August 25, 2011 in Washington Voices

Completely dry August would be unusual for us

 

After a cool and wet spring in the Inland Northwest, many folks are asking when we’re going to see a little rain as conditions have become too dry. As of early Tuesday, it appears that many stations are on track for not receiving any moisture for the month of August.

Since 1889, there have been only eight years with no precipitation in the month of August in Spokane. The normal precipitation for August is 0.68 inches. Last August we had only 0.21 inches of rainfall. The most precipitation received in Spokane in August was 5.58 inches, in 1927.

There’s no doubt that we’re in one of the worst cycles of extremes in at least 1,000 years.

While temperatures in our region have been warm, the southern Great Plains, from Kansas to Texas, saw its hottest July on record. Many wells and reservoirs have run completely dry in the region, especially in Texas.

Crop losses in Texas may approach $3 billion this year due to the driest year since at least 1936. Neighboring Oklahoma’s drought and heat losses will undoubtedly top $2 billion. Kansas has already exceeded $1 billion in losses to just the hard red winter wheat crop alone, not counting the mounting losses to corn, soybeans and milo.

Oklahoma saw its hottest July on record with an average temperature of 89.1, topping the 88.1 mark set in July 1954 and the 88 reading in July 1980.

The searing heat has also caused rolling blackouts in parts of the Deep South from Texas east into Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Arkansas, where Fort Smith hit an all-time high of 115 degrees earlier this month. The use of electricity east of the Rockies has set records due to the soaring usage of air conditioning and refrigeration.

In terms of our local weather, the drier-than-normal conditions should persist well into September. I don’t think it will be rainless, but it looks like we’ll see less rain over the next four to six weeks.

Contact meteorologist Randy Mann at randy@ longrangeweather.com.


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