Record heat warms the area

All-time highs set throughout region

— Record-setting temperatures swept through North-Central Washington over the weekend and Monday.

Several cities saw all-time highs for Jan. 13, including Omak, which hit 61 degrees, and Winthrop, which hit 53 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Records were also set in Republic and Grand Coulee — both at 53 degrees — and an area high of 60 degrees at Chief Joseph Dam near Bridgeport.

The unseasonably warm weather has meant a lack of snow, putting some winter activities, like skiing, snowmobiling and dog sledding, on hold. However, the spring-like conditions have been a boon for others, including ice skating and fat-tire bike riding.

Dozens of people took advantage of the weather Sunday at the Winthrop Ice and Sports Rink, 208 White Ave.

“It’s one of those things that’s good for us, but bad for the valley,” Dave Dewbrey said about the absence of snow.

Dewbrey, who manages the ice at the local skating rink, said this is the first year since it opened that it has been able to stay open every day through the holidays.

Okanogan resident Gordon Kent was enjoying the ice with his daughters and their friends.

“It’s a totally down year” for snow, Kent said.

Typically, heavy snowfall forces the ice rink to shut down, Dewbrey said.

This year, he said Saturday was the only day it closed early, due to rain and warm temperature playing havoc on the ice. He said this year has also been great for pond skating.

Dewbrey said he can handle some snowfall at the ice rink, but it takes about an hour per inch of snow to clear the skating surface.

Among the most frequent users of the ice rink have been seven-year-old Lexi Brenton and her little brother, Noah, 5. The Brentons split their time between Seattle and Winthrop, but spend a lot of time at the ice rink during their Methow Valley stays.

“It’s so much fun,” Lexi said.

Dewbrey said this year has also been great for fat-tire bike riding, which has been growing in popularity.

The lack of snow hasn’t been great for everybody, though. Loup Loup Ski Bowl and Sitzmark Ski Hill have yet to open for the season. The Super Mush Sled Dog Races near Conconully were canceled (see story on Page B1) and organizers of the annual Outhouse Races, also in Conconully, are looking at different options to ensure the festivities continue.

The warm weather broke several long-standing records in the region.

The previous Jan. 13 record in Omak was 59 degrees, set in 1945, according to National Weather Service Records.

The Winthrop record had been 46 degrees, set in 1999.

"You smashed that record," National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Bodnar said of Monday’s 53-degree high in Winthrop.

Omak also broke the Jan. 11 record at 52 degrees Saturday. The previous record was 48 degrees, set in 1932.


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