Is It the Warmest Summer Ever in Portland?

11pm Tuesday…

The short answer is a “no“.  But it’s one of our warmest ever recorded here, and that’s without any real heatwaves!  Let me explain how that has come to be…First, here are the official numbers from this afternoon…


And the number of 90 degree days so far this season…

BMAC July 90 degree recap


Notice Salem has seen 9 more 90 degree days than Portland, yet nowhere near a record as you can see in this graphic from the NWS.


Not sure why it says Portland averages 12 since the 1981-2010 30 year NCDC average is 13.6 days.  I’ll have to check the numbers again.

So let’s talk about this summer…I did some number crunching, finishing off the August numbers with our 7 Day forecast. Assuming that forecast is within a few degrees (one hopes), here is how the summer should rank….


Generally meteorologists consider summer in the northern hemisphere as the 3 warmest months June-August.  Of course in some places (along parts of the west coast) September is the same or warmer than June.  But for most areas it’s June-August.  Anyway, it appears August will end up the 2nd warmest in Portland.  That’s where the official records are kept at PDX back to around 1940.  It’ll also end up the 4th warmest month (of any month) in our history.  That’s after July 1985, July 2009, and August 1967.

What about Summer 2014?  We know it is the warmest since 2009.  Remember those 9-10 days above 90 and two days at 106?  That was definitely “Africa Hot”!  This summer should end up 3rd warmest behind 2009 and 2004.  That’s a hot summer…

Several things I’ve noticed about this summer…


Much of the summer we’ve seen an upper-level ridge just to our west, out in the eastern Pacific.  It’s quite similar to the pattern we’ve seen off/on for about 18 months, most likely related to the huge pool of above average ocean temps in the eastern Paciifc Ocean.  With the ridge frequently in this position the past 2 months or so, we got weak onshore flow, but rarely get a hot thermal trough west of the Cascades.  In fact only once between mid June and late August did we get gusty easterly wind in the Gorge, that was during the 99 degree event the 1st of July.

Another effect of this pattern?  It’s been consistently warm, with no prolonged periods of cooler than average temps, yet no heat waves.  We did see 5 days at the end of July and early August with high temps between 89 and 92, but that barely qualifies as a heat wave here in Portland.  Yes, I know it was hotter to our south and east, but I’m specifically talking about the Portland metro area. 

Did you notice we didn’t hit 100 this year?  A little weird since it’ll be the 3rd warmest summer.  That’s related to the lack of strong offshore flow at any point during the summer.

And did you notice what was missing much of the summer?  Morning low clouds.  I noticed how many more days started sunny this July and August compared to the past few summers (I really liked that).  The marine layer was often present, but very thin in the metro area.  Just enough to keep us out of the “real hot” range and more in the “a little hot” range.  I don’t really know what that means, but hopefully it makes sense.

It’s pretty obvious looking at 7-10day maps/models that we’re headed into a cooler than average weather pattern as we start September.  For the next week or so we’re done with the continously warmer than average weather.  Take a look at the 12z ECMWF ensemble chart



So what are YOUR thoughts about this summer?  Discuss and (nicely) argue below please…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

80 Responses to Is It the Warmest Summer Ever in Portland?

  1. paulbeugene says:

    Managed to hit 90F in Eugene today, the 30th of the summer. Going to have to wait at least a week to tie the 1958 record.

  2. acs_pdx says:

    As someone else pointed out, it’s the warm nights that are causing this summer to rank in the top 5… and high humidity goes hand-in-hand with mild overnight temperatures.

    So do they keep normals for dewpoints? If so, where does this summer stack up on that measure?

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I think last summer was more humid, at least in August.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      Some days last July I noticed the Dew Point as high as near 60 in Klamath Falls. (and this is a place that is normally hella DRY! It’s more uncommon to see this).

  3. mark says:

    Mark, I never had the chance to thank you for the photos you took with me at the convention center car event in Feb. It was the night before that snow event.

    I’ve lived here a decade and this Summer was consistently warm but not that hot. I think it just felt that way after several mild Summers. I’m really kind of surprised it’s in the record books, but maybe that’s due to the warmth being consistent and the humidity that kept it balmy at night

  4. Garron near Washington Square says:

    Erik’s comment about locked patterns got me thinking about what the pattern must’ve looked like back in Jan/Feb 1950? Wondering why we were able to have such a long block of cold and snow, and if there were any similarities to the way the pattern has been around the country this year to 1950? Wish we had satellite maps back then to see how that pattern evolved and kept going.

