August 20, 2011

The Northwest Drought

There have been a lot of complaints about our summer weather, but one thing you have to admit--it has NOT been very wet.  Northwest summers are supposed to be relatively dry, but the last 4-weeks have been downright arid around here....even after we got through the climatologically dry period of the last week of July and first week of August.

Here are the precipitation traces for the past four weeks of a line of stations across the State, with the normal shown by the blue lines.

All are way below normal, with virtually no rain the last three weeks.  Sea Tac has had about .15 inches and Spokane nothing.  Week after week of high pressure area parked offshore...pretty boring!  We haven't even seen many thunderstorms over the mountains either.

Want more precipitation...try Phoenix where they had 1 inch during the same period.  You heard that Austin, Texas was in a major drought...well, they had .91 inches during those four weeks.  Surely Las Vegas was drier...but NO...they have had .22 inches-- a lot more than us.

The bottom lines is that we should not be reticent about claiming our title as national drought king during mid-summer.  There is only one area that can give us trouble--southern California.  But who would want to live down there anyway?

The interesting thing is that with all this drought there have been very few wildfires--the recent Tumwater canyon fire near Leavenworth the exception.  Thank the cool spring and massive snowpack. And a lack of thunderstorms.


  1. Right on, i'll take a drought in July and August over January and February anyday.

    Moist soils, cool temperatures, high relative humidities, and no t-storms are the major factors for decreased wildfires, and outweighs any lack of rainfall, but you mentioned that.

    I'll be honest, those graphs you posted, I'm actually impressed by how much it rains on average than the lack of rain received. Who knew.

  2. Beautiful photo of mudcracks! As a geologist, I am fascinated about why most cracks, even those that are curved, intersect at 90 degrees. I have a mechanical reason. Any volunteers?

  3. I live in Southern California.

  4. I look at it as all our water is in the bank (snowpack) this summer. This has been an enjoyable August. November will come all to soon!

  5. This is a great pic. Here in our corner of the Pacific Northwest we are enjoying our very first weeks of sunshine--finally! It has been raining here, clear through the middle of July and early August. The opposite of what you folks have experienced.

  6. Of relative note, related: .. of course naturally more dry as a rule during the summer, .. Both in line with the cooler general conditions for the past 2 or 3, months, together with factors that have lead to them, here more south within the Central Northern Sierra foothills where I am, we've also had very little in the way of thunderstorms. — Typically, fairly common through later spring, and certainly often holding on into the main summer months, and even September.

  7. i can take the last months weather all the way to Jan.1.

    to me it was beautiful weather, 80s days,, 50s nights , what more would be better?

  8. the past month weather(to me) has been perfect.

    80s by day,, 50s at night, sunny, light winds, bring it all the way to december!

    be OK by me.


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