Exploring the Most Extreme Days in Washington State's History - Who Remembers?

So summer is heating up here in the Tri-Cities and we could see temps as high as 105 over the next few days.

Unveiling Washington State's Top 5 Most Unforgettable Weather Events

But do you recall a few weather events that set some records back in the day in Washington State?

There have been some unforgettable days that you might remember especially the heatwave that hit Hanford a few years back.

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The Office of Washington State Climatologist (OWSC) helped me compile these five historical episodes where Washington's weather stole the front page, showcasing the awe-inspiring and occasionally daunting power of nature in the Evergreen State.


1. The Blistering Sizzle of the Hanford Furnace ( June 29, 2021)

When the mercury soared to an unprecedented 120°F (48.9°C) at the Hanford Site, June 29 2021 marked the hottest temperature ever recorded in Washington State.

Shimmering asphalt was evidence of the exceptional heat's perilous side, but for residents and weather enthusiasts alike, it was a day that etched its name in the record books.

Photo by Justin Cron on Unsplash
Photo by Justin Cron on Unsplash

2. The Frosty Gasp of Methow Valley ( December 30th, 1968)

On December 30th, 1968, the tiny towns of Mazama and Winthrop in the Methow Valley experienced a frigid freeze, with temperatures plummeting to a bone-chilling -48°F (-44.4°C), setting the record for the lowest temperature in Washington State.

 3. The Deluge of Mount Mitchell (November 23rd - 24th 1986)

Mount Mitchell, became the stage for the state's wettest 24-hour period on 23-24 November 1986, as a mammoth 14.26 inches (362 mm) of rain poured down upon the peak and its neighboring landscape.

Photo by Kaitlan Balsam on Unsplash
Photo by Kaitlan Balsam on Unsplash

4. The Snow Tsunami of Crystal Mountain (February 24th 1994)

Perhaps no other extreme weather event is as synonymous with Washington as its precipitation, and February 24th, 1994 epitomizes this connection.

At Crystal Mountain, an astonishing 65 inches (165 cm) of snow fell within 24 hours, earning its place as the largest one-day snowfall total in Washington State history.

 5. The White World of Rainier Paradise (March 9th and 10th 1956)

When the snowflakes descended upon Rainier Paradise, they did so with an unyielding insistence, amassing to a depth of 367 inches (931 cm) on March 9th and 10th 1956, and marking the highest recorded snow depth in Washington State history.

The five episodes recounted here are but a sampling of Washington State’s diverse weather legacy. You can read about some more amazing Washington State weather records here.

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