By Linda Weiford, WSU News
PROSSER, Wash. – As Washington state emerges from its most blistering summer on record, the state’s hottest place was, ironically, an area known for giant irrigation sprinklers and well-tended orchards and vineyards. With the mercury hovering above 100 degrees for 22 days, including a scorching 113 in June, the Tri-Cities area earned the gold star.
“Even for a semi-arid location like the Tri-Cities, summer 2015 was a hot one,” said Washington State University meteorologist Nic Loyd of AgWeatherNet (http://weather.wsu.edu/awn.php). Of the network’s 166 weather monitoring stations around the state, the unit based in the Tri-Cities recorded the highest temperatures for the most days, he said.
The trio of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, Wash., saw an average high temperature of 93.7 degrees – three degrees higher than the average for last summer. What’s more, the 22 days of triple-digit temperatures toppled the 15 days from the summer before, Loyd explained.
“All of Washington was hot but the Tri-Cities stood out from the crowd,” he said, adding that the lower elevation of this metropolitan area of 250,000 people contributes to its sizzling climate, as does the fact that it’s largely removed from the “summertime cooling influence” of the Pacific Ocean and located in the southern part of the state.
“This year, in particular, the Tri-Cities saw intense, prolonged heat,” he said.
Oh, and one more thing – the chamber of commerce’s assertion that the Tri-Cities averages 300 sunshine-filled days a year is no exaggeration. The last time it rained was May 25, said Loyd.