For the third day in a row, Seattle broke a heat record.
The temperature in Seattle reached 83 degrees Saturday, after Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reached 86 degrees Friday, breaking the old record of 80 degrees set in 1993, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service.
The high on Thursday was recorded at 83 degrees, surpassing the previous record high of 81 degrees set in 1987.
Saturday, however, was only a record-breaking day within Seattle’s city limits. Across the rest of the region, temperatures approached but didn’t break any records.
The wave of warm weather is due to an offshore flow bringing heat from the interior of the North American land mass to the Puget Sound, according to weather service meteorologist Dana Felton.
In addition, this is only the third time in 75 years that it hasn’t rained in the first 10 days of May, setting the stage for increased risk of drought and an early and devastating wildfire season, according to the weather service and the state Department of Natural Resources.
Marine air is likely to reach the interior Puget Sound by Sunday, dropping temperatures into the mid- to lower 70s.
“It will still be warmer than normal, but it will be 10 to 15 degrees cooler on Sunday and Monday” than on Saturday, Felton said.
By late Tuesday, or on Wednesday, forecasters are expecting a cooler and wetter stretch that’s likely to extend into the following weekend.
“There will definitely be some wet areas Thursday through Sunday,” Felton said.
Despite the expected precipitation, and despite April rainfall that was slightly above average, the region finished up the water year — which runs from the beginning of October through the end of April — about 3 inches below normal. During the water year, we logged 28.63 inches of water, compared with more than 37 inches last year, Felton said, calling it a “huge difference.”
Karin Bumbaco, the assistant state climatologist at the University of Washington, said that while there are no state-designated droughts going on in Western Washington, that’s in part because the state has a precise legal definition of drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor still indicates that much of the region is “abnormally dry.”
In addition to having less rain than usual in the lowlands, snowpack is abnormally low for the season, and every stream in Western Washington is much lower than usual, Bumbaco said.
This May isn’t expected to be as warm and dry as last year’s, which was the warmest May ever recorded in Seattle. However, Bumbaco said, the longer-term outlook predicts warmer-than-normal temperatures through the rest of spring and summer.
The fact that it’s been unusually dry and warm in late winter and early spring this year bodes poorly for wildfire concerns, said Janet Pearce, a spokesperson for the state Department of Natural Resources.
The department’s Western Washington fire managers have reported active fire behavior in both the northern and southern regions, she said.
“Due to the dry, warmer weather, this weekend has us on alert in case more fires occur,” she wrote in an email on Thursday.
She said the department has already responded to about 240 fires, and more than half of those have been on the west side of the state, which is historically rare.
“We’re extremely concerned for the west side this year as we have so much fuel, meaning lush and abundant brush and trees,” Pearce said. “We’re asking the public to please use caution this weekend while playing outdoors, and report any fire or smoke to 911.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of DNR spokesperson Janet Pearce.