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Thursday, November 30, 2023
Nov. 30, 2023

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Vancouver in hot pursuit of heat record

Tuesday likely to bring 23rd day of 90-plus-degree heat in Vancouver, 4 shy of high mark

By , Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter

When local temperatures soar into the 90s Tuesday, 2015 will officially become the hottest summer on record in Portland by at least one measure.

The city will notch its 25th day above 90 degrees this year, breaking the previous record of 24 days, set in 2009.

Vancouver will have to wait for the same distinction. Vancouver is chasing a mark that has stood for more than a century. The city racked up 27 days of at least 90 degrees in 1906, according to the National Weather Service. As of Monday, this year’s tally stood at 22.

At least two more such days this week will push Vancouver’s total to 24 — and within three days of the record.

“I would say it’s a good possibility,” said Andy Bryant, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. “We can have highs into the 90s all the way into the middle of September.”

In Portland, official weather statistics only date back to 1940, when Portland International Airport became the main measuring station. The previous site in downtown Portland was simply too far away and too different to be considered a continuous record, Bryant said. So the numbers basically started over.

Long-standing practice

In Vancouver, the official record is kept at Pearson Field today. But weather measurements at what’s now the 78th Street Heritage Farm go back as far as 1891, Bryant said. Records are still kept there, and they’re comparable to the official numbers at Pearson, he said. That gives Vancouver a mostly uninterrupted archive that stretches almost 125 years.

“That’s not something that we have everywhere around here, and it’s very valuable,” Bryant said.

Weather observation techniques have changed considerably during that time. Collecting weather data used to require people to go out and check a thermometer or a rain gauge. Now, official measuring stations use automated equipment.

When will Vancouver have a chance to surpass its record for 90-degree days in a single year? It likely won’t happen this week. After back-to-back scorchers, temperatures are expected to settle back into the 70s by the end of the week, according to the weather service.

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