It's not often Seattle can go toe-to-toe with Phoenix in the hot weather department for the crown of hottest big city in America, but Monday, the Emerald City held its own.
Seattle and Phoenix both reached 87 degrees -- smashing the daily record of 79 for Seattle; a few degrees cooler than the normal 91 for Phoenix.
But at least on this particular day, no other major city in the United States could claim to be as warm.
Not Miami (85), not Las Vegas (78), Houston (79), Dallas (77), New Orleans (75) and certainly not Los Angeles (66) or even lowering our population standards, Palm Springs! (77). We even bested our usually warmer neighbors to the south in Portland (83) and east in Spokane (81).
Seattle reached 87 due to a strong east wind aloft that warms further when it carries down the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains. It's a thermal trough pattern that brings upper 80s and low 90s on a few occasions in the summer, but in May? Seattle hasn't had back-to-back days over 84 in May in five years and it's never been 87 degrees this early in May (it was May 11th as our earliest 87 before.)
But our feat was also aided by some coinciding storms across the southern U.S. that kept the usually hot places-- not so much. Las Vegas was 92 two days ago and will be back in the 90s by the end of the week (pushing 100 early next week.) Meanwhile, Seattle will be back into the more common low 70s by Tuesday and stay there the end of the week so the trophy is temporary.
Yet for at least one day, Seattle could consider itself Phoenix's weather equal. Whether that's a goal we want to attain more often, I will leave for each of you to decide. (I vote no.)
OK, so Seattle not the hottest city in the U.S.
Note the headline said hottest "major" city because there were a few other towns out there in Eastern Washington and Oregon hat managed to even outdo our heat blast. The Dalles, Oregon hit 91 while Yakima hit 90 and the Tri Cities hit 89. And in Western Washington, Bremerton reported a high of 88.
The Seattle temperature, measured at Sea-Tac Airport, could also be in need of an asterisk if you want to factor into some research that claims the new 3rd runway at the airport has sometimes caused the airport readings to be a degree or two warmer than nearby thermometers when the wind blows out of the northwest across the pavement, as it was doing Monday afternoon.