Unusual Murk Strikes the NW

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Even for me, a lover of rain and clouds, this is going too far.

Today was an amazingly murky day for much of the region, in addition to tying the record low-high at Seattle Tacoma Airport (55F). 55F is the typical high for mid April. You have heard of all the notable records for monthly precipitation and daily temperatures--I won't bore (or depress) you with more (and there are lots more!).

But here is something interesting. Today, June 20st, one day short of the day when the sun's ray should be the strongest over the northern hemisphere, was one of the most sunless days in months...many months.

Want the proof? Here is the solar radiation received at the top of the UW Atmospheric Sciences building since March (click on image to improve quality):

Today got up to around 50 W per meter squared, which is less than ANY day in the plot (which starts on 29 March). In fact, looking at a longer period, this is the darkest day (in terms of maximum solar radiation) since early February (see figure below)

Here is more information from Mark Albright, past Washington State Climatologist:

A scan of the last 15 years of rooftop June solar radiation data shows today (20 June 2010), just one day short of the summer solstice, to be the darkest June day over at least the past 15 years on campus. We received only 2.65 MJ/m2 of solar radiation today under very dark overcast gray skies. You have to go all the way back to 10 Feb 2010, with 2.40 MJ/m2 to find a day with less solar radiation than 20 June 2010! For comparison, the darkest day of the 2009-2010 winter was 11 Jan with 0.73 MJ/m2 of solar radiation.

Considering all the comments I am getting, people are starting to get depressed. Seasonal Affective Disorder in JUNE? I don't even want to ask about the sales of sunglasses and sunscreen. But at least we won't have to worry about rattlesnakes.

Finally, if any of you are interested, I will be one of the instructors this summer (August 5-8) at the North Cascade Institute's Northwest Naturalists Weekend: Weather, Wildfire and Biodiversity. I will provide a series of talks on NW weather and the other instructors will be talking about effects of wildfires and about lowland forests. Plus, hikes and canoe trips and good organic food in a beautiful location. For more information go to:

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