Does anyone really know how hot it is?

by | Jun 28, 2021 | Miscellaneous | 1 comment

One final update, Monday, 9:30 p.m.: Kyle Odegard has posted a story at the Gazette-Times site where he boldly makes the claim that Sunday stands alone as the hottest day on record in the mid-valley — and he points to something I didn’t previously know to make the case. I had mentioned that the previous mark in the mid-valley was 109 degrees, set on July 8, 1905. But there’s an important caveat to that mark: At the time, Oregon State University’s weather-monitoring station was on campus; it didn’t move to OSU’s Hyslop Farm property off Highway 20 until the 1950s. So, considering that Hyslop readings generally are cooler than those taken in town, it stands to reason that the 109 reading on campus in 1905 was a little hotter than it would have been out at Hyslop — meaning that Sunday’s reading at Hyslop of 109 (or maybe 110; see below) stands alone as the single hottest day in the mid-valley.

One discrepancy remains: Odegard quotes Larry O’Neill, the Oregon state climatologist, as saying that the Hyslop reading on Sunday topped off at 110 degrees. But the Hyslop site itself says that the “observation max” was 109 degrees; it does say that the “ground level max” was 110. So, I’m hoping someone can explain whether the “ground level max” or the “observation max” is the figure we should use when determining these weather records.

In any event, I think it’s probably true that Sunday was the single hottest day on record in the mid-valley. And here’s a story from The New York Times that explains how it likely won’t be too long until we set another record.

Update, Monday, 10 a.m.: The Oregon State University weather station at Hyslop Farm has updated its temperature readings for the weekend. Sunday topped out at 109, which I think ties the mid-valley’s all-time heat mark, set on July 8, 1905. (See below for my reasoning.) Saturday came in at a mere 101. Monday should be a little cooler, with a projected high of 95, but the National Weather Service’s Excessive Heat Warning remains in effect until 11 p.m.

Like everyone else in the mid-valley, I spent most of the weekend watching the weather app on my smartphone just to see if the dire heat warnings forecasters were issuing were on the mark — and, of course, they were.

But have the high temperatures of this weekend officially set all-time mid-valley records?

It depends on how you define “official.”

Because Albany and Corvallis don’t have “official” National Weather Service weather stations (the nearest ones are in Salem and Eugene), the closest thing we have to official mid-valley weather stats come from the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences’ station at Hyslop Farm, on Granger Road just off Highway 20 between the two cities. Temperature readings at Hyslop tend to be a little cooler than those taken in either city. Hyslop doesn’t update its weekend weather statistics until Monday morning, so we’ll have to wait until then to see what the temperature was at that site on Saturday and Sunday.

Which begs the question: What’s the record to beat? That takes a little bit of internet sleuthing, which I was happy to do on Sunday instead of the work that I actually needed to do. I tracked down a Gazette-Times story from 2017 reporting that the highest temperature recorded at Hyslop was 108 degrees on Aug. 10, 1981.

But then I found another site reporting a higher temperature: 109 on July 8, 1905. And I found confirmation of that reading from a site maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Check it out: 109 degrees on July 8, 1905.

As I write, my weather app is reporting a temperature of 107 degrees and it’s a little past 5 p.m. on Sunday. My guess is that the temperatures Hyslop reports on Monday morning will be a little less than that, and so the weekend seems unlikely to break all-time mid-valley weather records. Which, of course, is not to say that this weather doesn’t pose a very real risk to health — so be sure to follow the Weather Service’s recommendations for how to stay safe in scorching weather. (The Weather Service’s Excessive Heat Warning remains in effect until 11 p.m. Monday.)

But did the weekend’s temperatures set a personal heat mark — that is, were they the hottest days I’ve personally endured? I checked the records for the two cities where I’ve previously lived — Great Falls and Missoula, Montana, and found (according to a site called ClimateSpy) that the hottest day on record in Great Falls was 104, set on three separate occasions. (Truthfully, that seems low to me.) The hottest day on record in Missoula was 107.1 on July 7, 2007. Now, I wasn’t in either city on any of those days, but the idea was just to see if any day in either city was hotter than this weekend in Corvallis. I’m just about ready to declare (pending the Hyslop numbers, of course) that this weekend has set a personal heat record.

And if not, I have little interest in giving it another try.

1 Comment

  1. Curt Wright

    It might be just a faulty memory on my part, but I recall it being 105° in Corvallis on July 20, 2005 – the day we moved here from Orcas Island, where it never got above a balmy 75°.


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