There’s rain on the grill and snow in the passes

There’s further proof that this spring has been uncomfortably and depressingly cold — the coldest in memory, the coldest since 1917.

Validation came Tuesday from the University of Washington, where Cliff Mass, an atmospheric sciences professor, published his new “barbecue index.”

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls about how unusual this weather’s been,” said Mass. “In roughly 90 years, this is the most ­unpleasant year for being outside and having a barbecue.”

Mass and meteorologist Mark Albright found proof of the pain after reviewing warm spring days since 1894. They tallied the number of spring days above 60 degrees.

“Sixty degrees is a very important temperature,” Mass said. “Most people are fairly comfortable being outside.”

He found that most years have about 42 days of warm weather between March 11 and June 10.

This year, there have been only 23 days with temperatures above 60 degrees.

Not since spring 1917 — when there were only 18 days of warm weather — has there been so many chilly spring days, Mass said.

The first nine days of June are supposed to average about 68 degrees, but this year temps averaged 57 degrees, measured in downtown Seattle. That’s the coldest ever since records started in 1891.

Five Western Washington sites including the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Bellingham all broke records for having daily high temperatures that are very low.

“Our high temperatures this month are closer to our average low than our average high,” meteorologist Dennis D’Amico said.

It’s not just the cold weather that seems weird. Winds whipped up Monday, briefly knocking out power to 20,000 customers in north Snohomish County.

A few inches of snowfall in the mountain passes Monday and Tuesday made international TV news, and drew calls to local meteorologists from media outlets in Vancouver, B.C., and Los Angeles.

The snow fell at low elevations, bringing out state highway snowplows in June for the first time in 30 years. The winter-that-never-ended broke the state snowplow budget by at least $9.1 million, and crews were forced to plow when they are usually mowing grass.

Mount Rainier set a record for June snowfall with 33 inches, breaking the previous record of 22 inches. The odd late snowfall also prompted an avalanche warning in mountain backcountry starting today.

The cold temperatures are blamed on the La Nina cold surface water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. They’ve influenced the jet stream and helped drive down temperatures in the Northwest, Mass said. The cold weather has slid south from the Gulf of Alaska.

Forecasters predict a cooler than normal summer without any sign of how wet or dry it might be, D’Amico said.

Weather is expected to get nicer through the rest of the week, with temperatures warming up into the mid-60s and with the possibility of a dry weekend. On Monday, it might drizzle but temperatures are forecast to stay in the 60s, meteorologists said.

Mass confesses even he’s ready for a change. He planted vegetable seeds in April: zucchini, green beans and peas.

“They rotted in the ground,” he said. “A lot of my flowering plants were delayed. My tomato plants are not going anywhere, but they’re still alive. My friend who is a beekeeper said the bees are suffering, and the amount of honey laid into the frames is way below expectations.”

Although, according to the calendar, summer starts June 21, the whole month tends to be overcast and gloomy. Summer doesn’t really start around here until July 11, Mass said.

Until then, it’s still wool socks and sandals season. Remember, wool helps to wick away the water — even the tears that fall because you can’t barbecue.

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police investigating cause of fatal 3-vehicle crash on Highway 9

The man, 61, crossed the center line in Snohomish on Monday and crashed into the truck, the sheriff’s office said.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
1 dead, 1 in hospital after 3-vehicle crash on Highway 9

A concrete pumping truck and two sedans crashed Monday afternoon, closing the highway near Bickford Avenue.

Moses Malachi Brewer appears in court for sentencing Friday, March 24, 2023, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to 18 years for 2019 shooting in Everett

Moses Brewer, 23, shot four people in an Everett apartment, which left one victim paralyzed on his right side.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Health care spending continues to outpace inflation, driven by prices

Can state efforts curb 6.7% growth per year in overall health care spending?

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A buffet of budgets, a bunch of whales and a request for your miles

It’s Day 78. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

South Whidbey parks and rec warns of aggressive owl

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District released a warning on Monday about the owl.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
A mostly united Senate sends $71B spending plan to the House

The proposed budget passed on a 40-9 vote. It hikes spending for schools, child care and human services.

Officers were dispatched to a report of shots fired Thursday morning, March 2, 2023, at the Erwin Estates Apartment Complex in the 8200 block of 11th Dr W in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
‘Did I shoot anyone?’ Everett man charged with killing sleeping neighbor

Jeremy Jones called police to report apparent delusions about his neighbor. A day later, he fired through a wall.

Max Larson, 14, poses for a photo at Terrace Park in Arlington, Washington, on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Wrap-around service gives at-risk kids ‘a shoulder that you can lean on’

Compass Health’s WISe program saw 750 referrals last year in northwest Washington — a “significant” increase.

Most Read