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.
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.
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)
I’m back in CA for the last few days of winter break and I must have brought the Seattle weather because it has been stormy the past couple days with heavy rains and strong winds. The wet and blustry weather pattern is forecast to persist through the weekend, although the strongest storm has just passed.
Class for my last semester of law school begins next Tuesday and I am looking forward to the ski vacation to South Lake Tahoe the weekend of 11-13 – the stormy weather in the bay area translates to 5-10 feet of new snow in the Sierra mountains!
Wow – the weather the past few days in Seattle is about as wild and stormy as it gets as mother nature has delivered a triple-punch of storms (snow, wind, and flooding heavy rains). First, on Saturday evening, a winter storm brought 5 inches of snow to my house in Sammamish and up to 15 inches of snow in communities further east like Snoqualmie Ridge and North Bend. Even downtown Seattle picked up a couple inches. Next, a warm front moved in on Sunday bringing extremely heavy rain and strong winds, causing the temperatures to skyrocket in the upper 40s. Hurricane force winds blasted the WA coast last night and nearly 3 inches of rain has fallen in the Seattle area in just the last 24 hours! Freezing levels are way up in the mountains and flooding on large and small streams is a big issue. Seattle weather in November and December is always volatile, but this is definitely going to be a memorable series of meteorological events for Western Washington.
I have become spoiled with beautiful California weather this fall so I hope the weather will calm down a bit while I will be at home December 12th-January 2nd 🙂
The weather here is ridiculously nice for late November with temps in the mid 60s and sunshine every single day! Furthermore, the weather forecast for the next 10+ days holds the strong west coast ridge of high pressure in place (a “blocking pattern”). This translates into more tranquil weather with sunny days and crisp nights/mornings. This is great for activity around the bay area, but when it comes to skiing, a west coast blocking pattern is the worst possible news. The slopes in the high Sierra and Tahoe are bare and the temps are not even cold enough to consistently make snow artificially. It definitely looks like the resorts won’t open for Thanksgiving and maybe into the first week of December. The resorts in the Pacific Northwest suffer equally in such a pattern. While they have some snow on the ground, none of the resorts in WA and OR have enough to open. Whistler Blackcomb got just enough snow last week to open up but by the end of the dry streak I imagine they will be in big need of some white stuff. I hope that when this pattern finally breaks down, it will stay down, and we can start accumulating some snows for Tahoe trips and the Whistler vacation in January.
Today my team gave our presentation for Deals class. It was fairly complex and there was a ton of information so it definitely seemed like the crowd had difficulties taking it all in. I think we did a great job though!
I also ran again today, despite the area of pain coming back a little after yesterday’s first run. It wasn’t bad pain, but I knew it was there. Hope it will magically begin to fade away….
Yesterday I saw the riveting and powerful film “Into the Wild” about a young man who goes to Alaska seeking complete detachment from society. Sean Penn did a marvelous job as director and screenplay writer. I now look forward to his future directing pursuits. I also enjoyed Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack to the movie; his vocals and the acoustic sound of the songs fit perfectly. The movie is very sad (need for tissues), especially because it a real story. I highly recommend going to see this film – it’s currently only showing in small number of artsy theaters, but well worth the extra effort if needed.
After the movie I drove back home from my sister’s house in Pacific Grove. It was an awesome visit! I always enjoy hanging out with my sister and her husband. I also got in two quality runs along the spectacular cinder paths next to the seashore.
It looks like summer is going to make a triumphant return to the Bay Area this week with temperatures forecasted to be well over 80 degrees for most of the upcoming week! Some records may fall, especially on Monday and Tuesday. I guess it’s time to whip out the shorts, singlets, and flip flops! One downer is that the mountains remain devoid of snow for at least another week so it won’t be looking like ski season anytime soon.