The Gates of Hell or climate change? Boise just tied this long-standing weather record

·3 min read
Sarah A. Miller | Idaho Statesman/smiller@idahostatesman.com

Is Boise at the Gates of Hell?

It sure felt like it this summer, with temperatures consistently soaring to 100 degrees in the City of Trees. It’s been so hot that Boise tied a weather record on Wednesday afternoon that’s been tracked since 1875.

When the temperature ticked to 100, it officially became the 20th day of the year with triple-digit heat. That tied the record set in 2003 and eclipsed every other year over the past 147 years.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the Treasure Valley and surrounding areas from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, with temperatures expected to go as high as 105 in some regions. The Weather Service forecast was for a high of 103 degrees and patchy smoke from nearby wildfires for Boise on Wednesday.

And if matching the heat record wasn’t enough, Boise could break it on Thursday.

“Our forecast is 99 (degrees), but yes, there’s a chance we’ll do it again,” said Les Colin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise. “Our models give us a spectrum of values, and that number happened to be exactly 50% that we could make it or not make it. So we’ve opted our analysis here to go 99, but it’s equally likely that we’ll have 100.”

Climate change to blame?

Tying such a significant weather record is certainly something of note, but Colin isn’t surprised, either. Boise has been heading down this path for a while.

“It tends to be a gradual trend toward more days in recent years of being over 100,” Colin said. “We haven’t stayed under 100 the whole summer since 1982. And prior to that, we used to do that about every 20 years. Now, it looks like we’ll never do it.”

Boise hit 100 degrees on 18 occasions in 2021, 16 times in 2006 and 2007, and on 14 occasions in 2018, 2015 and 2013.

It wasn’t too long ago that sweltering summers in Boise would see temperatures hit 100 degrees around 10 times a year on the upper end of the scale, Colin said. He expects Boise to regularly hit 100 degrees or more at least 20 times per year in the near future.

“This is climate change. We’re riding that change as we live right now. It is clearly warming worldwide on average,” Colin said. “There are localities, certain regions of the world that are relatively cooler; the whole Earth isn’t warming exactly the same way everywhere. But overall, the whole world is warming.”