Bellingham ties heat record, Seattle falls just short

Bellingham ties heat record, Seattle falls just short »Play Video
Keeping cool in the Fisher Plaza fountain in Seattle.
SEATTLE - Heat waves aren't all too uncommon in the summer, but this might go down as a heat wave for the ages -- at least in a few spots. But the heat wave was going to come to an abrupt end Wednesday night.

Fresh on the heels of Hoquiam setting their all-time record high of 99 Tuesday, Bellingham tied their all-time record of high of 94 degrees Wednesday -- that was around 1 p.m. They then quickly "cooled" off to 84.

Seattle officially hit 98, and Olympia hit 99 -- both record highs for the day, (Seattle's old daily-high record was 95, set in 1951, and Olympia's old record was 94) but falling short of all-time records (Seattle: 100, Olympia: 104).

For those who like "all-time" lists, Seattle/Sea-Tac has hit 99 twice, and 98 four other times. The Federal Building, which kept records from 1891-1972, has hit 100 twice, and 98 three times.

Generally, highs around most of western Washington interior were solidly in the 90s, with plenty of unofficial car thermometer, bank thermometer, or home thermometer reports of temperatures over 100 -- especially south and along the Eastside.

High temperatures for Wednesday:

  • Shelton: 100
  • Bremerton: 99
  • Olympia: 99 (Daily record high)
  • Bellevue: 98
  • Seattle: 98 (Daily record high, ties fourth warmest day recorded)
  • Renton: 96
  • Tacoma: 95
  • Friday Harbor: 95 (Don't know, but that has to be an all-time record for them)
  • Seattle (Boeing): 95
  • Bellingham: 94 (Ties all-time record high)
  • Port Angeles: 93
  • Arlington: 93
  • Gig Harbor: 91
  • Everett: 90

But for those of you who are ready for some more normal Seattle weather, relief is here.

Our heat of the past few days was greatly aided by a thermal trough, which acts like a heat line of sorts -- if you're on the west side, you get a cool, west wind, while on the east side, you get a hot, east wind.

That trough moved inland Wednesday evening and night, and the results were dramatic as it passed.

It passed the south coast earlier Wednesday morning. Hoquiam crashed down to 65 degrees, dropping from a high of 83 in the morning and at one point, dropping 13 degrees in an hour. They ended up almost 35 degrees cooler than Tuesday.

Shelton hit 100 around 3 o'clock -- then the trough passed, the wind shifted to the west with gusts near 30 mph, and the temperature dropped 30 degrees in a few hours to 70 degrees -- then down to 64 an hour later, then down again to 61 (so, nearly a *40* degree drop!) Port Angeles went from 91 to 72 in one hour. Forks went from 78 to 63 in one hour. Several other cities in the Puget Sound area shed 10 degrees an hour Wednesday evening as the wind shifted.

How Hot Is It Right Now?

This map is updated once an hour, about 10 minutes past:

Or, you can see a decoded list of major cities at this link. Another site is our links to people's home weather stations that they've put online. You can find that here. Note that these are unofficial, so no counting someone's 103 temperature reading as sacred.

But if you're a real weather junkie, or somewhat daring, you can find every current temperature in the Pacific Northwest, including many that are hard to find online (such as Puyallup, or Redmond, or Seattle/Sand Point), at the UW Weather Site.

There's a link at the top to decode the station IDs (since they use their 4 letter code to denote the city.). And this link will help tell you how to decode the observations. Incidentally, Seattle (Sea-Tac) is "KSEA" and the "T" column is temperature.

Are We Done With The Heat?

In a word, yes, although it'll still be toasty. We've lost the east wind, but the air mass is still pretty hot -- good enough for low-mid 80s across the area Thursday. We'll gradually cool down each day for the next few, so by the time we get into early next week, we're back in the mid 70s.

How Hot Did It Get Tuesday?

Tuesday got the heat wave party started. Hoquiam hit their all-time record high with a 99-degree reading at 3 p.m., breaking their old record of 98 set in 1961 and tied in 1981.

A few spots even hit 100 degrees -- especially in the Portland area. Most places hit the upper 80s and low 90s. Seattle reached 89 -- a degree short of the record.

Here's some of the other highs around the area.

  • Vancouver (WA): 104
  • Portland: 102
  • Hoquiam: 99 (All time record high)
  • Shelton: 98
  • Kelso: 95
  • Forks: 93
  • Bremerton: 91
  • Port Angeles: 91
  • Olympia: 90
  • Seattle: 89
  • Tacoma: 88
  • Renton: 88
  • Arlington: 88
  • Friday Harbor: 87
  • Bellingham: 86
  • Gig Harbor: 86
  • Everett: 84 (Brrr!)

How Did The Coast And Bellingham Get So Hot This Week?

Usually, the coast or the far northern areas are the place to head to escape the heat. But Tuesday, it was role-reversal -- the coast was even hotter than the Puget Sound area.

Why? You've probably read by now that we get our super-hot weather when we get air flowing off the mountains. That air sinks and gives what's known as compressional heating.

For the coast, they were getting the perfect flow to get sinking winds off the Olympics and Coastal Range. That's how Hoquiam spiked at 99 -- although they had radical temperature swings of several degrees an hour as the wind shifts around. Forks hit 93 and Astoria was at 92, and Tillamook, Oregon hit 100!

Even normally-cool Port Angeles had some compressional heating off the Olympics, sending them to 91 degrees.

With Wednesday, those winds were coming through the Fraser Valley, heating up the Bellingham area.