July 23, 2012

Answering the Complaints

There has been a lot of griping about the weather this summer, with a number of you asking whether lousy summers are the new normal.

Well, let me try to convince you that this summer is really better than last summer....

Let's begin with comparing the temperatures at Sea-Tac for the past four weeks with those of last summer.  The first image is this summer and the second, 2011 (reminder the continuous red and blue lines the slope upward to the right are the average max and min).
For this year, we had 15 days whose high reached at or above the average high during the past four weeks.  And 13 days that dropped to our below the average min.  Warm period in early July.  Some cool days lately.  OK, nothing to rave about.
But then we have 2011.  Folks this is really bad.  Only 7 days reaching the average max.  Weeks of cool temperatures at the end of the month. 19 days hitting the average min or below. 
 But what you may not know is that eastern Washington has had a much better summer, with exception of the many thunderstorms.  Here are the Pasco temps for last year for the same period.  Very few days got to their normal high and MANY days dropped well below the normal minima.  Not good for our vineyards!
But take a look at this year.  MUCH better.  Many days reached the normal max and for fewer nights were cool.  A very normal year.
 Take a look at the temperature departure for average over the western U.S. (graphic below).  A bit cooler than normal west of the Cascade crest and down into western Oregon and all of CA.  But cross the Cascades and slightly above-normal temperatures beckon.  Why Lake Chelan and other resort areas in eastern WA aren't taking out full page ads in the papers, I can't figure.  East of the Rockies, torrid and dry.

Well, perhaps this is why tourism is not booming in Moses Lake.  Here is the percentage of average rainfall for the past month. Western Washington and NW Oregon have gotten around 150% of normal, but the east side has received 200-400+% of normal. The reason..the thunderstorms.  And I mean a lot of them.

With plenty of rainfall, a great snowpack for water supply, normal temperatures, and lack of killing spring frosts, our agricultural friends in eastern Washington should have some very good harvests.  Which is fortunate considering the negative impacts of drought and heat over much of the nation.

And remember, last summer, as cold as it was during the first half, was quite warm at the end...warm enough that I had a bumper crop of tomatoes! 


Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday proclaimed a state of emergency for 16 Washington counties hit by last week's thunderstorms.


  1. The thunderstorms have been awesome lately over in the Quincy area.
    This summer HAS been much warmer than last summer was.
    I'm not complaining!

    I'm ready for the winter, I am hoping we get a lot of snow this year. I have snowflakes to catch on slides :)

  2. Being born and raised here in the greater Seattle area, these summers just really don't bother me. In fact I'm enjoying that we haven't gotten that week or two of 90+ plus weather where the house temp never drops below 80F at night.

    Glad that our eastern WA farmers should do well this year. Hoping for great harvests for all of them.

  3. .. "this summer is better than last.." In other words the new normal?

  4. It's so hot! My outdoor cctv cameras were fogged up this morning. It's like a sauna!

  5. Cliff,

    A statewide average doesn't help those living in the areas of extremes. On the plus, it'll be a few more dry days until we have to water the garden. We haven't had to water since the first week of July; or as my daughter now says, Julyuary.


    Marrowstone Island

  6. Cliff, I was running some numbers earlier, and it looks like, given current NWS forecasts for the remainder of the week, we're on track to have the coldest July in over 15 years, up here in Bellingham. We'd have to beat the NWS forecasts by a degree a day in order to beat last year's July.

    Last July, at least, was dry, if a bit cool -- this year, it's already our wettest since 2000. And, for Bellingham, measured precip totals are much lower at the airport than they are elsewhere in the county -- the 1.6" shown at the Bellingham airport is about an inch less than at my house, just a few minutes outside of Bellingham, up against the base of the foothills.

    It's a miserable, miserable July, so far, at least up here.

  7. Hi Cliff,

    My tomato plants beg to differ.

    A lousy June followed by a mediocre (at best) July just doesn't cut it. This is the worst year for tomatoes in West Seattle in the sixteen years I have grown them. And that even counts the year in the nineties when late blight wiped them out in August.

    Of course, I won't go into my errors this year as a gardener. LOL

    Still, any July and August in Seattle is hard to beat.

  8. It's been a great summer so far, the best ever. Lots of rain and sun and warm temperatures. The garden looks like it's on steroids. The lawn is green. No burn ban here yet so we've been able to have our beach fires. The thunderstorms were awesome. What more could anyone ask for?

  9. This year has clearly been better than the last two summers, especially compared to last July. Temperature-wise, slightly below normal (< 1 degree F). Better than June, which was another Jun-uary. However May was warmer than normal. Seems like a "normal" summer and August is usually a bit more summerlike.

    I noticed that Eastern WA and OR have had above normal temps so far this summer. Ripe tomatoes look possible this year, unlike the last two summers.

  10. This is as comforting as your suggestion that constant snowfall compensates for loss of glaciers.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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