Eclipse is here; so is Farmer’s Almanac winter prediction

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After weeks, months and even years of planning for the big event, the day has finally arrived for the much-anticipated solar eclipse.

I have met residents from Oregon who live near the regions of “totality” and they told me that traffic is literally bumper-to-bumper with congestion around 30 miles from town, especially in the eastern part of the state. There are also gas shortages in some areas which has led to gas siphoning. And, of course, trying to park one’s car with so many people in these areas is extremely challenging. I am currently in the western portion of Oregon, in Philomath, where the traffic and gasoline problems are not quite as bad.

The last time we had an eclipse visible in the lower 48 states was back in 1979. It’s estimated that at least 20 million people will view today’s event. It’s quite possible that over 30 million people will be watching, which would likely be a record as much of the nation in “totality” should have pretty good weather.

Also, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, don’t watch the eclipse without some kind of eye protection. Many people have had their eyesight permanently damaged by staring at a solar eclipse. I worked with one gentleman who looked too long at the last eclipse in 1979 and continuously sees spots.

Enjoy the show! In the Coeur d’Alene area, at the height of this event, about 90 percent of the sun will be covered and will last less than 2 minutes.

THE OTHER big news last week was the release of U.S. winter forecast from the Farmer’s Almanac. Their forecast puts our region right in-between of the “brisk, drier than normal” to our west and the “cold, moderate snowfall, but not as harsh as usual” to the east. Well, this time, Cliff and I think that the Farmer’s Almanac may be close for this winter’s forecast.

We are still living in a cycle of unbelievable weather “extremes.” Since early this year, Coeur d’Alene and surrounding regions reported a record wet spring season. Then, the pattern changed and now we’re in the middle of the driest July and August period in history. As of late Sunday, Coeur d’Alene has only seen 0.10 inches of rainfall.

The record for the driest July and August combined happened in 1929 when only 0.37 inches of rain had fallen. The average precipitation for July is 0.92 inches with 1.23 the normal for August for a combined 2.15 inches. Therefore, we’ve only seen less than 5 percent of our average rainfall for the two months. After the wettest spring in history, that’s what I call “extreme.”

On the opposite end of the meteorological scale, flooding has been reported in the Deep South and along parts of the Southeast, where major drought conditions were widespread earlier this year.

One of the indicators that Cliff and I watch are the ever-changing sea-surface temperature patterns. Early in the year, it was predicted that a warmer El Nino would form. Ocean waters did warm up, but not for very long. During the late spring and summer season, readings along the Equatorial regions, where the warmer El Nino and cooler La Nina, dropped to normal levels.

The latest sea-surface temperature chart is now showing ocean waters beginning to cool to below normal levels. Could this mean we will soon see a new La Nina? It’s too soon to tell, but ocean waters have been going up and down all year. Remember, during a La Nina, we often see more snowfall during the winter season.

Just this year alone, we’ve seen massive flips in our weather patterns that go from very wet to very dry in a short period of time. Therefore, there is the possibility that we could turn wet again in late October and November.

Until then, Cliff and I expect more drier than normal weather through at least the end of the month. There is a chance, however, we could see some precipitation by the end of this week. But, amounts are not expected to be heavy. In terms of temperatures, we should cool down in late August and early September.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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