Summer 2019 Wrap; A Surprisingly Warm Summer

7pm Wednesday…

It feels like autumn outside and there’s no sign of a long warm & dry spell ahead.  Fall is here which has worked out just about right this year.

Officially fall arrives weather-wise on September 1st according to NOAA & the National Weather Service.  Traditionally of course we think of it starting with the Autumnal Equinox late next week.  Regardless, as meteorologists we consider summer to be June-July-August so let’s take a look back at Summer 2019.   The numbers might surprise you.

First, let’s get this out of the way…


That includes both urban and rural areas.  Even now I’ve seen people claim this was a “cool summer” or a “terrible summer” on social media.  That’s a ridiculous claim and not supported by facts.


In many areas west of the Cascades, this summer was WARMER than any summer before 1958.  A better way to state this?  In the 1930s-50s this would have been considered one of the the warmest summers on record!  That shows how our summer climate has warmed over time.    First image includes lowlands west of the Cascades between the Coast Range and Cascades.  Second image is coastal areas.  Data from NCEI.




Even though west of the Cascades it was in the top 1/3 of “warm summers”, this summer was COOLER than the past six.  The coolest since 2012.  That also tells you how crazy hot the past few summers have been.  This is likely the reason many of you think it was a “cool summer”.  But definitely not.  In fact check out the 80 degree days in Portland; a bit above average so far

80 Degree Days Yearly


Warm nights were the rule this summer.  Of course in the urban areas it’s hard to chart long-term climate trends for low temps since cities turn warmer as they grow.  I covered that in a post earlier this summer.  But even in rural areas there were plenty of warm nights.  Part of it was due to cloud cover, some likely due to the return of a warm “blob” of water in the Eastern Pacific, and some due to a warm airmass in general.  Here are the PDX numbers, of course heavily influenced by the urban heat island

60 Degree Nights Portland


It SEEMS like we had more partly cloudy or cloudy days right?  Especially in early-mid July.  I think that may be where the feeling of a “slow start to summer” began.  That said, if we take all of June through August, we saw FEWER totally cloudy days than average.  And a normal number of clear days.   Anecdotally I would say that’s true.  Many of our marine pushes off the Pacific Ocean were weak this entire warm season.  Fewer thick morning cloud cover days but maybe more partly cloudy days in the afternoons?  Just a guess.

Mark Cloudy Days Summer


No heatwaves!  This was a strange one.  We had two very hot days in early June, then two more at the end of August.  Otherwise no extended periods of hot weather.  Many times from late June onward the models tried to push a hot upper-level ridge in over us.  But it only happened twice. It was continuously mild to warm but no long stretches of 90+ days.  In fact as of today we’ve seen just 11 days at/above 90 degrees.  That’s FAR less than recent years.  That’s also a little below the 13-14 day average.

90 Degree Days Summer Heat


Remember those dramatic predictions of “another smoky summer ahead” by some in media and elsewhere?  I remember thinking at the time that it all depends on what happens DURING the summer, not leading up to summer (a dry late spring).  Sure enough, we had occasional cooldowns and even some showers here and there to keep things in check.  It shows you how important the heatwaves are (plus lightning) in getting the big fires started and growing.  As of right now, this fire season is pretty much dead.  Fuel moisture on the western side of the Mt. Hood National Forecast is at a record high for this time of year too.  So far, less than 200,000 acres have burned in Oregon and Washington; the lowest number since at least 2010.  I have a feeling that isn’t going to change much over the next three weeks.

