June 16, 2011 in Washington Voices

Warmer, drier days just around corner – really

Randy Mann

More chilly weather continues to invadethe Inland Northwest. It seems like we’ve had days on end of cool temperatures with some kind of measurable precipitation.

As of early Tuesday, the average temperature at the Spokane International Airport was about 2 degrees below normal. Despite the recent showers, only 0.29 inches of rain has fallen in June, which is approximately 0.35 inches below normal.

Since Jan. 1, the airport has received 10.75 inches of rain and melted snow. The normal from Jan. 1 to June 15 is about 8.35 inches. Since Oct. 1, a whopping 18.58 inches of moisture has been measured.

According to the National Weather Service, the entire northwestern U.S., California and much of the northern portion of the country were colder than normal for March through May.

By contrast, the Southern and Eastern states were warmer than normal. Washington had its third-coldest March, April and May in 117 years. Oregon had its fifth-coldest March- through-May period. However, conditions are very different in Texas as the Lone Star State had its second hottest March through May in history.

While there’s plenty of moisture in our region, severe drought is also plaguing the Southwest and south-central U.S. The extreme dryness had led to the second-worst wildfire in Arizona’s history.

There’s no doubt we’re in one of the worst cycles of wide weather extremes in more than 1,000 years. The clashes from the record cold and record warmth led to the worst tornado outbreak the U.S. had ever seen.

Japanese scientists have confirmed that La Niña, the cooler than normal sea-surface temperature event along the equatorial regions, has died off. Eventually, we should see a flip to the drier and warmer side across the Inland Northwest.

It does appear that the upper-level jet stream pattern will be changing over the next few weeks. Conditions are indeed looking drier and warmer across our region. As I’ve been saying for many weeks, the upcoming summer should be warmer and drier than usual.

Although the recent above normal moisture has kept fire danger levels way down, the additional vegetation from recent rainfall will likely dry out and pose a big threat for wildfires in August and September. Be careful when you’re out and about this summer.

Assuming that we stay in between the La Niña and warmer El Niño patterns over the next two to three months, the fall should also be warmer and drier than normal. Stay tuned.

Contact meteorologist Randy Mann at randy@ longrangeweather.com.

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