Warm month for Puget Sound region likely a record

  • Sat Jan 30th, 2010 5:05pm
  • News

By Eric Stevick Herald Writer

January’s unusually warm temperatures just might be record-setting.

Through Thursday, the average temperature at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was 46.9 degrees, which would top the previous record of 46.6 in 2006. Records have been kept there since 1945.

In a typical January, the average temperature at the airport is 40.9 degrees and the average high temperature is 47 degrees. In other words, this January’s average temperature is close to the average high temperature for the month in previous years.

Many parts of Western Washington, such as Seattle, Olympia and Bellingham, are nearing record marks for January.

“Snohomish County, just like Seattle, has been unusually warm,” said Doug McDonnal, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The Weather Service doesn’t have long-term temperature records from Snohomish County.

The warmer-than-normal weather can largely be attributed to El Nino, McDonnal said. El Nino is a cyclical warming of the east part of the Pacific Ocean that upends weather patterns all over North America every few years.

It was particularly evident on Jan. 19, when temperatures reached 60 degrees.

That’s a big difference from 1950, the coldest January on record when the average temperature was below freezing at 30.7 degrees.

While the temperature is up, rainfall is down. A typical January brings an average of 23.4 inches. This January has seen 19.36 inches as of Friday afternoon.

January’s warm temperatures also might mean some subtle changes in people’s daily livesm with early dandelions, crane flies and blooming flowers, said Sharon Collman, an Everett-based Washington State University extension agent.

“As soon as crocuses are open on a decent day, I can usually find bumblebees on them,” she said.

January’s warm temperatures also could mean more fleas and yellow jackets this summer.

If warm trends continue, each queen yellow jacket would have more time to lay eggs and could produce as many as 5,000 yellow jacket workers, Collman said.

Collman recommends vacuuming more now to deal with fleas later and be on the lookout for the queen yellow jackets.

People also might start noticing more dirt mounds in their front lawns than usual as moles follow the worms they eat closer the warming ground surface.

The weekend should continue to bring temperatures that are milder than usual in January.

The Everett forecast for today is an average temperature of 42 with a high of 49 degrees.

Sunday’s average temperature is forecast for 41 degrees with a high of 47.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

Temperatures

Temperatures in January could set a record for the month, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Through Thursday night, the average January temperature is 46.9 at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Previous high averages were:

46.6 in 2006

46.4 in 1995

45.7 in 2003

44.9 in 1983

44.9 in 1994

The coldest average was 30.7 in 1950.