There is so much moisture in the air and on the ground that even the smallest dry spells call for more fog than sun.

Still, things are at least looking fairly dry with a few sunbreaks until the first weekend of 2013, which sounds so far away even if it’s only in 5 days 😉

Taking a peek into the long range, things look fairly seasonable in terms of rain and sun over the next week and a half. After the past couple weeks, I can say I am OK with a break in active weather!

Have a great evening,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap



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Merry Christmas! And some snow totals


Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful day. Just a brief update this evening.

I received a flurry of text messages this morning (no pun intended) and Facebook notifications about how it was raining instead of snowing! Naturally my heart fell to the ground as I thought about all the kids (and adults!) who were expecting a White Christmas.

As you know, snow forecasts are incredibly difficult, and the pressure is especially intense when a major holiday such as Christmas is involved. Well, the snow DID come, although a bit later than expected, and you were gracious enough to put down your pitchforks and throw water on your torches 😉 But all jokes aside, I was definitely relieved to hear that the snow showed up and am happy so many of you took advantage of it and had some fun. I am currently in Idaho and would have been unsure how much we received and when if it wasn’t for you!

Things went generally as planned: 5+” along the Hood Canal, 1-4” in Central/South Kitsap, and a trace to just plain cold rain for North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island. Here are some unofficial snow amounts reported from Forecasting Kitsap blog readers, Kitsap Sun readers, and friends as of 5 PM:

  • Seabeck: 7”
  • Crosby: 5”
  • Silverdale: 3”
  • Poulsbo: 3”
  • Bremerton: 2”
  • Port Orchard: 1”

Any other towns with corresponding accumulation totals you’d like me to add to the list?

Of course, amounts within cities and towns varied according to elevation. Overall, most locations saw snow, even if it was for a short amount of time, and it turned to rain by the afternoon. Ah, but we knew that would happen. This is Western Washington after all 🙂

Stay tuned for Christmas snow pictures in a couple days! If you haven’t sent them in, please do! My e-mail is:

Have a great evening,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

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November 2012 Weather Stats: Flooding and mountain snow

Welcome to December! Most of you probably don’t want to relive this past month, but who doesn’t love stats? 😉

First let’s dig up some old news and look at my November prediction made back in September. The bold areas are the parts of the forecast I got right:

November will be our transition month. We’ll notice temperatures getting colder with many “first frosts” popping up around the peninsula. The most notable thing about November will be all the rain. Usually November is a wet month, but this year it’s projected to be quite wet. Temperatures will hover around normal for the month, but enough warmer, Pineapple Express-type rain storms could nudge the temperature up a tad. The jet stream will not have responded to the El Nino atmosphere quite yet, so expect a lot of cloudy, rainy days. The snow chance is up to 40%, meaning most of the month it will likely be too mild for snow, but we could have a few bouts of it towards the end of the month

So not TOO bad. We had many first frosts between November 9th-11th, which then gave way to a lot of rain storms, a few of them being Pineapple Express-type storms. Definitely the most notable thing about this month was all the rain. How much rain, you ask? Oh, not much. Just 15.45” worth! Ahem…5” above normal. Wow! Just slightly wetter than normal 😉
It was also a mild month in many ways. Let’s take a look at our trusty graph:
Just look at that dive in low temperatures! On November 10th we went head first into a 23 degree low temperature reading, which was certainly not called for. Several more freezes occurred after that before things started to warm back up. How mild did we get?
The average November temperature around here is 41.05 degrees. Our actual November temperature came out at a dead even 43 degrees, which was almost exactly 2 degrees above normal.
It seems mild/wet November’s have been the norm for a long time now. Kind of like our Indian Summer’s. Other than the excessive rain/flooding and bouts with dry, cold air, November was a fairly typical month. It is worth noting, however, that several ski resorts opened up before Thanksgiving, a goal which can’t always be met!
And yes, it still looks like a continued wet pattern is in store for December. If it’s any consolation, we shouldn’t be seeing November’s constantly rainy pattern extending into this new month 🙂
Have a great weekend, everyone!!
Matthew Leach
Forecasting Kitsap

23 degrees last night and October 2012 weather stats

Matthew Charchenko Photography (2012)
Photo showing the effects of freezing fog by: Matthew Charchenko. For more great pictures, check out his Facebook page!

