Hurricane season expected to become more active

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Last week, I was one of the lucky ones (or crazy ones) to experience the “Great American Eclipse.” I must admit, it was an amazing sight to see the moon covering the sun, even it was just for about a minute and 20 seconds. I was up in northwestern Oregon near Corvallis, and managed to get through the traffic jams shortly after hitting the road right after “totality.”

In case you missed last week’s event, the next total eclipse in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024. The center of totality will be across Mexico, the central and northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada.

The event on Aug. 12, 2045, is expected to be the fourth longest of the 21st century. It will be visible throughout much of the continental United States, with a path of totality running through northern California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Some of my friends plan to attend or see this eclipse. Best of luck to them.

Here in North Idaho, we continue to endure for what is now the driest summer to date in recorded history. For July and August, Cliff has only measured a puny 0.10 inches of moisture. 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.

This year has also been one of the smokiest as wildfires continue to rage out of control in eight western states. From Jan. 1 to date, over 6.5 million acres have “gone up in smoke.”

The other big weather news over the last few days is Hurricane Harvey. The intense storm made landfall near Rockport, Texas, on Friday around 8 a.m. Pacific time. When Harvey came onshore, winds were up to 130 miles per hour, which was a Category 4 hurricane. As of early Sunday, the storm was expected to stall over Texas producing widespread flooding and devastation. Some areas near southeastern Texas could measure up to 30 inches of rain, leading to massive flooding. By the way, our seasonal moisture total in Coeur d’Alene is 26.77 inches.

The last time a major hurricane with a Category 3 status or higher hit the U.S. Mainland was over a decade ago, in 2005. That storm was Hurricane Wilma which hit Florida.

Harvey was the 8th named storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), revised this year’s prediction from 11 to 17 named storms to 14 to 19 storms with 2-5 of them becoming major hurricanes. The average number of named storms, based on the recent 30-year average, is 12 with 6 of them becoming hurricanes and two of those hurricanes intensifying into a Category 3 or higher.

Forecasters for NOAA state that this may be the most active tropical storm and hurricane season since 2010. During that year, there were 19 named storms with 12 of them becoming hurricanes. Despite the high number of storms that formed, no hurricanes or tropical storms made landfall in the United States.

Last year’s 2016 Atlantic hurricane season was the one of the most active since 2012. There were a total of 15 named storms which produced 7 hurricanes. Four of the seven hurricanes were major, a Category 3 or higher. Last year was also the costliest season since 2012 and the deadliest since 2008. The biggest storm of 2016 was Hurricane Matthew. This storm made landfall near Myrtle Beach, S.C., as a Category 1 hurricane on Oct. 8.

The Atlantic and Caribbean tropical storm and hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. According to NOAA, the peak of this activity usually occurs from mid-August through mid-October. During this time, based on the averages, 78 percent of tropical storms form. We also see 87 percent of the Category 1 and 2 hurricane days and 96 percent of the major, Category 3 and higher, hurricane days from mid-August through mid-October.

IN TERMS of our local weather, more hot weather is expected through Tuesday before temperatures cool down into the 80s. The huge ridge of high pressure that has been locked over the West will continue to dominate our weather through at least next week, probably into the middle of September. Conditions have been calmer than normal in the Sea of Japan and the Gulf of Alaska, an indicator of our future conditions. We’re starting to notice a few changes in the Sea of Japan which could lead to changes in our weather a bit later next month.

The pattern for the late summer and early fall season still looks dry and warmer than normal until October. That doesn’t mean we won’t have any freezing temperatures, especially in the outlying areas later next month, so Cliff and I expect to see some days when area gardeners will need to cover sensitive plants.

Contact Randy Mann at


This is now our driest summer since at least 1895. Ironically, it comes directly on the soggy heels of our wettest spring ever in Coeur d’Alene. Talk about extremes!

Cliff Harris

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