It was certainly a very warm and dry July across the Inland Northwest. According to Cliff’s records, this was the eighth-driest July in history as only 0.03 inches of rain fell. Since 1895, there were seven other years with no measurable precipitation.
In terms of temperature, the average for this month was around 5 degrees above normal. Assuming that we’ll have another 90-degree afternoon, there will be 14 days with readings at or above 90 degrees in July with 18 total for the season. And, there were many other days with highs in the mid to upper 80s.
All of this heat and dryness has led to numerous wildfires across the western states. As of late last week, there were 43 active fires burning in the West. The state with the most is Montana with 15 blazes. The largest in July was in Garfield County as firefighters from 23 states joined local crews to battle the fires. California has 6 wildfires, Oregon has 7 blazes while Idaho and Washington each have 3.
It’s almost hard to believe that this part of the country had the wettest late winter and spring season on record. Overall moisture totals are still above average levels despite the recent dryness. At Cliff’s station, the seasonal total currently stands at 25.91 inches. The normal for the entire season is 26.77 inches.
The heat and dryness has also been felt in the central portions of the country. Readings in the 90s to over 100 degrees have been reported in the Great Plains and parts of the Midwest. The Dakotas, especially North Dakota, is currently experiencing its driest weather since the 1930s, during the infamous “Dust Bowl Days.” In the eastern Midwest, places in Illinois and Indiana are seeing flooding rains. Whether it’s the dry or rainy weather, crops in this part of the country have been severely damaged by the extreme weather conditions.
The Northeast is also reporting record rainfall. For example, at the Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania, a whopping 4.27 inches of rain fell in just one hour on Sunday, July 23. The big downpour has resulted in the wettest July in that city’s history.
On the flip side, Seattle will end up with its driest month in history. This July is the third time that the Sea-Tac airport has not measured any rainfall. The last two Julys without any moisture was back in 1922 and in 1896. Records for Seattle date back to 1894. By the way, Los Angeles received a trace of rainfall this month, which is considered to be a rare event in July.
Of course, it’s not just our part of the world that’s experiencing these crazy extremes. In the Middle East in Dubai, it was so hot earlier this month that people were literally frying eggs on the sidewalk. By an amazing contrast, on July 23, it snowed in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the French Alps, nearly a foot of snow fell last week.
In Australia, a new outbreak of frigid weather toward the country’s southeastern portion is described as “extreme winter weather” that will include “unbelievably severe frost” as bitterly cold temperatures moved into the region late last week.
Tuesday is the first day of August and it looks like we’ll have more very hot weather. Temperatures will be in the 90s in many locations and it’s quite possible that we could hit the 100-degree mark later this week.
Next week looks a little cooler as the strong high pressure system weakens across the Northwest. However, it still looks like a mostly dry weather pattern through at least the middle of August. Toward the end of next month, we’ll likely see some showers and thunderstorms. The fall of 2017 looks drier than normal at first, then moisture is expected to increase in late October and into November.
The winter of 2017-18 may have snowfall totals around near-normal levels. We’ll be updating that forecast as sea-surface temperatures are constantly changing from month-to-month. In the meantime, enjoy the summer weather and be careful. The exceedingly hot and dry western half of the fire-ravaged U.S. will remain in severe drought conditions well into August. Locally in our region, Cliff tells me that we’ve been drier than the Sahara Desert since late June as everything is bone dry. “Red flags” have been flying throughout 13 western states. Many wooded areas are totally closed to campers due to the extremely dry conditions.
Contact Randy Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org