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By Bob Valen 

We all know how to spell HEAT

Weather Watcher


First, let’s do a recap of temperatures and precipitation for July. I recorded four days with a high in excess of 100°F. July 2, 3, 4, and 31 were all above 100°F. The high for the month was on the 3rd at 104.1°F. Our low of the month was on the 26th at 52.3°F. My data shows that just about half the month of July was 90°F or above. The home weather station recorded a mean of 78.1°F which was 5.1° above the all-time mean for the month, at 73.0°F. No records broken for July, as the all-time high was in 1939 at 113°F. Precipitation for July was zero, matching 1943’s same lack of precipitation.

As we roll into August, it appears we are seeing the same trend in heat, although precipitation may be another situation for our location. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) shows the next few months as above-normal temperatures for our region and above-normal precipitation — yes, above-normal precipitation. The Washington State Climatologist’s Office recently commented on the statewide drought with this statement: “The US Drought Monitor has indicated a worsening of the drought in Washington State over the last several weeks, largely due to short-term precipitation deficits and record-low streamflows. The entire state is classified as being in ‘severe drought’ by the monitor, and ‘extreme drought’ has been introduced to parts of the Olympic Peninsula, the east slopes of the Cascades, and the counties bordering Idaho.”

There has been a good amount of discussion about the current El Niño that is brewing in the eastern equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean. I’ve addressed El Niño and La Niña in this column in the past, so I won’t go into a lot of detail about these climatological occurrences, except to say they affect global weather. Here’s the latest statement from the state climatologist: “El Niño is present, and sea surface temperature anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific are more than 2°C warmer than normal, according to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). Averaged over the last four weeks, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were above normal throughout the entire equatorial Pacific. The ‘El Niño Advisory’ released on 5 March is still in effect. There is about a 95% chance that El Niño conditions will continue through next winter (2015-16).” So, depending on the “severity” of this current El Niño, we could see a warmer-than-average winter with less-than-normal precipitation.

This past week I joined others attending some night sky programs that were conducted by the National Park Service folks from Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. We saw Saturn and its ring as well as one of its moons. The constellations were shining in all their glory too. We watched the International Space Station fly over a couple of times during each session (love those smartphone apps!). The remainder of this month we will see what is being touted as a really go¥od Perseids meteor shower that will peak on August 13. A full moon will occur on the 29th. We talked about starting a local astronomy club or sky watchers club. If you are interested, contact me through The Star newspaper.

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