Keeping track of news about weather in Seattle and the Northwest.
May 22, 2013 at 12:18 PM
BICKLETON, Klickitat County (AP) — A freak snowstorm in May gave students a surprise day off on Wednesday in the Cascades town of Bickleton.
Ten to 12 inches fell overnight within a 5- or 6-mile radius in the Klickitat County community at an elevation of about 3,000 feet.
“You go down the hill and get out of it,” schools Superintendent Ric Palmer said of the snow.
The heavy snow brought down tree branches on power lines, taking out electricity and phone service, Palmer said from home, where he was using generator power.
He said it was the lack of power at school rather than the snow that forced him to cancel classes. Still, it marked the first snow day of the school year, after only a few delays caused by snow during the winter.
“Yeah, they love it,” Palmer said about his students. He noted, however, that .they will have to make up the time before classes end next month.
About 170 students attend kindergarten through 12th grade in one building in Bickleton.
Utilities should be restored and classes were likely to resume on Thursday.
A recorded message about the freak snow on the school phone line had an incredulous tone: “I repeat it’s Wednesday, May 22, and we have had to cancel school.”
A couple of inches of snow also fell on 3,100-foot Satus Pass on Highway 97 between Goldendale and Toppenish, the sheriff’s office reported. But no significant problems were reported.
The Paradise ranger station at Mount Rainier recorded nearly a foot of snow overnight and the snow level dropped to near 2,000 feet, the National Weather Service said.
More mountain snow was expected on Thursday, forecasters said, but showers elsewhere should diminish and temperatures turn moderate through the Memorial Day weekend.
May 14, 2013 at 1:19 PM
Here’s a look at the sky over Seattle as Monday’s storm blew through town Monday afternoon.
The view is what was seen through the eye of the camera perched atop The Seattle Times.
Quite a show.
May 10, 2013 at 8:36 AM
By DOUG ESSER
The second-driest start to May on record in Seattle will end in time for rain on Mother’s Day, the National Weather Service said.
Saturday will likely be the final dry day in a stretch that began April 30, said meteorologist Dana Felton.
“We’ve got a system coming in. We might squeeze out one more dry day tomorrow,” he said Friday.
Eleven dry days at the beginning of May would be the second-longest period since 1946 when it didn’t rain until May 24. In 1958, May also had a dry start with nine days without rain.
Oddly, this dry spell follows the second-wettest April on record in Seattle.
“We had a really fast transition, not only to really dry but to really warm,” Felton said.
The high temperature of 78 forecast for Friday at Sea-Tac Airport would approach the record of 81 for the day set in 1987. A near-record high also was forecast Friday for Olympia. The expected high of 82 pushes the record of 85, also set in 1987.
That would be terrific weather for Mother’s Day, but it’s not going to happen.
“Unfortunately, that’s the case,” Felton said. Have your picnic Saturday, he suggested.
The rain coming in late Saturday will not be a big producer, but it will dampen the dust and drop the high temperatures in Western Washington back to the more-normal 60s by next week, with showers.
The front will lower Eastern Washington’s 90s, but the high temperatures are expected to remain in the 80s east of the Cascades, even with some clouds.
“They could see showers and thunderstorms but not the steady rain like we get over here on the west side,” Felton said.
Many rivers in Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle are running high because of melting snow in the mountains. Minor flooding is expected on the Okanogan, Kettle and Stehekin rivers. Other rivers nearing flood stage are the Entiat, Kootenai, Methow, Moyie and Similkameen.
May 6, 2013 at 8:44 AM
OLYMPIA (AP) — A shift in winds Monday is helping firefighters at a couple of wildfires in southwest Washington.
Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Karen Ripley says they grew Sunday under dry easterly winds. But winds have shifted to an onshore flow, bringing cooler, more-humid air.
About 100 firefighters with helicopters are trying to control a fire that has burned about 100 acres near the eastern end of Riffe (ryf) Lake in Lewis County. It’s burning debris in a recently logged area.
Another fire has burned about 60 acres of logging debris in the Capitol Forest near Littlerock in Thurston County. Ripley says about 100 firefighters are trying to contain the fire on steep terrain with help from helicopters.
She also says firefighters are mopping up smaller fires near Tenino and La Center.
May 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM
Western Washington residents flooded parks and picnic areas Sunday to take advantage of the glorious May weather.
But the sunny skies also led to a string of rescues and two deaths as adventurers took to area lakes and streams.
Temperatures hit a high of 83 degrees around 4 p.m. at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, just a few degrees shy of the record of 86, set in 1953. And today’s warm temperatures are expected to continue through Monday, a date with a record high of only 79 degrees, set back in 1957.
