There seems to be no end to the warm and dry weather occurring across this part of the country. On one hand, we can bask in partly cloudy and 85 degrees as we relax on Lake Coeur d’Alene. On the other hand, wildfires which have so far spared most of North Idaho, continue to rage out of control in much of Western Montana and Central Idaho.
This past July was the third-warmest for Coeur d’Alene. Farther south in Boise, the month of July proved to be the hottest ever. High temperatures there reached 90 degrees or greater every day last month except for July 19, when they reached 89 degrees. The 100-degree mark was reached or surpassed on 14 of those days.
Missoula recently broke a record for most 90-plus degree days with a total of 41 days as of Aug. 5 (the record was 40 days set back in 1960). Missoula has also come close to breaking the record for most consecutive 90-plus degree days which currently stands at 18.
In addition to the heat, moderate to severe drought continues for much of the Western United States. July already is in the record books as the third-driest in Coeur d’Alene. We are nearly halfway through August, normally a slightly wetter month than July, and we haven’t had a single drop of rain.
We have had a bit of a reprieve from the hot weather as temperatures have been near or slightly below normal during the past week, with highs in the low- to mid-80s. At the same time, the Southeastern U.S. has been sweltering in not only hot weather, but high humidity as well. Heat advisories were issued this past week from Topeka to Little Rock to Cincinnati and from the nation’s capital south to Atlanta. To make matters worse, stagnant conditions due to dominating high pressure has led to poor, unhealthy air quality in many of these same areas.
Locally, the week of “peak average high temperatures” has passed, topping out at 88 degrees for the first week of August and now down to 87 degrees. Average high temperatures remain at 80 or above until Sept. 1. The Climate Prediction Center’s latest three-month outlook for the Northwest continues to show above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall for August through October. Across the country, there were no areas where significantly cooler than normal temperatures were expected, though the East Coast was expected to be wetter than normal.
What about El Niño/La Niña? Ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific have likely not made headlines lately because we are in the less than sensational “ENSO neutral” phase, meaning neither significant cooling nor warming of the ocean waters. Weak La Niña (cooling) conditions are possible in the near future and as we head into fall.
Though it may seem like the oceans have been abnormally absent of any tropical storm or hurricane activity recently, the number of named storms has been about average for June and July. There have been three named storms in the Atlantic and Gulf so far, with no hurricanes. Tropical storms Andrea, Barry and Chantal caused only minor damage.
The National Hurricane Center is expected update its 2007 seasonal hurricane outlook later this month. The peak hurricane activity in the Gulf and the Atlantic is usually not seen until September.