June 23, 2021

An Historical Heat Wave with Record-Breaking Temperatures over the Northwest

UPDATE EARLY THIS AFTERNOON:  The situation is getting even more serious.  Nearly certain the many west-side stations from Seattle south will exceed their all-time temperature records, some by a lot.

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The weather model solutions are now converging and we are close enough to the event to have some confidence in the forecast.

The bottom line:  we are about to experience a historic regional heatwave, which will break both daily and all-time temperature records.  

A heatwave that is made even more unusual by its timing, occurring far earlier than most of the major extreme-warmth periods of the past.

But the heat will not be uniform, and some locations, such as Northwest Washington and the coast, will escape the extremes.


Previous Record Highs

Before I provide the torrid forecast--and tell you why I am confident in it-- let's review how warm things have gotten in our region in the past.

The all-time record high for Washington State, based on observations going back approximately 125 years, is 118F at Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco on August 5, 1961.  In Oregon, the record high is 119F observed in Prineville and Pendleton, on July 29th and August 10th--both in 1898.

Here in Seattle, the record high is 103F on July 29, 2009, and in Portland, a sizzling 107F on July 2, 1942,   

You will note that many of these record temperatures are well in the past.  A plot of record temperatures I found on plantsmap.com, shows that eastern Washington has lots of record highs from 110-115F, while southwest WA has surged into 100-108F territory.  Northwest WA is substantially cooler.

As I will describe below, I expect temperatures will approach and/or exceed these temperatures over the weekend and Monday, and there is an excellent chance that some all-time records will fall.

The Forecast

Prepare yourself for what I am about to show you.  Quite frankly, it is stunning.  The model solutions are quite similar for Saturday and Sunday, so let's start with those.

The generally highly skillful European Center model shows maximum temperatures Saturday reaching 100F from roughly Olympia southward, with temperatures climbing to about 105 in the northern Willamette Valley.  103-110F in the Columbia Basin. Much cooler near the water along the coast and Northwest Washington.


The much higher resolution UW WRF model (4-km grid spacing compared to about 9 km for the European Model) driven by the U.S. GFS global model is quite similar, but slightly cooler, with the off-white and white colors show where temperatures are forecast above 100F at 5 PM Saturday.


But Saturday is just a "warm up" for the extraordinarily threatening temperatures predicted for Sunday and Monday.

The Sunday maximum temperatures from the European model are shown below. 

Just amazing.  From Olympia south, temperatures rise to 105F and more, with Portland, reaching 110F-- just smashing the previous all-time record of 107F.  Sea Tac gets to 101F.  Above 110F in portions of the Columbia Basin.  But it is the west-side temperature extremes that really are really insane, leading to many stations breaking their all-time records.


And then there is Monday.  And quite honestly, it is hard to believe my eyes.  Around 105F at SeaTac--breaking the all-time record of 103F.  Around 114F in Portland---7F greater than the previous record.  110F in Olympia and peaking around 115 near Richland.  Folks....this is unparalleled, dangerous meteorological territory.


But these are just single forecasts.  What about ensembles of many forecasts?  A key tool for determining probabilities and confidence estimates in our forecasts.

 For Saturday and Sunday, most of the European Center and U.S. ensemble members are on the same page, suggesting we should have confidence in the forecasts. 

 The ensemble average tends to be highly skillful and the European Ensemble mean forecasts for Seattle and Portland are shown below: up to 103F in Seattle and 110 in Portland.



Monday is far more uncertain than the weekend....it could be nutty warm and perhaps a minor cool down in the West. Stay tuned for that as we get closer.

In any case,  it is essentially certain that the Willamette Valley and western Washington from Seattle southward will have a historical heatwave, one beyond the experience of many residents.  

An important issue is that the minimum temperatures will not fall below 70F during the coolest periods, making it more difficult to cool homes and apartments. For portions of the heatwave, the dew points will rise into the mid-60s, making it seem more humid than normal.  

In a region where air conditioning is not widespread, this event will be potentially dangerous for the elderly and I am glad the City of Seattle Emergency Management folks are working on cooling centers and other approaches to mitigate the heat.

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The New Edition of My Book:  The Weather of the Pacific Northwest Will be Available in August

The book includes new chapters on the meteorology of Northwest wildfires and the weather of British Columbia, and the rest of the book is greatly enhanced.  It is available for pre-order on Amazon.





65 comments:

  1. What do you think about the GFS forecasting over 110 in Seattle? Is it that bad of a model or could it actually happen?

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  2. Thanks for adding a comment feature so we can interact...

