Friday, October 31, 2014

How's tonight's trick-or-treat weather looking?

Yesterday we discussed what the odds of a wet Halloween would be and whether or not the holiday revelers would need to accessorise with umbrellas or additional rain gear. Well, now that the event is nearing our confidence in where rain will fall during the evening is growing. First lets look at the latest satellite picture. The feature of concern is the north-south band of clouds and moisture (while and green band) associated with a cold front (blue dotted line). This cold front is slowly working its way to the east and will likely it's trek through the evening.

3pm Water Vapor imagery with approximate cold front position in blue

So while the satellite was showing the cold front moving slowly to the east, what did that translate to in regards to precipitation? As you notice on the radar loop below, much of the preciptation has shifted east of the Cascades and Yakima (aside from some isolated showers over western Washington and Oregon) and was making a slow northeast path toward Spokane and northern Idaho. Based on this, it seems certain that rain will fall this evening over these locations, however the front is still expected to weaken during the evening. So where do we expect to see the best chances of rain during the evening between 6 pm and 9 pm?

Radar Mosaic from 130pm-300pm

To answer this question we will refer to the same ensemble forecast as yesterday (SREF model) as well as some hourly model guidance (HRRR model).

According to the SREF model, the best chances will occur over the extreme northeast portions of Washington and adjacent portions of north Idaho (areas shaded in purples and reds). This would impact trick-or-treaters in Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, and possibly Colville. However notice the SREF isn't expecting much chance of measurable precipitation over Spokane or Coeur d'Alene(greens are 20% chance of less). This is because the front is still expected to stretch and weaken as it moves to the east this evening. The other area of concern for rain is over the extreme southeast corner of Washington, near the Blue Mountains and Pomeroy. Based on current radar trends, this seems overdone, but bears watching. Let's now check on the hourly HRRR guidance to see if it agrees with the SREF.
SREF measurable rain chances from 5pm-11pm

So below you will see the hourly HRRR model data for the period between 6pm-9pm. The images represent what the radar might be showing during those times. Greens and blues show where the model thinks there will be rain. Generally speaking it agrees quite well with the SREF, by keeping most of the rain to the north and east of Spokane. In fact, most of the rain generally remains fixed over northeast Washington and doesn't really hit north Idaho in force until after 8pm, and by then the front looks quite weak. Also notice that over southeast Washington the forecast looks dry until 9pm and then later into the night (not shown here).

6pm simulated radar from the SREF

7pm simulated radar from the SREF

8pm simulated radar from the SREF

9pm simulated radar from the SREF
Does this mean we can count on a dry evening over Spokane and Coeur d'Alene? We don't think so (the HRRR is showing a few tiny specks of green and blue around the area), The front has enough moisture and lift to produce some light rain in this area, but it won't likely amount to more than a few sprinkles and thus rain gear will be optional.

Rain or not, one thing is certain, this will be another mild Halloween. Much more so than what the region endured back in 2002. That evening, the holiday revelers had to endure temperatures in the teens. 2003 was not much warmer. However, since 2007, every Halloween evening has been fairly mild. Here's a look at trick-or-treat temperatures since 2000.

Halloween temperatures at the Spokane Airport since 2000

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