NW Coastal Washington hotter than Death Valley on Sunday May 5th
One of the hottest places in the country yesterday (May 5th) was Quillayute (La Push), Washington located near the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington where a record 88° was reported. This smashed their previous daily record by 15° (73° in 1994) and made it warmer than even Death Valley, California where it was 87° on Sunday.Map of U.S. and location of Quillayute (also known as La Push). The Airport servicing La Push is called the Quillayute Airport and where the weather observations are made. The village is set on a small peninsula that juts out into the frigid Pacific Ocean where the SST would be around 48° this time of year. One can imagine how unusual it is for this site to be one of the hottest in the country on any given day.
Photo from AirPhotoNA.com
The coast of northwestern Washington is one of the coolest summer locations in the U.S. with Quillayute being one of the few places in the contiguous U.S. to have never recorded 100° (their all-time high of 99° was set on August 9, 1981). At this time of the year the normal daily maximum temperature here should be just 58°.
The 88° figure was the warmest ever measured at Quillayute so early in the season but fell short of their all-time May monthly high of 92° set on May 7, 1987. The cause of the unusual heat along the coasts of Washington and Oregon was a strong offshore flow circulating around an upper level low centered off the central California coast. This same circulation was responsible for the big cool down in California that helped firefighters quash the big blazes that have plagued southern California the past five days.
What was also remarkable about the 88° in Quillayute was that it was almost the hottest temperature in the entire nation for any official NWS site on Sunday May 5th. Roseburg, Oregon’s 89° and Mayfield, Washington’s 90° readings along with a couple of sites in southwestern Arizona were the only places warmer (94° at Tacna and 93° at Phoenix). Seattle reached 84°.
Along the coast of central Oregon a late afternoon sea breeze caused a dramatic cool down in Newport. At 6 p.m PST the temperature was 89° at Newport Cape RAWS, a site just 8 miles north of the town of Newport where it was 55° at that time. Both sites are near sea level and within a mile of the ocean. At the Newport town site the temperature peaked at 86° at 3:35 p.m then fell a bit to 77° at 4:55 p.m. Then the onshore flow kicked in and by 5:55 p.m. it was down to 53.6°. This type of drastic temperature change along Pacific coastal areas (both over time and distance) is not all that unusual, although this particular case was quite remarkable being that both sites were coast-side locations.An image grab of surface conditions at 6 p.m. PST on May 5th along the Oregon coastline around the Newport area (located about 40 miles southwest of Salem). Note the 89° temperature at Newport Cape (not indentified by name on the map) and the 55°-56° readings at two sites in and around the town of Newport itself. A bit further south, 15 miles, it was just 49° at Beachside State Park. An impressive 40° temperature difference over a 23 mile stretch of coast.
On Monday, May 6th temperatures have cooled down throughout the coastal areas although inland it warmed up a bit. Seattle reached a record high of 87°.
Christopher C. Burt