It's summer in Eastern Washington, not 'climate change'
Last updated 8/15/2023 at 5:33pm
The National Weather Service predicts we will see the hottest temperatures of the summer this week. It’s even gone so far as to declare an “excessive heat warning” until 11 p.m. today.
Granted, 100 degrees is hot. But in our neck of the high-plains desert, that’s not excessive. Even if we hit 105 degrees, it’s not excessive here.
Eastern Washington has a track record of hot daytime highs in June, July and August.
The hottest day on record for most of our readership area was June 29, 2021.
State records show a sanctioned, modern-day weather station recorded a blistering temperature of 120 degrees that day on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Unofficially though, hotter temperatures were recorded by modern weather stations in other locations from June 29 through July 3 of that year.
In nearby Columbia County, Starbuck weather stations reported temperatures of 123 and 126 degrees. Those temperatures were recorded at the Pataha Creek and Tucannon River weather stations, respectively.
Clarkston and Plain (a small community west of Wenatchee) also have reported record highs of 123 degrees June 29, 2021.
Closer to home, the Winona weather station – located in Whitman County near the Adams-Whitman County line, along the Palouse River between Benge and Endicott – had a reported high of 131 degrees during that window.
The all-time high recorded in Eastern Washington was a scorching 134 degrees in Walla Walla County, near the Mill Creek Five Mile Bridge weather station on June 29, 2021.
While modern weather stations recorded those temperatures, the state has yet to declare them as “official.”
But 2021 isn’t the only year when a heat waves struck. Several record highs were also set in 1961.
LaCrosse, for example, posted its hottest day in modern record-keeping on Aug. 4, 1961, when the temperature was logged as 113 degrees, records show. Pullman’s hottest temperature – 110 degrees – was recorded that same day.
The very next day, Aug. 5, 1961, Dayton posted its hottest day ever, registering in at 114 degrees, records show.
The hottest year on record in Eastern Washington is not this year or last. It’s not even 2021. Nor is it 2014, the year temperatures well over 100 degrees combined with strong winds July 14, 2014, to create the state’s largest fire, the Carlton Complex Wildfire in Okanogan County.
State records show the warmest year was 2015.
This summer’s daytime temperatures appear to be milder than most summer days over the last 60-plus years of modern record-keeping.
Growing up here in Eastern Washington, I remember asphalt bubbling from the heat. As a teenager, my parents not only sent me outside to play on hot summer days, they also gave be a rag and cleaner to scrub the road tar and asphalt off the sides of family vehicles.
In those days, high school football practices were twice-a-day, outdoors, regardless of the temperature. And adults had to go to work or lose their jobs.
As I remember, it was common for June, July and August days to reach 100 degrees … and fewer people seemed to whine about the heat.
Maybe my memory is failing me, but I think there’s more whining nowadays. There are certainly more laws catering to those complaining about the heat, not getting enough breaks and having to work or play outdoors.
This week’s heat wave is common east of the Cascades. It comes every summer, sometimes for a few days (like this year) and sometimes for several weeks. It’s not global warming, or so-called “climate change,” as politicos would have you believe.
It’s simply summer in Eastern Washington.
So, use some common sense – put on suntan lotion and drink lots of water – when heading outdoors.
In a matter of weeks, summer will be gone and you’ll likely be wishing for warm weather to return to take off winter’s cold edge.
— Roger Harnack is the owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Email him at [email protected].