Largest wildfire on record, hottest summer in quarter century

By Hannah Shirley, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

AgWeatherNet-logo-120PULLMAN, Wash. – July 2014 was unusually sweltering, even by summer standards, as much of central and eastern Washington experienced the hottest month in at least a quarter century.

“July of 2014 easily surpassed July 1998 by one degree to claim the title of hottest month since records began in 1989,” said AgWeatherNet meteorologist Nic Loyd. “Prosser’s monthly mean high temperature was 93.2 degrees, which is nearly 5 degrees above normal for July.”

A Web-based, publicly available system, AgWeatherNet ( provides access to near real-time weather data and value-added products from Washington State University’s statewide weather network, along with decision aids for agricultural producers and other users.

The state also suffered through its largest wildfire on record last month as the Carlton Complex fire burned more than 400 square miles.

“In 2014, wildfires have exacted an abnormally harsh and direct toll on Washington agricultural interests,” AgWeatherNet Director Gerrit Hoogenboom said. “There were numerous reports from north central Washington of scorched orchards, dead livestock and disrupted operations as a result of the raging fires.”

A long hot spell caused central and eastern Washington to bake under scorching temperatures for a week in early to mid-July. Temperatures on July 16 topped out at 109 degrees at the Tri-Cities.

Conditions were also anomalously humid on July 12 and 13, which only added to the discomfort of the air mass. Wahluke Slope recorded an unpleasant overnight low temperature of 84 degrees on July 13.

Another major heat wave arrived at the end of the month, bringing widespread triple digit heat to areas east of the Cascades.

The only notable deviation from the relentlessly hot and smoky conditions occurred July 23 and 24, as an unusually strong storm brought rain, thunderstorms and cool daytime highs to Washington. At Lawrence, 1.51 inches of rain fell on July 23. Meanwhile, the high temperature at Thorp, near Ellensburg, reached only 66 degrees July 24.

Overall, it was a hot and somewhat dry July in Washington. One of the only exceptions was the coast, which maintained a consistent enough onshore wind component to avoid unusually hot weather.


Nic Loyd, WSU AgWeatherNet meteorologist, 509-786-9357,