Weather year 2017 in Southeast - 'a little bit more of everything'
The weather in Inner Southeast in the first half of the year was not that unusual – but in every respect was just a little bit more extreme than usual. The year began on January 1 with a quarter inch of precipitation, and the weather quickly turned quite cold. We recorded lows at 20 degrees or lower from the 5th January through the 16th, by which time the winter had become memorable.
On January 7 the high did not exceed 28 degrees in Inner Southeast, with sleet, followed on the 8th by close to an inch of snow falling. Some snow and freezing rain marked the following morning, but the daily highs were starting to moderate. Then came the evening of the 10th! Snow started in Southeast at 5 p.m.; three hours later several small limbs fell off a fir tree at THE BEE – after two inches of snow pulled one down, and its fall knocked off the others. Limbs were breaking off in many places in Inner Southeast before the night was over, and there were many power failures.
By 6:30 a.m. on the morning of January 11 we measured eight inches of snow. We've seen more than that in Portland, but not recently – and eight inches is more than enough to paralyze the Rose City. The snowfall ended in the 10 a.m. hour, with only some snow showers after that, but the city was in major gridlock, and some folks needed many hours to commute to work or to get home. It took several days to melt away, with rain and freezing rain observed on the afternoon of January 16. January 18 was the third wettest day of the year to date – 1.62 inches was our measurement (we record from 4 p.m. to the following day's 4 p.m., so our daily totals may vary from other published tallies).
On February 3, after a low of 26.8 degrees at our measuring station in Westmoreland, we recorded rain and freezing rain after 1 pm. The shortest month of the year continued very wet, with rain recorded on 20 of February's 28 days; the wettest day of the year to date was February 5 (1.96"), followed by the second wettest day of the year on February 16 (1.81"), and the fourth wettest day so far of 2017 was on February 9 (1.20"). February ended with a total in Inner Southeast of 11.76 inches of precipitation. That was a bit more than the Portland Airport recorded – 10.34" – but at the airport, that total was the highest on record for any February in Portland.
Rainfall continued through midyear, but with each month adding up to less than the last: March recorded 8.14" here; April 4.53"; May 2.55"; and June 1.27". A Portland joke, which has a lot of truth in it, is that summer starts on July 5 – and indeed we do remember rainy July 4 celebrations here. But this year, the rain stopped earlier. In fact, no measurable rain was recorded in Inner Southeast in June after the 19th this year; and in July, the precipitation was zero. The only break in the rainlessness was .11 inch on August 13, with none further – at least, by the time THE BEE went to press for September.
Hot? Yes, it was also quite hot at times. We do have four seasons, and summers here are always warm and dry; but we recorded an 86 degree reading as early as May 3! On June 24, just three days after the official start of summer, we notched a 98 degree reading (as did the airport – a record for the date), and the following day we recorded a 101 degree reading (as did the airport – tying the record for the date).
Other notable high temperatures in Inner Southeast in July were 92 degrees on the 5th, 91 degrees on the 22nd, and 90 degrees on the 30th. August started even hotter with 97 degrees on the first, 101 on the second, and 103 on the third (it got up to 105 that day at the Portland Airport). Other 90+ degree days in Southeast in early August were 96 on the 4th, 90 on the 5th and the 7th, 91 on the 8th, 93 on the 9th, and 90 on the 10th. Adding to the discomfort here, the end of July and the first ten days of August we experienced considerable smoke and haze from wildfires in British Columbia and elsewhere.
We ended the first six months of the year with a total of 33.25 inches of precipitation, which is actually the highest such total we've logged since we began our daily rain readings at the start of 1998; the runner-up would be the first-half total of 30.50" inches in 2010 – and that year the annual total was the highest we've noted to date: 56.04 inches.
But 2016 was the runner-up, in that respect – with an annual total of 51.89 inches, after a first half of 24.70 inches. So the trend recently has been towards wetter winters.
So, based entirely on our records of the past nineteen years, we'd have to say it seems likely we're going to have a wet fall and winter – after the rains return. Keep your umbrella handy.