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Weather: Could be a dry, warm finish to chilly summer

Thu., July 28, 2011

Since February, temperatures across much of the Inland Northwest have been below normal. The coldest month, based on readings below average levels, was in April when the mean temperature was 5 degrees below normal. June was 2.6 degrees under the mean and July, as of early Tuesday, was 2.1 degrees below normal.

Despite two days at or above 90 degrees this month, there were four days with highs in the 60s. The thermometer could only manage to get to 67 on July 13. Although temperatures have been running below normal, precipitation has also been under average levels. Last month, the Spokane International Airport only received .57 inches, which was .61 inches below normal. For this month, we’ve only measured .53 inches of moisture, which is .11 inches under the average.

We’ve all heard the headlines about the huge heat wave in the central and eastern United States. By contrast, there are still roads with snow in the higher passes in the Cascade Mountains. One observer reported “three feet of snow in the shaded trees” on a recent fishing trip in one of the Inland Northwest Washington mountain retreats.

Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road didn’t open until July 13, the latest opening ever. The previous latest opening over Logan Pass was July 10, 1943, when the road crew was short-staffed because of World War II.

Vacationers to California report that there is still a record amount of snow remaining above 7,000 feet near Lake Tahoe.

Alpine Meadows, near Tahoe City, was open for skiing on July 4 for only the second time in its 50-year history and for the first time since 1995. Neighboring Squaw Valley was also open on July 4 for skiing.

If this past winter’s snows in the Cascades and the northern Rockies don’t melt by later this summer or early in the fall, it’s entirely possible that we will see an expansion of the region’s glaciers. Unmelted snow causes glaciers to grow, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I still expect a warm and dry August and September across the region. Hot temperatures are expected to arrive early next week as the huge high pressure ridge that has been over the center of the country builds into our region. However, the high will weaken a bit allowing for cooler temperatures to return by next weekend. The chances for more hot weather is around the middle and the end of August near the full moon and new moon lunar phases.

We’ll likely see that back-and-forth pattern with very warm to mild afternoons over the next several months. The upcoming fall should be drier and a little warmer than normal. And, we should see far less snow during the winter of 2011-’12.

Contact meteorologist Randy Mann at

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