Heat Wave

    The sun always comes out in Portland, Oregon.

    I know that that they may seem like an oxymoron, what with our reputation for rain and gloom out here. But, a bright, warm, sunshiny day in Portland? There’s nothing like it—and they’re not quite as rare as many would lead you to believe.

    Though the warm weather is relatively short-lived, with the hottest time of the year being mid-June through early September, Summers in Portland are warm, often arid and sunny. The annual rainfall totals in Portland is about 36 inches, but during these hot months, only about four and a half inches fall. So, while most of the year it’s wet and damp, these Summer months are dry and warm. These are the months when, as a kid, my dad would lay on our back deck without his shirt on and soak up the sun his California upbringing accustomed him tool. These are the months when the smell of freshly mowed grass and barbecue permeate the air and the lakes and rivers fill with boats and people.

    In Portland, the warmest month is August, with an average high temperature of just over eighty one degrees. Because we lie seventy miles from the Oregon Coast, Portland summers are less susceptible to the moderating influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean. As a result, Portland experiences heat waves on rare occasion, with temperatures rising into the nineties for a few days. In fact, I remember some summers as a kid, where the heat was so intense and constant that I counted the days back to the gloom and rain and occasional snow of winter. However, these heat waves are rare. On average, temperatures reach or exceed eighty on only fifty-six days per year, of which twelve days will reach into the nineties, with one or two days reaching triple digits. Most of the time, though, the Summer temperatures in Portland are warm enough to enjoy the plethora of outdoor activities available here, yet still comfortable and fairly moderate.

    The most ninety plus days ever recorded in one year is thirty-one, which happened last year, in 2018. The highest temperature ever recorded in Portland was a sauna-like one hundred and seven degrees, on July 30, 1965. This temperature reached on two other occasions on August 8 and 10, 1981. The warmest recorded overnight low was seventy-four on July 28, 2009. However most summer nights drop into a cool enough temperature that the nights can be enjoyed and sleep will not be disturbed.

    In Portland, you may not need an air conditioner very often, but during those warm, summer months, you’ll find yourself dipping in the Willamette, soaking up the sun, or just enjoying brews and burgers in your backyard. There’s nothing quite like Portland in the Summer time.

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