By Linda Weiford, WSU News

PULLMAN, Wash. – Amid the focus on drenching rains across the Pacific Northwest this week, a different kind of weather record was set in the state of Washington on Tuesday: Abnormally warm temperatures. 

In the eastern half of the state, thermometers topped out at 60-70 degrees in many places, making light jackets the order of the day.

warm-December
Tuesday was more like April than December for students at Washington State University’s Pullman campus. (Photos by Dean Hare, WSU Photo Services)

At 3 p.m., a balmy 70 degrees was recorded at a weather station outside Columbia Basin College in Pasco, said Washington State University meteorologist Nic Loyd, who monitors data for AgWeatherNet, a network of 166 weather stations around the state.

“That temperature surprised me. We’re talking a good 20-25 degrees above normal for this date – a deep departure,” he said.

And some more surprises: In Prosser, where AgWeatherNet is based, the temperature topped out at 64 degrees, breaking the previous record of 59 set in 1938; Kennewick’s high of 67 degrees broke the record of 60 set in 1970 and Walla Walla’s high of 66 beat the record of 53 set in 1970.

Even the day’s lows were abnormally high.

“The overnight low temperatures in a number of locations were higher than the average high temperatures,” said Loyd. For example, Spokane’s low on Tuesday dipped to just 51 degrees and yet its average high for the date is 36 degrees, he said.

The warmth is being driven by the “Pineapple Express,” he explained, a storm track carrying warm, moist weather from the subtropics to the Pacific Northwest.

Temperatures are now creeping downward as another storm bears down on the region, bringing a blast of high winds. The weather system is part of a “storm train” that’s been barreling across the Northwest since Saturday, said Loyd.

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning in effect until 7 p.m. tonight, calling for wind gusts of 50-60 mph in eastern Washington and parts of the Idaho Panhandle. Some flooding is also predicted. Rains should taper off late this afternoon.

 

Contacts:
Nic Loyd, WSU meteorologist, 509-786-9357, nicholas.loyd@wsu.edu
Linda Weiford, WSU News, 509-335-7209, linda.weiford@wsu.edu