November is certainly showing us who’s boss! Many Kitsap locations recorded lows in the LOW 20s last night (most specifically, 23 degrees at Bremerton Airport)! Although not too professional of me to say, I absolutely bombed that one. And I mean big time. But rest assured, tonight will not get that cold. A system moving onshore will actually spread clouds in tonight offering a cold rain for tomorrow morning, which could be mixed with snow initially on local hills.

Ok, so I’m a little late in posting this, but better late than never! So, by a show of hands, how many of you felt like this October was…well, freakishly wet? Yeah, I thought so. Let’s just cut to the chase here. Bremerton records had us at 11.58” of rain for the month. That’s over 7” above normal! Ah, but we knew it was wet. How about temperatures? However cold it might have felt this past month, it was only slightly deceiving.

Lest we forget, rewinding to the beginning of last month bring us to highs in the 70s—and several of them at that! But of course, this pleasant weather really only lasted a week before rain dumped on us like buckets from heaven. You’ll be interested to see the temperature map! If this were a roller coaster at Wild Waves, it would be among the most popular at the park!

Putting this all into perspective, here’s the temperature rundown:





So, as a whole, October averaged about 1.6 degrees above normal. This was due in large part to the warm period early last month and a series of very mild low temperatures.

In comparison to my Fall 2012 forecast, I predicted a milder and drier than normal October with mountain snow and periods of chilly weather in the lowlands. Overall, however, my forecast called for a fairly tame month. My biggest bomb was, of course, in regards to precipitation. We were MUCH wetter than anticipated. However, the mountain snow, chilly lowland temperatures, and overall tame month prediction was pretty accurate.

My mean October temperature prediction: 49.1 degrees compared to the actual of 49.8 degrees. So not TOO bad 😉

Well fellow Kitsapites, it’s time for a weekend break 🙂 But I wish you all a safe and fun weekend! See you back here on Monday!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap


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30 degrees this morning = First frost for many

Remember back in September when I did a blog post on the correlation between first frosts and first flakes? If not, you can click here to read that post. Interestingly, within the past 10 years the Bremerton area ALWAYS saw a first frost sometime in October, but not this time. Although we came close, we never got below freezing.

So yes, we broke a 10 year trend, but at least it wasn’t by much. Bremerton Airport reported a very chilly 30 degrees last night, resulting in areas of spotty frost and freezes. So what does this mean? Will the snow flakes start falling later because the frost arrived later? Not exactly. In fact, rather disappointingly, my study found that there was actually very little correlation between a first frost and first snow, so at least we’ve got that off our backs!

But we must also remember what weather pattern will be in play this winter: La Nada, or neutral. Neutral winters are so viciously wild card that literally anything can happen for any certain length of time. This certainly doesn’t make long range forecasting any easier, but at least it’s good news we won’t be too far into a drought or flooding scenario, which El Nino’s and La Nina’s tend to bring, respectively.

In fact, the rest of the week into next week doesn’t look anything close to a drought. Luckily, Mother Nature is pressing pause on our weather pattern enough to offer peaks of blue skies for any early weekend plans, but boy does the tune change when we start the new week. More mountain snow and lowland rain will fall from time to time throughout the week with highs near 50.

I honestly don’t see any signs of snow or a rain/snow mix in the long range, although temperatures will remain cool. As of right now it looks like a seasonably rainy Thanksgiving this year, but it’s still a bit too early to tell 😉

In the meantime, enjoy this upcoming weekend!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap


Who does Mother Nature endorse for president?

Ok, you caught me. The weather has been non-stop wet with inches and inches of rain the past several weeks and there just isn’t much out there  to talk about in regards to exciting weather. However, with Election Day tomorrow, I started thinking about all the newspapers and celebrities out there that have thought somehow up to this point their opinions and/or endorsements will persuade the undecided voter, which it sometimes has. But have any of you taken the time to consider what Mother Nature thinks?

Of course, this is no way a “Forecasting Kitsap” blog endorsement, or the views of the Kitsap Sun in general, but I decided to conduct a fun little experiment (as futile as it is…) which will give us an awfully rough estimate of who our president will be on January 20th. 😉 Little did you know weather plays favorites!

