Yesterday, Seattle Tacoma Airport hit 87F, the all-time record for the date and the warmest temperature in the ENTIRE continental U.S. (we tied Phoenix). Pretty amazing.
But if you think the air temperatures were warm what about the roads? The City of Seattle put in a number of road temperature sensors to allow it to be better prepared for freezing temperatures, and those sensors are still active in the summer. Washington DOT also has road temperature sensors. Let's see what they showed! Here are the readings at 4 PM, near the time of maximum air temperatures for most sites (from the Seattle SnowWatch site). Wow. A number of road sensors (temps inside of rectangles) were in the 100s, with one near Southcenter (Renton) at 110F. Not hot enough to fry an egg perhaps....but toasty. During the summer, we should rename the web page, TarWatch.
At night, road surfaces and other urban materials (e.g., stone, brick) don't cool off as fast as vegetation and thus are notably warmer. Here is what the temperatures were like at 3 AM Tuesday. The road temperatures had dropped to the mid 60s to lower 70s, while the air temperatures had declined into the mid-50s. This retention and slow release of heat by roads are one contributor to the urban heat island effect in which urban cores (with lots of roads and buildings) stay warmer at night than rural areas.
UW undergraduate Jason Phelps did some climatology research and found that that maximum run of dry days at Seattle starting May first was 8, and we will clearly beat that this week (hasn't rain this month and won't start until late Saturday or Sunday). And there are other records (consecutive days above 65F in the beginning of the month) that will will also clearly smash.
Tomorrow will be a cooler day as a minor marine push occurs. Low clouds pushed up the clouds on Monday, and during the evening they began to extend into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the Washington coast (see visible satellite imagery at 6:10 PM Monday below). Some low clouds might just reach the Puget Sound lowlands, but they will be thin enough to be burned back by the powerful May sun.
So enjoy a near perfect week and one suitable for putting in those tomato plants (I did so tonight). But rain is on the horizon for Sunday.