Yesterday’s high temperature in Seattle was 94°F, breaking the record as the city’s tenth day so far this year with a high temperature at or above 90°F. This brutal July smashed extremes across the Pacific Northwest, shattering record high temperatures and giving many cities their warmest Julys on record.

To say it’s been hot in the northwest this year is an understatement. Coming off of a record warm winter, the ridging pattern that kept the left coast so warm and dry sustained itself through the spring and summer, exacerbating the drought and creating significant problems with both water supplies and human health.

What Kind of Month Has It Been

The United States as a whole has been slightly cooler than average this year, taking a quick look at the above map—generated by WeatherBELL—which shows month-to-date surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius. The two regions of the country that stand out as abnormally warm are the Pacific Northwest and the southeastern United States, which endured an excruciating and record-busting heat wave of its own last month.

Average Temperatures

For the purposes of this post, I’m using average monthly temperature as a measure of record warmth. The average monthly temperature is the average of all the average daily temperatures for that month. If the high is 70°F and the low is 50°F, that day’s average temperature was 60°F—it’s this value that’s added up for all the days in the month and averaged together to arrive at the average monthly temperature. High averages indicate warmer high and low temperatures.


Also, all temperatures from here on out are in degrees Fahrenheit, because it’s superior to Celsius when talking about air temperatures.


Let’s start with the northwesternmost major city in the lower 48. Seattle just broke its record for the most days with high temperatures at or above 90°F ever recorded in one year, marking ten days yesterday (and likely eleven days today). This breaks the old record of nine days set back in 1958 (records at Sea-Tac Airport go back to 1945).

Not only did Seattle just break one record, but it’s closing out its warmest July ever recorded, exceeding July of 2009 by 1.5°F. The city is also within one-tenth of one degree of tying the average temperature seen in its all-time warmest month on record at Sea-Tac. The average temperature this July has been 71.0°F in Seattle, and the record for the warmest average monthly temperature was 71.1°F, seen back in August 1967.


Yesterday’s high temperature of 103°F at Portland International Airport is the warmest temperature they’ve recorded since the heat wave of 2009, where the city reached a mind-altering high of 106°F two days in a row, on July 28 and 29.

Even though it’s been unusually toasty in Portland this month, it’s probably not going to beat July 1985 for first place, though with today’s forecast high of 102°F, it’s possible that this month will eek out July 2009 for the second-warmest July on record. Records at the Portland International Airport go back to 1938.

San Francisco

We haven’t heard much about San Francisco this year, with even the recent O. M. G. EARTHQUAKE HYPE PANIC focusing on the Pacific Northwest and not San Francisco like is usually does. Of course, that’s probably because there’s nobody left who can afford to write about San Francisco, but anyway...

The city by the bay is poised to record its second-warmest July on record, coming within two-tenths of one degree of the previous warmest month, which was last July. High temperatures have been a couple of degrees above average almost every day this month in San Francisco, with a couple of relatively warm days—88°F on July 19 and 87°F this past Monday—helping bump the month up to the number two spot on the list.

Also in Oregon: Medford, Salem, and Eugene

Smaller cities get smaller mentions (sorry!), but it’s worth noting that both Salem and Eugene saw their warmest July on record, and Medford recorded its third-warmest July. Salem and Eugene beat their records by 0.2°F and 0.3°F, respectively, so in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t exactly a photo finish.

Here’s the chart for Medford...

...and Salem...

...and Eugene:

August probably won’t be as god-awful as July was, but with the way things have been going this year, it’s all downhill from here. Have a great day!

[Image: AP | Charts: author, using data from xmACIS2 | Map: WeatherBELL]

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