The Seattle summer has already been brutal, and that was before the record-breaking heat wave of the end of June 2021.
Usually, Seattle calls it June-uary. Historically, the beginning of summer comes into the Emerald City on a carpet of fog and rain and only gradually heats up into a golden, glowing August. The average high temperature in Seattle, until the last decade, was just 74 degrees. The June high record for the entire state is 113, and that was over on the eastern desert side of the mountains, not in Seattle.
On June 16, Seattle sweltered under 93 degrees before a brief respite of foggy mornings and even rain, but as the last weekend in June approached, forecasters were warning of triple-digit temperatures to come.
Seattle, which usually has a sea breeze cooling it from Elliot Bay and Admiralty Inlet, has only recorded three days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in its history, with a record high of 103 degrees in 2009. The National Weather Service had predicted a possible 105 on June 28–and the city hit that dubious milestone.
While readers from interior and southern states might be laughing at the Pacific Northwest panicking at these numbers, it’s worth remembering that out of all major American cities, Seattle has the fewest air conditioners. Fewer than 40 percent of homes in the metro area have AC, and portable air conditioning units for windows and rooms sell out in all local retailers earlier and earlier every summer.
“If you’re keeping a written list of the records that will fall, you might need a few pages by early next week,” NWS Seattle tweeted, as it announced that the Seattle summer had already tied a record Friday for the highest morning-low temperature.
Libraries in Seattle and surrounding areas offered extended hours to provide air conditioning to those who don’t have it at home (and to those who don’t have a home to take shelter in), including on Sunday when they are usually closed. Sports events were rescheduled, and even outdoor COVID-19 vaccination clinics were canceled. The state is also bracing for a significant wildfire season as the dry, hot air desiccates forests, which are already dry due to drought conditions.