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Through the smokey haze and in an air conditioned building, Chris Vance, Cathy Allen, Bill Radke and Erica Barnett.
KUOW Photo/ Kara McDermott

Are you hot? We're hot. It's hot. Not as hot as it could be because of the smoke from British Columbia's wildfires, but we're still in a heat wave with temperatures in the 90s. 

What Happens To Our Bodies When It's Hot Out?

Aug 3, 2017

The Pacific Northwest is experiencing a major heatwave. When it's this hot out, while hiking in the gorge or just to your car, your body will inevitably goes through a similar song and dance: some sweat, maybe some lethargy, perhaps a bit of dizziness.

The reason why this happens is pretty much thanks to our body's (for lack of a better metaphor) internal air-conditioning unit.

A summer filled with wildfires means air conditions in the Northwest are going from bad to worse. Fires from British Columbia and around Washington state have contributed to a smoky week.

Like a dreamy scene, the Yakima Valley is blanketed in thick haze. But the reality is not so serene. Coupled with high temperatures and humidity, the smog is taking its toll on local residents.

Sunset from Gas Works Park, Seattle, August 3, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

There are more than 20 wildfires burning in British Columbia right now, but that’s just one reason why the air in Seattle is junk right now.

Haze And Record Heat Smoke The Northwest

Aug 3, 2017

  Our staff checks in from around the Northwest with tales of hazy days and record-breaking heat.

British Columbia’s wildfire season has been deemed “unprecedented.” The province needs help from its neighbors to the south. But they may not be able to get it.




Normally by late June, wasps are a common nuisance at summer barbecues. But this year, entomologists have noticed a drop-off in Washington state and wasp populations are lower than usual.

If you liked the warm, dry start to our Northwest summer, you'll probably like the rest of it. There's no change to the dominant weather pattern in sight.

You've heard the one about it being so hot you can fry an egg on a sidewalk, well how about it being hot enough to ground a jet?

That was the case in Phoenix on Tuesday, where temperatures were forecast to climb as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Firefighters put out flames at the Salmon Bay Marina, one of three fires caused by spontaneous combustion this month.
Courtesy of Jon Odegard

The warm weather made a welcome comeback in Seattle, but it's also caused a few problems.

Three fires in the city in May were caused by spontaneous combustion, which happens when something heats-up internally and bursts into flames.

Skiers in the Methow Valley, which gets almost as much sun as Las Vegas or Phoenix.
Courtesy of Brian de Place

This winter was one of the rainiest winters on record in Seattle. That got KUOW listener Tom Donnelly wondering, “How far from Seattle would you have to travel to get a full day of sunshine?"

We too were desperate to know.


It's Raining, But Wildfire Season Is Starting In Washington

Apr 14, 2017

Despite a wet and windy spring, wildfire season officially begins in Washington state Saturday. Oregon’s fire season typically begins next month, depending on weather conditions.

As the season begins, fire officials caution people working in the woods or clearing land to have fire prevention equipment on hand.

FLICKR PHOTO/Ed Suominen(CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/hTZt4V

Jeannie Yandel speaks with KUOW's Morning Edition host Emily Fox about a question she is trying to answer as part of our Local Wonder series. The question was posted by listener Tom Donnelly. He asked, "How far and in what direction do you have to travel away from Seattle to get a full day of sunshine?" Yandel also speaks with State Climatologist Nick Bond about where to find sunshine in the state.

The Northwest has had above-average snowpack and rain in many areas this winter. That’s good -- it’s wiped out drought. But all that water has wildland fire managers concerned about the terrain’s greening cheatgrass.

One of the three boilers at King County’s West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant is back on line, heating water to the ideal temperature for the microorganisms that digest Seattle’s sewage. That’s an improvement since February, when an electrical outage followed by a mechanical failure caused massive flooding inside the plant.

When Mother Nature throws travelers a curve ball and freezing fog descends over the airport in Medford, Oregon, it can delay takeoffs and landings. But ground crews there and at several other Western airports have an unusual tool at their disposal to bust the fog.

Scientists have new cautionary predictions based on the low Northwest snowpack levels of the last two winters.

Roads in a large swath of central and eastern Washington and Oregon have been devastated by melting snow and heavy rain. The flood of potholes and washouts has stalled heavy trucks carrying wheat, cattle and equipment.

In Washington and Oregon, head-high piles of snow are starting to melt out east of the Cascades. But even Northwest cities that are used to clearing abundant snow are tallying up extra costs this winter.

A major bottleneck in Ellensburg and other central Washington towns is loosening up as two of the main Cascade mountain highway passes reopened Friday. Snow slides and danger of avalanche forced the unusual closure of White, Stevens and Snoqualmie passes all at once.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared Thursday that a weak and short-lived La Niña weather phenomenon is over.

The three busiest mountain highway passes in the Washington Cascades remain closed at this hour due to high avalanche danger. The Washington Department of Transportation said Snoqualmie Pass may open Thursday night. The latest on White Pass is that it will remain closed overnight.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

A wall of dangerous storms is moving across the South, threatening communities in their path with high winds, severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.

In the grand tradition of Seattle's public transportation going ass over tea kettle: Madison Street Cable Car derailed in Snow First and Second Avenues, January 1929.
Courtesy of Seattle Muncipal Archives 3258

If you've lived in Seattle for a long time, you know that snow is unusual, and increasingly so. 

Jesse Taga took this photo on the way to the water taxi on Vashon Island.
Courtesy Jesse Taga via Facebook

There is almost nothing so special as a snowy day in Seattle. They are rare, about once every other year, and when they hit, the city shuts down. 

Bill Radke speaks with Joe Casola about the impact a warming region could have on Seattle. Casola is deputy director of the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.

Multiple destructive storm systems damaged property and killed at least 19 people over the weekend, and continued to batter much of the U.S. with rain, snow and wind today.

All 19 reported deaths were in the South, where apparent tornadoes ripped through towns over the weekend, damaging and destroying buildings in multiple states.

"Trailers are just flat, just laid on top of people," Debbie Van Brackel, a volunteer EMT in Adel, Ga., told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. "You need a bulldozer to pull it off. Trailers are upside down."

Old Man Winter has struck again east of the Cascades. Residents woke up Wednesday to find the deep snow covering the area frosted by an ice storm.

In the Tri-Cities, children have had nearly a dozen snow days and late-start days this winter. Piled on with airport, mountain pass and work closures -- many parents are feeling quite trapped.

The perfect day for an outdoor wedding or a baseball game? That’s a “mild day,” says Sarah Kapnick, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I like to call mild weather days the ‘Goldilocks days,’” she says. “They’re not too hot. They’re not too cold. They’re just right.”

Kapnick is one of the co-authors of a study published Wednesday that has good news for picnickers and hikers in the Pacific Northwest: As climate change advances, we’ll have more mild weather.

A storm system that dumped precipitation on multiple states in the West appears to be easing, but rivers have yet to crest and many communities are still digging out from record snowfall.

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