“Today is much warmer than is typical, but we didn’t set any new records,” said meteorologist Josh Smith at the National Weather Service in Seattle. “But tomorrow, we almost certainly will.”
The blue-sky day brought kids to playgrounds and college students to area beaches and also led kayakers and rafters to hit nearby waterways.
On the Stillaguamish River along state route 530 in Snohomish County, authorities received calls from several people around 2:30 p.m. who said a raft had overturned dumping a man and a woman into the water. The county’s marine services unit sent out rescue divers who eventually found both victims. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital, according to Lt. Kathi Lang at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Their names were not released.
An hour and a half later, Pierce County authorities started receiving calls about an accident on Spanaway Lake, where a 55-year-old man disappeared under water after another rafting accident. He is presumed dead, said Randy Stephens, assistant chief with Central Pierce Fire and Rescue.
Details of the accident were still unclear, but Stephens said that incident started about 3:50 p.m. when the man and two women were on either a raft or an inner tube that was being pulled behind a boat. Somehow the man fell off and disappeared under the water.
Pierce County Sheriff’s office sent out its dive team, which used specialized equipment to sweep the bottom of the lake. But by 5:15 p.m. it seemed increasingly unlikely that they would find the man alive, Stephens said.
“We’re moving from a rescue operation to a body recovery,” he said.
Northwest residents are urged to use caution in coming days, as the warm weather continues. Smith, at the weather service, said temperatures will remain high on Monday, and begin dropping into the 70s through the middle of the week with occasional scattered clouds. Highs may drop to the 60s by late week with rain not expected until at least Sunday.
May 3, 2013 at 9:34 AM
The Seattle area is heading into a mini May heat wave, but will it break any records?
The best chance of setting a new daily high appears to be Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
Here’s a look at the forecast highs for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the next few days, along with the normal and record high for each date.
April 19, 2013 at 8:36 AM
Sorry we can’t promise you a warm weekend, but hang in there, sunshine is on the way.
By the middle of next week, temperatures into the mid-70s are forecast throughout Western Washington. And some areas south of Olympia or in the Cascade foothills might see highs approaching 80 degrees, said Danny Mercer, National Weather Service meteorologist.
“We have high pressure building offshore, and that should keep weather systems from moving into the area, giving us a chance to dry out,” Mercer said.
For the immediate future, the Seattle area is looking at off-and-on showers through today and into Saturday. Then skies are expected to gradually clear, offering a partly sunny Sunday with highs in the mid-60s.
As the warming trend continues, highs in the Seattle area are forecast in the low-60s Monday, mid-60s Tuesday and into the 70s Wednesday and Thursday.
Early indications are that the area could stay dry into next weekend, although temperatures are expected to drop.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where official readings for the metro area are taken, has yet to have its first 70-degree day in 2013.
The warmest day so far was Easter Sunday (March 31), when Sea-Tac topped out at 69. Some other areas around Puget Sound did make it into the 70s that day, including a high of 72 in Olympia.
April 14, 2013 at 10:07 AM
A female snowshoer died nearly nine hours after being buried in an avalanche on Red Mountain yesterday, and rescuers have indefinitely suspended a search for a 60-year-old male hiker, who was buried in an avalanche on Granite Mountain, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.
The first avalanche took place at noon on Granite Mountain, near Interstate 90’s Exit 47. The second hit a half-hour later on Red Mountain, a few miles east near the Alpental ski area on Snoqualmie Pass.
The 60-year-old man, whom sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Katie Larson described as “a very experienced hiker,” was with two other men, all from South King County, when the avalanche hit, carrying them 1,279 feet at a top speed of 53 mph “in less than a minute.” That level of detail was available because at least one snowshoer was outfitted with GPS.
Two injured men, in their 30s, emerged from the snow, but their companion did not, Larson said.
About 50 rescuers with dog teams searched for the man. But they battled “horrible” conditions, Larson said, and wound up suspending the search sometime around 8 p.m.
Overnight, the mountain got another “big dump of snow,” making the conditions too dangerous to send searchers back in, she said.
“Until conditions improve, we’ve suspended the search indefinitely,” Larson said.
At the Red Mountain site, matters remained confusing late yesterday, with officials unsure whether one or possibly more snowshoers remained buried in the snow.
The confusion came in part from a language barrier between search-and-rescue officials and a group of a dozen snowshoers who had been caught in the avalanche. The group of 12 was split up by the avalanche, with four making it off the mountain on their own by 5 p.m.
A woman snowshoeing with her dog near that group of 12 snowshoers was buried when the avalanche struck. The remaining eight snowshoers, who were at about 4,800 feet, realized the woman was missing when the dog, alone, came up to them afterward.