Take a look at these weather observations on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C. clear back when President Truman took office. Notice a trend?

Obama (D)- Sunny/cold

Bush, G.W. (R)- Rain/mild

Clinton (D)- Clear/cool

Bush, H.W. (R)- Cloudy/mild

Reagan (R)- Rain/mild

Carter (D)- Sunny/cold

Ford (R)- Cloudy/mild

Nixon (R)- Cloudy/mild

Johnson (D)- Rainy/cool

Kennedy (D)- Snow/cold

Eisenhower (R)- Cloudy/mild

Truman (D)- Snow/cold

Since Truman, Democratic presidents have largely had cold and/or snowy inaugurations while Republican president’s have had rainy, cloudy, and/or mild inaugurations. Latest long range projections have been consistent in predicting a colder than normal latter half of the winter season on the east coast, which would certainly impact Inauguration Day.

Hmmm…considering no Republican has had a snowy Inauguration Day since at least Truman, does that mean Mother Nature is endorsing President Barack Obama? Perhaps, unless Mitt Romney is the one who comes in and breaks a pretty consistent trend 😉 Of course, this is all fun and games, but interesting nonetheless!

As for our Election Day weather? If you guessed “rainy”, you would be correct, although it will be slightly milder than normal. Highs will be in the mid to upper 50s.

Some colder, showery weather systems will impact the area through the week into next weekend, and high temperatures will fall into the mid and upper 40s. The good news is the mountains should be getting more snow here in the next few days!

The long range continues to look cold and wet through Thanksgiving. Too bad I haven’t found any correlations between cold and wet Northwest Thanksgiving’s and U.S. President’s! But I suppose even if I did, the election would still be a toss up because it’s always cold and wet around here during the holidays 😉

Have a great day everyone,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at:

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September 2012 Weather Stats: Mild and very, very dry

**A SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT has been issued by the Seattle NWS. Click here to read more about the increasing fire danger in Western Washington**

Good morning everyone!

I will be honest: as I tried to compile statistical information for the month of September I got rather…bored. Although very much reminiscent of September 2006 AND September 2008, it was a very, very low-key month. Then again, that should’ve been about as much as we were expecting. After all, an Indian Summer was predicted long before September 2012 came around 🙂

With that being said, let’s just  take a look at the temperature anomalies for a minute:

I was going to change the background on this picture since it’s been used since the July 2012 stats, but I thought the bright, sunny orange/yellow background was fitting for this month.

Not only did we only manage a paltry 0.01” of rain the whole month, we spiked over 80 degrees five times! We even barely escaped hitting 90 on the 7th. Conversely, look how chilly our overnight lows got (yet another similarity to Sept 2008). We dipped into the 30s at least seven times the whole month, which pushed our average low temperature into below normal readings.

Skies were bright and clear the first half of the month, but then clouds and a series of cold fronts knocked the temperatures down as the month went on. Still, it wasn’t enough to knock us down to normal. Here are the numbers!

September Average High: 66.8  September 2012 Average High: 71.6      +4.8 above normal

September Average Low: 46.1  September 2012 Average Low: 44.7         -1.4 below normal

September Average Monthly Temperature: 56.5       September 2012 Average Monthly Temperature: 58.2        +1.7 above normal

September Average Monthly Precipitation: 1.55”     September 2012 Average Monthly Precipitation: 0.01”       -1.54” below normal

So as far as a daily high temperature is concerned, we were well above average. However, when looking at overall temperatures the spread really wasn’t so far after all.

Anything you care to add about September 2012? Feel free to use the comment section below! And how about October, you ask? Well, according to my Fall forecast, October 2012 is still on par to average slightly above normal in the temperature department with below normal precipitation.

With that being said, this week will finish off sunny and dry with highs slightly above average, if not close enough to seasonal norms. The weekend will cool off, however, and we’ll then see highs dipping into the lower 60s.

