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By Bob Valen 

Smoky days and Halloween weather

Weather Watcher

 

Last updated 10/7/2020 at 8:26am

Once again, we endured the intrusion of wildfire smoke into our atmosphere. The National Weather Service has taken note by releasing interesting data regarding wildfire smoke. The data show the percentage of time certain areas have had smoke days for the months of August and September going back to 2006 and compare how often National Weather Service stations in the Spokane County Warning Area reported smoke or haze. The weather stations include: Coeur d'Alene, Spokane (Spokane International Airport and Felts Field), Lewiston, Pullman, Moses Lake, and Wenatchee. It does not include Grand Coulee or any of surrounding counties, the exception being Moses Lake which is in Grant County.

See chart above

It's October; autumn is in full swing. Tree leaves are starting to turn color as chlorophyll production slows and comes to a halt. Another year of growth comes to an end. Meanwhile, with caution in these COVID19 times, candy and costume sales have been brisk and homes are getting custom outdoor treatment for Halloween. What about October weather - have there been bad weather events in October or on Halloween? The answer is yes. There have been some notable weather events.

Let's start with temperatures. Halloween 1989 - Phoenix, Arizona sees a high of 96˚F. Probably a nice evening to go trick-or-treating. Contrasting that with what cities in the northeast United States experienced. Cleveland, Ohio reported a low of 19˚F, a record for the month of October. Allentown, Pennsylvania and Bridgeport, Connecticut tied with lows of 21˚F. Just a few years later, 1991, the Perfect Storm brought a halt to trick-or-treating on the Northeast coast. A nor'easter absorbed Hurricane Grace and re-evolved into a small, unnamed hurricane late in its life cycle. That convergence of weather conditions became the Perfect Storm. This storm formed on Oct. 28, dissipating on Nov. 2. Thirteen people were killed. Most of the storm damage happened in Massachusetts and New Jersey. A book, and later a film, brough that storm back to life.

In 2011, the White Halloween. Again, a nor'easter created what was called "Snowtober and Oktoberblast." This storm formed early on Octo. 29, southeast of the Carolinas. As it moved up the East Coast, the large low-pressure system hit the Northeast just two months after Hurricane Irene came ashore. Lots of damage from the "Snowtober" storm. Trees and branches still in full leaf came down from the heavy snowfall. Wide spread power outages, damage listed in the $1 billion-to-$3 billion range. Thirty-nine people were killed by this weather event. There were other powerful weather events that have occurred on and around Halloween, as well. I've only listed a few.

Here are the weather results for the month of September 2020. All data are from my personal weather station. The high temperature was 97.3˚F, the low was 39.9˚ and the mean was 65.6˚. The all-time high was 104˚ in 1938. The all-time low was 30˚ in 1982 and the all-time mean is 63.8˚. We did get some rain, 0.71" total. The all-time wettest September was 1985 with 2.08", and the all-time mean is 0.48".

Again, it's time to visit the good people at the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). A notice has been posted that La Niña conditions are present and are likely to continue through Northern Hemisphere winter. I'll address that in the November column.

Meanwhile, here's the prediction for October into December: We have a 44 percent chance of above-normal and a 23-percent chance of below normal precipitation. While the near-normal chance is 33 percent. As for temperatures, we have a 36 percent chance of them being above normal, 31 percent below normal and a 33 percent chance of near normal.

 

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