Conditions in the Inland Northwest have been relatively normal with sun and showers over the past several weeks. It appears that temperatures will be cooling this weekend with occasional showers before warming up again later in the month. This type of pattern is typical at this time of year.
But, things are different across other parts of the country. Earlier this month, there were reports of record cold, snow and ice near the U.S. and Canadian border. Many farmers in North Dakota, Minnesota, Upper Michigan and south-central Canada still can’t plant crops as there is a thick layer of frost still in the ground. Many of these farmers will have to wait until late this month or even early June before they are able to get into the fields. This delay will put the crops at risk, especially if there is an early freeze.
The intense winter cold also brought the Great Lakes to near-record ice coverage this year. Huge blocks of ice have been creating problems for residents along Lake Superior as they are washing ashore and damaging homes.
In Wyoming, 43 inches of snow blanketed Divide Peak in the Sierra Madre earlier this week. A foot of snow fell in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and 29 inches in north central Colorado last Sunday. Cheyenne reported the heaviest calendar-day snow for so late in the season, breaking records that began in 1883.
By contrast, record heat was reported on May 4 in the central U.S. Temperatures were above 100 degrees in Kansas and Oklahoma. A 104-degree reading at Altus, Oklahoma, was the city’s hottest ever for May. The extreme heat and low humidity also led to a massive wildfire in central Oklahoma.
In late April, 20 inches of rain fell at Pensacola, Florida, from a nontropical storm, a rare event. In one day, the Florida city received more rainfall than Los Angeles has seen in the past three years.
I still believe we’re going to have a warmer and drier summer across the Inland Northwest. It appears a new and warmer El Nino sea-surface temperature pattern will be forming in the coming weeks or months that will ultimately increase the moisture across the western U.S. later this year. This El Nino also decreases the chances of snow for the upcoming winter.