BELLINGHAM This September was the second driest on record in Bellingham, and the dry spell is expected to stretch into the first part of October here and in other parts of Western Washington, according to the National Weather Service.
Just 0.15-inch of rain fell last month, according to observation sites near Bellingham International Airport. The airport is usually the site for official weather measurements in Bellingham, but the National Weather Service said Tuesday, Oct. 2, that equipment there failed to record rain that fell the night of Sept. 9 early into the morning of Sept. 10.
That made it the second driest September in Bellingham going back to 1949, when the weather service began keeping track.
The driest September on record was in 1991, when 0.05-inch of rain fell.
"It was exceptionally dry this year," said Dennis D'Amico, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle.
Other Western Washington dry spots in September include Olympia, where a trace of rain fell, and Seattle, where .03-inch was measured, although neither set a new record.
Last month's weather pattern wasn't unexpected, though.
August is the driest month of the year in the Northwest and September is usually one of the drier months, D'Amico said.
"That's important for people to remember," he said.
High pressure offshore has been keeping the rain away - shunting precipitation up to northern British Columbia or the Alaska Panhandle.
Don't expect the wave of dry weather to go away soon.
The National Weather Service on Sunday, Sept. 30, said that no significant rain was expected through the next 10 days, at least.
Daytime temperatures in Bellingham also were a little warmer in September, with an average high of 69.5 degrees.
That made it the 11th warmest September for Bellingham during the day, according to D'Amico.
But cool nights have had a moderating influence, so the warmest average temperature - the an average of highs and lows -for this September was tied for 24th.
Fall is usually the main season for the region's mushroom hunters, but the continuing dry weather is making such forays challenging.
"We're very worried because the season is just not developing at it normally would," said Fred Rhoades, a member of Northwest Mushroomers Association and a retired biology professor and mycologist at Western Washington University. "Last fall was dry early on as well, but not as dry as this one."
Rhoades said a good soaking rain that gets down into the soil in late summer or early September is needed for mushrooms to come out in the following week or two. Cool temperatures help, too.
Mushroom hunters would have better luck going into the mountains, where there are conifers, but don't expect an abundance.
"It's still not great," Rhoades said. "The diversity, even back in the mountains, is way down what it would normally be this time of the year."
This story was corrected Tuesday, Oct. 2
A state climatology office is looking for volunteers to gather weather data in their backyard - and win a contest against Oregon at the same time.
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network enlists volunteers to take daily rainfall measurements in their backyards and report them to the network's website, cocorahs.org.
To participate in the program, volunteers must purchase a standard 4-inch-diameter rain gauge (about $30) and either attend an in-person training or view online training material. The state network currently has about 350 volunteers across Washington.
Washington and Oregon are competing in a contest to get the most new volunteers between Oct. 1 and Oct. 27, when the University of Washington plays Oregon State University in football. State coordinators for the volunteer network are located at UW and OSU, respectively.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.