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By Bob Valen 

October shares needed rain

Weather Watcher


Have to admit, the rain we saw in October was really refreshing. Though the rain doesn’t take us out of the drought, it is a start.

The home weather station recorded precipitation at 0.85 inches. This is 0.13 inches over the mean for October, which measures in at 0.72 inches. Back in 1947, we received 2.95 inches — the all-time record. In October 1971, we had an episode of snow, a grand total of 1.3 inches. I am sure the rain was welcomed by all.

Temperatures are still running on the warm side. Our mean for October was 54.5°F. That’s 3.4°F higher than the all-time mean of 51.1°F. We had a high temperature of 77.7°F on Oct. 1 and a low of 36.3°F on Oct. 25. The all-time high was in 1935 at 90°F, while the all-time low hit in 2002 at 7°F.

The Washington State Climatologist reports this information from the Climate Prediction Center: “The November-December-January (NDJ) temperature outlook has increased chances of above-normal temperatures for the entire state. For NDJ precipitation, there are elevated chances of below-normal precipitation for most of the state, with higher chances of drier-than-normal conditions in eastern Washington. The Olympic Peninsula and southwestern Washington have equal chances of below, equal to, or above-normal precipitation.”

This column’s discussion is about our local weather, predicted weather and weather phenomena, as well as our solar system. More than four decades ago, as a young veteran and new university student, I was briefly introduced to the science of phenology. I didn’t give it much thought back then.

Today, phenology has gained considerable momentum. Here’s a brief definition of phenology: “A segment of ecology focusing on the study of periodic plant and animal life-cycle events that are influenced by climate and seasonal change in the environment. Skunks emerging from winter dens, sand-hill cranes trumpeting their return, and seeds ripening are all examples of annual phenological events.” The National Phenology Network produces a series of eight geographic region information sheets that address known changes across the United States.

With the above in mind, I’d like to present the information for the Pacific Northwest region information sheet, created by the National Phenology Network.

Let’s start with mean annual temperatures – they have gone up 1.5°F in the past century, and they are predicted to go up another 3.0° to 10.0°F. There has been a decline in snowpack in the Northwest in the past 40-70 years. Sockeye salmon are migrating earlier in Columbia River — 10.3 days earlier than in the 1940’s. The change is attributed to warmer waters — a rise of 4.7°F since 1949.

First bloom of lilac and honeysuckle showed a trend toward earlier flowering — 7.5 days for lilac and 10 days for honeysuckle — over a 40-year period. Spring water temperatures in Lake Washington increased an average of 2.5°F during the time period 1962–2002. The data is interesting, something to contemplate in our daily lives.

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