I've lived in Tri-Cities for the last twenty years and a lot has changed in the time I've been here. When my family moved from Iowa to Tri-Cities, my parents kept telling me that the weather would be much nicer. When I talked to my mom recently about the move, she reinforced that the weather was a draw for her. She grew up on the Oregon Coast and is not a heat fan. Tri-Cities was a compromise, something my parents could agree on. My dad spent his young adult life here and for my mother, Washington was a lot closer to Oregon than Iowa.

Iowa covered in snow. Photo by Austin Johnson on Unsplash
Iowa covered in snow. Photo by Austin Johnson on Unsplash
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So, about that whole weather thing. I vividly remember Iowa summers as being hot and muggy. The moisture in the air just made you feel gross the hotter it got. Iowa winters were worse. I remember reading the temperature on the electronic sign outside of Guthrie County State Bank on State Street and seeing it say 9 °F. I remember the snowfall when I couldn't go to school in the winter without wearing snow pants. So, when my parents told me that "mild weather" awaited me in Washington, I was ready for the move. Forget friends, I don't need to be buried alive in the snow!

Washington didn't look too different from Iowa at first. Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash
Washington didn't look too different from Iowa at first. Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash
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So, here we are twenty years later. While my parents were correct about the weather when we moved, it's gotten worse since I've been here. The summers are nowhere near mild, even if the winters aren't as bad as in the midwest. Hear me now when I say the winters aren't great, though. The winter of 2018-2019 will be in my mind permanently. The winter of 2016-2017 wasn't a slouch, either. Please see the attached photo with my wife for scale.

Pete Christensen
Pete Christensen
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Let's throw some numbers around. While Iowa still runs a little colder than Tri-Cities, the summer months stand out. See for yourself and before you say "it's a dry heat," I  don't want to hear it.

Courtesy of Weather Spark
Courtesy of Weather Spark
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Risk Factor is a nice tool to see what the environment is like in an area. It's good to use if you're looking to move to a state you don't know much about. While Tri-Cities is mostly fine in regards to wildfire and flood risk, the heat is another issue. 30 years ago, Tri-Cities had a 29% chance of having a heat wave, 3 days of temperatures over 100 °F. That chance has now bumped up to 65% and will reach 89% in another 30 years.

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Do you remember when Tri-Cities saw several days of a single week fall in the top ten hottest days in its history? It felt like the longest week of my life. My wife, who was eight months pregnant, was not having a good time. What sucks is that's what we've been expecting for future summers. We've started to become numb to the hotness, and it's not a good kind of hotness. It's just a thought, but I think it's time to stop saying Tri-Cities has mild weather because the summers, at least, are far from it.

Hottest 10 Days in Tri-Cities History

The summer of 2021 was one for the record books in Tri-Cities, Washington. Many thought that the area would see the hottest day in history. See how hot June of 2021 was to the rest of Tri-Cities' recorded history. Note that these temperatures are recorded by the Tri-Cities' official weather station, so it may have been actually hotter.

The Top 11 Hottest Spots in Tri-Cities For Panhandlers

It seems to me that I've been seeing much more of the homeless community in the Tri-Cities over the past two years. I'm not sure how much of that is due to the pandemic. I see someone panhandling close to every day, and it's usually at one of these locations.