63 degrees atop Mt. Rainier!? Heat wave to bake the mountains, too

Gorgeous clear day around Seattle area. Mt Rainier was out in full splendor. Picture was taken from Centennial Viewpoint Park in Auburn, WA. Cheryl S. 

With the record-shattering temperatures looming for this weekend amid a historical heat wave, many unaccustomed to 105-plus degree weather might be thinking to head into the mountains to find relief.

There's not much to be had up there, either.

With a super-heated air mass, getting up in elevation will get you a little cooler, but believe it or not, you could almost get away with wearing shorts while summiting Mt. Rainier.

National Weather Service forecasters are predicting a temperature of around 63 degrees on the Mt. Rainier summit on Sunday — that's 14,411 feet up if you don't remember the elevation offhand — coming off the heels of an expected 59-degree high on Saturday.   

Freezing levels are forecast to be a perhaps-never-before-seen level of 18,000-18,500 feet.

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Going down to Camp Muir at just over 10,000 feet and you will find typical summer like conditions for June — at sea level. The expected highs are around 69 on Saturday and 73 on Sunday. 

It's definitely not a tropical paradise at Paradise Ranger Station some 5,400 feet up, but highs in the 80s Saturday through Monday might give it a bit of beach weather feel.  There is still around 60 inches of snow up there as of Friday morning but I'd expect that to shrink quickly.

What about just heading up to Snoqualmie Pass? Not much help. Temperatures will reach the 90s up there, and could push 100 on Monday.

With this unprecedented heat coming on the heels of our very snowy winter and big mountain snowpack, National Weather Service forecasters are warning of potentially dangerous conditions for those hiking and climbing. 

"During this period of high freezing levels and unusual warmth, additional hazards will exist on the mountain," National Weather Service forecasters warned. "Mountaineers should avoid prolonged exposure to large overhead hazards like seracs and hanging glaciers. These large overhead hazards can release at any time, day or night, and can produce destructive icefall avalanches that run long distances."

So if you are heading the mountains to hike or climb, be aware of unusual ice and snow melt issues.


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