The Northwest may have a brief break in its historically hot and dry summer before beginning what’s expected to be a drought-intensifying fall, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center reported Monday.
Odds are Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Western Idaho will have below normal temperatures through Sept. 7, according to the center, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Also, Washington, Idaho’s panhandle and Oregon’s northern half are likely to have above average precipitation, possibly bringing relief to firefighters, fish and farmers.
“It looks like we’re in for a spell of cooler and wetter weather. I think that’s a pretty welcome turn of events,” Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond said. “Let’s get it while we can.”
The climate center on Tuesday rescinded a “hazardous weather” alert for expected heavy rains Aug. 29-30 on the Olympic Peninsula and northwest Washington, two areas where irrigation districts have had to cut water use. Rain moving down from the Gulf of Alaska is now expected to fall primarily in Canada.
“We are super dry. It’s unusual for us to have such a long streak without a good downpour,” said Don McMoran, director of the Washington State Extension office in Skagit County. “Crop-wise, I think a majority of farmers would appreciate a good rain here.”
The two-week forecast for Washington stands out like an oasis. The center’s three-month outlook calls for a strengthening El Nino to raise temperatures in the state through at least November.
“It’s rare that we have an El Nino this strong at this time of year,” Bond said.
The center predicts the El Nino will peak in late fall and slowly weaken through the winter and early spring. Even a diminished El Nino would warm the winter, but Bond said he expects more snow to accumulate in 2015-16 than during last winter, when snowpacks were at record lows.
“Highly unusual things just don’t happen that often,” he said. “I still think it will be on the warm side, just not as warm.”
Washington may see average precipitation in September, but the odds favor below average rain from September through November, according to the center.