    January stats for Portland 1950:

    Feb. stats for Portland 1950:

    Can’t imagine that kind of pattern setting up now! Day after day of snow for over a month?

  5. Dringus says:

    As far as the summer goes – it’s bee nice without being too hot, but not one of my favorites because just not enough rain every now and then. I feel like a good rain once every couple of weeks in summer are some of the best days!

    • Jeff says:

      I agree! August tends to be my least favorite month because of all the brown lawns and wilting plants.

  6. schmit44 says:

    8/27/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:99 at EW1735 Central P(1285 ft) & Medford Viaduct(1360 ft) & PROVOLT SEED ORC(1180 ft) & NORTH FORK MALHE(3270 ft) & AC7WN Hermiston(497 ft) & CW2444 Echo(722 ft) & DW0462 Umatilla(390 ft) & Pendleton /McKay(1100 ft) & UMATILLA RIVER N(363 ft)
    Low: 69 at BLALOK(277 ft) & RUFUS(185 ft) & DW7631 Redmond(3025 ft) & Wasco(2107 ft)

    High:55 at Newport(30 ft)
    Low: 32 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 54 degrees
    EW2055 Prairie C (91/37 ) (3547 ft )
    EW3547 Seneca (88/34) (4810 ft)

  7. High Desert Mat says:

    Finally down to 74 this evening. After a high at my place of 92. Seems like its been really hot all day today compared to the last two weeks. Tomorrow looks to be as warm throughout the day before a big cool down hits after that and stays for a few days at least. One more round of thunderstorms would be nice to cap off the summer.

  8. Mark Nelsen says:

    I’ve enabled Gravatars again (the pictures of each of you). But if you use them to be obnoxious with each other I’ll kick you out.

  9. JohnD says:

    Mark=Where are you?!
    Guess I’ll have to resume my once a month summertime habit.

  10. JohnD says:

    Seriously, only (I believe) 89′ today @ PDX?!?!
    Everywhere else in Portland Metro (I believe) was 90′ or more?!?!
    Not that it needs to matter too much, as it is doubtful that we will catch any all time 90+ records this year.
    But maybe the NWS guy was on an extended coffee break?!?!
    B-t-w TV mets love the 90’s stat!

  11. cgavic says:

    You’ll have to forgive my comments, but the graph looks like someone went viral and scribbled all over the page.
    Could you put the chart into words.
    Thank you.

  12. BoringOregon says:

    I’m calling a Weather bust fr this weekend!

  13. High Desert Mat says:

    I for one have loved this summer. No extreme heat, lots of thunderstorms, and a few partly cloudy days into the mix. It felt rather average for a Redmond summer actually except for the abundance of thunderstorms. I could deal with a summer like this every year if I had my choice.

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      July looked toasty there. Lots of 90+ and 2 100’s in there.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      It was but nothing unusual it seemed for summer here. They always seem consistently warm to hot to me

  14. Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

    The average July temperature in 2014 was 90.6 degrees in Klamath Falls. The running average so far this whole summer from 06/01 to 08/26 is 84.2 degrees.

    August is more of a normal month. If that wasn’t the case, my summer average would easily be closer to 90.

    • Karl Bonner says:

      How could August possibly be close to normal in K-Falls this year, when everybody else has been so hot? What’s your normal Aug high temp, anyway?

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      Mostly 80’s and a few 70’s is more than normal here. My average high temp in August is 83.2. I had only 2 days at or over 90 degrees during the first 2 days of this month, then a bunch of 80’s and even a few 70’s I’ve had so far, as someone had flipped a switch on the heat for me. This month so far is only running 1 degree above the normal. So August is pretty much average.

      The heat is off to my north. Somehow I’ve been missing it since July.

  15. Tyler Mode says:

    It’s been a summer that’s too warm for me at least…I did like the amount of sun, but there were quite a few mornings where I felt like I was under a black cloud as Battle Ground was one of the few areas around the metro that hung onto the low clouds during the day.

  16. David B. says:

    It’s been nice. Then again, I live in a significantly cooler part of the PNW (at least in the summers, our winters are actually warmer than yours) than the Willamette Valley.

