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By Bob Valen 

The summer that was

Weather Watcher


The synopsis for August was not very good, a reflection of the drought affecting the Pacific Northwest.

Let’s start with temperatures. Our high for the month was 102.3°F on Aug. 13, and our low was 51.7°F just 10 days later. We had three days in August that exceeded 100°F. The mean temperature for the month was 74.3°F, as compared to the overall mean of 71.9°F. That would be an increase of 2.4°F. That has been the trend this summer: hotter than normal and new records set all around the state.

As we all know, we didn’t see any noticeable precipitation in August either. Here at the home weather station, we recorded only 0.05 inches, most of which came on Aug. 30. The all-time mean precipitation for August is 0.41 inches, while the all-time high fell in 1941 at 1.75 inches. Our annual average precipitation here in the Coulee is 10.55 inches, and so far this year we are at 4.16 inches.

Below is a table showing the past five years of precipitation for the summer months (June, July and August) for the Grand Coulee Area (my home weather station):

Year June July August

2015 0.03” 0.00” 0.05”

2014 0.48” 0.31” 1.55”

2013 1.32” 0.29” 0.84”

2012 3.40” 1.08” 0.00”

2011 0.53” 0.19” 0.00”

The discussions about El Niño this year have been numerous and primarily addressing the magnitude of this growing El Niño. I’ve addressed this Equatorial Pacific phenomenon before. A lot is being said about it in the weather-forecasting world. In very general terms, the Northwest experiences warmer winters with less precipitation. There have been exceptions to this, and some of those exceptions have occurred with a very strong El Niño. The current El Niño is being forecast as a really strong event. The Climate Prediction Center is currently showing above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for our region of the country.

The National Weather Service office in Spokane authors a blog, titled “Inland Northwest Weather Blog.” In their most recent and lengthy discussion about El Niño, they summarized, “… despite the current strong El Niño, be prepared for winter-like conditions especially for the early part of the winter. As winter continues on, El Niño-like conditions becomes increasingly favored. Thus, after this winter is over, most will look back and probably think of this being a mild winter.” Their words, not mine. I’m looking forward to good snowfall through the winter.

There will be a full moon on September 27. Speaking of our moon, there is a total eclipse of the moon on the night of September 27-28, 2015. It happens to be the closest super moon of 2015. As for our solar systems planets in September, Saturn can be seen in the evening from around the world. Mercury is visible at nightfall along the southerly latitudes. Venus and Mars are in the east before dawn. Jupiter is still hidden in the glow of dawn.

Please use our only local weather forecast website at

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