    As a life long student of forest protection I get so frustrated by the mono-maniacal focus on fuels management without realizing how much more energy is put into a wildfire when wind speeds double (quadruple the energy). Then you add record high temps and drought and you're looking at peak rates of spread of 5 hectares a second, or a 100K acres burning in the worst fires in all three western states in a single day during the epic wind event last fall is a rate of spread that fuels management can't address. It's kinda like how a cutting torch works when you dial up the oxygen and you get massive incineration that can cut through solid steal. This isn't a fuels management problem, this is an air management problem.

    And how do we reduce record setting heatwaves and a 17% increase in average global wind speed in less than 10 years? The answer is in humans finally addressing air pollution at scale!

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    1. A 17% increase in global wind speed? What's your source?

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    2. You're exactly right. So global warming may not actually "cause" climate change but it obviously exacerbates it, and at a terrible cost of poisonous pollution. Lung cancer is as we all know the number one killer.

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    3. "Climate change" is only a different label for the same hypothesis. It is synonymous with "global warming."

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    4. So no source given. Methinks "Deane" made it up.

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    5. Actually it’s easily googled. Search for 17% increase wind speed and you’ll find it. Sometimes using Google is better than playing the “cite your source” challenge card.

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  3. "...the Willamette Valley and western Washington from Seattle southward will have a historical heatwave..."

    On the maps I see temperatures up to 108 well north of Seattle...Snohomish County, the Fraser Valley of B.C. Even see 105 on Vancouver Island.

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    Replies
    1. On Monday, he detailed why high temps north of Seattle were ‘softer’ forecasts (my word).

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  4. I think another issue of concern will be the possibility of dry lightning storms over the Cascades and east slope areas next week.

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  5. Thanks for adding a comment feature so we can interact...

    As a life long student of forest protection I get so frustrated by the mono-maniacal focus on fuels management without realizing how much more energy is put into a wildfire when wind speeds double (quadruple the energy). Then you add record high temps and drought and you're looking at peak rates of spread of 5 hectares a second, or a 100K acres burning in the worst fires in all three western states in a single day during the epic wind event last fall is a rate of spread that fuels management can't address. It's kinda like how a cutting torch works when you dial up the oxygen and you get massive incineration that can cut through solid steal. This isn't a fuels management problem, this is an air management problem.

    And how do we reduce record setting heatwaves and a 17% increase in average global wind speed in less than 10 years? The answer is in humans finally addressing air pollution at scale!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your informed comment!

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  6. Any thoughts on the electric grid holding up this weekend? Or are we about to find out....

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    1. Well the watersheds in Washington are all in excellent shape this year with resevoirs at or above normal, so at least from the hydro-electric standpoint, that's looking okay. There's also the blessing and the curse with AC. The fact that there are many homes that are up here is a curse and it's going to suck for those living in that situation. From the power grid perspective, there's probably not going to be as heavy a strain as what you would see from southern states/cities as the southern states/cities have a larger install base of AC units.

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  7. The Pacific NW has always been behind the curve when it comes to air conditioning...way back in 1954, some family friends of ours drove up from Fort Worth Texas for a visit...the couple took their 1954 Mercury car into the dealership in Seattle, to have the air conditioner serviced...the service manager sheepishly admitted to them, that they had never even seen an automobile equipped with air conditioning, and had no technicians who even knew how to work on it!..LOL...times have changed.

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    Replies
    1. Not behind the curve, just not the need for it like other parts of the country.

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  8. We have no central AC, so this should be fun. We have 3 window AC units (portable). We just hooked up 2 of them during the last couple of days to find out 1 of them isn't working anymore (pumping out warm air instead of cold). Bad timing. :)

    Cliff, I have a question for you about home weather stations though. I just received the Davis Vantage Pro 2 and want to install it on my roof (7 feet above my roof line, 30 ft above the ground). My question is, should I be concerned about lightning strikes if I use a 10ft metal pole attached to my chimney to support the sensors at that height? Hour house is on a hill and we are one of the highest roofs in the area. Closest tree that's higher than our house is a couple hundred feet away.

    What's the best way to install above the roof line while preventing potential lightning strikes?

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Scott, I'm not a licensed electrician but I have done a fair amount of DIY work. You may want to have an electrician review your installation, but at a minimum, you'll want connect a grounding wire from your metal mount pole to your house's service ground electrode system. This usually consists of one or two long copper rods driven into the earth and connected to the main electrical panel via a fairly heavy grounding wire.

      See https://www.groundedreason.com/how-to-ground-an-outdoor-antenna/ for the similar case of grounding a TV antenna.

