SEATTLE (AP) — Flowers are blossoming. Bees are buzzing. The sky is blue. Sunsets have been stunning. Temperatures have crept north of 60 degrees, and joggers are going shirtless.
This isn’t a typical February in the Pacific Northwest.
While the Northeast is buried under snow, the opposite corner of the country has been hosting the opposite of the winter weather spectrum. The Northwest has had a record breaking winter, but for warm temperatures.
On Monday, record highs hit parts of Washington and Oregon as one of the mildest winters continues in the Northwest.
The National Weather Service reported record highs of 59 at Sea-Tac Airport, 60 at Olympia, 62 at Hoquiam, 62 at Vancouver, 61 in Portland, 62 at Hillsboro, Oregon, and 66 at Salem, Oregon.
Tuesday was another sunbathed day as a summer-like high pressure ridge that creates sunny, dry days, settled in the region.
“Typically when there is a big ridge over the West Coast, it happens when there is a big trough over the East Coast. So when they get their bad weather, often we get the good weather,” said Kirby Cook, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Forecasters say the ridge may weaken enough Wednesday for some clouds, and a chance of light rain and mountain snow Thursday and Friday. But the high pressure is expected to rebuild over the weekend and into next week.
That means more mild temperatures, which have spelled headaches for skiers and snowboarders. Nearly ski resorts in Western Washington have partially closed their operations or shut down completely. There hasn’t been enough snow.
That’s a result of El Nino, the weather phenomenon that warms the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean. Usually when El Nino is around, the Northwest gets drier winters and wetter falls.
Although this year, Cook said El Nino went from weak to neutral.
Still, the impact is felt throughout the region.
At a garden store in Seattle, foot traffic of eager gardeners has come early this year.
“Usually this time of the year in Seattle it’s dreary and drizzly, we’re pretty slow. But we’ve definitely been seeing a lot more inspiration in gardeners. Veggies are growing in the ground early. We’re seeing plums and cherries are already in full bloom,” said James Raebel, landscape designer who works at the Magnolia Garden Center.
That’s good news for Raebel’s job, but as a passionate skier, this winter has also brought bummer news.
“It’s been a terrible, terrible snow year. It’s rough, but it’s good, at least, in half of my life,” he said.
Meteorologist Cook cautioned, though, that last year, the region also had a mild winter at the beginning.
“The weather can make up for shortfalls,” he said.
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