There have been many hints that our long lasting ridge will break down, but the question is when. As soon as the forecasting models start getting more consistent, we’ll discuss our rain possibilities! 🙂

Have a great day,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Watch a microburst make a building almost disappear

I came across an incredible video yesterday that demonstrated one of the most exciting, yet common weather events in the Midwest called a microburst. In fact, these weather events are so rare in the Seattle area that I found only one news article highlighting that we’ve ever seen one in this region, and it was dated in the year 2000.

So what are these strange weather events we call “microbursts”? Don’t let the prefix “micro” fool you into thinking this is a small deal. In fact, as you’ll see in a moment, it’s quite a BIG deal. Remember when we were going through that long series of thunderstorms in July?  The most basic ingredients for thunderstorms are: moisture, unstable air and lift. This “lift” can usually form from fronts, ocean breezes or mountains. In our case, we had a lot of lift from the Cascades, as that is where these storms originated.

Now, a microburst is one of the many demon children of thunderstorms (the others being hail, tornadoes, etc). One of the most prominent meteorologists of all time, Ted Fujita, coined the term “microburst”, which is a downpour that can affect an area within a 2.5 mile diameter or less. (Ever heard of an “F-1” or “F5” tornado? The Fujita scale for measuring tornadoes came from him too!) A macroburst is anything larger than 2.5 miles.

These microbursts can be described as rapidly sinking air in a thunderstorm that is, as previously mentioned, less than 2.5 miles in diameter.

Weak updrafts followed by strong downdrafts are a perfect recipe for a severe, albeit short, burst of rain, hail and/or damaging winds. In fact, there are “dry microbursts” which usually contain strong gusty winds, but no rain. Conversely, the stronger the updraft is, the weaker the downdraft, yet as you can see flash floods and hail are not uncommon in these situations.

So, with this knowledge in mind, let’s take a look at an incredible microburst near New Berlin, Wisconsin that made the visibility go to zero. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, skip to the 2:00 mark and watch from there. Posted by Steve Paluch:

Just amazing how Mother Nature works, huh? For those of you who were hoping this post would lead to an eventual confession that we could be experiencing a microburst soon, I hate to disappoint. So, let me assuage your mind by pointing out that the National Weather Service has discussed the potential of some wandering thunderstorms tonight into tomorrow. Again, the “lift” we talked about will be provided by the Cascades, so that’s the biggest threat, but you never know which ones could trickle our way.

The rest of the forecast? Well…it looks like I’ve been too liberal with the temperatures and sunshine, so you’ll probably notice the forecast doesn’t look nearly as warm or sunny as it did a few days ago, but I’m sure many of you are OK with that 🙂

Make it a great weekend!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

The “T”-Rex Block: How is it affecting Kitsap County?

According to the poll I conducted on the right hand side bar, many of your are eager to read about things pertaining directly to the Kitsap Peninsula. That’s not too surprising to find, as this blog is called “Forecasting Kitsap” after all! But I hope you will forgive me for the lack of coverage of weather events within the peninsula lately, as summer tends to yield the same weather over and over again in the Northwest: sunny skies and mild temperatures.

However, as I was reading a forecast discussion provided by the National Weather Service in Idaho Falls (I know, that’s random!), I noticed they used the term “Rex block” in describing our current weather pattern. I must admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what that was, so naturally I looked up the definition on the NWS site. Now, before we talk about the Rex block, let’s discuss what blocking means in meteorology!

First of all, this term can be broken down through a personal example: if you encounter a road block on your way to work due to construction (which probably is hitting home to some of you more than others!) what options are given to you? Usually if the project is wide-scale enough, they’ll provide a detour. Such is the case in weather. Sometimes “road blocks” are set up in the atmosphere and this will usually cause the jet stream to take a detour. Here’s an example:


This is called an “omega block”, primarily because of its shape of the jet stream: Ω. As you can see from the picture, a ridge of high pressure built in the interior west and forced all our would-be active weather up and over our region and sliding it down into the northeast. This is definitely not an uncommon pattern during El Nino years! We get a handful of these “omega” blocks, and…well, my personal bias is…they’re not fun!

