Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hot weather ahead

It has been awhile since we last updated our blog, its been a busy spring season with quite a bit of flooding across the Inland NW.  After a record wet October through April for many, the weather has made a big turn towards a warmer and drier note.  And the weather ahead looks hot!

Brief June recap
June brought slightly warmer than normal temperatures for most.  The more noteworthy item was how dry it was especially along the East Slopes of the Cascades and up near the Canadian border where many places only received 25-50% of normal precipitation as image below shows.

A few places lucked out with more beneficial heavy rain from thunderstorms, but for most of Central and Eastern Washington and north Idaho June finished drier than normal.  This has helped dry out the grass with several reported grass and brush fires over the past week, some of which were sparked by lightning.  Here is what the Sutherland Canyon Fire east of Wenatchee looked like on June 28th:

Credit: BLM/ Richard Parrish

Looking ahead
So what does the future look like?  Models for the past couple days have been showing a hot weather pattern setting up after the 4th of July.  Let's dig further into this and see just how hot it may get.

Starting with Monday, nothing too noteworthy, a low pressure system tracks north of us giving a westerly flow to the area suppressing the hot weather well to our south (white colors on map).  This system will increase the winds a bit with elevated fire weather concerns over the Columbia Basin and Wenatchee area.

18z/July 1st GFS Forecast valid 00z Tuesday (5 PM PDT Monday) of 500mb heights and 850mb temp (image)

How about the 4th of July?  It looks warm and dry.  Here is our forecast of max temperature and minimum relative humidity as of July 1st.

NWS Forecast of Max Temperature issued 2 PM July 1st for the 4th of July

NWS Forecast of Min Relative Humidity issued 2 PM July 1st for the 4th of July

As you can see, it will be warm with highs in the upper 80s to mid 90s, and very dry with relative humidity between 12-20% for most towns, so be careful with fireworks!

Then the real heat begins.  The Four Corners High over the desert southwest amplifies north and west bringing increasing heat.  Here is Wednesday's pattern...
18z/July 1st GFS Forecast valid 00z Thursday (5 PM PDT Wednesday) of 500mb heights and 850mb temp (image)

The red colors represent very warm temperatures and white downright hot!  And then there's Friday...

18z/July 1st GFS Forecast valid 00z Saturday (5 PM PDT Friday) of 500mb heights and 850mb temp (image)

As you can see, the hot weather makes an aggressive move north all the way into western Canada giving us some toasty temperatures.  How hot?  It's a little too early to pin this down but here is what some model data is suggesting.

Model forecasts initialized July 1st of temperatures through July 8th
The GFS model suggests Spokane may get close to 100 and Moses Lake even hotter...nearing 105. Some other model solutions have been slightly cooler then this, but still well into the 90s.  Get ready for hot weather!  The prolonged period of hot and dry weather will likely be leading to an increase in  fire danger across the region over the next week, and possibly beyond.  Here is the 8-14 day outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center issued July 1st valid from the 9th through the 15th.

These outlooks favor elevated odds for warmer and drier than normal conditions.

Don't forget the sunscreen and drink lots of water!

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