Does it seem like you can measure the amount of summer weather we've had this year with a stopwatch?
Turns out, you probably can. In fact, head to see the latest blockbuster at the theater and Seattle's accumulative summer would be over and done long before the credits rolled.
I've been curious since most of our warmest days as far as official high temperatures go don't seem to stay warm very long -- for example, the high on Friday was officially 76 at Sea-Tac Airport, but it was 63 a few hours later when the rain arrived. Or on July 2, it was 81 at 6 p.m. but 71 two hours later and 64 at 9 p.m.
So if someone was to someday go back and look in the weather logs, it might have looked like Friday was a nice warm day. But it sure didn't feel like it at the time. Plenty of our other warm days have quickly cooled with the strong evening sea breezes or marine pushes.
That got me to thinking -- just how long has it been *really* warm this summer in Seattle?
While Sea-Tac Airport only reports temperatures on the hour, the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Department keeps a minute-by-minute log of the weather station atop their roof on the Seattle campus. And since the UW is in the heart of Seattle, while the airport is more like the lower-left shin, I figure this could be an accurate representation of what a true Seattle person would have felt this summer.
The mission: Find out how many minutes it's been at 80 degrees or warmer this year-- what I would call a true warm summer day in Seattle.
The answer: 78 minutes.
Or, breaking it down: 12 minutes on July 2, and 66 minutes on July 6.
(The official Sea-Tac record books say Seattle has had three days at 80 or warmer, the warmest being 84 degrees on July 6. The UW's warmest day was 81 on July 6 with the other day at 80 and the third at 79. Check out Cliff Mass' timely weather blog on how the 3rd runway could be skewing Sea-Tac's temperatures.)
For those that say: "C'mon, you know 80's a pipe dream around here. I'd say 75 degrees is a more accurate 'summer representation,' " I'd first reply, "Wow, these past two summers have really warped our perceptions of a normal Seattle summer." Seattle (at Sea-Tac) does averaage 25 days a year at 80 or warmer.
But my second reply would be, "can do."
It turns out, we've had a whopping 18 hours and 48 minutes of temperatures above 75 this summer -- hey, it's more than 2/3rd of a day! Never mind that some cities like Dallas haven't been below 75, day or night, since June 23rd.
(On the other hand, Paine Field in Everett has yet to reach 75 this year. Their highest temperature has been 74.)
Actually, much of the rest of the nation has been suffering under one of the hottest summers they've seen in ages. The Pacific Coast has been the only safe haven for excrutiating heat, so maybe staying cool isn't such a horrible thing.
But we realize that there are a lot of sun fans out here who realize hot weather is rare enough in a normal summer, much less this one. So next time the temperature climbs to 80 degrees, run -- don't walk -- to your nearest beach. It might be all you get.
Oh, and bring a jacket if you're out past 8 o'clock.