A hot and drier-than-normal July expected across the Northwest

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Coeur d’Alene reached its first 90-degree day of the 2018 season. The thermometer hit 90 degrees on July 5 at 3:05 p.m. But temperatures continued to go up from there, as the high for the day was a toasty 92 degrees. Two days earlier, on July 3, our high was only 65 degrees, which was one degree from the low maximum reading of 64 degrees.

We wanted to thank the hundreds of people who participated in the First 90-Degree Day contest in Coeur d’Alene. There were 4 people who picked July 5 as the date when Coeur d’Alene would hit 90 degrees. Mark R. was the closest with a time of 3 p.m., which was within 5 minutes. Emma P. was second with a time of 3:20 p.m. and Jennifer J. had a time of 2:42 p.m. on July 5. Great guesses and thanks again for participating!

Speaking of 90-degree days, we had 32 days with highs at or above 90 degrees in 2017. The first one occurred on May 30 with a high of 90 degrees. There were only two days in June with readings in the 90s. July and August were hot and dry months: July had 13 days while August reported 15 days with highs at or above the 90-degree mark. Sept. 3, 2017 was the final day with a high temperature in the 90s in Coeur d’Alene.

Here in the Inland Northwest, we have been on the edge of a huge high pressure system that has brought a lot of heat and dryness to California, the Desert Southwest and parts of the south-central U.S. Anthony in Coeur d’Alene asked why we’re receiving so much summer wind? Well, when the big dome of hot and stable air moves to the east of our region, we get the winds from the other side, which also kept our temperatures hovering around very pleasant levels in June.

Then, late last week, the high pressure system temporarily moved over the Inland Northwest, giving us our first 90-degree day. As the ridge weakened, temperatures cooled down and the winds picked up a bit. Later this week, the ridge will expand over our region as readings will be getting hot once again. Let’s hope the dry and hot conditions do not lead to an increase in wildfires in the Northwest.

The wildfire season is in full swing across the West, especially in California where numerous fires are forcing hundreds to evacuate their homes. One blaze of over 20,000 acres is located near the border of California and Oregon. Wildfires have also erupted in Southern California as high winds and record-breaking heat has made conditions very tough for firefighters.

On Friday, Burbank Airport hit a very hot 114 degrees, with a 117-degree reading at Van Nuys Airport in the southern part of the Golden State. The hot and dry weather has also led to another big fire near the Sacramento area in Napa and Yolo counties. The blaze has burned approximately 90,000 acres as of early Saturday. Since Jan. 1, 2018, approximately 3 million acres of land in this country has been burned from wildfire activity.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 57 active large fires burning across the U.S. Close to 800,000 acres are burning, including 19 in Alaska. Across the West, there are six big fires in California, eight in Colorado, four in Nevada, five in Utah, one in Oregon and two in Washington. Currently, there are no big fires reported in Idaho.

In terms of our local weather, we’re going to be in a dry weather pattern along with very warm to hot temperatures through much of July. Toward the end of the week, highs are expected to climb to around the 90-degree mark in Coeur d’Alene and surrounding areas. The normal number of 90-degree days for Coeur d’Alene is 11. We should see at least 11 days at or above 90 degrees this summer.

Cliff and I don’t see much, if any, rainfall until at least the end of the month. It looks like the huge high pressure ridge that is bringing California and the southwestern portion of the country the hot and dry weather will be expanding to the north. Later in the month and into August, Cliff and I expect this big dome of dry air to expand to the east to the Appalachian Mountains which would likely stress pollinating crops in the center of the country.

The normal precipitation for July in Coeur d’Alene is 0.92 inches. Our June rainfall was slightly below normal and this month’s precipitation total is also expected to be below average. July of 2017 was extremely dry as 0.05 inches of rain fell. Last summer was also one of the toughest fire seasons across the Inland Northwest.

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Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com.

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