Warmer weather ahead

Thunderstorms, rain move on

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Courtesy photo Roy Murdock captured lightning streaking across the sky as a massive storm erupted over his Coeur d'Alene neighborhood Monday night.

Get ready to dry off.

And for more than a day, this time.

After a total of 73 thunderstorms since the first of the year, which included a record wet June, Monday night's raucous storm marked the last of severe downpours in Coeur d'Alene, assured climatologist Cliff Harris.

"The really wet pattern is ending. This is it," Harris said on Tuesday.

A low-pressure trough sent wave after wave of storms through North Idaho over the past several months, Harris said.

But Monday night saw the trough itself passing through, he said, leaving the city to enjoy generally dry, sweltering days until the fall.

"I believe by this weekend we'll have temperatures in the mid to high 90s, with no precipitation after today," Harris said. "Possibly new record highs."

But the past deluges surely made a dent.

Monday night's storm and Tuesday's scattered showers pushed Coeur d'Alene's total rainfall to 27.23 inches for the year so far, Harris said.

That already surpasses the normal rainfall for an entire year, he said, of 26.77 inches.

"Even if it didn't rain another drop, we'd have a wetter than normal year," Harris said.

Tuesday's precipitation of .44 inches - as of 3:30 p.m. - also marked a new record for the day, he said. The record was previously set at .42 inches in 1956.

Harris added that by Tuesday afternoon, Coeur d'Alene had accumulated .75 inches in the first few days of July. That's just under the normal monthly total of .92 inches.

"We only get a year like this every 25 years," Harris observed.

There is a silver lining for all those clouds in the sky.

Jim Markley, Coeur d'Alene water superintendent, said that city residents only used 363.8 million gallons of water in June, down 19 percent from the month's average over the past decade.

"It makes sense," Markley said. "I think a lot of people have not turned on their sprinkler systems yet. They're waiting for enough sunny days in a row."

He noted that this June's usage was still up 9 percent from last year, when he suspected there "must have been no sun whatsoever."

Water use always surges in July and August, Markley added, which he still expects.

"The numbers are down, but it's not a huge concern for me," he said. "My lawn looks really good this year."

Coeur d'Alene has a shot for breaking its rainfall record for a full calendar year, Harris said, if there are a few more showers in the summer and fall.

"Just a normal rainfall from here to the end of the year, we would break the record," Harris said, adding that the area's all-time record for annual rainfall is 38.77 inches.

For now, folks should only look for intermittent showers the rest of the summer, he said.

Expect temperatures consistently climbing to the 90s, he added.

"I'm expecting at least 25 of those days," he said.

SHAWN GUST/Press A man moves toward the bough of a tugboat Tuesday as it pushes a barge carrying equipment on Lake Coeur d'Alene through high winds and heavy rains.

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