The second big heat wave of the 2014 season is in progress across the Inland Northwest. July will end up very warm, with an average temperature at least 5.5 degrees above average. Unless we see some isolated showers or a thunderstorm before Friday, our total precipitation for the month will be 0.18 inches, compared to a normal of about .60 inches at Spokane International Airport.
Early August still looks hot across the region. This will mean more 90-degree days in Spokane and other areas. Already, the airport has reported 17 days with temperatures at or above 90 degrees. The normal for an entire season of 90 degree days is 19. As the very strong high pressure ridge continues to grip much of the western U.S., we could end up with around 25 to 30 days this summer with highs in the 90s.
In terms of 100-degree days, the highest number recorded in Spokane is six, in 1928. I don’t believe we’ll challenge this record, but we’re still in for some mighty warm days over the next two to four weeks.
Despite the recent dryness, overall water supplies across the Inland Northwest are good. However, southward into California, wildfires and hot temperatures are making the severe drought conditions even worse. Residents and businesses have been asked to cut water use about 20 percent. Some are abiding as many lawns have turned brown. Unfortunately, the overall water usage for the state has not decreased when compared to the last few years.
According to the California Department of Water Resources, 10 of the 12 major reservoirs in that state are below 50 percent total capacity. Some are as low as 20 percent. The combined average of all the reservoirs is 60 percent, but officials are calling these a “seriously low” level.
The Golden State is hoping for a very wet late fall and winter season thanks to a forming El Nino in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. El Nino is the abnormal warming of ocean temperatures near the west coast of South America and along the equator. However, this warm water phenomenon is not expected to be strong in the coming months, which may not help the drought situation in California.
In our region, El Nino often leads to milder winters with less snowfall. This fall season should be wetter and a bit cooler, so let’s enjoy the warm and sunny weather while it’s here.