Washington weather ‘stretched limits,’ ‘extremes’ in 2022

Dec 29, 2022, 5:01 AM
An early November snow storm was just the start of our weather roller coaster this winter. (Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)
(Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)

Weather in Washington state this year was about stretching limits and taking the region on quite the roller coaster. Temperatures and precipitation swung from one extreme to another. For some, the turn of the calendar to the new year cannot come soon enough.

2022 saw yet another La Niña winter season – the third in a row, a rare occurrence. La Niña winters historically offer their share of colder-than-average weather and snow, which proved to be the case.

UW Study suggests La Niña winters could keep on coming

We started out the year with snow and it fell again in late November and again last week. To make it even worse, the snow was accompanied by frigid temperatures.

Arlington had a real temperature of one degree on Dec. 22. A rare ice storm happened on the 23rd – the first such event in a decade.

The summer was another hot and dry one. As if someone turned the tap off, the cool wet spring turned dry on June 21, the summer solstice. It remained quite dry until the rain returned on Oct. 21. Less than one inch of rain fell during the four-month period leading to very dry conditions.

We also had a record 13 days reaching into the 90s, breaking the previous record of 12 days set in 2015. It was a long summer (for us), which hung on well into the fall. On Oct. 16, Sea-Tac sizzled to 88 degrees, the hottest temperature ever on record so late in the year.

The combination of heat and very dry conditions led to enhanced wildfire conditions. On Sep. 11, the Bolt Creek Wildfire erupted near the Stevens Pass highway. Smoke from the fire spread across the region and lingered until late October, spoiling air quality. As quickly as the tap was turned off on the summer solstice, fall rains began on Oct. 21.

Just two weeks later, strong winds surging out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with wind gusts into the 60 mph range, knocked down trees and limbs, resulting in over 200,000 customers without power across mainly the North Sound.

Less than six weeks after having temperatures in the 80s, snow fell across the region in late November. Following another cold weather outbreak and snow event in mid-December, a unique ice storm. The year’s exclamation point was Dec. 27 when King Tides combined with heavy rains to flood low-lying coastal areas.

The bottom line: 2022 was another roller coaster weather year – adding to the record books.

What lies ahead for 2023? Cool, wet, La Niña conditions will extend into the spring. Anticipate the threat of more lowland snow across Western Washington sometime in January or February.

Beyond this spring when La Niña finally fades away, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s seasonal outlook points to another warmer-than-average summer. Heading into fall and winter, neutral conditions – in between La Niña and El Niño – look to prevail. Neutral conditions offer more average temperatures and precipitation but also portray active stormy weather if history holds true.

As we head into the New Year, here is a poetic look back at the 2022 weather year in review. Happy New Year!


The rollercoaster weather in 2022

A year that offered much to chew

A triple dose of La Nina

Made us want to submit a subpoena

The spring was cool and wet

Summer’s start played roulette

Then extended summer heat was on

We were yelling oh c’mon

Also the driest summer on record

Tops on the scoreboard

That suffocating wildfire smoke

Made some people choke

Many asking where’s fall

Missed it like a curve ball

November and December snow

Leaving us nowhere to go

Then ice covered everything

Many feeling the pain

King tides created coastal flooding

To finish the year swimming

As we ring in the New Year

May the weather be less severe

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Washington weather ‘stretched limits,’ ‘extremes’ in 2022