Saturday rain was welcome, but did it put a dent in the drought?

<p><p>Saturday was Spokane’s wettest day since January, but even though the water was welcome it won’t do much to alleviate Eastern Washington’s dire drought.</p></p><p><p>The weather station at the Spokane International Airport recorded 0.42 inches of rain Saturday. That’s the most precipitation Spokane has received in a day since Jan. 12, when the airport weather station recorded 0.86 inches.</p></p><p><p>National Weather Service meteorologist Miranda Cote said that the 0.42 inches of rain doesn’t come close to making up for the big precipitation deficit <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/aug/26/weathercatch-inland-northwest-sets-string-of-1st-p” target=”_blank”>the region’s facing this year</a>.</p></p><p><p>The National Weather Service talks about annual precipitation in terms of water years, which run from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.</p></p><p><p>During the 2020-21 water year, Spokane has received 11.39 inches of precipitation, a 30% decrease compared to the 16.18 inches seen in a normal water year.</p></p><p><p>In terms of water years, 2020-21 is the 13th driest in Spokane’s history, Cote said. The driest water year on record was 1928-29, when the area received only 8.8 inches of precipitation.</p></p><p><p>Eastern Washington and <a href=”https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?West” target=”_blank”>much of the West</a> remain in “exceptional” drought, the most severe category on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s six-tiered system. Most of Eastern Washington, and huge swathes of the West, are marked by an alarming, deep red color on the Drought Monitor’s map.</p></p><p><p>All of Spokane County is in <a href=”https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?WA” target=”_blank”>exceptional drought</a>. Most of the surrounding counties are too, although the northern, higher elevation areas of Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties are in the somewhat less severe “extreme” drought category.</p></p><p><p>Everywhere in Washington is dry, but the northern portion of the Cascades Range is faring best.</p></p><p><p>Those mountains are “abnormally dry,” per the Drought Monitor, but technically not experiencing drought. Most of the West Side is either abnormally dry or in moderate drought.</p></p><p><p>The western half of North Idaho’s Panhandle is in exceptional drought while the eastern side is in extreme drought.</p></p><p><p>There are some positive signs on the horizon.</p></p><p><p>According to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, the Pacific Northwest has a 40-50% chance of receiving above-normal precipitation in October. The prediction does not state how far above normal the precipitation may be.</p></p><p><p>The Climate Prediction Center’s model also shows a 40-50% chance of above-normal precipitation for Washington and North Idaho in <a href=”https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/lead01/off01_prcp.gif” target=”_blank”>November and December</a>, although climate models become less accurate as they predict conditions further into the future.</p></p>