Warmest year on record for Washington state

By Linda Weiford, WSU News

Hottest-MAPPULLMAN, Wash. – Last year was “by far” the Evergreen state’s warmest ever recorded, according to meteorologist Nic Loyd of Washington State University.

“At 3.9 degrees above-normal average temperatures, 2015 surpassed the hot Dust Bowl’s record year of 1934 by 0.9 degrees,” he said, adding that last year’s average temperature in Washington was 50 degrees, compared to its yearly average of 46.1.

Loyd’s comments come on the heels of a report issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration analyzing data going back to 1895. Oregon, Montana and Florida experienced a record year of warmth as well, according to the agency. Idaho, California and Alaska had their second warmest year (see https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/).

Much of the boost in the Pacific Northwest came during an unprecedented heat wave in June, when temperatures in many locations ran roughly 25 degrees above normal. February, March, July and October also saw warmer-than-usual temperatures, said Loyd, who monitors weather data for WSU’s AgWeatherNet, a network of 171 weather stations statewide.

“The consistency of abnormal warmth throughout the year was remarkable,” he said.

A super-charged El Nino weather pattern and a persistent “monster ridge” of high pressure parked over the Pacific Northwest were big contributors, he explained. The high-altitude ridge blocked cooler and wetter weather from entering the region. At the same time, El Nino, a natural, periodic warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that releases heat into the atmosphere, brought more heat and dryness.

“Although El Nino typically brings rainfall to central and southern California, it can result in warmer weather and less precipitation across the Pacific Northwest,” said Loyd.

A ray of good news as we enter 2016: A recent parade of storms over the Cascade Mountain Range has dumped enough snow to significantly curb drought conditions that plagued the region in 2015.

“In one month, the amount of snow that fell is higher than what we got all of last winter,” Loyd explained.


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



Next Story

WORD Fellows applications open for spring cohort

Faculty system-wide are invited to apply to the Writing Occurring Rhetorically in the Disciplines program to learn ways to design more effective writing instruction.

Recent News

Announcing the search for a new provost

As WSU continues to evolve, the dual role of provost and Pullman campus chancellor is being divided into two separate positions.

The past is not that long ago

Washington State Magazine explores the complicated ties that continue to reverberate between the Pacific Northwest’s indigenous tribes and the first Jesuit priest to the region.

Aging societies more vulnerable to collapse

Societies and political structures, like the humans they serve, appear to become more fragile as they age, according to an analysis of hundreds of pre-modern societies.