City News

Salem’s summer tied for hottest on record

This summer in Salem has been hot. In fact, it’s been near-record breaking. 

High temperatures in July and August made this the hottest summer in Salem on record, tying with last summer, according to the National Weather Service.

The next hottest were in by 2014, 2015, and 2017. 

“So the five warmest (summers) combined on record have happened since 2013,” said Colby Newman, meteorologist for the Weather Service’s Portland office, on Tuesday.

This will come as no surprise to Salem residents, who have endured 27 days at more than 90 degrees since late June, and six days at more than 100 degrees. 

The highest temperature recorded this summer was 103 degrees on both July 26th and July 30th. That’s below the record-breaking temperatures set during the 2021 heat dome, where at least five Marion County residents died from heat-related causes, and the local mercury hit 117 degrees on June 28. 

However, July and August this summer both tied for the hottest month at an average high of 87.7 degrees, surpassing the historical averages of 83.5 and 83.6 degrees, respectively.

June was a cooler month with an average recorded high of 74.7, on par with the historical average of 74.6 degrees. It also had the most rainfall of the three months, which was more than usual: 3.83 inches against the average 2.30 inches for that time of year.

July and August were dry, as usual, but still had less rain than average with 0.1 inches for July compared to the yearly average of 0.25 inches, and 0.15 inches in August compared to the 0.39 average.

Along with rainfall, there are a few key factors to why this summer burned hotter than others, according to meteorologists.

“Just in the last 10 to 20 years, forecasters here have noticed that we have a lot more days where the dew point is higher (so) the relative humidity is higher,” Newman said. 

This year has been more humid than usual, which means there has been less opportunity for the evenings to cool down. The eastern Pacific Ocean also warmed this summer.

“It’s only a couple degrees warmer than the average over a broad area, but that makes a big difference in allowing it to be more humid,” and putting more moisture in the atmosphere, Newman said.

“The weather pattern this year may or may not be necessarily a result of something on a more global scale,” said Newman. “But certainly the signal of these happening and one summer after another does point to a larger root cause.”

It’s likely that the Salem area and Pacific Northwest will continue to see hot summers in the future due to ongoing climate change. A report published in June 2022 by the Oregon Climate Research Institute projects that Marion County specifically will experience more heat waves. 

“Climate change is expected to increase the occurrence of many climate related natural hazards,” the report says. “Confidence that the risk of heat waves will increase is very high.”

The Future Climate Projections report goes on to state that the “number, duration, and intensity of extreme heat events is expected to increase as temperatures continue to warm.” In Marion County, the number of extremely hot days (90 degrees or higher) are projected to increase by about 16 days a year, to be about five to 27 days of high heat by the 2050s. 

The Salem area experienced 27 days at more than 90 degrees already this summer.

Salem residents can expect another round of hot temperatures and winds this weekend, but the weather service forecasts cooler weather starting next week and into fall. 

“Just the way the season is changing so fast this time of the year, the sun angle is changing so fast, daylight is changing relatively quickly, our window for seeing the really hot temperatures is quickly waning at this point,” Newman said.

Contact reporter Jordyn Brown at [email protected].

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Jordyn Brown is an Oregon journalist who formerly worked for the Eugene Register-Guard.