Better weather follows near record rainfall

Long-suffering wet and cold residents of Coupeville are about to be rewarded for their patience.

We have endured near record rainfall in both February and March with a total of 6.7 inches of rainfall for the two months. It’s been more than 100 years since that’s happened in Coupeville, the year 1904 to be exact.

The first half of April has been much nicer, but even better weather is in our future. One of the reasons we can count on better weather is that daylight is now at 14 hours. Most of us take the increase in the hours of daylight for granted, but it is the major reason for higher temperatures. Consider that around the start of the year we were only getting 8 hours of daylight per day, and by June 21 there will be 16 hours of daylight. In addition, the sun is directly overhead at noon instead of being low on the horizon.

Colder than normal temperatures have also tried our patience. Only a handful of days so far this year have reached 60 degrees. By this time of year it would not be unusual to reach 70 degrees, and the Coupeville record high temperature in April is 79 degrees.

One of my fondest memories of Whidbey Island is a 70-degree day in February, about 1978, I believe. From our home east of Seattle, we drove north from Clinton with our young children, stopping at Fort Casey, Coupeville, Oak Harbor, and Deception Pass. This year we may not see 70 degrees until late April or early May.

Another reason we can expect better weather is that La Nina is almost gone. La Nina is the name given to the colder than normal sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean. For the Northwest, the La Nina influence on the atmosphere and jet stream is to bring cool, wet weather.

La Nina weakened significantly during February and is projected to be gone completely in a few months. The transition to warmer and drier conditions may take several months to materialize, however, as the atmosphere adjusts to the new conditions.

In the near term, the month of May can be very pleasant. By the first of May afternoon temperatures average 60 degrees, and it’s not unusual to have several days with temperatures in the 70’s and even the 80’s.

Compared to other parts of the country we normally have a rather slow temperature warm-up. By the first of June, maximum temperatures average close to 65 degrees followed by 70 in the middle of July.

Most of the country has already seen temperatures in the 80’s. Twenty-five states east of the Rocky Mountains recorded their warmest March on record, which includes more than 20,000 localities with new record high temperatures in March. Those warm temperatures produced conditions conducive to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, with 223 tornadoes in March, 41 deaths, and more than $1.5 billion in damage. More tornadoes occurred the weekend of April 14.

Most people consider spring to be their favorite season of the year. Longer daylight hours, warmer temperatures, influx of birds, and growing plants and flowers all make for quite a show. Which reminds me that there’s no better show than the Skagit Valley tulips. I just put in on my calendar. How about you?…

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Photos by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
                                Top: Harley Engle, from Coupeville, and her cow Scarlett.
                                Bottom: Lilly Kline, age 10, from Oak Harbor and her Texel sheep named Blossom.
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