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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Wenatchee weather swings between extremes in 2021 to 2022

By Tony Buhr Wenatchee World

Wenatchee - From the fourth driest to the fourth wettest, the weather from 2021 to 2022 could hardly be more different.

The year 2021 was the fourth driest on record from April through September since 1895, said Jeff Marti, Washington state Department of Ecology. In 2022, it was the fourth wettest April through May on record since 1895.

“It’s the mirror opposite (weather patterns) essentially,” Marti said. “Remember last year this time we were getting ready for the heatwave, right? This year, I swear to God, I think there are people that miss that heat wave.”

It rained so much this year that despite predictions by Ecology staff that Eastern Washington would remain in a drought, even with heavy rains, the region looks to have recovered, he said.

“That’s the kind of spring we had, it was just a really rare, historically rare, kind of spring,” Marti said. “Really cold, really wet and so there was a small chance that (getting out of drought conditions) could happen, but it did happen.”

In particular, the Wenatchee River was at 93% of average volume on April 1 and now sits at 116% of average volume, he said.

“That’s a nice little bump,” Marti said. “Also that increase happened from late May through June 23.”

In addition, it is a lot cooler this year compared to last year. Wenatchee broke temperature records on June 29 last year, hitting 114 degrees for the first time in recorded history, according to the weather service. In comparison, this year, the area may be in the 90s for a few days this month, according to weather service forecasts.

It’s so much colder this year that Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation District staff are almost a month behind on starting work at some of their high-elevation alpine lake reservoirs, said Tony Jantzer Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation District manager.

“I have a project at Square Lake this year and I’m really concerned, because right now Square Lake is still completely frozen over,” Jantzer said. Square Lake is 22 miles due west of Leavenworth.

The Columbia River has also been running higher this year with more snowpack and precipitation, said John Wasniewski, Chelan County PUD energy analyst. The average volume of water going through the Grand Coulee Dam was 89% of normal between January and July in 2021. In 2022, the dam received 110% of its average volume.

“So it’s been a cold, cold, wet spring in regards to snowpack,” Wasniewski said.

Wenatchee received 1.16 inches of rain in April compared to 0.09 in 2021, which was 0.56 inches above average, said Daniel Butler, National Weather Service Spokane meteorologist.

May was also a wet month with 0.72 inches of rain in Wenatchee for 2022 compared to 0.9 in 2021, Butler said. On average, between 1991 and 2000, April receives 0.58 inches of rain and May 0.60 inches, according to weather service data.

It is also cooler than normal for the month of June. Between June 1 to June 21, temperatures reached a max average of 72 degrees at Pangborn Memorial Airport, according to weather service data. In June last year, the max average was 87 degrees at Pangborn.