Sammamish Sunset

Red Sunset

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A gorgeous sunset tonight in Sammamish looking over Lake Sammamish towards Bellevue and the Olympic Mountains. The amazing redness is due to a forest fire over the Olympic Mountains that spread smoke between our location and the setting sun.

First Rain of the Season

An unseasonably strong weather system shoved the ridge of high pressure that resides in California all summer off to the east allowing for the first substantial rain of the season. Due to the unusually dry spring, I had to look all the way back to March to find the last prior rain event of this magnitude (nothing over 0.05 inches in one day between March and October). Here are some local totals with a clear manifestation of orographic (topographic) enhancement of precipitation in the Santa Cruz Mountains:

  • Pulgas (San Carlos Hills) – 0.35
  • Atherton – 0.30
  • Woodside – 0.45
  • Portola Valley – 0.24
  • Mountain View – 0.24
  • Sky Londa – 0.63
  • La Honda – 0.74

Bay Area Totals:

  • Santa Rosa – 0.43
  • Middle Peak of Mount Tamalpais – 0.69
  • San Francisco Airport – 0.15
  • Oakland – 0.37
  • San Jose Airport – 0.13
  • Big Sur Station – 0.46

The rains made the redwood forest vibrant and the air fresh at Huddart Park and Phleger Estate. We enjoyed one of those runs where the drippy and misty redwood forest has a certain mystique.

A little redwood hugging in Phleger Estate

A little redwood hugging at Phleger Estate!

Return to winter in the High Sierra

Plans to climb in the high Sierra this Memorial Day Weekend have been spoiled by an usually cool and unsettled weather pattern. This is especially untimely considering there hasn’t been a significant snow in several months! High elevation temps (over 10k feet) are under freezing all day with poor visibility and snow showers. The snow level is at 7,000 feet, perhaps lowering to 6,000 feet at times this weekend, and five inches is already on the ground at Mineral King in Sequoia National park (elevation 7,800 feet). Whiteout conditions with heavy snow have been reported at 9,000 feet in the eastern Sierra at Rock Creek. Oh well, at least this is good for snowpack/water worries. This pattern looks to persist through the weekend and into next week, a huge turnaround from the sweltering weather experienced only 5 days ago! Oh well, no excuses to not hit the books now…

Live image from Sherman Peak (9,909 ft) in the Southern Sierra (Sequoia National Forest). On Saturday, May 24th there was about a foot of new snow on the ground.

Sammamish

I’m in my hometown of Sammamish, WA for a week and a half. Naturally, the weather is cool and rainy. A steady rain fell all day today and temps struggled to get to 50 degrees. Fortunately, I am brining some of the California sunshine as a hot ridge of high pressure is expected to build Thursday through Saturday providing temps well into the 80’s and perhaps topping the 90 degree mark in Sammamish, which is located a bit inland from the cooling waters of the Puget Sound.

I celebrated my birthday with family on Sunday and enjoyed my sister’s delicious apple crumble – no added sugar, but so sweet =) I have also had the opportunity to run in a couple favorite local parks – the Redmond Watershed Preserve and Cougar Mountain. The vegetation up here is so lush, especially this year with the cooler and wetter spring. The trails were a bit muddy too, conditions I haven’t experienced in CA for months!

Anomalous Weather

While the March weather in Washington has been colder, wetter, and snowier than usual, California has basked in sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine. The last week of March in Seattle was the third coldest on record and snow fell in many parts of the Puget Sound lowlands, a highly unusual event. Moreover, temperatures in the upper atmosphere were the coldest observed in 32 years, at any time of the year! More details can be found here. Meanwhile, it has been sunny and dry in California as all the energy has been shunted to the Pacific Northwest. The Northern Sacramento valley experienced its driest March since 1956 and the Sierra have not received a significant snow in a month and half! While early storms in January and early February were promising, the dry period of late has caused seasonal snow totals to retreat back to normal levels in the Sierra. Some sites are now even reporting below average snowpack, which is not good for staving off summer droughts. The forecast does not hold too much promise for California as no significant storms are anticipated in the near future and the door for a significant precipitation event quickly closes once May comes around. Meanwhile, wet and cool is possible in Washington through June.

Not too late for snow in Sammamish!

I got a call from my mom in Sammamish, WA this evening and she told me that it was snowing hard with several inches of snow on the ground. Sammamish is my hometown and is located 30 minutes east of Seattle near the Cascade foothills and typically receives more snow than Seattle proper. However, snow anywhere in the Western Washington lowlands is not a common event even in the depths of winter, let alone at the end of March! The culprit for the snow is the infamous Puget Sound Convergence Zone (PSCZ), which creates an area of focused precipitation in the central Puget Sound region as winds wrapping around the Olympic Mountains collide. The unseasonably cool airmass combined with the rapid precipitation rates within the PSCZ dropped snow levels down to sea level near Lake Sammamish and resulted in heavy snow this evening. The PSCZ is especially favorable for accumulating snow fast on the plateau of Sammamish which is between 300-600 feet above sea level and tonight was no exception. The precipitation fell largely as rain further west in the larger cities of Bellevue and Seattle.

Wet and Cool

The weather in the Bay Area has been wet and cool the past few days and the soggy pattern looks to persist through the upcoming weekend. With temperatures in the mid-40’s, some of the hills above 2,000 feet even received 4-6 inches of slushy snow. I went on a run today (Thursday) in Los Altos Hills for 63 minutes (Moody Road Loop) and it actually felt a lot like Seattle with a light rain, chilly temperatures, and a stiff breeze. Unfortunately, the rain is anticipated to become more intense beginning tomorrow and lasting into Saturday. After last year’s dry winter, it feels like a lot of rain, but the area is only forecasted to equal normal levels after tomorrow’s weather system. Hopefully I can squeeze in a run tomorrow morning before it gets too wet.

A nice wintry scene in the Santa Cruz Mountains a short drive away from Stanford. (Photo by Karen T. Borchers of San Jose Mercury News)