So, if you haven’t given up reading by now, let’s take a look at the Rex block, named after the meteorologist who discovered the pattern. I call it the “T”-Rex block for three reasons: 1) it’s stubborn, 2) it can be aggressive (for those on the other end of the block!) and 3) it eventually goes extinct. So, with that horrifying blood-thirsty monster firmly planted in our minds, let’s look at its counterpart in weather:

Very often in a Rex block scenario, an area of high pressure is situated to the very north of an area of low pressure, and air flow tends to move very slowly during this process which can mean the same type of weather for weeks at a time. Take a look at this weather chart that depicts where we are right now:

**Note: Commenter Donna noticed an actual shape of a dinosaur right over the coast! Do you see the curved head and large nose over the Canadian coastline into the Pacific? Thanks, Donna, for pointing that out!**

The area of high pressure (signaled by a small “H” along the coast of western Canada) is directly north of an area of low pressure (situated southwest of LA). This of course is the reason why we’ve been stuck on repeat the past several weeks and the northeast has been so chilly!

And it looks like this block will remain stubborn for at least the next week or so. Aside from areas of morning clouds/fog over the next couple of days, we’ll remain largely pleasant with seasonable highs in the upper 60s/low 70s under partly sunny skies. It also looks like we’re still on for a pattern change within the first few days of October.

So the next time you have to take a detour, just think of good ol’ Rex!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Why all the smoke?

A firefighter sprays flames of a brush fire. Two brush fires closed Highway 3 Thursday afternoon. JOSH FARLEY / KITSAP SUN (Read more here)

**The Kitsap County Fire Marshal has just announced that a Phase 2 burn ban will go into effect Saturday, meaning ALL outdoor burning is prohibited, even recreational fires and camp fires.** (via

Good afternoon fellow Kitsapers! Kitsaponians? Kitsapites?

It certainly has been a busy couple of days, especially with the breezy, dry and warm weather we’ve been experiencing. Unfortunately, this is a perfect set up for ongoing threats of wild or brush fires, something I’m sure many of us didn’t even think possible a couple months ago. I am also grateful to hear the Bremerton Airport fire along Highway 3 was contained! It isn’t very common we here of fires on this side of the water.

A Forecasting Kitsap blog reader e-mailed in this morning asking about the thick and persistent nature of the smoke. Is it true we’re choking on smoke burning in Wenatchee? And what effect is that having on the air quality? Let’s take a few moments to analyze these questions. I’ll quote part of the explanation I sent out in an e-mail earlier today:

There are a few different reasons why we could be experiencing such severe smoke in the Kitsap area. First, for the past couple days the winds have been coming from the NNE, as evidenced from the airport records:

Although the wind speed was never too strong, it doesn’t take much for smoke to rise, get caught in the jet stream and travel. The wind direction you see above is actually a perfect set up for the smoke to filter into our area because at the same time, the winds in the Wenatchee area were coming from the E/SE, as evidenced from their weather station:

This propelled the smoke north while our northerly winds helped slide it down into our area as well as the Seattle area. Notice how the winds eventually shifted to the W/NW, thus ending our threat or theirs for more major smoke. But then a new wrinkle emerged. Two brush fires near Bremerton Airport on Highway 3 broke out, which took firefighters 10 hours to battle. As this battle with the fires went on, winds went from blowing northerly to strictly calm. This allowed the smoke to filter over the peninsula instead of being pushed further south.

And, as we speak, or at least as of 2:30 this afternoon, winds are again coming from the ENE (click here for the NWS Bremerton Airport weather info) and fires continue to burn in Central Washington, so expect more episodes of wandering plumes of smoke for at least the next day or two.

This now leads to air quality. It’s been a little while since we had substantial rain, so where are we sitting? Feel free to visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency by clicking here. The current forecast is for moderate air quality today, stabilizing tomorrow as we switch to onshore flow which means we’ll be in the “good air quality” range. Places along the cascade foothills, however, are still in the “unhealthy” zone.

The seven day forecast still looks dry and mild as ever! Currently we’re only running about +.2-+.4 degrees above average, which isn’t much at all. It probably feels a lot warmer than what the numbers are saying, but so far it looks like it’s been a pretty average first half of September! Latest projects show periods of very warm weather with sunny skies for the next 7-10 days. In fact, we could see yet another return to the 80s around the latter part of next week.

You heard it here first! An Indian Summer is definitely looking likely 🙂

Have a marvelous weekend everyone!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments! Send them my way at