Keeping track of news about weather in Seattle and the Northwest.
April 8, 2013 at 9:07 AM
If it seems like April is getting off to a very soggy start, you’re on to something.
On Sunday, rainfall totals for this month at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reached 3.08 inches, according to the National Weather Service — that’s more rain than the city normally gets for an entire April. And that also makes it the second-wettest first week of April in recorded history at Sea-Tac.
Sunday’s rain broke the daily rainfall record for April 7 at Sea-Tac, where the 1.52-inch total as of 6 p.m. bested the previous record set in 1984 of 0.63 inches.
That stands in sharp contrast to the first three months of the year, when rainfall was well below normal in Western Washington. For Seattle, 2013 was the sixth-driest start to the year on record. Sea-Tac received just 8.48 inches from January through March; normally, rain totals for that time total 12.79 inches, according to the Weather Service.
More rain and cooler temperatures are forecast for later this week and the weekend.
April 5, 2013 at 1:47 PM
The mountain snowpack in Washington is 112 percent of normal and the best in the West, where the average for other states is about 75 percent, a water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service said Friday.
Arizona is the lowest at 40 percent and the Southwest is in “tough shape” for its water outlook for the rest of the year, said Scott Pattee who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture service in Mount Vernon.
The service compiled reports from measurements taken April 1 — usually the peak time for the mountain snowpack in the water year, which begins Oct. 1. The percent of normal figures are based on a 30-year average.
“The ‘so what’ on this story is that 70 to 80 percent of surface water in the Pacific Northwest comes from mountain snowmelt,” Pattee said.
The snowpack measurement tells utility managers how much power they can expect hydroelectric dams to generate, tells farmers how much irrigation water they can expect to pour on crops, tells fisheries managers whether migrating salmon will have sufficient stream flows. Snowpack information also is used in avalanche forecasts and by river-rafters planning their season.
In Washington, the snowpack is heaviest on the Olympics at 130 percent and lowest in the southeast corner of the state at 85 percent.
“I don’t think there’s going to be much concern,” Pattee said.
The Northwest received plenty of precipitation, especially in the October-December period.
“It just came in surges this year,” he said.
Other states don’t have as much water in the snow bank.
“Most of the Southwest is in pretty tough shape” with a poor stream flow outlook, Pattee said.
Snow measurements for the survey in Washington are taken by about 30 people with utilities, irrigation districts and agencies like the Bureau of Land Management. Data also comes from 70 automated SNOTEL stations in the state, Pattee said. The information goes through computer models for forecasts.
In Washington the snowpack peaked on March 24 and started slowly melting, he said.
The state snowpack averages, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service figures:
Alaska around 100 percent, Arizona 40, Northern California 61, Colorado 72, Idaho 80, Montana 92, Nevada 64, New Mexico 45, Oregon 84, Utah 66, Washington 112, Wyoming 82.
The service only measures Northern California and the state has its own system for the rest of California, Pattee said.
March 29, 2013 at 7:25 PM
Warm weather means fun in the water — and the risk of drowning, the King County Sheriff’s Office warned on Friday.
Paddle craft account for most fatal boating accidents in Washington, West said in a news release. Power boats used to lead, but human-powered vessels are now top of the list for fatality accidents.
Out on the water, wear a life jacket, don’t overload your boat, do not try to rescue a dog swept away by the current — and remember the water is cold, which can lead quickly to hypothermia, the release advises.
“U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are the best way to prevent drowning during water recreation,” said King County Sheriff Marine Sergeant James Knauss. Each life jacket has a “Coast Guard Approved” label specifying size and weight limits.
A life jacket is considered serviceable if it looks like it still works, has straps and/or buckles that have not rotted off, and its outer material is not torn or missing.
People also should take care not to overload boats. On large vessels, they should abide by placards stating the number of people and/or total weight the boats can carry.
It is important to stay within both limits. For example, if the limit is two people, then three people is a violation even if the weight remains under the total weight limit. Likewise, if there are two people aboard but their weight exceeds the limit, it is a violation.
Most two-person boats cannot support two “healthy” adult males, the sheriff’s office said.
Attempted rescues of dogs in rivers have contributed to drownings in the past couple years, it said.
If a dog appears to be swept away by the current, it is important not to go in after the pet. Dogs usually find their way to shore on their own.
March 29, 2013 at 4:17 PM
Whidbey Island residents affected by Wednesday’s landslide began returning to their homes on Friday.
Island County officials urged tourists and island visitors stay away from the area, which is in the Ledgewood neighborhood south of Coupeville.
The county sheriff’s department will require identification for anyone trying to reach the area and will allow only residents and county, state and law-enforcement officials through access points. The Ledgewood Neighborhood Association will help identify residents who live there.
“We want to be sure the area is kept secure and safe,” said Bill Oakes, the county’s public works director. “We realize people are interested in seeing the slide, but this weekend we must focus on making sure the slide is stabilized.”
Public works’ crews continue to widen and stabilize a footpath that is now the only way to reach the affected homes. The goal is to provide ATV entry while authorities work on a more permanent solution. They said it could be weeks before a new road replaces one lost in the slide.
People in 35 homes were evacuated because of the slide. Now, only 20 remain affected, either because of structural damage or property loss. All but five homes are open for permanent living. Access to one of them is barred but four can be visited during the day.
