Weather Blog

Northern Lights could make appearance later this week

Northern Lights could make appearance later this week
Northern Lights shine over Puget Sound. (Photo courtesy Eddie Murdock Photography

A strong solar storm is in progress, and for those ever hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, its timing couldn't be better.

Spaceweather.com says not one, but two coronal mass ejections (CMEs -- fancy word for solar flares) have erupted and are speeding toward Earth.

Their expected arrival is Friday for the first one and Saturday for the second one, which means both Friday night -- and perhaps even Thursday night if it's a bit quicker -- and Saturday night could see a display of the Northern Lights. It's a near slam dunk for the higher latitudes but even our area has a chance to get a peek if the stars align.

The forecast is for skies to be clear through the night for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Plus now that we're into September, the nights are longer, giving us a longer window to see the show.

Best viewing tips are to find a dark location away from city lights with a clear view of the northern horizon.

And to prove you can get a nice show this far south, here is time lapse video from our last event last month by Eddie Murdock. Note that the camera does a much better job picking up the colors with longer exposures than the naked eye so it didn't look this intense to someone standing next to the camera, but still, quite a dazzling display

Sunny Northwest day stuns ISS astronaut

Sunny Northwest day stuns ISS astronaut
Photo: Reid Wiseman, NASA

I would think being an astronaut living on the International Space Station would find a new sight each day in the cosmos to be in sheer wonder.

Friday brought a rare sight to NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman -- something he says never happens and he had a front row seat.

A galaxy supernova? Not quite; seen it before.

Rain on the moon? That would qualify but still no need for meteorologists there.

No, while it was weather-related, it had to do with our own Pacific Northwest:

The science behind the smell of rain

The science behind the smell of rain
A rainy window pane on a stormy day in Seattle. (Photo courtesy: Michael Mclaughlin Photography

Ever notice there's a distinct smell right after it starts raining?

It's most noticeable when it's been dry for a long while and the shower is fairly heavy. My wife, who grew up in Arizona, referred to this as the "wet rock" smell and there is some truth to it as it's rock that's among the main culprits for giving off the smell.

Photos: Breathtaking pics of Earth from International Space Station

Photos: Breathtaking pics of Earth from International Space Station
A pop-up book for space travelers. Clouds reaching so high I couldn’t believe it. (Photo & Caption: Reid Wiseman, NASA)

Odds of an El Niño this winter drop by 15%

Odds of an El Niño this winter drop by 15%

Maybe El Niño isn't such the slam dunk it seemed a few months ago?

Forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center – the people in charge of watching for El Niño and La Nina, among many other things – have dropped their chances of El Niño developing this fall and winter to 65 percent from 80 percent.

Granted, that's like saying a football team that was a 14 point favorite to win is now just an 11 point favorite – still a pretty good chance it'll happen. Just not as much as before.

But if nothing else, the trend is interesting.

Why is it ''Hurricane'' Iselle and not ''Typhoon'' Iselle bearing down on Hawaii?

Why is it ''Hurricane'' Iselle and not ''Typhoon'' Iselle bearing down on Hawaii?
Left: Photo of Typhoon Halong, courtesy of astronaut Reid Wiseman on the International Space Station. Right: Satellite image of Hurricane Iselle near Hawaii.

With the tropical paradise of Hawaii bracing for Hurricane Iselle later Thursday, I've had quite a number of people email and ask why we're not calling the storm "Typhoon Iselle." After all, there's a similar storm just a bit farther west across the Pacific called "Typhoon Halong."

The reason is simple: Geography.

Mountains don't need to be big to create their own weather

Mountains don't need to be big to create their own weather
A small fog bank is created over Tillamook Head just south of Seaside, Ore. on July 10, 2014.

Photo galleries around here are full of dramatic cloud shots created by some of the tallest mountains, be it Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood or even just the Cascades or Olympics.

But mountains don't have to be measured in thousands of feet to create their own weather patterns.

Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February

Long range forecasts maintain generally warm pattern through February
Sen sets over Seattle on July 17, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Bruce Hogarth)

For much of late winter and spring, the message has been the same by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center: Expect a warmer than normal summer.

So far, July is delivering, with several days of 80s and 90s around the Pacific Northwest, and even a few triple digit days east of the Cascades.

Portland is just one spot in the region, but it's a whopping 2.5 degrees above normal so far.

And the forecast for this week brings a return of more warm-to-hot weather to finish off the month!

So what about August? Those same long-range forecasts suggest more of the same. And September. And October. And November. And...see a theme developing?

Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine

Northwest wildfires take 'shine' out of Midwestern sunshine
Photo: Jonathan Yuhas, KSTP-TV.

The wildfires raging across Washington, Oregon and Idaho are not only bringing a dense, smoky haze to much of the area just to the east of the Cascades, but its effects are being felt over 1,000 miles away across the Upper Midwest.

Jonathan Yuhas, a meteorologist with KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, noted that skies over Minnesota have taken a "frosty haze" to them ever since the wildfires have erupted here in the Northwest.

Pacific Coast residents wonder: Who needs a meteorologist?

Pacific Coast residents wonder: Who needs a meteorologist?
Shore Acres State Park in Oregon (Photo courtesy Flickr user Doug Kerr. (Via CC 2.0 license.)

Would you like to live in a place where no matter what the weather is, be it sunshine, pouring rain, or a foggy overcast, the temperature is about the same?

All you have to do is head west, stop just before you get pummeled by ocean surf, then either put in your tent stakes or, more comfortably, talk to a local real estate agent.

Photos: More dramatic pics of Earth from International Space Station

Photos: More dramatic pics of Earth from International Space Station
We flew over a big tropical cyclone “Guito” near Madagascar this morning. (Photo & Caption courtesy Koichi Wakata (@Astro_Wakata) and NASA)

Surreal pics: Nebraska homes, cars blasted by tennis ball-sized hail

Surreal pics: Nebraska homes, cars blasted by tennis ball-sized hail
A home's siding is torn off after being blistered by large hail and strong winds in Hooper, Nebraska on June 3, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Kevin Krohn )

If it was in Mother Nature's playbook, it was used against parts of Nebraska Tuesday evening: Torrential rain, constant lightning, near-hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, and tennis ball-sized hail...

Pretty much all at the same time.

Let's start with the torrential rain as I was wide-eyed watching the rainfall numbers come in from Omaha.

The storm began with quite the punch, bringing a burst of rainfall and a gust of wind that was clocked at 72 mph!

The rain just kept going from there, which included jaw-dropping rainfall rates that saw over a half-inch of rain (0.53") fall in 3 minutes! That's 0.01" of rain per 3.4 seconds.