Today is the first full day of summer across the Inland Northwest. Summer officially began Wednesday at 4:09 p.m. The summer solstice is when the sun’s rays are directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere, which is 23.5 degrees north latitude. Our latitude is about 47.62 degrees north latitude, so the sun angle is a little lower as we are farther to the north.
And with the start of summer, our temperatures may finally warm up. As of early Tuesday, the average temperature for June at the airport was 57 degrees – 3.7 degrees below normal. In terms of rainfall this month, Spokane has picked up 1.66 inches of moisture, about 0.80 inches above the average.
Since Jan. 1, Spokane International Airport has measured 11.79 inches of rain and melted snow. The normal to date is about 8.5 inches. Last year, the total amount of moisture was a little more than 11 inches.
And while the Inland Northwest has been cool and wet, other parts of the country are dealing with extremely dry conditions, especially eastern Colorado and the Corn Belt states. This has led to a large number of out-of-control wildfires. One near Fort Collins, Colo., has scorched more than 1 million acres.
In Indiana, croplands are parched and the risk of wildfires is climbing. Homeowners are using more water to keep their lawns from turning brown.
Moisture in parts of the central U.S. is from 5 to 10 inches below normal for the year. In the Chicago area, approximately 1.8 inches of rain normally falls through the first two weeks of June. So far, only 0.01 inches has fallen. Farmers are reporting cracks in the soil, which can damage roots.
The U.S. Agriculture Department rates 66 percent of the nation’s crops as in good to excellent condition, but that is down from 72 percent a week earlier.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there is abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions across much of the Corn Belt. Moderate to severe drought conditions are reported across much of the central and southern Great Plains. However, eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas have normal to only abnormally dry conditions. Moisture levels are good across the northern U.S.
Extreme drought continues across parts of the Southeast from eastern Alabama to South Carolina. The dryness in Florida was broken by the heavier rainfall earlier this month.
The southwestern portions of the country are also seeing moderate to extreme drought conditions. More wildfires are likely across this region as very little, if any, moisture is expected in the near future.