Under the weather: First significant heat wave of year corresponds with last year’s scorcher

Happy summer, everybody! The astronomical season has officially caught up with its meteorological counterpart as of June 21. And just like last year, summer is looking to make a big statement with its arrival.

Remember last year’s scorcher? I know I do, especially because I was getting married right as the heat wave was beginning. Talk about a memorable wedding day and first few days of marriage. Let’s take a quick look at a recap of that event.

We really began warming up on June 25 but by the 26th, it was downright uncomfortable. We had two days in a row with highs in the mid-90s, then we hit 100 degrees on the 28th. That was only the third time on record that Paine Field had reached a triple-digit temperature. This was absolutely dreadful, especially considering the fact that most people do not have any form of air conditioning in their homes.

Thankfully, we are not expecting a heatwave of historic proportions like that one, but it will be hot (a fitting way to celebrate my first anniversary). After such a cool and wet spring, we haven’t had much opportunity to acclimate to warmer weather, so this could come as quite a shock to some.

If it wasn’t already obvious, we’re not expecting rain for several days, with the next chance not until the middle of next week (and that is looking pretty iffy at this time). The big story will be the warming temperatures.

Much like last year, the warming will begin on Friday and hit its peak on Monday. An upper ridge of high pressure begins forming on Friday, which is the main feature responsible for the warmth. The reason for this is that air sinks in areas of high pressure. This leads to inhibited cloud development and warming the surrounding air. Take a look at the following forecast graphic, valid for Sunday afternoon.

You can see that the entire West Coast will be affected by this ridge. Another thing to note from this image is the upper-level trough over the Pacific. Because air generally flows from high to low pressure, we will primarily experience offshore flow, meaning our air will come from the warmer Eastern Washington as opposed to the cooler Pacific Ocean (onshore flow is lovingly termed as nature’s air conditioning by many meteorologists in the area). This will cause even more warming.

OK, so how warm are we talking? Like I said, no triple-digit temperatures are expected this time. But as time progresses, highs will go from the low-70s (comfortable) on Friday to possibly the mid-80s (uncomfortable) by Monday. Overnight lows will not get very low either, so not much relief is expected in the overnight hours—especially Saturday and Sunday night. If you haven’t yet, you’ll want to get those shorts and fans ready.

I want to emphasize that early season heat events can be dangerous for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the fact that bodies of water are still running very cold—and due to our wetter than normal spring, some may be running a little high. People want to cool down by swimming, without realizing how cold the water is. Cold-water shock can take down a person very quickly, even strong swimmers. If you plan to head to a local beach, lake, or river, please be mindful of this. Wear a life jacket. Parents, keep an eye on your kids. Accidents happen every year, and it’s important to be aware of this issue. Check out the following graphic, courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Seattle.

A heat advisory has been issued for most areas of Western Washington, and NWS Seattle has given several tips on how to best prepare and act during the hot weather:

“Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 911.”

It’s possible to enjoy the warmer weather but it’s important to stay safe. Temperatures are expected to cool back down to a more comfortable range after Monday. Have a great weekend—and stay cool!

— By Kelsie Nelson

Kelsie Nelson is a meteorologist and recent University of Washington graduate who grew up in Lynnwood and now lives in Kenmore. After writing weather blogs as a KOMO News intern, she discovered a passion for writing about weather. You can learn more in her blog www.wxnoggin.com and you can also follow her on Twitter at @kels_wx3. Questions can be directed to Kelsie at kelsie@myedmondsnews.com.

 

 

 

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