Local

Bellingham is in a dry spell. How long before we set a record?

Clouds hover over Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall galleries about 7 a.m. Monday. No rain is forecast for the next week at least.
Clouds hover over Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall galleries about 7 a.m. Monday. No rain is forecast for the next week at least. rmittendorf@bhamherald.com

It’s been a while since it rained in Bellingham – three weeks, to be exact – but meteorologists say it’s too soon to start thinking about weather records.

Bellingham would have to go the rest of July without rain to make the top 10 longest dry spells since city weather statistics started being kept in 1949 at Bellingham International Airport, said meteorologist Johnny Burg at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“This time of year, it’s not uncommon to have months where some places don’t see any rainfall at all,” Burg said. “Let’s see what happens by the end of July. By then, it’s going to be more plausible.”

If you enjoy nice sunny days, you’re going to get them in spades.

Johnny Burg, National Weather Service

There’s no rain in sight for the rest of this week, according to the weather service. Forecast models from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center show a better than even chance of below-normal rainfall for the rest of July, Burg said.

Last measurable rainfall in Bellingham was June 18.

“If you enjoy nice sunny days, you’re going to get them in spades,” Burg said.

NWS Seattle tweeted over the weekend a list of the Seattle area’s top 10 longest stretches without rain. Longest dry spell in Seattle was 51 days in 1951, from July 7 to Aug. 26.

But for Bellingham, 54 days is the record dry spell – a nearly two-month rainless stretch that ended Aug. 13, 1960.

Normal rainfall for Bellingham in July is 1.18 inches. Last year, 0.65 inch of rain fell in July.

Apart from the lack of rain, temperatures for the past several weeks have been trending higher than normal.

Daily highs have been mostly in the 70s, higher than the June average high of 66.7 degrees and the July average high of 71.3 degrees, according to climate records kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Warm, dry weather prompted Whatcom County officials last week to issue a ban on open burning, except for recreational fires that meet certain criteria.

dryspell2
A DNR firefighter is next to a wildland fire engine as smoke from the fire rises last week on Sumas Mountain. Lt. David Moe Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Several brush fires and other “outside fires” have required firefighter response recently throughout the county, including a small wildfire on Sumas Mountain.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

Related stories from Bellingham Herald

  Comments