The past week of absolutely frigid weather here in the Walla Walla Valley has neatly disproved the liberal myth of global warming — hopefully for once and for all. If only some of the other annoying myths that regularly plague our existence — like a heliocentric universe, the theory of evolution, “size doesn’t matter” and the legitimacy of the Obama presidency — could be dispelled as easily.
The recent string of overnight minimum temperatures bears a rather disturbing resemblance to your weatherperson’s freshman year college calculus quiz scores (the ones that convinced him beyond the shadow of a doubt that meteorology would be more felicitously pursued as a hobby rather than as a vocation): 10, 5, 3, 9, 7, 11 and 14.
For those who have managed to survive this icy onslaught, relief is on the way. Following the passage of a couple of relatively weak ripples in the northwesterly flow over Southeastern Washington that brought a flake or two of snow to the Blues and its environs last night and today, high pressure will become firmly established over the area, and with it will arrive warmer temperatures. No, it will not yet be cause to bust out the beach balls and bikinis, but warmer air featuring highs in the mid- to upper 30s will gradually replace the very cold air that is currently well entrenched near the surface in the Valley.
By Thursday, increasing cloudiness will augur the arrival of a low pressure system that has the potential to bring a wide variety of precipitation types to the Evergreen State. In low-lying places where lingering cold air stubbornly refuses to cede to the warmer regime aloft, a period of freezing rain (possibly preceded by a little sleet or snow) overnight Thursday into Friday morning may occur before the inevitable changeover to plain rain. Depending on how long it takes to achieve the changeover, driving conditions in the affected areas may be impacted early Friday by a thin layer of ice in some spots.
Rain showers may linger locally into Friday evening before weak high pressure moves back over the region for a mostly dry day on Saturday. Medium-range models indicate that another impulse may visit the Valley late Saturday and Sunday, with an increasing chance of low-elevation rain at that time. High temperatures will generally be in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees for the coming weekend.
Drier weather should return on Monday under the influence of a somewhat stronger ridge of high pressure. In the longer term, the 16-day outlook paints a fairly dry and mild picture for the pre-Christmas rush with afternoon highs reaching the almost balmy low to mid-40s, making it considerably easier to extract that wallet from the back pocket as we spend, spend, spend our way to the big day.
A lifelong fan of both the weather and the Baltimore Orioles, Jeff Popick is an instructor at the Center for Enology and Viticulture at Walla Walla Community College and manages the school’s teaching vineyard. Send your questions and comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.