July’s been dry, but weather should ‘flip’ in fall

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Prior to the showers that arrived on Saturday, July 15, Coeur d’Alene had the driest first 14 days of July in history. Cliff tells me that there were 27 other years with no measurable moisture to that date, but there were at least traces in past years. For 2017, there was not even a trace of moisture for the first 14 days of the month. On the 15th, Cliff measured 0.03 inches of moisture from that storm system that also cooled us down on Sunday.

The first half of the month was also very warm. Average temperatures for the first 15 days of July were about 7 to 8 degrees above normal. We’ve had seven days this month with high temperatures at or above 90 degrees with July 6th being the warmest at 97 degrees.

The rest of July also looks very warm with more 90-degree temperatures. There may be a day or two when we challenge the 100-degree mark. Moisture totals should be below normal levels. However, toward the end of the month, there is the chance we could see a few scattered showers or a thunderstorm across the Inland Northwest.

August is expected to be another month with warmer than normal temperatures, but not quite as hot as July. There should be an increase in afternoon shower and thunderstorm activity, but there will be a lot of nice days to enjoy.

The upcoming fall season should see a weather pattern that “flips” to the cooler and wetter side. This should happen in October or by the early portion of November. As Cliff and I have been saying for a long time, this pattern of wide weather “extremes” is still going strong with no end in sight. For example, the western U.S. received flooding rains during the winter and spring season. Now, extreme dryness and hot temperatures has led to numerous wildfires.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, as of Saturday, there were 54 active large fires burning across the U.S. Alaska has the most with 14 blazes. California has 7 wildfires and Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Oregon have 5. There are 2 fires in Idaho with one in Washington.

Nearly 900,000 acres are burning from the 54 fires. From Jan. 1 through July 14, 2017, there were 33,920 wildfires that consumed nearly 4 million acres. The highest in recent years was back in 2011 when nearly 6 million acres were burned from Jan. 1 through July 14.

Perhaps one of the big reasons for this change in the weather pattern from early this year are the cooling of sea-surface temperatures. Since early this year, many forecasters were calling for the formation of a new “El Nino” around this summer or fall. El Nino is the abnormal warming of sea-surface temperatures along the Equatorial region in the south-central Pacific Ocean.

It looked like a strong El Nino was on the way as sea-surface temperatures were consistently warming across much of the Pacific Ocean. Readings near the West Coast of South America were about 5 degrees above normal. However, within the last several months, ocean waters have been cooling down.

Recent data now shows that ocean waters near the Equatorial regions and other parts of the Pacific Ocean are close to normal. In fact, a small area of sea-surface temperatures near the West Coast of South America, an area watched closely for the formation of El Nino or a La Nina, have cooled to below normal levels. The dramatic drop in ocean readings is another indication of our crazy global pattern of wide weather “extremes,” likely the worst cycle in more than 1,000 years.

In late February, it was announced that we were in a “La Nada,” the in-between cooler La Nina and warmer El Nino sea-surface temperature event. Based on this new information of ocean cooling, we will probably be in this new “La Nada” pattern into at least the fall season, if not longer.

This “La Nada” event is likely one reason why we’re seeing the hot temperatures in the Far West and into the central portions of the U.S. According to the latest computer model forecasts, there still could be a rebound of sea-surface temperatures to the warmer side, but the warmth is not expected to last long enough to qualify as an El Nino episode. In other words, we may not see a new El Nino at all and this pattern would stay in this current “La Nada” phenomenon through at least the end of this year. Or, if the cool down continues, we could be talking about the formation of a new, cooler La Nina which could mean a near to above normal snowfall across our region for the 2017-18 season. Stay tuned.

Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com

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