      For maximum peace of mind, you could run a 4 AWG or heavier (i.e. smaller number) ground wire from the mounting pole directly to its own dedicated grounding rod. However, you would still need to bond this grounding system to the main house service ground. Separate grounding systems create the risk of dangerous cross currents, so code requires all grounds to be tied together to keep everything at the same electrical potential ("single-point grounding"). Again, I would talk to a licensed electrician if you're not comfortable doing this yourself. Good luck!

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    2. I would also add that make sure the VP2 is somewhat easy to service. The rain cone gets clogged with debris really easy, and while a reliable unit things do go wrong and need replaced. The battery will last a couple years if the panel gets enough sun during the day.

      I've had mine for 6 or 7 years and had to replace a temp/humidity sensor, rain gauge (reed switch) and upgrade the rain gauge from a tipping bucket to the tipping spoon. You also need to take it apart and clean it once a year or so (easy to do).

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  9. Get ready folks. Get misters ready, tarps for shade. Never thought this was possible.

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  10. Scary stuff. Time now to think of some coping strategies.

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  11. I'm so anxious about this. I live in a third floor apt. with no AC and have elderly cats whose health is already precarious. I haven't recovered from all the stress of the last year or so.

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    1. for your kitties, you might consider some cooling gel packs (the kind they sell as first aid for sprained ankles) and put them on the floor with a towel over them. As cats don't sweat, a fan won't cool them at all. They need something cool to lie on. Or put the gel packs on your bed, in the cat bed...wherever they usually hang out. Even a towel that you kept in the refridgerator would be good for them to lie on. Good luck!

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    2. Hit the stores for any remaining fans...blow the air over a bowl of ice or a couple of freezer packs...it won't be real cool but it could make your kitties more comfortable..and keep fridge water handy for them to drink. Good luck! ❤

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    3. Amazon sells these small AC fans . . . they are inexpensive (under $50), lightweight fans that you just plug in. You fill the bottom container with ice and then the fan blows out ice air. It is enough to cool a person and perhaps you could order a couple of these to have for your kitties and they would be cool enough to survive the heat. They are basically an electric version of a swamp cooler.

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    4. They'll be happy in front of a fan if you dunk them in the bathtub first. 😁

      (Or maybe get a spray bottle for play, or rub wet hands over them, etc.)

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    5. Thank you everyone for responding! I appreciate all the caring and suggestions. I'll definitely try some of these things. All the best to you and yours as we get through this.

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  12. I bought the last window air conditioner at our Home Depot yesterday. At least my family will have one cool room to ride out the heat in.

    I remember being in high school in Seattle in the late 1980's and my high school science teacher saying that he wasn't going to retire to Palm Springs for the warmth as the warmth would be coming to us. Looks like he was right, at least for this upcoming weekend. Fun times!

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    1. Oh...my reply was for koko love and her kitties. Sorry! Post above yours

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  13. Cliff--thank you as always for your insights and analysis. I've lived in western WA since 1988 and it is hard to believe this is happening here--in June, no less. Can you give us any insight into this unprecedented situation. Why is this heat developing so early in our normally June gloom season? I know you've not yet linked any specific weather anomaly to climate change (i.e. more energy in the system each year), what about this?

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  14. this will be thoroughly unpleasant. i hate the future.

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  15. Oh my. That makes me concerned for u and your kitties. If the forecast holds true than these upcoming temperatures could be very dangerous. Maybe u can rent a hotel room for a couple of days and sneak your kitties in? It would probably be stressful for them but not as dangerous as the extreme heat

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  16. Once again, no mention of climate change, the elephant in the room. Such a shame that a great weather scientist avoids grappling with what’s on everyone’s mind. Pandering to the deniers?

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    1. Anthony.... did you see the message about being civil. Name calling like you are doing in this message is not appropriate. If you can not control this, please do not leave any more messages. My blog is about the forecast, not about climate change...cm

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    2. Right on, Cliff! Keep the data analysis coming.

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    3. Check Cliff's latest podcast, where he discusses the role of climate change in these heat waves.

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    4. Cliff, could I ask you to send the same message to the guy a few comments down who’s accusing climate scientists of fraud and scams? Seems equally off-topic and insulting.

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    5. Good reminder, Cliff, and I am taking it to heart myself.

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    6. Michael, there is a long train of fraud and scams from so-called "climate scientists." I suggest that you quit trying to cancel viewpoints that you don't like.

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    7. Is the 1928 heat wave that set the current state record evidence of AGW?

