Bloomsday and its wild weather extremes

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Last week was another one of those chilly and wet weeks across the region. April was close to another record-breaker as about 4.25 inches fell as of early Sunday morning. The record is 4.43 inches set back in 1937. Coeur d’Alene’s precipitation total since Jan. 1 now stands at nearly 22 inches, another record for the four-month period. Our normal through April 30 is 9.75 inches.

It looks like our snowfall season has ended for the 2016-17 season. Cliff measured 115.6 inches of the white stuff making this the sixth-snowiest season in recorded history. We don’t think the next snowfall season will be as big as this one. With sea-surface temperatures warming up in the south-central Pacific Ocean, which has a good chance of reaching an El Nino status later this summer or fall, our snowfall total for the 2017-18 season should be below normal.

With the warming of the ocean waters, global weather patterns are beginning to change. Cliff and I expect to see additional moisture this month, but amounts should be closer to the normal of 2.37 inches.

Weather patterns are finally showing signs of changing as we see dry and warmer weather later this week as temperatures will warm into the 70s. The last time we had a 70-degree temperature was on Sept. 30, 2016, with a high of 76 degrees. As we close to the “full moon” cycle of May 10, showers and thunderstorms are expected to increase once again.

During the “last quarter” of May 19 to 26, there should be at least a few days when we should be treated to some warm afternoons with highs into the 70s and lots of sunshine. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some locations to our south challenge the 80-degree mark.

Toward the end of this month and into early June, more showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast before we get our summertime pattern with more sun and only occasional afternoon showers or a thunderstorm.

This Sunday, May 7, is one of Spokane’s, and the rest of the Inland Empire’s favorite events, Bloomsday. This annual tradition, also known as the Lilac Bloomsday Run, was born during the running boom that swept the nation in the late 1970s. The inaugural Bloomsday Run began on May 1, 1977, and was first billed as “Run With The Stars.” This event featured Olympic gold and silver medalist Frank Shorter, who finished first in the race. The founder of Bloomsday, local runner Don Kardong, finished third.

More than a thousand runners, or Bloomies as they are fondly referred to, participated in the first Bloomsday in 1977. Since then, the field has grown substantially. By the second year, over 5,000 runners joined in. By 1988, the total grew to approximately 57,300 runners. Bloomsday participation reached its all-time high of 61,298 in 1996 with impressive numbers expected this year as well.

Most of the Bloomsday runners, if not all of them, hope for ideal weather conditions. This year’s race looks mostly dry and mild. At this time of year, the average high temperature is in the low to mid 60s with an average low of 40 degrees. Since the tradition began, over half of the days featuring the race have reported good weather. However, Bloomsday has seen its share of extremes.

For example, on May 6, 1984, about 1 to 2 inches of snow fell before the race began. Throughout that morning, runners experienced a rain and snow mix as temperatures remained in the 30s until the early afternoon. The official high temperature for that chilly day was only 47 degrees. There was another cold Bloomsday on May 2, 1999. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., .07 inches of rain fell with temperatures holding in the chilly upper 30s and lower 40s. Winds occasionally gusted to 15 to 20 miles per hour making it uncomfortable for spectators and runners alike.

On the flip side, the first Bloomsday run on May 1, 1977, was one of the warmest as readings climbed into the upper 70s. May 4, 1980, was another warm day with a starting race temperature of 55 degrees. By 2 p.m., it was a warm 78 degrees. The official high for that day, as well as the one in 1977, was 81 degrees.

Bloomsday has also seen a thunderstorm. On May 5, 2002, a thunderstorm dropped small hail and sent temperatures falling into the lower 40s with winds gusting to 25 miles per hour. During the race, 0.07 inches of precipitation was measured.

There have been a number of Bloomsdays with winds gusting to 10 to 20 miles per hour. The windiest Bloomsday ever felt was on May 6, 1990. During that blustery day, gusts during the race were over 30 miles per hour. By the early evening, a peak gust of 46 miles per hour was recorded.

Next week, I’ll have more on these weather extremes across the West.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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