Friday update: Well, Seattle did it — they set a new record for most number of 90-degree days in a year yesterday. Ten! And they are likely to tack on at least one more today, with a high of 91 in the forecast, and the heat advisory has been extended into Sunday.
It’s not only been hot, though, it’s also been extremely dry. According to the National Weather Service, Seattle also set a new record for driest May 1 to July 31, with just 0.9 inches. The previous dries period was 1.73 inches back in 2003.
There are really only two ways to describe the weather in Seattle this month — hot and dry. On Wednesday, Seattle tied the record for most number of days at or above 90 degrees in a year. Today they will likely break that record outright, with the hottest days of the year still ahead. The high is expected to reach 90 degrees on Thursday, and the heat will continue through Saturday.
It’s also setting up to be the all-time hottest month on record for the city, beating out August 1967, when the average high temperature was a toasty 83.7 degrees, and the average temperature overall was 71.1. So far the average temperature for the month of July is 70.7 degrees — 5.1 degrees above normal. On average, the summer heat doesn’t peak in the Seattle area until the first week of August.
“Such a prolonged stretch of consistently very warm to hot weather is pretty unusual in Seattle,” said Justin Shaw on Seattle Weather Blog. “Generally, we’ll string together three or four days in the upper 80s or 90s before a strong marine push blows through, knocking temperatures back into the 70s.”
A heat advisory is in effect through Saturday afternoon for Seattle, Tacoma and the east Puget Sound lowlands, and an excessive heat warning has been issued for the valleys of western Oregon. Highs in these areas will top out in the upper 90s on Thursday and the mid-90s on Friday and Saturday.
Seattle has more to worry about than just the heat, though — they’re also running short on water. The cities of Seattle, Everett and Tacoma issued water advisories on Monday, hoping to extend the life of their steadily shrinking reservoirs until the fall. The last time Seattle triggered its water plan was back in 2005, The Stranger reports.
“Seattle and Everett say their water outlook is ‘fair’ and they should have enough water supply into fall when rainfall typically replenishes the supply,” says King5 News in western Washington.
But how likely is a “typical” rainy fall and winter? Cliff Mass, atmospheric science professor at the University of Washington, is concerned about the growing shortage given the paltry forecasts. “Our reservoirs will get very low before the serious rains return,” says Mass. “And I worry about next summer. Drier and warmer than normal conditions will result in another low snowpack year, although probably not as extreme as this year.”
Mass points to the consensus among forecasts that conditions will remain extremely dry through the winter months in the Pacific Northwest up through western Canada. “This is a typical El Nino pattern, especially for the strong events. And it looks like we are going to have a very strong El Nino in place this fall and winter.”
Given the outlook, Mass suspects the region’s water managers to elevate the situation over the next few weeks, possibly placing limits on the amount of water that can be used for watering lawns.
As of this week, the entire state of Washington is in at least severe drought, and 32 percent is in extreme drought.