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A mysteriously warm fall

Temperatures have been higher than usual, surprisingly climate change probably isn’t the culprit

Students walk to and from classes as others play frisbee on the lawn in front of the Communications Facility on Western Washington University’s campus in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Temperatures have been surprisingly comfortable this October, with most days resting in the mid-60s and a few days reaching above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. // Photo by Ben Larson

This fall has been surprisingly warm with little rainfall, and although some might assume this is due to climate change, there is no trend to suggest this is the primary cause. These October days that have reached the mid-70s are likely just a weather fluke.

Dr. Andrew Bach, professor of environmental geography at Western Washington University, said cold air is currently stuck up north. 

“This ridge, which is the jet, is just making a big bend around us,” Bach said. “It's holding all the polar air away from us, the coldness. Once that changes, I suspect we’re going to get a flood of cold air.”

He said while this weather might be how our atmosphere changes with climate change, this is the first year it has happened, so it can’t be definitively linked. 

“There’s no indication that early falls like this have been getting drier and hotter,” Bach said. “It appears mostly to be a weird weather phenomenon.”

He also said that in the Pacific Northwest, seasons are oftentimes not good predictors of each other. This means that the current weather will probably not lead to a warmer winter.

“Often when the atmosphere kind of gets stuck like this, which it does occasionally, it does lead to a more extreme season to follow up,” Bach said. 

Though some people are concerned about the heat, Western’s Outdoor Center is taking full advantage of the warmer weather this fall with its excursions. 

Kateri Rinallo, the excursions coordinator for the Outdoor Center, said they have multiple activities planned for October and November. 

“Some of the weekend trips include a surf trip on the coast at Westport, a Vesper Peak scramble, a Halloween bike scavenger hunt, a whitewater rafting trip and climbing at Mount Erie,” Rinallo said. 

The Outdoor Center typically plans 10 excursions per quarter. Since they plan these events far in advance, the warm weather has not affected their planning but should make for ideal conditions. 

Rinallo said there have already been a few excursions so far this quarter.

“We kickstarted the quarter with an intro to Bellingham bike, then had a sunset sea kayak Wellness Wednesday,” she said. “Our most recent trip had students backpacking through the North Cascades for a weekend.”

Rinallo also said she has been enjoying the weather since she usually bikes to work and frequently hits the trails to run. 

The Outdoor Center is also collaborating this quarter with Western’s Lakewood facility on Lake Whatcom for an event that will utilize Lakewood’s canoes. 

Nino Johnson, manager of the Lakewood facility, said they are trying to make more students aware of the facility and the activities offered there. 

“Our goal is to kind of let students, especially new first-year students, know about Lakewood and that it’s a resource for them,” Johnson said. “We hope that students will take advantage of the good weather while we have it.”

The Lakewood facility offers classes and watercraft rentals during the fall, spring and summer quarters but will close its operations for the winter on Nov. 6.

Johnson said that although fewer students are coming out to Lakewood in the fall compared to the summer, they have seen an increase over the last couple of weeks due to the warm weather.

“I’m kind of new to the role here,” Johnson said. “I’m really looking for ways to build more pathways and break down barriers to get folks out here enjoying the lake, either if that's on a boat or just enjoying the quiet solitude of the space.”

With the end to this weather unclear, residents of western Washington who enjoy warm weather should make the most of it while they can.

Ben Larson

Ben Larson (he/him) is a reporter on the city news beat for The Front this quarter. He is a visual journalism major and when he isn't reporting he enjoys the outdoors and horror movies. You can reach him at

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