Friday, May 14, 2021
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How wet we've been; how dry we are

| March 22, 2021 1:06 AM

It has been the driest first three weeks of March in recorded history. The normal precipitation for the month is 1.94 inches and Cliff has measured just 0.14 inches as of the weekend.

There also has not been any measurable snowfall. Only two other years, 1913 and 1944, did Coeur d’Alene not receive any snowfall during the first three weeks of March.

It looks like we’ll see some moisture this week. And, temperatures may be cold enough to produce a little snow during the overnight hours.

Around the end of the month, there's another chance for snow as a few storms are expected to come in from the cooler Gulf of Alaska.

Despite the increase of moisture in the next several weeks, it still looks like a drier-than-normal weather pattern into April. There may be a period of wetter-than-average weather in late April and early- to mid-May.

Our upcoming summer season looks like a repeat of the last decade with drier-than-normal conditions. Compared to last year, this summer is expected to be much warmer.

HURRICANE SEASON LOOKS SERIOUS

We're just over two months away from the start of the 2021 tropical storm and hurricane season. It’s still early, but a few hurricane forecasters are predicting another above-normal season in the Atlantic and Caribbean waters.

Last year was the most active and fifth costliest Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history. There were a record 30 named storms that led to over $51 billion in damage.

The season officially begins on June 1, but in 2020, the first named storm, Tropical Storm Arthur, formed on May 16. The next tropical storm, Bertha, formed on May 27.

There were 13 hurricanes last year. Six of those storms strengthened into major hurricanes, a Category 3 or higher.

The strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. coastline last year was Hurricane Laura. The storm struck southwestern Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane, which was the strongest in terms of wind speed since the 1856 Last Island hurricane.

Storm names are retired when they are very deadly or destructive and replaced by other names. Last week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) retired four named storms from 2020. They included Dorian, Laura, Eta and Iota.

The names for the Atlantic and Caribbean storms are recycled every six years. There have been 21 names per list and the Greek alphabet was used during the very active seasons of 2005 and 2020, when all of the alphabetical list of names were used.

By the way, names beginning with Q, U, X, Y and Z are not on the list because the WMO said those letters are “not common enough or easily understood in local languages to be slotted into the rotating lists.”

However, starting with the 2021 season, the Greek alphabet will no longer be used when named storms exceed 21. Instead, they will use a “supplemental list” of names based on the modern English alphabet.

The official date the tropical storm and hurricane season begins is on June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Based on the 30-year average, there are about 12 named storms. Six of those storms become hurricanes with two of them in the “major” Category 3 or above.

Last year was the fifth consecutive season with above-average named storms in the Atlantic and Caribbean regions. It was also the sixth year in a row where a tropical or subtropical cyclone developed before the official start of the season. The old record was four years in a row, from the 1951 through the 1954 seasons.

The 2017 season was the costliest tropical cyclone season on record with a price tag of over $282 billion. That figure accounted for about 25 percent of all the combined natural disasters in the United States from 1980 until 2017.

Last year, conditions were perfect for the formation of these systems. There was a cooler-than-normal La Nina sea-surface temperature pattern along the Equatorial regions. Ocean waters were also warmer than normal across much of the Atlantic Ocean where the tropical systems originated.

However, sea-surface temperatures have warmed a bit. We’re close to a “La Nada,” the in-between cooler La Nina and warmer-than-normal El Nino.

For 2021, Cliff and I see another active season, but not as many tropical storms and hurricanes as we had in 2020. We believe there will be approximately 17 to 20 named storms with six to nine hurricanes. In 2020, there were six hurricanes that made landfall in the U.S. It’s possible that we could see three to five of them hit the U.S. coastlines later this year.

I’ll have more updates as the official start of the season gets closer.