By Rachel Webber, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
October temperatures at Prosser were cooler than average, which ended an impressive streak of above normal temperatures during 14 of the preceding 15 months. Despite unsettled weather at the beginning and end, October was pleasant thanks to a long stretch of sunny and mild days in eastern Washington during the middle of the month.
“October’s mean high temperatures were variable but generally near average,” said AgWeatherNet meteorologist Nic Loyd. “Meanwhile, low temperatures were notably below average due to the efficient radiational cooling conditions during the mid-month dry period.”
A Web based, publicly available system, AgWeatherNet provides access to near real-time weather data and value-added products from Washington State University’s statewide weather network, along with decision aids for agricultural producers and other users. See http://weather.wsu.edu/awn.php.
Frost to start
October picked up where September left off with cool and unsettled weather. The high temperature on Oct. 2 was only 46 degrees at Crane, which was the location’s coolest high since March 24. Meanwhile, the coast at Tokeland received nearly one inch of rainfall.
The morning of Oct. 4 was clear and cold as Pullman dropped to 26 degrees on Washington’s first notable frost morning of the autumn. Another storm passage on Oct. 7 brought, in particular, 0.77 inches of rain to Snohomish and sustained winds of 35 mph to St. John.
Sunny center but cloudy coast
By contrast, sunny and calm weather dominated the middle of the month as most areas east of the Cascades enjoyed pleasant days and clear, cool nights. Temperatures on the morning of Oct. 14 were as low as 24 degrees at Fairfield.
Unfortunately, western Washington was mired in low clouds for much of the time thanks to a strong temperature inversion. However, offshore flow and sunshine allowed temperatures in Long Beach to soar to 78 degrees on Oct. 21.
“Luckily, Washington’s weather during much of October was ideal for the harvest,” said AgWeatherNet director Gerrit Hoogenboom. “In fact, as a result of the good weather in 2013, wine grape growers are projecting a potentially record-breaking harvest this year.”
Windy and cold
The calm, dry weather finally yielded to more unsettled, wet weather on Oct. 27. The highest daily rain total for the state was 0.32 inches at Maryhill.
The nice weather that had dominated for much of October was quite literally blown away on Oct. 28 as the region experienced an unusual period of strong north-northeasterly winds. St. John’s daily average wind speed on Oct. 28 was an incredible 30 mph.
Very cold nights preceded passage of the Canadian cold front, with temperatures as cold as 19 degrees at Moxee and Pullman on Oct. 29. Later in the day, the high temperature reached only 43 degrees at Anatone. Oct. 30 was another cold morning as Pullman dropped to 17 degrees. The last time Pullman experienced such a low was Jan. 22.
However, conditions moderated for Halloween as part of Pasco reached a balmy 70 degrees. Overall, October was a somewhat cool, dry and uneventful month in Washington.
Nic Loyd, WSU agricultural meteorologist, 509-786-9367, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Webber, WSU CAHNRS Marketing, News and Educational Communications, 509-335-0837, email@example.com