If July felt hot and sweaty, it was for good reason. The heat broke records in the Willamette Valley.

It was the hottest July ever in Eugene, crushing the previous record, set in 1958. Andy Bryant with the National Weather Service says the heat was well above normal:

Bryant: “So the average temperature for Eugene for the month of July was 71.5 degrees, that’s 4.7 degrees above average. The average high, if you look at all the highs during the month of July, the average was 88.2, also a few degrees above average.”

Researchers Map Portland's Hottest, Most Polluted Places

Jul 30, 2015
Cassandra Profita / Earthfix

When it's hot outside, city neighborhoods with lots of pavement get hotter and more polluted than the ones with more greenery. It's called the urban heat island effect. And as the summers in the Northwest get hotter with climate change, these hot spots pose a growing risk to human health.In Portland, researchers are mapping the city's hottest, dirtiest places, and looking for ways to cool them down.

Joe Chung

Oregon has enjoyed cooler days over the past week, thanks to low pressure from the Gulf of Alaska. By Wednesday, extremely hot weather is expected to return.

Andy Bryant is with the National Weather Service. He says people should be prepared for above average temperatures later this week:

Bryant: “In the south Willamette Valley, we have a forecast high on Thursday of 100 for Eugene. It looks like it’s going to be hot all throughout western Oregon.”

Oregon Zoo

It's been a really warm winter so far in Western Oregon. On this Groundhog Day, we checked in with the National Weather Service for a forecast.

Punxutawny Phil of Pennsylvania saw his shadow, which means 6 more weeks of winter. That's may be true for the east coast, but not in Oregon. Meteorologist Amanda Bowen:

Bowen: "Any local groundhogs likely would not have seen their shadow, since it was fairly cloudy so that would theoretically indicate an early arrival of spring for us and sure enough we're expecting warmer than usual weather over the next month or so."

In preparation for heavy snow on the East Coast, airlines have canceled flights and officials have declared states of emergency. At the same time, Oregon ski resorts are facing a winter with little snow.

Willamette Pass resort’s homepage says simply: “Keep praying for snow.” Both it and Hoodoo opened for a handful of days early this season, but have been closed since. Still, there are some bright spots in Oregon:

:Berg: “We’re so lucky to have Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline where they have three, four, five feet of snow. It really makes a difference.”

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Cente

2014 was the hottest year on record. That’s according to data released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the Northwest, temperatures also rose above normal.

After a warm summer and winter, last year was the second hottest on record for Oregon and the fifth hottest on record for Washington.

The hottest year for both states is still 1934, when the Dust Bowl plagued the West.

Karin Bumbaco is the assistant state climatologist in Washington.

interstate guide

Northwest travelers should expect airports, roads, bus and train stations to be crowded this week. It’s projected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel season in seven years. Marie Dodds is with Triple-A Oregon. She says the improving economy has an influence.

Dodds: "Americans are more optimistic about the future. They're feeling better about their personal economic situations.  And when people feel like that they tend to spend more on things like travel.”

Heavy rain is falling in the Willamette Valley, and that means snow in the Cascades. That’s good news for skiers and snow boarders. Mount Bachelor opens Monday, with other resorts following soon.

Mount Bachelor will open one lift and the terrain park Monday. Resort spokesman Drew Jackson is optimistic this weekend’s forecasted snow will allow them to open more for the holiday:

Jackson: “Things are looking good for Thanksgiving weekend. We hope to have at least three lifts open, at least five kilometers in the Nordic Center.”

Tom Banse

An east wind is pushing arctic air from the central U.S. to the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures have plummeted in the last couple of days. 

The cold front is forecast to bring snow to the mountains and central Oregon and even into the Willamette Valley overnight and into Thursday. Laurel McCoy is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland. She says the snow isn't likely to stick around in the South Willamette Valley. But it's good news for Oregon's ski areas.

This Columbus Day weekend, those heading to the Oregon Coast should be extra cautious. There is a potential for deadly sneaker waves in the next few days.

Sneaker waves are sudden, unexpected waves that reach farther up the beach than normal. Mark Spilde is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says conditions exist for sporadic waves up to 18 feet high: