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By Bob Valen 

We had a "normal" May

Weather Watcher


Though our mean temperature was a bit higher for May, the month was on the normal side. We recorded a high for the month of 89.5°F and a low of 36.5°F (all-time high was 100°F in 1986 and the all-time low was 21°F in 2002). The mean was higher than the all-time mean for May (58.4°F) at 62.5°F or 4.1°F higher. May was above normal, slightly, for precipitation. We recorded 1.3 inches for the month while the mean is 1.1 inches. A little “extra” rain is always welcomed.

We are a ways into June already, and a look at what is being “predicted” for the remainder of our summer is fitting. The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is showing our area with “above normal temperatures” and “below normal precipitation” for the next few months. The Washington State Climatologist’s Office has stated that the snowpack, “…in terms average snow water equivalent (SWE) percent of average from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) shows that nearly all of the snowpack has melted out as of June 1.”

As would be expected, the discussion of drought is still lively and being adjusted on a regular basis. The latest from the state climatologist is, “The US Drought Monitor depiction has worsened in several areas around the state over the last few weeks. D0 - abnormally dry - conditions were introduced into western Washington to represent the drier than normal conditions that have persisted for the last 2-3 months. D2 - severe drought - was introduced in northeastern Washington to represent the very low stream-flows and impacts that forest and fish managers have reported.” As of May 15 we are under a state-wide drought. So, it’s fair to say that conditions will likely worsen as we move through the summer.

We are currently experiencing an El Nino effect of the Southern Oscillation. This is a temperature shift in the Pacific Ocean temperatures around 0° latitude from warm (El Nino) to cold (La Nina). These events have an effect on weather around the world.

For those who have sat over a cup of coffee wondering where all the weather data gathering sites are in the Coulee, well, wonder no longer. There are four “official” sites and each one is operated to gather data for various needs and purposes. The primary site and oldest is the Cooperative Observer Network (COOP) Weather site. It is operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and has records dating to 1934. I use the data from this station as my primary base information. A newer weather data station which is on BOR property is an AgriMet station and is one of many stations that is part of the Cooperative Agriculture Weather Network. This station has been in place for 13 years. There are two RAWS weather data stations in the Coulee. One is operated by the National Park Service at Spring Canyon, the other by the Colville Tribes at Nespelem. RAWS sites are used primarily for fire weather data purposes. RAWS is an acronym for Remote Automated Weather Station.

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