September 24, 2016

A Normal Summer

With summer just ending, it is time to look back on the summer of 2016 over the western U.S.  And by most measures it was a relatively normal one, particularly here in the Pacific Northwest.  I will show you anomaly (difference from normal) maps for the 90-day period from June 25 through September 22, 2016.

First, maximum temperature.  For most of Washington, maximum temperatures were modestly below normal, with the main exception being the Puget Sound region.  Inland CA was a bit warmer than normal

 Minimum temperatures were generally within two degrees of normal.  Nothing remarkable.

Precipitation? A few inches below normal in the west, except for portions of western Washington State.  But the west generally doesn't get much over summer anywhere because of the eastern Pacific high.
Now I could have given you a much, much scarier picture.  Here is the percent of average precipitation for the same period.  OMG!   Much of California received less than 25% of normal!  But they normally get very little in summer, so such low numbers are really meaningless.  You've got to be careful with statistics.

With a normal snowpack from last winter and normal temperature/precipitation over the summer, this has been one of the most benign wildfire seasons in years.   Consider this.

By Aug. 30, 2014, Department of Natural Resources firefighters had responded to 687 fires covering 191,000 acres. Last year by Aug. 30, they had responded to 996 fires covering 328,000 acres. This year on Aug. 30, they had responded to 637 fires, but only covering 15,000 acres.    We simply did not have the large fires this year.  And air quality east of the Cascade crest was radically better as a result.

The latest 6-10 day forecast from NOAA (and we really don't have much skill beyond that) shows cooler than normal and wetter than normal conditions.


For those interested in the inside (and depressing) story of why some "climate justice" groups are opposing a carbon tax in Washington State, this blog is must reading.   Some supposed environment groups have political agendas that result in them opposing effective, bipartisan environmental measures.  

My talk on Northwest Climate Surprises on September 28.

During the evening of September 28, I will be giving a talk in Seattle at the Mountaineers in NE Seattle on Climate Surprises: Unexpected Impacts of Global Warming on the Pacific Northwest.
The latest climate model simulations provide a far more nuanced prediction of what will happen here, with some of the predictions being quite surprising. I will discuss them in a talk sponsored by CarbonWa and the Audubon Society. To find out more or to secure tickets, please go here.


  1. The blog you linked to is incomprehensible.

    The problem I have with the carbon initiative is that I am not convinced that it is revenue neutral, especially in the long run. The new tax would be imposed on something we hope to see less of -- carbon, while the old tax, on business, is something that we want to see more of. If the carbon tax is effective, I would expect to see declining revenues from it. And decreased revenues are a real problem for the state.

  2. Just waiting for the unintelligent/uninformed ones to post that a normal summer means no more global warming or something like. Thanks again Cliff for the interesting posts and please let them continue! It was a really nice summer, after the searing heat of 2014 and 2015. Warm, hot at times, not terrible though.

  3. the initiative in detail. The carbon tax rate goes up in time. Any short fall can be compensated for by the legislature to make sure the state has enough revenue. This is normal operating procedure..cliff


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

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