Summer 2014 is likely to end up as a very warm to hot season across the Inland Northwest. Since July 1, the average temperature at the Spokane International Airport was more than 5 degrees above normal. As of early Tuesday, there were 25 days with temperatures at or above 90 degrees. The normal for an entire summer is 19. Spokane also reported its first 100-degree day in five years on July 29, with a high of exactly 100 degrees.
In northwestern Coeur d’Alene, there have been 26 days with readings at or above 90 degrees. They have also reported two 100-degree days with the warmest at 102 degrees on July 29.
The total number of 90-degree days for Spokane will likely rise to 30 or more. Once the showers and thunderstorms end in our region by this weekend, we should see dry weather and pleasant temperatures, with highs into the 80s through the mid-portion of next week.
However, the strong ridge of high pressure that has brought the hot weather is forecast to rebuild late next week. High temperatures should once again climb into the 90s before scattered showers and thunderstorms return around the last weekend of the month.
While the western portion of the country has been hotter and drier than normal, conditions are the opposite in many areas east of the Missouri River thanks to the remnants of that chilly circumpolar vortex in Canada.
During the last winter, one station near Grand Forks, North Dakota, had an unbelievable 96 days below zero. Spring 2014 was also very cool and wet across Iowa, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and parts of southern Canada. Many farmers had to delay planting their crops as their fields were underwater during the season.
Now, there is the threat of killer frosts by early to mid-September that could wipe out the late-planted crops, especially north of Interstate 90 into Manitoba and Quebec. Some stations near the Great Lakes have already reported low temperatures in the 30s and 40s, readings more typical of the fall rather than mid-August.
Longer term here in the Inland Northwest, the hotter and drier weather pattern should continue well into September. Eventually, as we often go from one extreme to the other, cooler and wetter weather should arrive later in the fall, probably by the middle of October. The winter of 2014-15 is still uncertain as we have a weak El Nino, the warmer-than-normal sea-surface temperature event, in the south-central Pacific Ocean. If El Nino strengthens, then we’ll likely see less snow than normal. But, El Nino has been showing signs of weakening. Stay tuned.