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  17. In what months were those historic highs set, Cliff? I bet it wasn’t early July.

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    1. According to NOAA records the first time Washington's 118 deg.F record was set on July 24th, 1928. The 1961 high temperature match was on August 5th. According to the same data, 7 states either set of matched their current high temperature records in June. Many other in early July.

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  18. Do you still think this is not related to climate change and just another normal heat wave?

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  19. A few blog posts ago you mentioned water supplies were ok. How does this event impact that both at alpine and reservoir altitudes?

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  20. Dr. Mass: how does this affect the snowmelt and irrigation delivery?

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  21. Are high temperatures in the Columbia Basin or elsewhere in Eastern Washington reduced significantly because of irrigation? Sorry if you covered this in the past and I missed it.

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  22. While Ice Harbor did experience a high of 118 deg F in 1961, that was a repeat of a record first set at Wahluke on July 24th 1928.

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  23. Wow! I'm wondering how this compares with the last few years. I checked my overnight lows for the last few years, and there was a warm blip in the lows in same date-range in 2018.

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  24. The corrupt mainstream media only report the hot anomalies - Central and Eastern North America are unusually cold now - below freezing temperatures in West Virginia.

    FREEZING SUMMER LOWS INVADE WEST VIRGINIA, AS “DRAMATIC” COOL-DOWN AND “POLAR CHANGE” LOOMS FOR NEW ZEALAND
    June 24, 2021
    electroverse.net
    _________________

    Global LT temperatures have cooled 0.5C since Feb2020, In 2002 we correctly predicted this cooling based on low solar activity. In 2019 there was a huge crop failure across the Great Plains of North America, caused by excessive wet and cold weather. In 2021 the early fruit and grape crop in Germany and France was frozen out. Spring has been late and very cold in the Northern Hemisphere and Fall has been unusually cold in the Southern Hemisphere..

    The warmist scientists and their comrades in the media were able to perpetuate their global warming fraud during a period of natural, solar-driven global warming, but now the Sun has gone quiet and the world is naturally cooling.

    Soon even the most obtuse of humanity will understand that there is no global warming crisis – that they have been duped and scammed out of trillions of dollars. Their vital energy systems have been badly compromised, and lives have been lost due to the global warming / green energy scam.

    To end 2020, climate doomsters were proved wrong in their scary climate predictions 48 consecutive times – the odds of that being mere random stupidity is 1 in ~281 trillion! It’s not just global warming scientists being stupid – in fact, they knew they were lying from the start.

    Global warming alarmism is a fifty-year-old climate-and-green-energy scam – it IS that simple.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I have always resisted doom & gloom predictions on both sides of the global warming issue. Even though Cliff Mass subscribes to the hypothesis, I have a great deal of respect for his scholarship. In fact, if there's one person who could change my mind on the issue, Mass is that guy.

      I really wish he'd write a book about it, displaying the same scholarly standards and independence that has characterized his work thus far. Come on, Cliff, give it a shot. You have a lot of credibility with a lot of people, including people like me who are not on board with the hypothesis.

      On the doom & gloom front, a British scientist with a Russian name -- Prof. Valentina Zharkova -- has dissented from the orthodoxy. She focuses on long-observed solar cycles. If my memory serves me right, she predicts that between now and the middle of this century, earth's temperature will decline to a bit more than the levels prior to the end of the Little Ice Age.

      She made other non-consensus predictions starting in about 2015, and they've been correct. So she bears watching. The implications of her hypothesis are quite stark, and qualify as "doom & gloom," which is why I am reluctant to sign on. If she's right, we'll know by the end of this decade.

      People who are interested in what she has to say should look her up. I can supply links if needed, but am not doing so at the moment because I don't want to clutter a comment unless anyone wants me to provide links. What she writes makes a lot of sense, or seems to, but results will tell the story.

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    2. Ah yes, Electroverse - a completely unbiased source free of the 'warmist' agenda.

      I think climate change gets thrown around far too often as a cause of every little minor thing, and weather certainly doesn't equal climate, but the only alarmism going on here is caused by conservatives whose ability to roll coal and water their grass in the desert is being rightfully curtailed for the common good.

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    3. It's abnormally cold somewhere? Interesting. Throw out all the data, then. We got a genius over here.

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    4. Placeholder - Going with the non-orthodox opinion of one scientist, seems a bit like finding one pilot that says it's safe to start a flight across the Pacific with one engine out on your airplane. When the outcome is so important, it seems to me to be much wiser to go with the consensus of people in the field, not with one or two lone voices. Sure, the consensus can sometimes be wrong, but not nearly as often as the lone voice is wrong.