    As I wrote yesterday, I’m sure the warmth would have been more impressive to me if I hadn’t moved around so much in recent years and could do apples-to-apples comparisons in my mind.

  17. John B. says:

    It’s saying something that I was looking forward to my weekend trips to Central Oregon all this month. At least there would be some relief once the sun started going down and we could trap the chilly air to keep the house cool through out the day. It actually started to feel like Fall in the air when we left to come back yesterday. It still very much feels like Summer here in PDX though. Definitely picked the wrong year to move in to a place with no air conditioning 😦

    I did notice the trend of a record high warm summer every 5 years since 2004. I wonder if this is just a coincidence or evidence of a larger trend in the works.

  18. Runrain says:

    Temperatures this summer were warmer than they were this spring

    The days in June – August were longer than those in January – March

    Tomatoes grow better in August than in December

    It’s much easier to wear shorts in July than in January

    Air conditioning is better in the summer than in the winter

    Captain Obvious has spoken!!

  19. WEATHERDAN says:

    Mark, one thing I believe you failed to take into account is the much warmer overnight temps than in years past. In 1967 Salem’s warmest Summer ( 31 over 90 and 92 over 80 ) June through August averaged 84.7. This was for the day time only. In 1958 ( 34 over 90 and 89 over 80 ) we had a June through August day time avg of 83.7. And this year June through August in Salem our max avg will be about 83.3. But when you add in the minimums as well to get an overall average this is what you get. 2014. 70.7. 1967. 67.7 and 1958. 68.8. That’s what’s making our Summers much warmer than before is the warmer overnight lows. At 11:00 AM Salem is 80 heading for 93. This morning’s low was 60. The 29th time it has not dropped below 60 this Summer. This ties the record set just last year. After a partly cloudy weekend with a slight chance of showers and highs of 75-80 it looks like we see more sun next week with temps in the 80-85 range. A rather pleasant late Summer pattern. As for this Winter I do see a much calmer Winter than last Winter. Of course I could be completely wrong but I just don;t see a wild Winter for us. A weak El Nino and the fact we don’t usually get two wild Winters in a row leads me to that conclusion. Happy trails y’aal. Peace.

  20. cgavic says:

    Can you give a number analysis of temps and weather for the next 7-10 days of September?

    I just read the wishful cold fall forecast.
    If it’s still clear skies I’ll take it!

  21. W7ENK says:

    This is one of the main reasons why I think we have pretty significant chances at seeing a moderate to severe ice storm this winter. In recent years, we’ve seen patterns lock for long term. Until last winter (and even part of last winter), things always seemed to lock in such a way that we (Portland) would get screwed out of interesting or exciting weather. For instance, the ridge would lock just offshore, deep cold trough down through the plains, ensuring that we wouldn’t get any wintry weather. It would finally let go or flip right when it was too late in the season to bring us the goods. Same with a few summers back — 2010, 2011, 2012. Big ridge would lock middle of the country, we’d get locked under a cool Northerly trough, and it wouldn’t let go or flip until the summer and fall were pretty much done, then the ridge would come back once it was inconvenient for wintry weather again.

    Maybe the tides have turned, so to speak? Maybe the patterns will finally start locking in our favor? Maybe we’ll get stuck under that cold Northerly flow, bringing repeated shots of modified Arctic air down through the Columbia Basin, but we’ll be just enough on the edge to allow Pacific systems to ride up the coast, sucking that cold air down the Gorge and dumping their overriding moisture here in the Northern Valley??

    Or, it will be another boring 0 snow winter…

    Wishcasting at its finest, I suppose. But — It could happen!

    • EA-TTD says:

      We are WAY overdue for a wind or ice event, that’s for sure. Maybe a ‘la-nada’ winter is all we need?

    • gidrons says:

      I agree with the pattern part. The last 3 winters have featured massive high pressure setting up and lasting for 5 or 6 weeks.

      Statistically, wind storms are more likely during a la nada winter.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the great wishcast. I’m all for a wild ride this winter providing no one gets hurt. I think we might be in for a good one and very glad the heat days are almost over. When you get older the heat really works against you.

    • Jethro says:

      Is it too early for me to start the “pineapple express” chant? Nevermind, yes it is too early… bring on the Indian Summer. Or is that a Native Peoples Summer now?

