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High Winds Blow In Record All-Time December High Of 66 At Sea-Tac

Tim Durkan
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Stormy weather is not unusual this time of year. But the wind has blown in an all-time record high December temperature.

The National Weather Service says 66 degrees were charted Wednesday at Sea-Tac Airport. It’s the warmest for any December going back to 1945, when record keeping began. That caught the attention of KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“For any day, any year, we experienced the warmest December temperature. It’s extraordinary. Sea-Tac got at least to 66. And there’s some other locations got to the upper 60s — on Dec. 10? I’m still shaking my head about it,” said Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. 

Mass says says it’s not that unusual to break daily records, because statistically speaking, there are many more chances. But seeing a monthly record broken is pretty astonishing, even for a seasoned meteorologist. 

Mass says the warm air came in on high winds that are blowing in from the southwest. They’re part of a storm system fueled by an atmospheric river known as the pineapple express.

“It’s just a conduit of a lot of moisture and very, very warm air. You know, this air was over Hawaii a day ago. So, Hawaii is here,” Mass said with a chuckle.

The southwesterly winds above us reached 55 to 60 miles per hour at 4,000 feet, moving the system through quickly and causing strong gusts and power outages in some areas. 

The National Weather Service says a break Wednesday evening will be followed by another round of wind and rain Thursday that could be the strongest this week. It's part of the same system hitting the whole West Coast.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to