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Climatologist says global warming isn’t causing record-breaking heat

With a Washington state ferry in the background, kayakers paddle near Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. (AP)

It’s hot-hot-hot out there but Western Washington’s record-breaking heat is not a symptom of global warming, according to Washington state climatologist Nick Bond.

Bond says what’s happening this week is a routine pattern of unpredictable temperatures.

“Springtime, the weather is very variable around here, like in many parts of the country,” he said. “And you can get these spells of highly unusual weather and we happen to be in one that is warmer than normal.”

Usually, Bond says, we get some cool air off of the Sound to keep the temperatures down, but these last couple of days that hasn’t happened.

He says climate change reveals itself in other ways.

“Our baseline temperatures are going up, but they’re going up very slowly,” he said. “These kinds of days are getting just a little bit hotter because of global climate change and they’re liable to be even hotter in future decades, but we can’t blame global warming for this [weather.]

“It’s just a really hot spell for mid-April,” he said.

Bond pointed to other factors that reveal signs of climate change.

“We saw the fifth warmest winter on record and that’s due in part to global warming,” he said.

Still, though, it’s all about seasonal averages rather than a sudden spike for a few days.

And there’s another question: Does this hot weather mean we’ll have another drought like last summer?

Because that was bad.

Joye Redfield-Wilder with the Department of Ecology says a day like this has nothing whatsoever to do with what’s going to happen this summer. In fact, she says we’re looking pretty good, as far as droughts go.

“It’s not going to be like last year but it doesn’t mean that near the end of the summer we won’t see some tight water situations,” she said. “It just won’t be so early.”

And Redfield-Wilder says it won’t be so severe. The snowpack across the state is at 95-percent level. Last year at this time it was zero.

For more details on climate in Washington, check out the state climatologist FAQ page.

About the Author

Sara Lerner

Sara is a reporter for KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. She has over a decade of experience as a local and national radio journalist and is a longtime Seattle reporter. She is the recipient of a national Public Radio News Directors Incorporated award and multiple regional awards for her work. She has covered everything from Seattle-area real estate to motorcycle gangs to human trafficking, a topic in which she's developed an expertise after producing a documentary series on the problem here in Washington. Sara originates from Kansas City and maintains a deep love for the Royals.

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