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    5. There are dozens of Nobel Prize winners who don't agree. You can dismiss them, as Seattle "progressives" will do. Oh, and "consensus?" Do you want me to show you "consensuses" that have been overturned -- recently?

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    6. So Shaun, the only credible sources are Rachel Maddow and the Seattle City Clowncil? How about that pimp they are paying $150K+bennies to teach the shrinking police force how to deal with grifters like himself? Credible?

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    7. Climate doomsters have a perfect NEGATIVE predictive track record – every very-scary climate prediction, of the ~80 they have made since 1970, has FAILED TO HAPPEN. Some of these scary climate events are predicted for the future, but fully 48 passed their due date by end 2020 – these predictions are expired – failed.

      “Rode and Fischbeck, professor of Social & Decision Sciences and Engineering & Public Policy, collected 79 predictions of climate-caused apocalypse going back to the first Earth Day in 1970. With the passage of time, many of these forecasts have since expired; the dates have come and gone uneventfully. In fact, 48 (61%) of the predictions have already expired as of the end of 2020.”

      To end 2020, the climate doomsters were proved wrong in their scary climate predictions 48 times – at 50:50 odds for each prediction, that’s like flipping a coin 48 times and losing every time! The probability of that being mere random stupidity is 1 in 281 trillion! It’s not just global warming scientists being stupid.

      These climate doomsters were not telling the truth – they displayed a dishonest bias in their analyses that caused these extremely improbable falsehoods, these frauds.

      There is a powerful logic that says no rational person or group could be this wrong, this obtuse, for this long – they followed a corrupt agenda – in fact, they knew they were lying from the start.

      The global warming alarmists have a NO predictive track record – they have been 100% wrong about every scary climate prediction – nobody should believe them.

      The radical greens have NO credibility, make that NEGATIVE credibility – their core competence is propaganda, the fabrication of false alarm – wolves stampeding the sheep.

      The wolves, proponents of both the very-scary Global Warming / Climate Change scam and the Covid-19 Lockdown scam, know they are lying. Note also how many global “leaders” quickly linked the two scams, stating ”to solve Covid we have to solve Climate Change”- utter nonsense, not even plausible enough to be specious.

      Regarding the sheep, especially those who inhabit our universities and governments:
      The sheep are well-described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the landmark text “The Black Swan”, as “Intellectual-Yet-Idiot” or IYI – IYI’s hold the warmist views as absolute truths, without ever having spent sufficient effort to investigate them. The false warmist narrative fitted their worldview, and they never seriously questioned it by examining the contrary evidence.



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    8. Dr Valentina Zharkova is mentioned above – her co-author Dr Yelena Popova is interviewed here about their 2015 paper predicting global cooling, starting circa 2020.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M9cklpcJNs

      Global cooling IS happening now, as we correctly predicted in 2002, driven by low solar activity at the end of SC24.

      Many recent extreme cold events are listed in my recent paper and many more have occurred worldwide since publication - see Electoverse.net

      CLIMATE CHANGE, COVID-19, AND THE GREAT RESET
      A Climate, Energy And Covid Primer For Politicians And Media
      By Allan M.R. MacRae, May 8, 2021 UPDATE 1e
      https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/climate-change-covid-19-and-the-great-reset-update-1e-readonly.docx

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    9. I'd love to read the research paper, but they want 40 bucks.

      Delete
  25. Had central AC installed about 5 years ago. It’s times like this that I’m really glad we splurged for it.

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  26. I have a friend in the Midwest that works for US Forest Service re firefighting. They are getting ready to head out. Over the years they have sent him all over the country. The high temps/dry lightning coming to the West are very concerning to those folks. The loss of property, life, and then the smoke that comes through our windows... I am really not looking forward to this weekend. Thanks Cliff for the info as always.

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  27. Just sitting here remembering all those posts over the years where you brushed off climate change as an imminent crisis and hey, not such a bad thing for the chilly Northwest. lol.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I don't feel like Cliff has ever brushed off climate change. In fact, he has repeatedly pointed out that the science for climate change is solid. But saying one heat wave proves climate change is no better than saying one winter cold spell disproves it. I really appreciate Cliff pointing out what is scientifically valid and what isn't because that information is hard to find.

      Delete
  28. https://durkan.seattle.gov/2021/06/city-of-seattle-opens-additional-cooling-centers-and-updated-guidance-for-staying-cool-in-extreme-heat%E2%80%AF/

    ReplyDelete

Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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