Spring Getting Warmer? Not Yet, Except This Year!

6pm Monday…

Today was a, dare I say, historic April day for warm/hot temperatures inland.  Take a look at the spots that hit 90:

MarkRecordHighTempsMetro

A bunch of official stations in the metro area were quite close:

PLOT_Highs_Metro

Easterly wind was a bit lighter today, but the atmosphere overhead was a little warmer too.  It all added up to an April scorcher.

As of this moment April 2016 is running warmer than the all-time warm April 2004 at PDX.  It remains to be seen if we keep that record for the next 11 days.  Very warm through Thursday, then cooler this weekend and early next week…we’ll see how that turns out.

Why so warm this month?  Today was the 4th day at/above 80 in Portland and we’ve never had more than 5 at PDX so it’s likely we’ll see more 80s than in every previous year.  We’ve had two episodes of strong upper-level ridging overhead.  Nothing too strange meteorologically, but each one has been at the upper end of what we can get this time of year.  Combine those two events and we get all the warm/hot days.

Has it happened in the past or is it all global warming/climate change?  (that 2nd term drives me nuts even though I get the reasoning for its use).  It HAS occurred, but only once in the old Downtown records that go back into the late 1800s.

MarkJet_Warm_ColdSeparated

In April 1926, there were 5 days at 80+ (81,83,93,91) at the end of the month.  Plus, there was a separate 3 day stretch at mid-month (82,88,82).  I’ve mentioned this in the past, but downtown temperature records are a bit sketchier than PDX, mainly due to the fact that part of the time those temps were on the top of hot building roofs, in the case of 1926 it was 60 feet in the air on top of the Customs House building.

I just checked the entire NCDC Oregon Climate Zone #2 (western valleys) for April; this average ALL climate stations in the lower elevations westside.  Sure enough, you see April 1926 and April 1935 were both way warmer than the PDX record April in 2004:

multigraph

So, is this directly related to the climate warming?  In this case it could be, but you definitely can’t say our “springs are getting warmer”.  Notice from 1990 through about 2010 on average our springs were COOLING.  Note the warming from 1970 to 1990 too.  Definitely some cyclical action going on there.  It’s totally fair to say:

IN THE LOWER ELEVATIONS OF WESTERN OREGON THERE IS LITTLE OR NO WARMING SIGNAL YET FOR THE SPRING SEASON, BUT THE PAST 3 YEARS HAVE BEEN WARMER THAN NORMAL.  That’s the 3 month period from March-May.  Here’s the graph for those 3 months:

Oregon_tavg_Spring

That said, it is NOT the case for the other seasons.  We all know summers in our area are warming after the past few years don’t we?

Oregon_tavg_Summer

And the fall season too…warming:

Oregon_tavg_Fall

Winter…same thing, the last two have been near (or at) the top of the chart:

Oregon_tavg_Winter

So there you have it…

Looking ahead, it appears to stay relatively mild as we finish up April and early May.  The ECMWF monthly run showed normal to above normal temperatures continuing over the Pacific Northwest.  Here are the 4 500mb height anomaly maps for each of the next 4 weeks, not much different than the last run:

And the associated surface temperature anomaly maps:

So no sign of a long period of below normal temps; the warm spring of 2016 will continue…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

30 Responses to Spring Getting Warmer? Not Yet, Except This Year!

  1. Boring Oregon says:

    Though it is a bit warm, we deserve it after that soggy winter. I planted my garden the Sunday before last and now have corn, beets, onions, and sunflowers sprouting. I’ve been watering them the last couple days but I’m sure they’ll still like the upcoming rain.

  2. W7ENK says:

    Welp, so much for yesterday being the hotter day.

    90.9 at my place yesterday.
    92.7 at my place today.

    I’ll likely never see back-to-back 90+ days here in April for the rest of my life!

  3. My alter ego says:

    What a beautiful day it is. Sunny and 86.

  4. EY (Oak Grove) says:

    Definitely running a bit cooler (HA!) here today. Seriously doubting we even get close to 90.

    But I could be wrong and would be happy to be wrong… Provided we do hit 88+

    • W7ENK says:

      Of course it’s cooler, today has always been forecast to be cooler.

    • Joshua Downtown PDX says:

      Not running cooler anymore. 85 at 3:00 matches yesterday.

    • EY (Oak Grove) says:

      Yeah, actually, it’s the same as it was 24 hours ago. Not only that, but it’s with a westerly wind…

      The heck is going on? Is it still too early for an East wind to REALLY warm the surface temp up? I AM SO CONFUSED I WILL CRY!

  5. Paul D says:

    Spring may not be warmer, but it’s been longer the past couple years. I usually start mowing my lawn about mid-March but last year and this year when I’ve started in mid-February.

    • Longview 400 ft says:

      Yes, very true!!! Same here. Mowing the yard in February, there is something very wrong about that. Not sure how to define that concept, but it is wrong. I guess I am thinking of a picture of frost and snow then to put a lawn mower next to those two is just wrong!!

    • Paul D says:

      It’s wrong because I enjoy the lack of yard work and expect to be free of it from mid-November to mid-March. I get cranky if I don’t get my full four months off 🙂

  6. W7ENK says:

    Good info Mark, thank you.

    No mention of that ULL off the N Cali coast and the possibility it throws moisture over top of this hot air tonight and tomorrow? Everyone’s been pretty hush-hush about it…

    Today:

    Tomorrow:

    Thursday:

    • Garron 1/3 of a mile from Hillsboro Airport says:

      That sounds fun! Was wondering if that was still possible for Wed?

    • W7ENK says:

      NWS just casually mentioned it in this morning’s AFD. Better chances over the Cascades — of course — but you know, no big deal…

      WILL ALSO MAINTAIN SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. THE BEST THREAT OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE FROM LATE WED AFTERNOON INTO THE EARLY EVENING AS THE UPPER TROUGH LIFTS NORTHWARD ACROSS NW OREGON…ESPECIALLY OVER THE CASCADES.

  7. ECMWF maps still looking very splitty in the medium-run. I bet we see more 70s, maybe another 80 or two, in the last few days of the month.

  8. Hit 89 and 90 on my two sensors in Hillsboro just southeast of the airport, definitely toasty for mid-April. Feels like we’re running about three weeks ahead of schedule on that first ‘heat wave’.

  9. DBurnett says:

    *made

  10. DBurnett says:

    I’m also disappointed that we didn’t reach 90 at PDX. I know that Mark never forecast 90 or hinted at the possibility, but it would have “Jupril” all worth it. But no, all I got was 87.

  11. DBurnett says:

    Had a pleasant ride this afternoon down Williams Avenue, the Peninsula Crossing trail, and St Johns. But oh man, the heat was awful. >(

  12. Tomorrow basically looks like a repeat of today for me, so that means another 80+ reading- I’ve never seen more than one successively here in April before. So there’s another record about to be broken. Also, comparing this April to last year’s: April 2015 had a near normal mean temperature. This year; it’s bound to be my warmest.

    • Not exactly a “repeat’ of yesterday after all; my high was 79F, so no 2 consecutive 80’s for April. Still, 79 is a pretty high reading for my location. In many a past April, I have seen the temperature barely go above 70 once or twice.

  13. JohnD says:

    Simply fascinating–as always. Thanks Mark.

    • Paul D says:

      Winter? We haven’t had a winter for a couple years now, and I have the savings on my energy bills to prove it.

    • ENSO forecasts for the coming winter at this stage in the year tend to have poor accuracy. I believe this has been covered either here or on Cliff Mass’s blog.

  14. Steven James says:

    First!

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