    • W7ENK says:

      As I get older, I’m finding myself liking the heat more. After a long dry summer like this one, I used to find myself satisfied and looking forward to the return of the rain, but this year not so much. Granted, I’ve still got a ways to go before I can really dive into this whole “getting older” thing…

      Didn’t we just have 3 La Nada winters in a row? Or at least borderline… Maybe not, I don’t remember.

      At any rate, I just want a real winter again, a la last February’s snow, immediately followed by last December’s deep freeze, followed by another dumping of snow. I can do without ZR. A solid two weeks of winter smack in the middle of January — every year — would be great!

    • W7ENK says:

      Jethro, I think that’s “First Nations Summer”, but we have to wait until October. 😉

    • After reading the official Indian Summer definition, I don’t think that’s what I really want — because I would rather skip the first frost. I suppose I’ll be ready for fall once it gets here, but right now I just want San Diego’s weather for the foreseeable future (but without all the people).

  22. Chris says:

    If this is global warming, I’m all for it. Especially since global cooling starts here about October 1. It’s been a great summer so far.

  23. So glad summer is almost over and I’m seriously looking forward to cool weather.

  24. Andrew says:

    For once I’m actually looking forward to rain.

  25. Paul D says:

    Too warm for me. Looking forward to some sub-80 temperatures in September. Maybe next summer will be one of the coolest ever and we won’t have any 90 degree days 🙂

  26. cgavic says:

    I loved this summer. I’m hoping we have many more nice days in September. When th high pressure completely moves our Nw Oregon fall will be here with non-stop rain (ugh!)

    Mark, you’ve done a great job of forecasting summer and working the blog site.

  27. jpmoore says:

    It seems as if it has been a lot more humid this summer than what I remember from past Summers. Lack of east wind, of course, but also we’ve had strong jet from the southwest that brought showers and thunderstorms.

  28. Larry says:

    Something else we haven’t had since last winter – strong east winds coming down the Gorge. I went to school at Columbia (now called Reynolds) in the late 70’s early 80’s and we often had to get several people to help push open east-facing doors throughout the year. January 24th was the last big wind event up at Crown Point. I know I’m not misremembering hot strong east winds in the Summer when I was growing up here?

  29. K.J. Bemies says:

    A general question here: Could you talk about the humidity in the NW this summer and last? I walk in the AM. It seems to just get worse and worse.

    • oldwxwatcher says:

      Definitely agree. It seems that this summer and last had many more days where the dewpoint was in the upper 50s and low 60s than in previous years. I wish Mark would do a comparison of average summer dewpoints over the years.

  30. Joshua says:

    My thoughts are that this summer has been unbearable. It’s like you said- consistently above average. Have we ever had a winter that saw almost every single day with a lower than average high and low temperature? Now that could be fun (assuming average or more precipitation). Anywho, this summer sucks. Bring on fall. Bring on crisp mornings and pleasant days. Bring on rain.

    • Sarah says:

      Spot on! It’s not the heat that bugs me, but total lack of rain. It’s dry as a bone and the air’s dusty. Feels like the great dustbowlmof the 30’s.

    • WEATHERDAN says:

      In the Winter of 68-69 Salem had 3 days only (all consecutive in early January ) between Christmas and Groundhogs day when the Maximum rose above 42. We had 35 inches of snow that Winter and 3 strong Arctic blasts. Our coldest Maximum was 11, and our coldest minimum was 6. I was in the 9th grade that Winter. It was truly magnificent. In late January Eugene had a maximum snow depth of 44 inches. This came after a very cool summer and it was an El Nino Winter. Peace.

    • Garron near Washington Square says:

      1950 comes to mind.

  31. Rob - Southeast Portland says:

    Still 70 @ 1 AM

  32. Karl Bonner says:

    Would’ve been a reasonable summer if I lived in Seattle or Portland…but from the vantage point of The Dalles, it was TOO HOT. And too warm at night. I don’t mind temps up 85-95 during the day just as long as it cools down into the 50s at night.

    We had at least a dozen days 100+, but only one 105+ day, at DLS. The defining feature was the total lack of “cool” weather at all during July or August, save for one or two freak days after the July thunderstorms, plus, of course, the last 2-3 days of August this coming weekend…

    So September is starting cool, but forecast to end up warmer than average as a whole. About the only way that could happen is if the warm pattern resumes and persists for most of mid- to late September. A bit different than most of our recent September hot weather, which tends to come in the 1st half of the month most of the time. I’m sure after 7-10 days of fall-like temps, a return to 90+ for The Dalles and 85+ for Portland, would definitely count as a strong ‘Indian Summer’ pattern. But it would cool off so nicely at night…that’s what I love about September.

