Eatonville Heat Wave

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This morning, one area of western Washington warmed into the lower 60s, with brisk southerly winds--more like Hawaii with strong trade winds than western Washington in midwinter.

The location? The area around Eatonville (near the SW entrance to Mt. Rainier).  Here is plot of the weather conditions there (time is in GMT, so 1256 is 4:56 AM).  Temperatures were in the 50s overnight and rose to 60F at 5:55AM!  Temperatures help up until 1855 GMT (10:55 AM), after which cooling occurred.  Why so warm?   Hint:  look a the winds.  Winds turned southerly and were strong at the temps rose.

 Take a look at a plot of the observations around 10AM.  There was a whole region of warmth around Eatonville that extended toward Enumclaw and southwestern Tacoma.  At the same time that Eatonville luxuriated at 60F it was only 42F at Renton.  I could make a Renton joke here but will fight the urge.

We can get an idea of the type of air moving into the region by looking at the radiosonde upper air observations at Salem, Oregon--see below.  Strong winds from the southwest and quite warm air aloft (12C,54F) above colder air near the surface.

And what is immediately upstream of Eatonville?  Substantial terrain, reaching 3-4 thousand feet, as show below:

Now we can put it all together.  Strong, warm flow approached the terrain south of Eatonville and then descended toward the town.  Cool air near the surface was swept away and the downsloping air warmed by compression (adiabatic warming is the term in the weather biz).   Turns out that our high resolution models had a good idea of is the 12hr forecast from the super high resolution (4/3 km) UW WRF model:

Theorange/ reddish colors are the warmest.

I should note that both sides of the Cascades have been far warmer than normal lately--with low temperatures close to the usual highs.  Here is the proof for Sea Tac and Spokane:
Temperatures should cool down later this week.  And keep in mind that last January was also mild, but was followed by super cold air in February.

Tonight's Political Commentary

 Senator Rick Santorum, who is now so much in the news for surging in Iowa, is well known to the meteorological community, and not in a good way.  In 2005 he introduced the National Weather Service Duties Act that would have prevented the NWS from providing the public with any weather information when private-sector entities perform the same function commercially.  It appeared he was trying to help a business in his district, Accuweather, gain a huge market.   In September 2005, Santorum criticized the National Weather Service for its evacuation warnings given for Hurricane Katrina, saying they were "insufficient" and said the public suffered "serious consequences" when they fall short of "getting it right.  Just nonsense...the Katrina warnings were the strongest I have ever seen. 

Dog News

My little Cockapoo was AGAIN seen in Mountlake Terrace near an apartment complex (Markland Woods Appt) in the vicinity of 236th SW and Cedar Way.  If you live in the area, keep an look out!
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