October 3, 2010 in Idaho Voices

Region catching up with dog days of fall

Michelle Boss
 

I think Mother Nature got her seasons mixed up. While fall officially started last week, the past week’s weather pattern would indicate otherwise.

A large upper-level ridge of high pressure dominated the weather across much of the western U.S. Such a ridge is more commonly seen during the late summer months – during the ‘dog days of summer’ – when we see our warmest and driest weather.

While early fall temperatures in the lower 80s helped to placate those of us across the Inland Northwest who thought we were cheated out of our summer, folks in Southern California probably felt like they got just a bit too much of the hot stuff.

In fact, on Monday, Sept. 27, several cities in Southern California set not only record highs for the day, but all-time record highs. Not surprisingly, one of the hot spots was in Death Valley, where a temperature of 115 degrees surpassed the previous record of 113 degrees set back in 2003. But almost equally as hot, were folks in downtown Los Angeles, where the mercury peaked out at 113 scorching degrees! This not only smashed the high temperature record for the day (106 degrees set back in 1963), but also broke the all-time record high of 112 degrees set back in June of 1990. Readings between 103-112 degrees were common regionwide.

Back to the Inland Northwest, no high temperature records were broken, but we definitely got to enjoy more than a week of unseasonably warm weather. Technically, we can’t call it an “Indian summer,” though, because that can only occur after a killing frost. Average highs right now are only in the mid- to upper 60s, while average lows are in the lower 40s. There is still a little growing season left.

Looking back at the statistics for September, it turns out that the roller coaster of hot and cold temperatures balanced each other out, so that the average temperature for the month as a whole was near normal. Thanks to a healthy downpour around the middle of the month, September came in only slightly drier than normal for Spokane, which measured .69 inches of rain (normal .76 inches). Coeur d’Alene residents missed out on quite a bit more of their average monthly rainfall, seeing only .90 inches (normal 1.58 inches).

The upcoming week still looks relatively mild and mainly dry. In other words, I don’t see any impending cold snaps. Get ready for some changes later on this month, however, as the weather usually starts going downhill pretty rapidly.

Michelle Boss can be reached at weatherboss@ comcast.net.

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