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This can’t be April: Seattle breaks another heat record


After smashing a high-temperature record on Monday, Seattle broke yet another on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service reported that Sea-Tac Airport and Quillayute had broken their record highs for this date at 12:25 p.m. Sea-Tac hit 75 degrees, breaking the record of 74° in 1956. Quillayute hit 73 degrees after 10 a.m., breaking their record of 71 degrees in 1988. More records are expected to be broken heading into the afternoon hours.

Dustin Guy, with the National Weather Service, said that things should cool down by Wednesday and Thursday … into the 70s. There might even be a chance of rain on Friday.

Records were broken Monday, with the National Weather Service reporting temperatures that reached 89 degrees, making it the warmest April day in Seattle history since records began in 1894. The previous record for the month was 85 degrees, set on April 30, 1976. But for April 18, Seattle’s 89 degrees broke a 122-year-old record for the date.

“Both of our other major climate sites in Western Washington, Bellingham and Olympia, had their warmest April days on record as well, at 83 degrees and 88 degrees, respectively,” the NWS wrote on its Facebook page. “Several other sites in the central Puget Sound area experienced temperatures in the 90s today. Needless to say, this was an incredibly hot day for April in Western Washington!”

Those numbers are well above what Seattle typically sees this time of year. On April 18, 2008, it snowed in parts of Western Washington with more than 10 inches of snow recorded in Clearview and 7.7 inches in Everett, according to NWS.

The record high for April 18 was 80 degrees. The record for April 19 is 79 degrees.

Climatologist Cliff Mass wrote in his blog that the average max temperature this time of year is about 58 degrees.

“I can’t tell you how many people have told me they are worried about a repeat of last year: very warm spring, water issues, low snowpack, wildfires galore, terrifying blobs, and all the other unpleasantness of last spring and summer,” he writes. “They ask: are we seeing a permanent shift of our climate due to global warming?”

The short answer to the first part of the question, according to Mass, is “no.” This summer is not likely to be like the last because the Northwest just had one of the wettest winters in recorded history. Also, the winter of 2014-15 produced very low snow pack. This winter gave us normal snow pack.

The warm weather currently hitting the Northwest is primarily caused by a “strong ridge of high pressure” that has come over the West Coast, as well as a rather strong El Nino this season.

“Last summer was a fluke, resulting mainly from natural variability,” Mass writes. “Global warming may have contributed a small amount (perhaps .5C) to the warming, but it cannot explain the key feature that caused all the trouble: the persistent high-pressure ridging.”

The numbers

Sunday, April 17, kicked in the heat with a high of about 78 degrees. Monday, April 18, jumps even higher with predictions that went to 83 degrees — obviously it went higher.

The average high for Seattle for the month of April is 58 degrees. To put that into daily perspective – from April 17-20, the average high temperatures are 58-59 degrees.

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