More information from Island County officials will be posted on the Twitter feed @IC_DEM and using the hashtag #WhidbeySlide.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources said the slide, one of the largest in the state’s history, is part of a landslide “complex” that measures roughly 1.5 miles long and dates back as many as 11,000 years.
Other large slides in Washington include:
Nile Landslide, Yakima County, 2009;
Aldercrest-Banyon, Cowlitz County, 1998
Carlyon Beach, Thurston County, 1998
Rosary Heights, Woodway, 1997
KM Mountain Landslide, Wahkiakum County, 1990.
March 29, 2013 at 7:57 AM
Sun, sun and more sun: The Easter weekend forecast is guaranteed to delight many Puget Sounders, with the hint of a 70-degree day on Sunday.
After a few isolated showers Friday, the warmest stretch of the year is expected to kick in, with temperatures building through the weekend.
“Right now, we’re officially forecasting upper 60s, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few spots hit 70 on Sunday,” said Gary Schneider of the National Weather Service, saying areas east of Lake Washington are likely to be warmer than Seattle
Forecast highs for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are 60 today, 64 on Saturday and 69 on Sunday. On Monday, the forecast calls for temperatures to ease back into the lower 60s, but no rain is expected until a chance of showers arrives on Wednesday.
The last 70-degree day at the airport was Oct. 8 of last year. The highest temperature so far this year has been 62, on Monday and Tuesday this week.\
With all this nice weather in the offing, click here to learn about are more than 35 things to do outdoors this sunny weekend.
March 27, 2013 at 9:02 AM
The Associated Press
Springtime weather is warming up in Washington.
The National Weather Service forecasts highs the rest of the week at least in the 60s with 70s expected in many parts of the state on a sunny Sunday.
The last time it reached 70 degrees in March at Sea-Tac Airport was March 29, 2004.
Forecasters say the chance of showers Wednesday and Thursday will give way to clearing skies Friday and a mostly clear weekend.
March 26, 2013 at 7:57 PM
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Transportation reminds drivers that they need to remove their studded tires by midnight, March 31.
Unless the department grants an extension because of severe weather, studded tires are legal in Washington only from Nov. 1 to March 31.
The department notes that forecasts look mild for the lowlands this year and no extension is planned.
Drivers traveling to higher elevations are urged to prepare for winter driving conditions with traction tires and chains if necessary.
Driving with studded tires after March 31 could result in a $124 ticket.
March 22, 2013 at 3:47 PM
The Wenatchee World
Both Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass continue to have on and off again closures due to snowfall causing slick and difficult driving conditions.
Stevens Pass Ski Area reports receiving 50 inches of snow since Sunday.
The Washington State Department of Transportation advises against traveling over Snoqualmie Pass today because additional snowfall and avalanche control are expected.
The National Weather Service predicts another 4 inches of snow for both Stevens and Snoqualmie passes with afternoon temperatures in the lower to mid 30s.
March 22, 2013 at 6:01 AM
Update at 9:30 a.m.: By mid-morning it was still snowing on Whidbey Island and some places in Snohomish County, but in most areas, snow had given way to rain.
Snow paid a spring visit to the Puget Sound area today, starting in Snohomish County and sweeping into some Seattle area neighborhoods.
In South Snohomish County, snow was sticking on the yards, streets and highways, causing numerous spin-outs, with some areas reporting several inches of snow.
Snow was falling in North Seattle and in some Eastside areas by 7 a.m.
Several Snohomish County school districts, including Edmonds, are starting late. Check for details at schoolreport.org.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Mark Francis said the snow had been a factor in up to two dozen spin-outs by 7 a.m. in the Snohomish County convergence zone, starting in the Everett area along Interstate 5 about 3:30 a.m. and gradually shifting to the Woodinville area along Highway 522. None of the accidents was reported to involve serious injuries.
Difficulties were expected to ease once the sun comes up, according to the National Weather Service. Friday’s high temperatures are expected to reach the 40s around the Puget Sound area.
Snow was falling in most mountain passes this morning, with Stevens Pass reporting heavy snow and gusty winds. Traction tires were advised on Stevens and Snoqualmie passes. Check for updates.
Raw video of snow falling in rural Snohomish County:
March 21, 2013 at 9:28 PM
The Associated Press
Sure, it’s spring, but today’s weather in Washington featured enough snow to close the main east-west route across the Cascade Mountains and a barn-busting tornado in the southwest part of the state.
The Washington State Transportation Department has temporarily closed Interstate 90 across Snoqualmie Pass between Ellensburg and North Bend this evening, citing snowy conditions and spun-out vehicles. WSDOT says the pass is expected to re-open at 11:30 p.m.
Compact snow, ice and spin-outs also temporarily closed a portion of State Highway 18 over Tiger Mountain on the Eastside.
The National Weather Service office in Portland confirms a weak tornado packing winds of 65 to 85 mph ripped apart a barn in Hockinson, Clark County. No one was hurt.
Irene Gitner tells KATU-TV she watched the sky turn black and a “white twister” settled on her family’s barn roof.
The Weather Service in Seattle says hail and light snow fell in some other areas of Western Washington. Meteorologist Chris Burke says a drying trend should follow.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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