Fire NW Summer Stats

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

27 Responses to Summer 2019 Wrap; A Surprisingly Warm Summer

  1. Mountain Man says:

    So…A little bit of climate discussion is surfacing again; can’t say Mark hasn’t instigated it in recent posts. How short our comfort zone and memories are that a closer to near normal summer seems like it’s a cool and cloudy summer. Maybe long time readers remember me. I don’t post a lot, but I read often. I lived in the foothills near Stevenson for many years, well over a decade there… and sometimes I give my two cents here. I also have a degree in climatology; no I don’t actively use it in my profession. I recently moved to near the entrance to the Mt. Rainier National park entrance. Let me tell you, I can’t remember a summer so either cool and damp or at times sticky and sweaty. My perception though might be altered by sevral hot dry smoke filled summers recently in the gorge? Regardless, urbanites seem to complain when they choose to be near the city. One could always choose to root in rural life. Life is better here! No, I’m not a, together we can change the world. I’m not a pecemist that thinks society will crash simply because of climate change in the next few decades. I don’t think you’re going to make a real significant difference with using less or driving an electric car either. I don’t think we can just chang the world, because we are to many and resources are to finite. I do think you can make a difference in terms of adapting to a changing world. If you have children, grandchildren or are moving in that direction, you can adapt to give the next generations a chance by what you teach them and leave behind for them. Regardless, if you’ve walked the Pacific northwest as long as I, you can see a different, the stressed vegetation or the retreating glaciers. However, your true power is not to complain about the weather or the climate, the power you have is to adapt to it and make changes for your future and the future of generations closest to you. We are not decidedly opinionated here on Mark’s weather blog and I enjoy the idea we often agree to disagree here. Not that what I say will matter, I just felt like saying it. Have a happy fall my fellow weather enthusiasts!

  2. Kyle Hill says:

    The false narrative of group A and B is making it hard to have any ‘discussion’ about climate change and as long as it’s pushed nothing at least nothing good will come out of it except for the richer rich above even the US rich.

  3. Kyle Hill says:

    Geezus FINALLY some smack talk about the ‘popular’ opinion. It takes Portland boiling before people seem to wake up and take their rose colored glasses off (no pun intended) Down here summer began early June or late May depending if you count that tiny bit of rain or not as a ‘break’. We had lots of days with the sun temps near 100F and walking in it felt it! You couldn’t be outside more then 10 mins without dying of sweat and the wood railing would be hot by mid morning.

    When I grew up it never felt hot till 2pm and by 11pm a flood of cool air would come down as if from the heavens. We never needed AC the climate has changed.

    It’s REALLY humid down here almost all the time (by Oregon standards). This week was a bad one.

    We have yet go below 50F at night.

  4. Joshua Lake Oswego says:

    Tomorrow and Tuesday are looking juicy. Might be a brown grass ender until next June.

  5. Roland Derksen says:

    Thursday’s amount of rainfall here was 0.84 inches, plus some additonal showers yesterday and through this morning. We’re going to get especially wet later today. The last time I saw over an inch on a day was on April 18th. Perhaps we’ll get more than that amount (1,28 in.)

  6. Lisa Nowak says:

    I can tell you why so many people feel it was a lousy summer. We had an inordinate number of cloudy mornings. This started back in May, when we woke to gloomy skies 19 out of 31 days. June had morning (or all day) clouds 19 out of 30 days. In both July and August, it was 15 out of 31 days. There was a four-week period, mid-June through mid-July, when almost none of the mornings were sunny.

    The trouble with so many of these weather statistics is that they don’t convey enough detail. You can’t get an accurate picture by simply saying a day was “partly cloudy.” My guess is that that can mean there was a combination of sun and clouds the whole day, there were morning clouds and afternoon sun, or there was a sunny morning with clouds moving in later. Each of these scenarios has a different effect on people’s moods.

    I don’t know what Portland’s summer average is for morning clouds, but we greatly exceeded this year. Waking to clouds for two-thirds of the days two months in a row, then half the days the next two months, can get pretty depressing.

    • Mike says:

      You know I am a prime example of how you meet all kinds of people in this life as I moved away from sun and heat to live in cloud country. I love it when cloudy, rainy and peaceful. Wonderful days for rest or hibernation Those days when its cloudy no rain are excellent days to get a lot done outside without suffering in heat.