Members of the group located the woman, face down under about 5 feet of snow, about 45 minutes after the avalanche hit, Larson said.
“She had a pulse at the time,” and the snowshoers did their best to keep her warm while they waited 2 1/2 hours for rescuers to hike into their location, she said. It took another six hours to get the woman out on a sled, and after she was brought down from the mountain, medics pronounced her dead at the scene sometime around midnight, according to Larson.
In all, more than 100 members of Search and Rescue teams from Seattle, Everett, Pierce County and Yakima participated in searches at the two avalanche scenes. “We had a lot of help,” she said.
Won Shin, 56, of Mukilteo, was among the four who made it off Red Mountain first. He said that when the avalanche hit, he suddenly saw snow all around him.
“The only thing I thought about was just, ‘Get out of here,’ ” he said. “I’ve never felt anything like that.”
He said those in his group of four were lucky because they were close to trees that broke the avalanche’s impact.
The 12 friends are experienced snowshoers who make it into the mountains about every week, he said.
The two hikers who were with the missing man on Granite Mountain suffered non-life-threatening shoulder and hamstring injuries, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The last avalanche fatalities occurred in February 2012 when four were killed at Stevens Pass and near the Summit at Snoqualmie, Larson said.
She said avalanches can be common this time of year.
“Whenever you have warm weather and then cold weather and snow, it can be bad,” she said.
Paul Baugher, director of the Northwest Avalanche Institute, which offers avalanche consulting and safety training, said storm conditions had been expected in the mountains this weekend.
“This was not a freak spring storm that comes out of nowhere,” said Baugher, who is also Ski Patrol director at Crystal Mountain Resort. “It’s a well-forecasted storm. It was all available to look at.”
He said the forecast for avalanches at Snoqualmie was “high” yesterday.
Both his ski patrol at Crystal Mountain and its counterpart at the Snoqualmie Pass ski resort did routine avalanche control yesterday morning. They used small explosives and “ski cutting” to release slabs of snow that might slide and create an avalanche.
The conditions resulted from lots of new snow, enhanced at Snoqualmie Pass by the Puget Sound convergence-zone weather pattern.
“Because of the cold temperatures, the snow underneath is relatively well frozen and stable,” Baugher said. “But there’s a poor bond between the new snow coming down and old snow, which is very hard and slippery. That produces soft slabs of very sensitive snow.”
He said, “They have definitely got high hazards at Snoqualmie. It’s set up for human-triggered avalanches.” In particular, “Granite Mountain has a history of avalanches, and they often happen later in the season,” Baugher said.
“A lot of people plan by the calendar. Late in the season, people expect it to be spring and start planning outings they might not do in the winter,” Baugher said. “But this is true winter conditions. It’s just occurring in the spring.”
In the 15 years before this winter, there were 46 avalanche fatalities in the Northwest, according to statistics compiled by the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. Most occurred in December through February, with only four deaths in April.
This winter, the center recorded two previous avalanche accidents in the Pacific Northwest. In the first, last November, some snowmobiles were buried but no one was hurt. In December, at Crystal Mountain, three skiers were caught in an avalanche, but all escaped serious injury.
April 13, 2013 at 2:42 PM
The Associated Press
Authorities in Washington state say three people are missing after two avalanches in the mountains near Snoqualmie Pass.
KOMO-TV reports one avalanche occurred Saturday afternoon on Granite Mountain, off Exit 47 from Interstate 90. The King County Sheriff’s office says two skiers were injured and one is missing.
Two people also are missing from the second avalanche, on Red Mountain, near the Alpental Ski Area off I-90. Authorities believe both were snowshoeing in the area.
Both avalanches occurred as heavy snow was falling in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.
April 13, 2013 at 9:08 AM
$550 million! Do I hear $575? You can almost hear the auctioneer calling as a bidding war for the Sacramento Kings seems likely now that Chris Hansen and his Seattle supporters have added $25 million to their $550 million offer for the team.
Who is Chris Hansen? The answer to that question is answered in a Seattle Times profile of the multimillionaire who grew up in Seattle. You can read it online tomorrow or in the Sunday print edition.
Another Barefoot Bandit charge: A county in Nebraska has filed theft charges against Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called Barefoot Bandit, complicating the case against the 22-year-old now held in the Skagit County jail.
Snow in the passes: Snow is falling at Stevens Pass this morning, and the National Weather Service forecasts 6 to 12 inches of snow in the Cascades over the weekend. Rain showers are expected through Sunday in the Seattle area with possible thunderstorms today and tomorrow.
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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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