Todd and his family live in Whitefish, Montana. Todd founded Flathead Valley Weather in 2015 to give more local attention to the weather in this area!
By: snowave, 4:41 PM GMT on January 17, 2013
Well, after ~3 days of glorious, albeit cold sunshine... the muck has returned. A strong ridge of high pressure continues to sit over the region, creating strong inversions (cold mosit air trapped below the warmer dry air above) across the interior valleys and basins of the PACNW.
While elevations above about ~3,000 ft continue to bask in the sunshine, most other areas below that sit in the soup.
Yesterday was a great example of how strong this inversion is. Areas below the clouds hovered in the teens and 20's, while the ski resorts, and mountain tops were having springtime weather in the 40's, and even 50's!
These 2 screen grabs (courtesy of the NWS-Spokane and the USFS) tell the story well.
Thankfully, a few areas(including the house in Plain) did see several hours of sunshine yesterday as the cutoff for the soup was just south of town over Beaver Hill/Pass (which separates Beaver Valley and Chumstick valley).. and is 500'-1000'elevation difference. Leavenworth, Wenatchee and most other areas in the Columbia Basin saw little to no sun all day.
The pattern looks to persist into early next week... and then, most computer models break down the ridge and bring a return to more unsettled weather.
I don't think we can consider this the January thaw, can we?... at least below 3,000 ft. :)
By: snowave, 7:52 PM GMT on January 11, 2013
Well, it's here.. our first Arctic outbreak of the season. Temperature this morning was down to 12 degrees. It might have even gotten a little colder if some mid level clouds didn't roll in early this morning.
The best news (depending on who you ask, of course) is the cold air has largely scoured out the low clouds and fog... yesterday was a beautiful bluebird day. The forecast for the next week is for mostly sunny skies and cold temps. We may hit the zero degree mark sometime this weekend.
Here's a lunchtime shot today from town looking southwest...
The only caveat to this cold high pressure being in control is... it could still create strong inversions... so if enough moisture/particulates are present in the lower atmosphere, we could see some of the muck return... but for now, the NWS seems to think the lower Columbia Basin has the best chance of getting some air stagnation.
The other good news is... we got our fiber line back last Friday, so the weather station is back online. We've had a few power blips (including a 7 hr power outage on Monday), which caused things to freeze up a few times, but nothing major.
Thankfully, we've had several days of warmer temps and even some rain and wind this week. This was probably the best case scenario, as it allowed the trees to shed roughly 75% of the heavy snow and ice that has been on them since Mid December... so hopefully, this is the end of the ongoing power issues the area.
Time to get out an enjoy the sun and snow!
By: snowave, 8:58 PM GMT on January 02, 2013
Since the December 17th snowstorm, we are still without fiber optics (no internet)... so the weather station is not back online yet. I don't have an estimate when it will be back. The station itself is still operating fine, and collecting data... so when it comes back online, all the data will be refreshed and updated.
Weatherwise, we took a break from the active weather the last week with high pressure settling in over the region.
While this has been a nice reprieve for the snow laden trees and weary backs from snow shoveling, it's also created a deep inversion layer over the area, which has caused low clouds and fog to hang over the valleys and basins of eastern Washington... so no real appreciable sun for us!
Here is a view on top of Mission Ridge near Wenatchee on 1/1/13, looking east into the Columbia River Basin... you can see the layer of thick clouds down below about 4,000 ft extending all the way past Spokane and beyond... 150+ miles to the east, with the beautiful bluebird skies above.
Here's a closer north angle view of the muck in the valleys toward Leavenworth/Lake Wenatchee/Plain.
They say this is normal around these parts in winter, but it's been like this for the MUCH better part of the last 2+ months... plus, add on 1-2 months of heavy smoke immediately preceding that... it's been... not always so fun.
... There is just very little mixing in the atmosphere on the east side in winter, and it's also a big basin (bowl), so the low level moisture and cold air just settles in and gets trapped in this bowl. The sun angle is so low this time of year, that is is not effective to help 'burn it off'.
The east side (of the Cascades) is touted to be the 'sunnier and drier' side... That may be the case in summer, but it's been closer to the opposite in winter so far, as the west side has seen more sun the us this winter (that's somewhat relative, but it makes me feel a little better saying it).
Here is a satellite view that clearly shows all of E. Washington shrouded in clouds while the west side, Seattle, etc.. basks in the sun.
The NWS is considering air stagnation advisories/burn bans for some areas as pollutants/smoke to getting stuck in this layer of this inversion could cause air quality issues.
Fortunately (I use the word cautiously), more active weather appears to be in the offing.. as the PACNW ridge of high pressure that has settled in is progged to weaken and open the door to some weak to moderate storms and more 'mixing of the atmosphere', to hopefully provide some relief of the low clouds and fog. All bets are off for full sunshine, however. :(
"Welcome to the PACNW", is what people are telling me after hearing my complaints...
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.