An article on LiveScience.com and picked up by Yahoo! and other national sites is touting that the ultra-hot July that just finished managed to set at least one record high temperature in each of the 50 states.
To which two eagle-eyed viewers immediately wrote in to me: "How is it possible that someone hit a record high in Washington?"
Considering, for example, Seattle's record highs in July are pretty much 90s or hotter and our warmest actual July temperature this year was 84 -- and Eastern Washington's records are all triple digits and they were nowhere close to that, it was indeed a head-scratcher.
But UW research meteorologist Mark Albright has come to the rescue. He said after searching through "voluminous cold records" he found exactly one high temperature record for July in the state of Washington. And believe it or not, it was in Seattle!
RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
630 PM PDT WED JUL 06 2011
...RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET AT SEATTLE WA WFO...
A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 79 DEGREES WAS SET AT SEATTLE WA WFO TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 77 SET IN 2007.
Wait, a record high of only 77?!?! The record at Sea-Tac Airport for July 6th is 94, set in 1960, so how could this record be 77?
The "Seattle WA WFO" is the National Weather Service's "Weather Forecast Office" in Seattle's Sand Point neighborhood, which began keeping official records way back in... 1986. It takes decades for the record highs and lows to really get set to what you would normally consider a record. (Put another way, if it was 68 on July 6th in 1986 and then 71 on July 6, 1987, that 71 technically set a record high.)
In other words, the bar is still really low to set a record there (heck, we set a record low there Monday morning too) but since it's now an official climate location, they send out the record reports and, apparently, it was counted as Washington's submission to the 50 states of heat. Even though 79 is barely above normal.
So I'd say that statistic needs an asterisk!