The hottest summer on record for Oregon and Salem
The summer of 2021 was the hottest on record in Salem and across the state.
The average temperature in Salem during June, July and August hit a record high of 71.7 degrees, the hottest since the records began in 1892, according to the National Weather Service of Portland. This broke the previous average record of 71.3 degrees, set in 2015.
This summer included the hottest months of June and July on record, with average temperatures in Salem reaching 69.5 and 73.3 degrees, respectively. These figures surpassed the previous records of June 2015 (69.3) and July 2015 (73.1). The summer of 2021 also marked the third hottest August in Salem history.
This summer’s record heat had serious consequences for Oregonians. More than 100 people died from the temperature during the heatwave in June. Large parts of the state have spent the summer in various phases of drought. These conditions threatened water resources and made the state more vulnerable to wildfires, which have so far burned about 800,000 acres this year.
Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, pointed out that the unusually warm July in Salem was one of the most notable heat events of this summer.
Bryant also pointed to the record-breaking heat wave at the end of June, which had Salem’s hottest daily high measured at 117 degrees. This topped the previous daily record of 9 degrees.
“The most important thing was the extreme pressure we had at the end of June which resulted in the new temperature records,” Bryant said of what made this summer unique.
Bryant added that the intensity of the event and the fact that it happened in June, instead of July or August, made the heat wave different than in the past.
The trends are similar across the state.
Larry O’Neill, the Oregon state climatologist, confirmed that the state’s average temperature of 67.7 degrees was the highest in NOAA records dating back to 1895. The summer of 2015, which previously held the record, was a degree cooler than 2021.
The state average for the 1900s is more than 5.5 degrees cooler than this year, O’Neill added.
O’Neill pointed out that prolonged spells of above normal temperatures were a major contributor to this summer’s record heat.
“Several cities in Oregon have had record or near record days with daytime highs of 90 ° F or more,” O’Neill explained in an email. “This means we’ve experienced long spells of well above normal heat, and it wasn’t just the only extreme heat wave in late June.”
In Salem, 41 days were recorded with temperatures above 90 degrees. This broke the 34-day record set over half a century ago, in 1958. Eugene, Burns and Klamath Falls also broke their records.
Another factor that contributed to these high average temperatures was at night.
“The statewide average nighttime minimum temperature was also the warmest on record,” O’Neill said.
Statewide, the average nighttime temperature was 52.2 degrees, 0.8 degrees warmer than the previous summer 2015 high. Historically, the average low has been about 5 degrees cooler than the average. of this year.