Drought in the Northwest and other parts of the world

The summer of 2022 has certainly turned out to be another hot and dry one in the Inland Northwest. As of yesterday, Coeur d’Alene has had 25 days with temperatures at or above 90 degrees. We also had four consecutive afternoons with readings above 100 degrees, which occurred July 28-31. Since the stretch of 90 degree temperatures began on July 23rd, despite a 79 degree day on August 5th, our average high has been about 93 degrees. Our average high temperature since the first day of summer, which was June 21st, has been 83 degrees.

In 2015, it was very hot in northern Idaho. According to Cliff’s records, there were 39 days with high temperatures of 90 degrees or higher, including 16 days in a row with readings in the 90s. There were also six days at 100 degrees or higher. The hottest afternoon was June 28 with a high of 105 degrees.

Many of us will not soon forget the heat wave of late June and early July last year. There were 22 days in a row with high temperatures of 90 degrees or higher. From June 27th to July 1st, highs were over 100 degrees, with a high of 107 degrees on June 29th. Spokane International Airport broke its record high temperature for that date with a reading of 109 degrees. There was an all-time record 43 days with highs of 90 degrees or above with one week at or above the 100-degree mark last year. Despite the intense heat, the average summer high temperature last year was 86 degrees.

In terms of average summer high temperatures, the hottest season was 1967, with an average high of 91 degrees. Six years earlier, in 1961, our average summer temperature was just over 90 degrees. It was the same year that Coeur d’Alene recorded its hottest temperature of 109 degrees on August 4th.

In addition to the heat, it has been extremely dry in Coeur d’Alene and most of the surrounding regions. Since July 19, only 0.04 inches of rain has been measured at Cliff Station. Some northern stations have received more rain thanks to storm activity earlier this month. The stubborn ridge of high pressure is now expected to stick around until the end of the month, bringing drier than normal weather. However, there is still a chance for scattered showers or a few thunderstorms during the lunar cycle of the new moon at the end of the month and beginning of September, but it looks like most of the precipitation will fall to our east.

We continue to experience these wide weather extremes around the world. After one of the coolest spring seasons on record, our summer has turned into one of the hottest, at least in the top ten. But as we move into September and October, the ridge should weaken and we should return to wetter than normal. In fact, some forecasters are talking about the strengthening of the cooler La Nina sea surface temperature pattern in the waters of the South Central Pacific Ocean. Typically, our snow chances in the interior Northwest are higher with La Nina patterns. In recent years, however, many of the Pacific storms during the winter have been producing more rain than snow, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Drought conditions have not only been reported in the Northwest, but also in other parts of the US and the world. For example, despite flooding rains in the deserts of California and Arizona, northern and central parts as well as coastal regions of southern California have been mostly dry with very warm to warm temperatures. Thanks to much-needed rainfall from the active monsoon season in the Southwest Desert, Lake Mead has risen about 2 feet from its all-time low in late July. However, much of the central and southern parts of the western United States are still in severe drought and water outages, and the US Bureau of Recovery has announced additional restrictions in the southwest for areas served by the Colorado River. More than 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland depend on water from the Colorado River. So far, California has been exempt from the new restrictions, but that could change.

Elsewhere in the world, intense heat and drought in Europe, especially in southern sections, have led to many rivers drying up, crop failures and water restrictions. Many officials say the European drought is the worst in hundreds of years. Southern China has also suffered extreme heat and drought as the Yangtze River, which is Asia’s largest waterway, has dropped to record levels. Some provinces in China have seeded clouds in an attempt to increase rainfall. According to the United Nations, the Horn of Africa is suffering its worst drought in about 40 years.

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Contact Randy Mann at randy@longrangeweather.com.

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