Wednesday, October 05, 2022
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Summer's sweet swan song

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | September 22, 2022 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — As he arranged bonsai trees for the farmers market in downtown Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday, “Bonsai Bob” Gray was in a good mood.

“You couldn’t ask for better weather,” said the owner of Gray to Green Nursery. “These are the days we live here for.”

The last day of summer on Wednesday was indeed a day to die for in North Idaho, with blue, sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

People took advantage, hanging on to warmth before it soon surrenders to the cooler, wetter conditions sure to come this fall.

Bikers, runners, dog walkers and skateboarders took to the streets, sidewalks and the North Idaho Centennial Trail. Friends sat outside restaurants and shops on and near Sherman Avenue. Adults and kids milled around McEuen Park, shooting baskets and resting on the green grass.

Bruce Darby and Steve Hamilton were perched in front of the open window at the Coeur d’Alene Eagles Lodge enjoying cold beers.

“It’s a beautiful last day of summer,” Hamilton said.

Darby wasn’t ready to give it up.

“We needed more summer,” he said.

Darby said June was “like back in the old days” — dreary, windy and cooler. Then, it turned into a hotter-than-blazes summer, with 34 days over 90 degrees and four over 100 at the end of July.

Both men said it was nice there was little smoke in the area from wildfires.

“And we’ve got fires all around us,” Hamilton said.

Both men decided Wednesday was just too perfect weather-wise to stay home, better to be outside. Well, at least looking outside.

“That’s why we’re here. Having a beer, looking around at beautiful Coeur d’Alene,” a smiling Darby said.

Coeur d’Alene climatologist Cliff Harris said this was the third-hottest summer, trailing only 1961, with 38 days over 90 degrees, and 1967, with 35 days over 90.

It was the driest, as a mere .26 of an inch of rain fell between the first day of summer on June 21, to the last on Sept. 21.

Half of the summer rain total, .13, fell on Sept. 14.

“That’s the only rain we had, other than a few sprinkles,” Harris said.

The previous records for least summer rain were .34 of an inch in 1913, and .41 in 1961.

Harris noted the driest summer followed the third-wettest spring that included a record 10.1 inches of snow in April.

“One extreme to the other,” Harris said. “We’re just swinging wildly from one end to the other.”

Still, Coeur d’Alene has received 21.47 inches of rain for the year, well above last year’s 13.7 at the same time, and just above the normal of 20.1 inches.

Harris expects a major weather shift to cooler, wetter conditions to settle in perhaps as soon as Oct. 9.

He expects to see six to eight weeks of above-normal moisture at least into December, which he said will be due to La Niña building up in the Pacific Ocean.

Even Harris, who has seen it all when it comes to North Idaho's weather, was pleased with the last day of summer.

"You can’t have a better day — except it’s a little too windy for me,” he said.

Meantime, Coeur d’Alene's guests were enjoying the sunshine.

Tyler and Paige Worley had Sanders Beach nearly to themselves, looking out at the blue waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene as they sat on the shoreline.

“Soaking in the last of it,” Tyler said.

"The water's still warm," Paige added.

Eros Baca and Erin Carter of Portland were walking their dogs, Louie, Penny and Simba, on Sherman Avenue on Wednesday afternoon.

“A good way to close out the summer,” Baca said. “Beautiful weather, beautiful day.”

Carter said it was their first visit to Coeur d’Alene, and they loved it.

“Gorgeous,” she said. “We want to come back.”

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Bruce Darby, left, and Steve Hamilton enjoy beers at the Coeur d'Alene Eagles Lodge on Sherman Avenue on Wednesday.

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"Bonsai Bob" Gray, owner of Gray to Green Nursery, sets up for the farmers market in downtown Coeur d'Alene on Wednesday.

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Eros Baca and Erin Carter of Portland walks their dogs Simba, Penny and Louie on Sherman Avenue on Wednesday.

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