Historic & Record-Breaking First Half of October Plus Fire Weather Update

October 16, 2022

8pm Sunday…

For the past week or two I’ve been pointing out that “we’ve seen this before” in reference to a warm/sunny October start with no soaking rain. But the past few days have gone beyond anything I’ve experienced in early/mid October in our area. Let’s get straight to fire weather, since for the first time in 31 years we’ve got a fire licking at the edges of the metro area (Nakia Creek Fire northeast of Camas) in mid-October. The last time was with the Falls Fire moving through the west end of the Gorge in October 1991.

FIRE HIGHLIGHTS

IF YOU ARE IN THE EVACUATION ZONE OR WORRIED? You should feel much better this evening because the dry/warm east wind driving the quick movement of the Nakia Creek Fire has ended. Areas like Corbett, Larch Mountain (WA), and Crown Point in the Gorge have turned calm…these places were seeing gusts 50-60 mph earlier today! The fire should grow much more slowly again starting tonight. And there’s no sign of a strong east wind again this week. This fire should calm down rapidly overnight and smolder once again as it had the 2nd half of last week.

All fires should be put out by soaking rains next weekend and beyond. That weather change includes the first widespread snow of the season in the Cascades too! The wet season is almost here…

FIRE SMOKE

There may be areas of smoke that drift down into the valleys tonight, but in general I just expect a continuation of poor air quality at times through Friday. This should be similar to the past week. I don’t expect any sort of widespread “smoke-storm” like we saw 2 years ago.

Take a look at the satellite picture this afternoon…is it October or August? Numerous fires burning in the central/northern Washington Cascades, 4 in the southern Washington Cascades, and the 2.5 month old Cedar Creek Fire near Willamette Pass. A few days ago we weren’t seeing too much smoke, but now they have all picked up again due to no rain and a dry/warm easterly wind event.

(KPTV)

Why has it been so warm? We’ve been under an upper-level “ridge” or warmer than normal temperatures in the atmosphere overhead. The red in this image is the “anomaly”…change from normal. Very warm (compared to normal mid-September to mid-October) all through western half of Canada and NW USA.

(KPTV)

This has blocked the normal return of wet Pacific weather systems that we see every autumn. Some years we turn wet in early September, other years not until early October. But this year it’s not happening until the last week of so of October. We haven’t seen it this late in 31 years (1991).

(KPTV)

October so far has been more like a typical July or August in our area…nights a little bit cooler than those months, but two weeks of sunshine with an average high temperature around 80 degrees! The first half of this month is far warmer than any other first 1/2 of October

(KPTV)

Today was our 12th day at/above 80 degrees this month. Until this year we have never seen more than 6! For those of you wondering “are Octobers turning warmer and drier?” Good question, but no, it’s not a trend. Notice only one 80 degree day in October in the past 6 years, and we’ve had plenty of wet Octobers recently. I think this is a one-time freak event…not as extreme as the June 2021 historic heatwave, but right up there in October weather history.

(KPTV)

We may have one more 80 degree day…this Wednesday. That’s after a 15 degree drop in temperature tomorrow due to cool onshore flow and clouds/fog. Our 7 Day forecast shows that we COULD break a high temperature record anywhere between Tuesday and Thursday as the ridge makes one last stand…

(KPTV)

THE WET SEASON BEGINS NEXT WEEKEND

Well, it’s time…cover anything you need to keep dry by Friday afternoon at the latest because it’s looking wet! That strong upper-level ridge is going away late this week and will be followed by several wet systems starting Friday night and continuing through next week A couple key points

1) Expect widespread soaking rain across all of Washington and at least northern Oregon next weekend through at least the 26th. Most likely 1-2″ will fall in the lowlands in the week following this Friday.

2) I don’t see an especially stormy pattern, but windy/rain at times. Right now much of that appears to be Friday evening/night, and again later Sunday/early Monday. Last year during this period we had a couple of bomb cyclones offshore. That’s not happening this time.

3) Instead of highs in the 70s and 80s, we’ll have some wet days with highs only in the 50s!

4) We won’t have to think about fire smoke, fires, or 75+ degree days after Friday until 2023. It’s also possibly we don’t have any 70 degree days after Friday too.

Take a look at the jet stream right now…diverted far to the north

(KPTV)

But by Saturday, a system has moved through the area and we are in the cool showers/sunbreaks pattern behind it. Snow levels Saturday MAY come down to Government Camp

(KPTV)

Then a 2nd cool upper-level trough (dip in the jet stream) moves through early next week…around Tuesday

(KPTV)

So…enjoy the last of our freakishly warm weather this week because NORMAL LATE OCTOBER WEATHER IS ON THE WAY FOR NEXT WEEKEND.