Record-Smashing Heat Scorches Seattle

Until yesterday, Seattle had never been this hot this soon.

The city soared to a staggering 87 degrees Monday, crushing the daily record high of 79 and giving Seattle its warmest day on record this early in the year. Previously, the hottest temperature Seattle had experienced through the first week of May was 86 degrees—a mark set back in 1953, less than a decade after Sea-Tac Airport became the official weather recording station for the city. An 87-degree reading had never been observed at the airport until May 11.

That all changed in a hurry yesterday, thanks to a scorching thermal trough that moved directly over Puget Sound early in the day, allowing temperatures to leap into the lower 70s by 10 a.m.—and above 80 degrees shortly after lunchtime. By the time the thermometer maxed out at 87 just before five o’clock, we’d already one-upped Sunday’s sizzling high of 84 degrees, and matched the highest temperature recorded in Seattle during the entire summer of 2011. (We topped out at 87 degrees twice back then—and that wasn’t until mid-August.)

Seattle simmered in summer-like heat on Monday, with the city's high of 87 degrees that warmest temperature observed this early in the year.
Seattle simmered in summer-like heat on Monday, with the city’s high of 87 degrees the warmest temperature observed this early in the year.

Outside of Sea-Tac, it was a blistering day elsewhere in Puget Sound, with Boeing Field, Tacoma, and Olympia all peaking at 86, while the National Weather Service office in North Seattle made it to 83—obliterating the previous May 6 high there of 75. Further north, often-chilly Bellingham came in at 79 degrees, besting the 56-year old record for the day of 74.

With the thermal trough that caused all this now history, and a thick layer of clouds currently shrouding the region, high temperatures will crash to near 70 today—with some spots not getting out of the upper 60s. Still, once the clouds thin out in the afternoon, today should wind up several degrees warmer than the normal high of 63—making for our seventh straight above-average day.

The clouds come back to haunt us again tomorrow morning, but like today, the sun should eventually win out as the day lengthens. Wednesday wraps up on a partly sunny note, with temperatures rising into the mid 70s.

We dial it up a notch on Thursday and Friday, with strengthening high pressure allowing temperatures to threaten 80 degrees once more. While it’ll be a toasty end to the workweek, highs should still fall several degrees short of yesterday’s scorcher as the winds come at us from the ocean, rather than from Eastern Washington.

Rain then returns to the region late Saturday and Sunday as a weak front limps ashore, halting our tinder-dry start to May—and bringing an end to our stretch of stunningly warm weather.

Rest assured, though, that after yesterday’s chart-busting heat, early May 2013 will live on in the record books for years to come.