If there are two words to describe the memorable weather in Western Washington in 2015, they’d be warm and wet.
At least 40 records were broken at Sea-Tac Airport, nearly two-thirds of them for heat. The others were for rain, though wind and snow each got a single record.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service summed it up this way: “2015 will be remembered as a warm, dry year with a poor mountain snowpack that turned wet and occasionally windy in the closing two months with a rebound of mountain snow.”
Snowfall didn’t break any records outside of Snoqualmie Pass, which celebrated its snowiest December, but there was significantly more snow in the Cascades and Olympics than last season.
Never miss a local story.
Still, heat repeatedly stole the headlines.
The average temperature for Sea-Tac Airport was 55.8 degrees, beating last year’s record of 55. The average high was 63.5, one degree warmer than last year’s record.
The average low was 48, barely inching past last year’s record of 47.5.
An 18-month streak of above-normal temperatures concluded in September when the average temperature dropped to 60.5 degrees, which is 0.8 degrees lower than usual.
It was dry and warm until the end of the year, when rain took over the record-setting. Sea-Tac Airport ended the year with 43.86 inches of rain. The normal annual rainfall is 37.49 inches.
December ended up being the eighth-wettest of any month. The wettest month was November 2006, when 15.63 inches of rain fell.
Last month also was the second-wettest December, with 11.21 inches of rain, well above the normal 5.25 inches. The record for the month was set in 1979 with 11.85 inches.
“That’s pretty good when you double your precipitation,” said Art Gaebel, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Seattle. “That sticks out to you.”
There were 10 weather-related deaths and five injuries, mostly from wind. Damage from wind and floods passed $45 million — much of it stemmed from an Aug. 29 windstorm.
Two tornadoes touched down in the state, which is normal. One traveled 4 miles through Gig Harbor on Jan. 18. The other hit Battle Ground on Dec. 10.
Here are some records set at Sea-Tac Airport in 2015. The Weather Service started keeping track of records in 1890.
▪ Despite December’s rain, the thermostat stayed higher than usual. It had the warmest start for the month with an average temperature of 48 degrees on Dec. 1.
▪ Dec. 8 was a record-setting day. It recorded a maximum temperature of 60 and a record high minimum temperature of 50, as well as record rainfall for that date with 1.92 inches. That made it the ninth-wettest day in the last decade.
▪ A record high for Dec. 9 reached 60 degrees, replacing a 1957 record of 59 degrees.
▪ This was the first time the thermostat reached 60 in two consecutive Decembers.
▪ This year boasted the most days with 90 degrees or warmer with 12 days. It displaced the 1958 record of nine days.
▪ 2015 also had the most days of 80 degrees or higher with 51 days, which we reached in August. The previous record was 47 days in 1958.
▪ There also were more 70-degree days than ever before with 116, beating out 1992 when there were 115 days.
▪ Oct. 1 became the warmest October day at 89 degrees, upping the ante by 6 degrees from 1987. There have been only 11 October days higher than 80 since 1891.
▪ On Oct. 18, forecasters noted there had been 17 straight days of above normal minimum temperatures.
▪ The third-coldest Sept. 6 rang in this year at 60 degrees, coming behind 57 degrees in 1947 and 58 degrees in 1985.
▪ August was the warmest month ever recorded in Seattle with an average temperature of 71.2, barely scooting past 71.1 degrees from August 1967.
▪ It was the warmest July on record with an average temperature of 71.2 degrees, beating the 2009 record of 69.5.
▪ A record high temperature for July 31 was recorded at 94 degrees. The old record was 93 degrees in 1965.
▪ A record high for July 19 tied a 1988 mark of 95 degrees.
▪ A record high for July 4 was 92 degrees, beating out the 1972 record of 91 degrees.
▪ A record high for July 3 reached 92 degrees, replacing the old record from 1972 of 90 degrees.
▪ It was the warmest June through August with an average high temperature of 80.2 degrees. The old record was 77.7 degrees in 1961.
▪ It was the warmest June with an average temperature of 67.6 degrees. The previous record of 64.9 degrees was set in 1992.
▪ The June 28 record warm low for that date hit 65, tying it for the fourth warmest low in June. The old record was 62 degrees in 1995.
▪ June 27 was the first 90-degree day of the year, breaking the record high for that date.
▪ The average minimum temperature for March 1 impressed forecasters when it set an all-time high of 43 degrees, breaking the 1958 record of 41.7 degrees.
▪ It was the warmest March on record with an average temperature of 50.5 degrees. The old record was set in 1992 with an average temperature of 50.3.
▪ February was the warmest February with an average monthly temperature of 48.8 degrees. The previous record was 48.7 degrees set in 1977.
▪ A record high for Jan. 26 reached 60 degrees, beating out the old record of 58 degrees, set in 2003 and 1995.
▪ A record high for Jan. 25 tied 1986 with 58 degrees.
▪ It was the second warmest January on record.
▪ This year marked the highest number of days — 14 — to receive 1 inch or more of rain. Usually the region sees five days a year with 1 inch or more precipitation.
Those 14 days totaled 17.75 inches of rain, which is 45 percent of the annual total. The previous record was nine days in 1996 and 2006.
▪ With 6.34 inches of rain in the first half of the month, it was the wettest start to any December.
▪ A speed record rang in on Dec. 11 for fastest time to reach 6 inches of rain, replacing the mark set in 1946 and tied in 2010 of 14 days. The average monthly total for December is 5.35 inches.
▪ More rain fell Dec. 7 in 2015 than any other year on that date, totaling 1.08 inches. The old record was 0.88 inches in 1968.
▪ Halloween had record rainfall for that date with 1.30 inches, replacing the 1990 record of 1.04 inches.
▪ August was the first time two days in one month recorded more than 1 inch of rain. It happened again in December.
▪ The wettest of any July day was July 26 with 0.90 of an inch of rain, beating out the July 23, 2014, record of 0.89 of an inch. It also shattered record rainfall for that date, which used to be 0.09 of an inch set in 2011.
▪ It was the third wettest March.
▪ The daily rain record for March 15 hit 2.20 inches.
▪ Snoqualmie Pass celebrated its snowiest December with 193.3 inches by Dec. 29. It also marked the heaviest 7-day snowfall with 112 inches from Dec. 18 to Dec. 24. Previously, the record was 102 inches from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2.
▪ The only wind record of 2015: the strongest wind gust for any August day happened Aug. 29 at 46 miles per hour.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Weather extremes for 2015:
Lowest temperature: 25 degrees Nov. 30.
Highest temperature: 95 degrees July 19.
Wettest day: 2.20 inches March 15.