SAN DIEGO — The heat wave that pounded the western states at the end of August and into September, for over 10 days was record breaking on so many levels, but it was a decade in the making.
Alex Tardy is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service and CBS 8 talked about the record-breaking heat wave.
"Six of the last 10 years have been the hottest on record, not just talking summer but all year,” said Tardy. “2014, 2016 are the benchmark years for San Diego year-round. In late August 28 through the 30th we were looking at the potential for a one-week heat wave, it turned into 2 weeks.”
And the heat covered a much larger area than just San Diego.
"Not only Southern California, a heat wave across Southern California, Nevada, Utah that extended for 14 days,” said Tardy.
The forecast models had the temperatures being 5° to 10° above average but instead it was 15° to 20° above average.
"We just didn't know at the time in late August that it would be one of the hottest heat waves in history for a 2-week period," said Tardy.
Part of what sustained the heat wave was leftover monsoon moisture and overnight lows that stayed in the 70's and 80's.
"It all combined to be a significant heat wave! In a lot of cases ranked 1 or 2 when you look at 2-week period," said Tardy.
Even the coast wasn't spared where temperatures were in the 90's. and the heat wasn't driven by Santa Ana winds but a large dome of high pressure over the entire West.
"In Salt Lake City, in Sacramento they exceeded their all-time highs. For example, Salt Lake City reached 107°, Sacramento reached 116°, they have never reached 115° in September,” said Tardy.
San Diego could have been much hotter.
"We were on the edge of it, we weren't in the epicenter, the epicenter was from Sacramento to Salt Lake," said Tardy.
And with a third year of La Nina emerging the dome of high pressure could return.
"This is looking like a pattern that doesn't want to break down,” said Tardy. “So, it's effecting us in the winter and in the summer with heat waves like we just went through."
To punctuate the heat wave, another historic weather event happened, we had a tropical system come within 100 miles of San Diego and it brought us rain, that finally broke the record-breaking heat wave.
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