      • Lisa Nowak says:

        Actually, I really enjoy our cloudy and rainy days for the most part. They can be very soothing. But in the summer, I like to get enough sunny mornings that I truly appreciate those cloudy days when they return in the fall.

    • Paul D says:

      And we deserved a summer like this one after the past few brutally hot ones which kept setting records for all the heat they had. People who want guaranteed sun all summer long live in the wrong part of the country.

  7. OLIVER WATSON says:

    Hey how come my comment didn’t get posted yesterday?

  8. W7ENK says:

    Intensity of the rain woke me up a bit after 3 this morning. By the time I left the house at 6, had a third of an inch in the bucket. Was hoping we’d get some thunder, I guess everyone from Longview to the Canada border got a pretty good show last night. Thanks again, Dome.

    • No thunder and lightning here in Bellingham on the morning of the 13th or the evening of the 12th, for what it’s worth.

      • W7ENK says:

        That’s odd, I have a long-time friend who lives in B-ham who said on Facebook she heard thunder near her place around 7:30 or so Thursday evening. I don’t know where exactly she’s located, but I do know she has a killer view of Mt. Baker!

  9. Paul D says:

    Love all the facts to show those people who say this was a crappy summer. It was awesome IMHO because we had ZERO 100+ days and no long 90+ heatwaves!

    • And those who deny that the climate is warming.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was a very crappy summer for the exact reasons Lisa explained above. We are lucky, so sad to say, that we get 3 nice months for summer and when a lot of the days start out cloudy that does indeed make it a crappy summer. Now look at that stacked 7 day of clouds and rain, which in turn will be the norm for the next 9 months is crappy. Crap all around, Portland’s bipolar weather is tiring.

  10. John Hulden says:

    Thanks for the summer recap Mark. Although I rarely comment, I check the blog daily and have for 6 or 7 years. I enjoy it and hope it continues for a long time to come.

  11. Roland Derksen says:

    This pretty well sums up the way I saw the summer as well; Especially the part about the previous 6 summers being warmer than this one. It may have felt cool in comparison to those years, but it still was well above the long term average.

  12. Steve Mills says:

    I’ve been here for almost 30 years. I remember what summer was like in the 90s and early 2000s; MUCH more comfortable! This is the first summer – in what has felt like an eternity – that I’m actually VERY happy with. Perfect amounts of rain and cloudy days, no ridiculous heatwaves and no fire-smoke!! Mark nailed it.

    I think the people complaining are either new to the area or can’t remember back far enough on how it used to be. Mark is also right, it was still relatively warm. Back in the 90s, I don’t remember anybody owning air conditioners in Portland, but it’s been almost impossible to survive without one over the last decade and this summer is certainly no exception… my A/C was going nearly every day.

    • Lisa Nowak says:

      I’ve been here for over fifty years, and I DO remember our summers. The temps were cooler in those days, but we didn’t have 1/2 to 2/3rds of the mornings starting out cloudy. That’s what got to me, not the temperatures. Though I will say morning clouds do have an affect on how the temperatures progress throughout the day. You can have an 80 degree day where the sun doesn’t come out until 3:00, and it’s not as pleasant as a 75 degree day where it’s sunny from the start and the temperature gradually rises instead of getting warm all at once late in the day.

  13. W7ENK says:

    Yes, some interesting numbers. Thanks Mark!

  14. Gene says:

    Very interesting info, Mark — thanks for taking the time to put it all together for us

  15. JERAT416 says:

    It was a great summer! I’m glad to see fall start but man it happened quickly this time.

  16. Ms. Mac says:

    I loved this summer. Growing up in Portland in the 1950s and 60s, I hated our cool summers. I wanted to wear shorts at night, not long pants and a sweater. I wanted to go to the rivers and lakes. But as I have aged, I hated the past 6-7 years of excessive heat. This year was perfect: could still wear shorts at night but didn’t swelter all day. .

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