Weather Blog

Not just hot days but warm nights this summer... again

Not just hot days but warm nights this summer... again
Photo courtesy: Tim Durkan Photography

This weekend, I wrote that this "summer" - or at least the heart of it from July 1 to August 31, was the second-warmest on record at Sea-Tac Airport by average high temperature.

Turns out, we also set an all-time record for the period if you factor in average temperature, which is calculated by taking the day's high and low and diving by two. This year's average for the two months checked in at 69.2 degrees, breaking the 1967 record of 68.8 degrees.

Third place? Way back in 2013 at 68.7 degrees. Yes, it's been quite a toasty two summers in a row now -- not just during the day, but especially at night, challenging the notion that Seattleites can do just fine without air conditioning.

The average low over the two months this year was 58.4 degrees, narrowly missing the record warm low average of 58.5 degrees set last year. Third place is 2004 at 58.1 and fourth place is 2007 and 57.4, so it's certainly been a recent trend.

The National Weather Service says there have only been 5 months in Seattle with 10 or more nights warmer than 60 degrees and three of them have been in the past two years -- both July and August in 2013 and August this year. Last year we also obliterated the record for number of nights warmer that 60 at 34 days. The old record was 18 which we would have matched this year so far.

The weather patterns of the past two summers have featured strong ridges of high pressure that have pushed a very warm air mass into the region, but haven't featured as much of a hot, dry east wind-- thus a large number of days in the 80s but not a significant amount of 90s. Sure, the 90 degree days come with really warm nights too, but then they usually eventually trigger strong marine pushes that cool us off for a while, both during the day and at night.

Instead, we've had a string of days with just enough of a weak marine breeze to keep the humidity a little higher than usual. (The coastal communities, right next to that weak marine flow, haven't had anywhere near the hotter summer that the I-5 corridor has had. Hoquiam ended up a little over a degree above average while Seattle was more than 3 degrees warmer.)

Normally a steady marine flow cools us off that the humidity isn't noticeable but it's been a perfect "storm" of having just enough for a bit more humidity and not enough for the cooling. The higher humidity helps keep the temperatures up at night. There is also the urban heating effect where the city's buildings and asphalt holds heat in at night better than outlying areas. The summer of 1967 that we fell behind in high temperatures we beat by full degree in average low temperatures.

Seattle finishes 2nd warmest July-August on record

Seattle finishes 2nd warmest July-August on record
Photo: Shubha Tirumale Photography

Wow, what a warm summer it's been. July started it off being the 4th warmest on record by average high temperature (2nd warmest by overall average temperature) and August picked up the baton and just kept going.

This August will finish up the 5th warmest on record by average high temperature at 79.5 degrees. It's a far cry from the record hottest August (83.7 degrees in 1967) but then again, second place was 80.3 so all years are a far cry from 1967.

So individually, the months were pretty impressive, but combined, it's even moreso.

Updated forecasts still say mild, dry winter on tap for Seattle

Updated forecasts still say mild, dry winter on tap for Seattle
Sun sets behind the Space Needle on Aug. 25, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Tim Durkan Photography)

First off, let me start this blog by saying if you're a skier, snowboarder, or big winter fan, you might want to skip over to the sports section. Happier news in Seattle there these days.

For those who have the stomach to continue, the new August version of the long-range 90-day forecasts issued each month by NOAA are in and while the forecasts themselves for this fall and winter haven't changed much in what they've been saying, the tone of the message is a little stronger for some months.

2014 going to end up as much hotter summer in Seattle than 2009

2014 going to end up as much hotter summer in Seattle than 2009

At least as far as recent memory goes, 2009 set quite the standard for a hot summer in Seattle. That year was home to a brutal two-week stretch of heat that peaked at 103 degrees in Seattle on July 29 and had several days over 90.

This summer hasn't been anywhere near as hot, at least as far as peak heating goes. We have four total days at 90 or warmer and a 96 degree reading earlier this month, but no real "trophy heat waves", as I call them. As in: No long stretches over 90. In fact, all our 90 degree days this year have been orphans -- just one in a row.

The science behind the smell of rain

The science behind the smell of rain
A rainy window pane on a stormy day in Seattle. (Photo courtesy: Michael Mclaughlin Photography

Ever notice there's a distinct smell right after it starts raining?

It's most noticeable when it's been dry for a long while and the shower is fairly heavy. My wife, who grew up in Arizona, referred to this as the "wet rock" smell and there is some truth to it as it's rock that's among the main culprits for giving off the smell.

Photos: Breathtaking pics of Earth from International Space Station

Photos: Breathtaking pics of Earth from International Space Station
A pop-up book for space travelers. Clouds reaching so high I couldn’t believe it. (Photo & Caption: Reid Wiseman, NASA)

Sneaky thunderstorm briefly lights up skies over Whidbey Island

Sneaky thunderstorm briefly lights up skies over Whidbey Island
Photo courtesy: Greg Johnson, Skunkbayweather.com

Who here knew there were thunderstorms last night?

Me neither.

But as a weak trough slid over the region overnight, it managed to trigger a thunderstorm in the dead of night.

As in one. A very lonely thunderstorm.

Seattle on pace for hottest July-August in Sea-Tac history

Seattle on pace for hottest July-August in Sea-Tac history
Mt. Rainier basks in sunshine behind Seattle's Great Wheel on July 1, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Youn Sung)

Seattle has already notched the fourth-warmest July on record by average high temperature (second warmest by average temperature), but apparently this summer has its sights set on loftier goals.

As of Monday night's data, August was also on pace to be the second-warmest August at Sea-Tac Airport, currently sitting at an average high of 81.7 degrees. The record is a lofty 83.7 degrees so we'd need to really turn up the burners to reach that record.

Mountains don't need to be big to create their own weather

Mountains don't need to be big to create their own weather
A small fog bank is created over Tillamook Head just south of Seaside, Ore. on July 10, 2014.

Photo galleries around here are full of dramatic cloud shots created by some of the tallest mountains, be it Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood or even just the Cascades or Olympics.

But mountains don't have to be measured in thousands of feet to create their own weather patterns.

By the numbers: Seattle's Tuesday night rain storm

By the numbers: Seattle's Tuesday night rain storm
Photo: Brendan Ramsey

It's been a very dry summer in Seattle, unless you count the 2 1/2 days it wasn't. Both July and August will go down as having above normal rainfall despite only having measurable rain on six days out of 44 days-- and thee of those rainy days were 0.02" or less.

Here's how Tuesday night/Wednesday morning's rain storm matched up:

Seattle weather: Rainy and 96? City sets zany all-time record Monday

Seattle weather: Rainy and 96? City sets zany all-time record Monday
Photo courtesy Sigma Sreedharan Photography‎
File this under: Never seen that before...

Seattle set an all-time weather record Monday night, when 0.02" of rain fell in a shower just before 11:30 p.m. What's so special about 0.02" of rain? It came on a day when the high was 96 degrees.

How hot has it been in Seattle? A full month's worth of 80 degree days

How hot has it been in Seattle? A full month's worth of 80 degree days
A sunny day in Seattle on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2014. (Photo courtesy: Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Visibility Camera)

As temperatures soared into the 90s Monday -- Seattle hit 96 degrees, breaking the record high and making for the hottest day since Aug. 15, 2010 -- many longtime Seattleites were ready to wave the white flag. It's been an unusually hot summer and even though we don't have many "trophy" heat days of us broiling well into the 90s for a few days here and there, it's been a slow cook with several days in the 80s.

We've got about another month on the calendar where Seattle can get this warm but let's "take the temperature" of the summer so far.