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Where did the summer go?

by Alecia Warren
| September 1, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The cloudy skies and blustery winds say it pretty clear.

Time to pack away the sunscreen.

"It's not any good out, but I'm going anyway," declared Trish Daniels as she prepared to hike up Tubbs Hill on Tuesday afternoon with her exercising partner, Abe DuShey.

As rain splattered down and wind blasted back her hair, Daniels acknowledged this summer has been a little disappointing.

"It's been short," she said. "We had a wet spring, and we never had those really hot days, you know?"

Beach season never seemed to take off in Coeur d'Alene this year, with only a few sizzling days and an abrupt slide in temperatures over the past week.

Thermometers in town even read 39 degrees on Monday, said climatologist Cliff Harris.

"It's not too often we have temperatures in the 30s in August," he said.

The summer overall has been on the cool side, he said.

The season has seen 13 days so far with temperatures over 90, Harris said. In a normal year, there are 20 days that soar that high.

And days throughout July and August ran about 1.5 degrees cooler than normal overall, he said, with an average high of 82 for both months.

The last several days have been about 10 degrees cooler than usual this time of year, he added.

"The highest we reached today was 62 degrees," Harris said on Tuesday. "That's near a record low maximum for the month."

It's all due to a strengthening La Nina climate pattern, he said, a cold cycle replacing the El Nino responsible for the warm and snowless winter this year.

"It's always cooler than normal during that (La Nina) cycle," Harris said.

Above all, this summer stands apart for crispiness, he said.

Weather patterns have brought in more wind than moisture, with July only seeing .7 inches of precipitation, well below the normal .96.

And August only saw .49 inches as of Tuesday afternoon, Harris said, compared to the month's normal 1.27 inches.

"We're way behind," Harris said. "As dry as we've been, we've been able to avert any major blazes so far. But I still worry about things being too dry."

The cool trend has made work easier for Ian Booth, who shoveled branches out of the street for Jacobson Tree Service on Tuesday in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

"It's better than 90 degree days," said Booth, 22, as he heaved a big load into the trash, raindrops sprinkling all the while. "It would be great right now, if it wasn't raining."

But recreating hasn't been as easy, he admitted.

"We didn't get as many chances to go to the lake this year," he said.

Sunbathing weather isn't gone for good, though, Harris said.

He predicted that temperatures will go back and forth, heating up this weekend and then cooling off again immediately afterward.

"But then we get to warm up on the other side of that pattern," he said.

So there's still time for outdoor adventures before the official first day of autumn on Sept. 23.

"If people don't like the weather, they can wait a little bit, because it will go back the other direction," Harris said.