Monday, September 20, 2021


| July 26, 2021 1:09 AM

A thunderstorm rolled through North Idaho last Wednesday and ended the long streak of rainless days.

Only 0.05 inches of moisture fell that morning, but that was certainly better than nothing. Prior to last Wednesday, June 15 was the last time measurable rainfall fell in Coeur d’Alene, a stretch of 35 days.

Rainfall totals were a little higher at Spokane International Airport, where 0.12 inches of rain fell. However, only 4.88 inches of rain and melted snow has been reported in Spokane this year.

The airport is close to 50 percent of normal moisture for 2021. Seattle’s rainfall totals are much better as they are currently very close to normal to date. In Portland, they are around 72 percent of normal for the 2021 rainfall season.

As I mentioned last week, we’re seeing one of the hottest early summer seasons in history. There have already been 25 days with highs at or above 90 degrees.

Back in 2015, Cliff recorded 39 days in 2015 with highs at or above 90 degrees. There were 10 in June, 17 in July, 11 in August and one in September. Our last 90-degree day in 2015 was on Sept. 12.

It was nice to have the drop in temperatures late last week as highs dipped into the upper 70s and 80s. However, the heat returned Saturday and more 90-degree weather is expected through at least early August. It looks like we’re going to challenge the 39 days of 90-degree plus weather back in 2015.

However, we believe that as we get into the middle to the end of next month, rainfall totals should start to pick up in Coeur d’Alene and much of the Inland Empire. Based on long-term climatology and current weather patterns, we’re also forecasting that moisture totals will be much above normal levels in October or in November.

The large ridge of high pressure should eventually weaken a bit or move to the east. When that happens, we’ll get the big change as our region will be on the wetter and cooler side.

As far as the upcoming winter goes, this one could be more interesting than the 2020-21 season. We have a La Nada, the in-between warmer El Nino and cooler than normal La Nina sea-surface temperature event in the waters of the south-central Pacific Ocean. Many forecast models and forecasters are predicting that we could see the return of the cooler La Nina late this year or in early 2022.

During La Nina events, our region typically receives more snow than average. Despite the La Nina event last winter, our snow season ended up below average. We’ll just have to wait and see how these patterns develop later in October.

The rest of the West should continue to experience extreme to exceptional drought as very little rain is expected across the inland areas of California, Washington and Oregon. Wildfires continue to break out across the western U.S.

The smoke and haze from these blazes have now traveled as far east as New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. The smoke and haze are bad enough that residents who suffer from asthma and other health issues are advised to stay indoors.

One of the big fires in the western U.S. is the Bootleg Fire in Oregon. It’s the state's third-largest and was still growing as of the weekend. The fire has burned over 400,000 acres. It's big enough to literally generate its own weather by generating clouds, dry thunderstorms and fire tornadoes.

Also, it’s not just the western U.S. that's seeing huge outbreaks of wildfires. Our neighbors to the north in British Columbia have reported nearly 300 blazes, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes. A state of emergency was recently declared as many of the fires were fueled by the intense record heat late last month plus the extended period of dry weather.

According to an article by Global News, despite the outbreak of wildfires across western Canada in recent years, the worst year was back in 1989 when there were approximately 12,000 wildfires.

In Siberia, an area usually known for colder weather, extensive drought and warmer than normal conditions have led to one of the worst fire seasons in memory. Officials say that this summer’s weather was the driest in about 150 years.

Close to 7 million acres of land in Siberia’s northeastern region has been burned since the beginning of the year. Thick smoke has been covering cities and villages, leading to a variety of health problems. Officials say parts of eastern Siberia are seeing fires that are becoming more intense and more frequent.

In other science news, more volcanoes are being discovered under Antarctica with more seismic activity in Hawaii. I’ll have more on that next week.

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Contact Randy Mann at