  33. The Bad Forecaster says:


    I know when it has snowed early in September at Paradise on Mount Rainier that we have had bouts with warm and dry weather for extended periods of time. I do remember one year that the snow did start piling up until December of 2008. At the time I was awaiting a call for my first season of duty on the paid staff up there over the winter.

    I do also remember it happening in 1984 as well. I was living at Paradise that summer into September and we had a 9 inch snow dump up there that month only to be followed by a prolonged dry and warm spell. I was working at Paradise Inn for the concessionaire at that time.

    I’m not saying if it gets cool and wet that we will have an Indian Summer but the above patterns have surely been interesting after we would get an early snowfall on the mountain.

    For what it is worth also we have had snow building up early before El Nino fully took over leading many of the ski areas to believe they were going to have a bumper crop winter because of the snow beginning to pile up very early on and then do nothing more than becoming an icy mess because it has not snowed significantly for some time. The lousy 2004-05 winter season comes to mind. Paradise that winter saw just barely over 400 inches of snowfall after there was an early “false start” to winter. I remember also that snowpack did not even reach 7 feet at least up there until April before it all started melting back.

    • Prairiedog says:

      Does an Indian Summer technically (definition) happen after the first frost? Prolonged nice weather in late summer early fall often is called an Indian Summer. But does it actually mean that nice weather after a frost? Also, do weak El Nino’s behave the same in terms of early snows/false winters? Wondering that if indeed we do have an El Nino winter and it turns out to be a weak one (just based on some thoughts flying around out there) what historically has happened in terms of our winters?

    • The Bad Forecaster says:


      Based on what I believe I have heard in the past, yes a frost would have to be in place but then temperatures should hit 70 afterward if I remember correctly here to have a Indian Summer. I know up here closer to Seattle we have had 70 degree temps in October before. I am sure Mark could elaborate on this idea better than I could.

      A weak El Nino is not a whole lot different that a neutral ongoing ENSO cycle but what is interesting and I have notice this first hand here is that the snowfall at Mount Rainier can either be light or heavy on a neutral year. Basically anything goes during the neutral cycle but n the weak El Nino years I would have more of a tendency at least to expect somewhere below normal on the snowpack.

      Since 2006 I have been making predictions on Mount Rainier snowfall for the winter season based on the NOAA Climate Prediction Center seasonal and ENSO outlooks. I have never been spot on but I sure have been close on the snowfall at times. I usually tell staff in the park that the forecast from me anyway comes with a margin of error of plus or minus 50 inches but if I see a lot of variance in the forecast I will bump that up to as much as 100 inches. When I say variance I mean also usually in season that is expected to be neutral. I think those season can be very tough to forecast.

      Last year Paradise on Mount Rainier finished under 600 inches of snow for the season and the average is well over 600 inches. Longmire down lower really had a dismal winter at 2,762 feet and didn’t even make it to 100 inches for the winter. Despite the low snowfall though, the Paradise weather station did make it 200 inches on their snow depth which is surprising in a low snowfall winter. It helped that some pretty good snows still came in during February and March though.

    • W7ENK says:

      Technically defined, yes. A “heat wave” after the first frost. That’s why “Indian Summer” traditionally doesn’t occur until October.


      An Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather, occurring after the end of summer proper. The US National Weather Service defines this as weather conditions that are sunny and clear with temperatures above 21 °C (70 °F), following a sharp frost (the “Squaw Winter”).

  34. AdamInAumsville says:

    Consistently very warm to hot, but nothing too extreme. A good portion of those 90+ days in Eugene and Salem were in the 90-92 range. Also a lot of days in the upper 80s (88-89) which don’t get captured in the 90+ figure but to me is basically the same “feel” as the low 90s. If that makes sense…

  35. howardjohny says:

    Love it! Now for a nice long Indian Summer!

    • The Bad Forecaster says:

      Would not be surprised howardjohny if it gets on the cool or even cold side in early September with some precipitation around.

  36. Lacking offshore flow this season. September and early October can make up for it.

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