(above) Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Yuma’- click for a larger picture.
Crape Myrtles LOVED this past summer- they responded to the extended heat, ample June moisture, and warm over night lows by blooming extremely early and a lot.
Wet, Wet, Dry, Dry, Fry, Fry, Fry
Here are some statistics of the above normal hot summer that we just left. There are some interesting surprises. If you thought it was exceptionally dry- it ended that way but began very differently. These statistics are from the Portland National Weather Service (NOAA) at Portland International Airport.
We ended the summer with a grand total of 22 days above 90ºF- which is impressive since our average is 13 days. This was the highest number of days since the scorching summer of 2009 (Remember two days of 106ºF, yuck). That year we fried with 27 days. In 2014 we first hit 90º on May 14 when it was 91º and our last day of 90º was 94ºF on September 20th. One important feature of August was not its ultimate high temperatures- though it was above normal in 90ºF days, it was the nearly continuous stretch of overnight lows (22) above 60ºF.
Our warmest overnight low occurred on August 11th of 69ºF preceding that days high of 99ºF which tied with July 1st which also reached 99ºF for the highest yearly maximum. (Portland’s average annual hottest day is 101.3ºF). Our average overnight low in August was a very warm 61.4ºF compared with a historical average of 58.1ºF. That might not sound like a big difference but in the world of weather averages its impressive. And in Portland that is downright tropical.
One half wet, one half dry and a parched early Fall
Rainfall- and I’m sure everyone can attest to how dry our gardens are. This was the big surprise. June (which failed to have any days above 90ºF) was quite a bit above normal with a total of 2.33″ compared to the average 1.70″. July also had above normal precipitation with 1.05″ above the average of .65″ (It doesn’t take much to go above average in summer here). August was dry with just .01″ of rain far below the average of .67″. September rounds it out below average at .98″. Normal is 1.47″. This autumns rainy season has been tardy in arriving.
So, if you thought it was dry (and it still is) it was/is a product of several factors. Our heat was very consistent with 80’s and 90’s spaced out evenly over July, August, and September and this was efficient at depleting soil moisture. August was essentially devoid of rain and this deficit continued well into September. The modest amount of rain that fell in mid September was erased by temperatures that rebounded into successive days in the 90’s. As of early October above normal temperatures and parched soil have left a lot of summer rainfall plants flagging or just plain fried. These conditions are far from historically dry conditions- though it seems extreme to gardeners.
Winter 2014/15 Prognostication
If you would like to know what our winter has in store you should make a trip to the annual Winter Weather Forecast Conference at 10 am on October 25th at OMSI. Its free and open to the public. Seven locally prominent meteorologists will give their forecasts for winter. This is useful for not just Ski areas and ODOT but for gardeners as well. AND AGAIN it is free. But it gets crowded so get there early. There is quite a bit of meteorological jargon but the forecasts are pretty straight forward. I’ll provide a synopsis on this blog following the meeting.
Now bring on Fall and fingers crossed for a mild winter.